DIY Hay Dispenser Ideas

DIY Hay Dispensers

Straight From Willow’s Tunnel 

Since hay is an integral part of our everyday diet (consisting of 80% of our food per day), mom and her sister have been trying to think of a cheap, and cute, way to dispense the hay without it getting all over. I don’t see it as a problem. Hay is comfy and delicious so I don’t know why they think it goes to waste if we had a hay bin. Sure it can get on the fleece and carpet, and sure it’s comfy to use as toilet paper (two in one usage!), but if the hay ever gets anywhere? I mean, it wouldn’t be there long. I would eat it up. Even if poop gets on it. (Trust me, it doesn’t affect the taste much.) But see? No wasting will happen with this cavy.

Mom doesn’t think that it’s very hygienic – whatever that means – to eat the hay I’ve used as toilet paper. Plus, there’s something called “looking nice” that she wants to follow. She was quick to add that she thinks hay bins look nice, but she has no talent to cut a nice hole in a bin. (Basically, she’s lazy. She doesn’t mention it, but I know it’s most likely because she’s allergic to hay and if I sleep on it, she wouldn’t be so keen to snuggle.)

In searching for an alternative to a hay bin, they started compiling a list. I chewed the corner of the list to make sure the paper was good enough for them to use, and decided to help out and type the list for everyone down farther on the page. 

 

Ali:

Most of us are on a budget, not all, but some of us. We want to have safe and effective hay dispensers without paying the money for it. Here’s a couple of options!

Using Everyday Items

  • Boxes (i.e. Cereal, Noodle)
  • Oatmeal Container

Bit More Fancy

  • Cloth Pouches

There are many other options that you can do from creating your very own by doing woodwork, or by being crafty and creative, but these are two easy options for DIY that work with any budget.


 (Willow enjoying his new hay dispenser.)

 

Hay Rack Alternatives

Earlier this week, we discussed dangerous hay racks and hay setups, but didn’t get to cover the good types of hay racks or give examples of the best options.

Below are three different examples of great hay racks/dispensers as well as alternatives to the hay rack idea/design.


Three Examples of Best in Design

I have seen many people talk about this and/or use them. Some make it themselves (or a version of it) and others will buy them online. Here are two examples of great buyable hay feeders/racks.

 

 Why it works: Bars are close enough to ensure no guinea pigs could get stuck, including their little noses. There is a cover on the top that is secure (from what I’ve read) so guinea pigs cannot be stuck inside it.

 Why it works: From the C&C cage, take an extra mental grid and attach it to the cage after bending it. Guinea pigs won’t get stuck or get through it (provided you get the correct grids for the rest of the cage as well). With added leftover chloroplast, you can create a bottom and a backing to help keep hay right where you want it. While this can be a DIY, you can also buy pre-made ones. It’s also high enough that they cannot make it to the top, get in, and get stuck.

 Why it works: The opening is wide enough for a guinea pig to get the hay but not become stuck. Ensure that the edges are not sharp on the plastic so they cannot hurt themselves. Assuming this (though most are not sharp), the top also is high enough that a guinea pig cannot get into the top and get stuck inside of it. Also, there is nothing that a guinea pig’s teeth can get stuck on/around.

 

What if I don’t want to deal with hay racks at all (whether buying them or making DIY ones)?? 

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Dangerous Hay Racks

Hay Wait! Watch Out… Danger Lurks Ahead (Dangerous Hay Racks)

Dead Men Tell No Tales – Dangerous Hay Racks/Dispensers

In about a week we will talk about DIY hay racks that are safe and great options (along with options that are already available and safe coming later this week), but after seeing the article of another guinea pig that passed away from getting stuck in a hay rack, I thought to post this first. 

While there are a lot of options when it comes to types and designs of the hay racks – options that you can buy, make, and etc – we need to be careful on what hay racks we make/buy for our cavies. We all want the best for our pigs. Sometimes it’s about not being aware of what is dangerous and not dangerous.

Some can be dangerous due to the following actions that can happen.

  1. A guinea pig’s head or body part getting stuck
  2. Getting their limbs caught and potentially broken
  3. Hay in the eyes that can cause discomfort and infection.

Gathered from various forums and websites, the below racks are dangerous options that are used/available and should be removed or re-evaluated. It only takes one time to regret it, and may cost a life.

Metal Hay Racks: Sold in Pet Stores and probably some of the most common.

Problems:

  1. Guinea pigs can sometimes wiggle their head or body parts between the bars of some of these and become stuck. Them struggling can potentially kill them or cause serious injury.
  2. They can jump on top of the rack and become stuck. Legs can go through the bars and while struggling they can break their small paws. Even if they cannot quite jump in, they can go in through the top and try to lean down to get the hay. There have been reports on www.theguineapigforum.co.uk and other forums of guinea pigs getting their teeth stuck around the bar and passing away. Some can even somehow open the top of the feeder, so even though it may seem totally fine, it might not be.

 

Veggie/Hay Balls/CubesVery cute. We like the idea that our guinea pigs need to work for the hay, and it’s fun to watch (and hear the bell), but I’ve heard some stories and seen some pictures that have warned me about their usage.

Problems:

  1. Guinea pigs can potentially wiggle their way in – even ones that seem big enough! No idea how they do it, but here is a picture of a guinea pig that had made its way into the ball and became stuck. Here’s the picture of a caught guinea pig and the forum (Viewer Discretion Advised due to Stuck Guinea Pig): https://www.theguineapigforum.co.uk/threads/hay-veggie-balls-warning.116123/
  2. Even when securing it safely high in the cage so that it doesn’t fall or guinea pigs can’t get their feet on it, pulling the hay out (since it’s above them) can cause hay pieces to fall down and potentially fall into their eyes. You know that feeling of something in your eye and how it’s horrible? Let’s not let that happen to our furry kids.

 

Cloth Bags with Small HolesThe smaller the hole is, the less hay that gets pulled out (leaving the cage potentially cleaner, which can be a plus to some… but it also poses some problems). This dispenser is a wonderful looking addition to any cage – fleece or otherwise. Solution to being able to get out more hay to eat and not bury their heads in to get more? Just use bigger holes so that in their search for more hay they will not become stuck. You never know what they can squeeze into, so the policy to follow is “better safe than sorry”. For the mess? You can put a plastic bin under it so the hay should stay in one spot!

Problems:

  1. Guinea pigs can try to go after the hay and while pushing their heads in, can get their head stuck, or body stuck within the bag. Their struggling can potentially kill them.

 

Metal Hay Racks or Fixtures: Most commonly seen to use for rabbits, but guinea pig owners also have used this.  For both animals, this isn’t necessarily safe for either of them. Just be cautious.

Problems:

  1. The edges tend to be sharper and can cut rabbits and guinea pigs. My own rabbit had it until he had somehow moved so fast running that he actually cut himself on it from hitting into the corner.

 

End Note

Even if your guinea pig has used these types of hay racks for years without a problem, there’s always the possibility that one day something bad could happen. It’s not worth the risk to put our piggies in danger. 

 

Checklist for a Good Hay Rack

  • The holes between the bars are too small for a guinea pig to squeeze through. Whether head, face, etc
  • The bars are thick/wide enough to ensure no teeth will get stuck around it and therefore have the guinea pig become stuck
  • If a cloth bag, cardboard, or etc with one or two holes – make sure they are big enough so a guinea pig can move in an out of it freely without a large risk
  • Cage floor or low on the side to prevent hay debris in the eyes
  • Covered top or having it big enough to go up so guinea pigs cannot get into it so they do not get stranded

Use your best judgement and just be careful and diligent. Your guinea pigs will love you for it!