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.
- A guinea pig’s head or body part getting stuck
- Getting their limbs caught and potentially broken
- 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.
- 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.
- 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/Cubes: Very 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.
- 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/
- 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 Holes: The 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!
- 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.
- 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.
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!