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Bedding Carefresh vs. aspen


Well-known Member
Cavy Slave
Feb 19, 2012
Long story short, we've been using Carefresh bedding in Quee and Kwee's cage for a few months now. We'd like to try fleece, but we live in an apartment where we have to pay for each load of laundry, so the costs of washing it would add up quite rapidly, in addition to what we already pay just to wash our own clothes. We generally use half a bag of Carefresh to cover the 2x4 cage, and that lasts about a week between full purges with occasional spot sweeping/scrubbing.

Anyway, Carefresh is a bit expensive, dusty, has an odd smell to it, and frankly...it's just ugly. Brown scraps of...stuff. Also, the pigs tend to kick it everywhere outside of the cage when they run around.

Is aspen a good bedding material? I've read that it's cheaper and cleaner than Carefresh and that it's safe for pigs, but I've also read that it's dangerous for their health, like pine and cedar. Any thoughts?
Aspen is fine bedding. It IS less expensive than Carefresh but it can be heavy when went. Aspen is not dangerous to their health. It's the one wood-based bedding (other than kiln-dried pine) that is not dangerous for them.

Anothing something to keep in mind, if you don't like the plain color of Carefresh, there is one that looks much nicer. There is white Carefresh, which looks a lot cleaner when new in the cage.
I have read things about even aspen and kiln dried pine being of questionable safety. I've heard of it contributing to URIs and skin problems, such as dry skin.

I was going to try using kiln dried pine in my pigs' kitchen/bathroom area, but I'm shying away from it now.
White carefresh is more expensive than the brown carefresh. (I'm forgetting the actual names of the lines, I think it's Ultra and Natural?) So it's not really going to help save any money.

I do a mix of Carefresh and aspen shavings in George's cage. It actually looks a lot better than just plain brown Carefresh, it stretches my Carefresh, and it's a bit easier to see the dirty spots.
I'd recommend trying this and seeing if you like it, and maybe you can switch to using just all aspen. For some reason, I prefer using the blend, rather than using all aspen. It's just a weird personal preference. :D

Eventually I'm going to switch to fleece, but for now I like this method. :eek:
I have read things about even aspen and kiln dried pine being of questionable safety. I've heard of it contributing to URIs and skin problems, such as dry skin.

Nope! It's cedar and pine that contribute to URIs because of the aeromatic oils. Aspen and kiln-dried pine are perfectly safe for pigs.

I was going to try using kiln dried pine in my pigs' kitchen/bathroom area, but I'm shying away from it now.

As long as you are sure it's kiln-dried, you are in the clear to go ahead and use it.
No, I've definitely heard anecdotal evidence of kiln dried pine and aspen contributing to URIs and skin problems. That is, I have definitely heard of owners who had pigs with chronic URIs and chronic skin problems who switched from aspen or kiln dried pine to carefresh or fleece and the problem went away.

I know that it is cedar and non kiln dried pine that we usually associate with these kinds of problems, and I have no doubt that they are much worse. However, it was not that long ago that we thought these types of shavings were completely safe. Perhaps it will turn out that, in the stories that I've heard, that it was other things, that the owner wasn't aware of, that cured these chronic conditions. On the other hand, it may turn out that these are not as safe as we think they are.

I'm not saying that they're definitely unsafe, I just wanted to weigh in with the anecdotal evidence that I've heard.
I have used aspen in the past and my anecdotal evidence is that it was completely okay. There were no issues. It's possible that the people who had the issues with the aspen, kept their animals in aquarium type cages where there was no open airflow.
Before I switched to fleece, I used kiln dried pine for years with no problems. Personally, I don't like the smell of aspen so I've only used it a couple of times. I've had a lot of different breeds over the years and noticed that the longer and coarser furred guinea pigs tend to have more skin issues than the shorter, fine haired ones. It might have something to do with not enough air circulation on the skin rather than the bedding. There is definitely a big difference between different brands of kiln dried pine, too. The finer the bedding, the more dust. I also agree that poor air circulation in the cage can lead to URIs.
I personally have never seen brown Carefresh before, but I have seen Carefresh in white, blue, green, pink, and multicoloured. I use the blue ones for my hamster, Leo.

I don't like the white ones. They can get a bit murky and grey-ish yellow if you don't change it every few days (I know this only because I saw someone else using white Carefresh; I had never bought white Carefresh because I didn't like the colour).

The blue ones seem just fine. There isn't much of a colour change. Then again, I change it every 3 days.

I hope this helps.
I use the white Carefresh (and good thing, as it is letting me monitor the blood in Borat's urine at the moment), but it is indeed expensive. I actually like Kaytee Clean and Cozy (also paper, but more like tissue) better for its absorbancy, and the pigs like it better because it's softer. However, it gets EVERYWHERE because it's so light. It's cheaper in most stores than Carefresh so you might want to try it. Amy popcorns like a mad pig when I use the Kaytee, which just makes it fly around more.

I line the cages with newspaper under the bedding and spot clean (remove soiled paper/bedding) once or twice a day, and I've noticed a lot more of the urine goes down to the paper with Kaytee than Carefresh. I prefer that because it saves more bedding, and it's very easy to replace sections of paper as needed.
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