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General Cost cutting?


Well-known Member
Cavy Slave
Feb 26, 2012
So, as some of you may know, I'm getting two boys in April. So, I've been working hard on getting their new cage and getting their supplies. Also, in the midst of that, I'm getting the girls their first C&C cage, so money is getting a little strained. I was wondering if any one had any suggestions to cut down costs? The cheaper the better. Some specific questions I have are-

1. How can I make some homemade hideys? I have one already prepaired out of a cardboard box, but other then that I'm stumped.

2. Is there any way I could use some old bowls I have in the house to use as their food bowls?

3. What about hay things? I know you can also use boxes, or extra grids, but are there any other ways?

4. Where is the absolutely cheapest place to get grids? I've read bed bath and beyond with a coupon, but is that true?

5. Once they are settled in and money is a bit looser, can anyone direct me to some online shops that sell guinea pig accessories? I know there are loads, but I'd like some personal opinions.

Thanks for the advice in advance!
1: You could make Fleece Forests with a leftover grid. You can drape a towel over one corner of the cage. You can take some soda pop boxes and cut holes in the ends. (or do whatever sounds good to you with the soda pop box) There are plenty of ideas.

2: You can use just about anything as a food dish. It mainly depends on owners opinions. All the Piggies care about is that they can get their food out of it. We need some more info on what type of bowls you have so we can share our thoughts. But most likely you can use them, if the Piggy can eat out of them and if they don't tip them over when they eat.

3: If you have wood and wood glue, it wouldn't be too hard to make a manger by yourself. Just get 2 big (thickness wise) sticks for the sides of the manger, and lay as many sticks as necessary over the two sides, front and back, to make it look like a manger. Eh..... A pigture may help. That isn't exactly how I made mine, but it is somewhat like it. I created mine (well, my grandpa did anyway) like this: We took 4 pieces of wood for the sides of the manger. We then took 6 more pieces of wood, 3 for the front frame of the manger and 3 for the back frame. You glue 2 of the side pieces together at an acute angle, and then do the other 2 pieces the same way. Now, glue the 3 front frame pieces to the side frames at intervals to allow the hay to be easily accessed. Repeat the process for the back frame, except now you are going to need the pieces to go straight up like a ladder. I hope this is helpful...... I should just take pictures, but don't wanna dig out a camera. You can almost make a hay manger just by looking at pictures, really. Sorry this is so long! I wanna help, though.

4: Bed Bath and Beyond, may be a good source for grids, but I am no expert. I have heard that their grids don't have nearly as good of circulation as the ones at other stores, because their openings are shaped like circles and not squares. Plus there are fewer of the circles on each grid. I would definitely check the hardware section of about any store. Michigan has a store chain called Meijers, and they sell 6 storage cubes (made out of 5 grids, so 5 grids X 6 cubes= 30 grids) for $20. I think that is a good price, and have bought 3 packs since we decided to build a C&C: 1 pack for the cage, another for a play pen, and another for....... the future and some Fleece Forests.

5: I have never shopped online for my girls yet except for Hay, which you might not consider an accessory. I am assuming that you aren't considering accessories to be food and the like, but just in case:

I recommend (broken link removed) as they have the best quality Timothy Hay, of all cuttings, that you will EVER find. GUARANTEED. Also, a 9 lb box that arrived in a few months ago still has about half of it's quantity left. I dunno, though. I wasn't paying any attention to the exact quantity, but I bet I have at least 4 pounds left. Their pellets are also top-notch from what I hear, and are made strictly with Timothy Hay and other healthy Piggy products.

I would also say that for accessories, you could go to Guinea Pig Supplies, Guinea Pig Food, Guinea Pig Cages from GuineaPigSupply.com for certain items. They sell pet store cages...... but their products are still somewhat neat. I haven't ordered from them, but I have wanted to at certain times because of their somewhat extensive inventory.

I would LOVE to order from PiggyBedSpreads.com Making Your Guinea Pig's World a Beautiful Place!, and if you have been at this site for a while, you should already know why. They are a bit overpriced for me, but if I ever needed an awesome litter box or snug-fitting cage liner for any size C&C cage, I would go there first.

You should check out (broken link removed) if you ever need a specialized shampoo for your Piggies. They have specialized flea/tick shampoos, special skin shampoos, general shampoos..... ALL PIGGY SAFE!


So, I hope I have been a help. This has been one of my longest posts!


Good luck!

Check your local craigslist for grids. I have found most of mine on there. Search "storage cubes" or "wire storage".

For bedding Fleece is the best way to go. www.yourfleece.com has great deals (sign up for their eamils for their coupons) or your local joann fabric with coupons.

Buy hay in bales from a local farmer. 1 bale should last you about a year.

Pellets the best place to buy is Kleenmama's the shipping may look expensive but if you take in the gas and time it would take to buy those tiny crappy bags of pellets from a pet store you will be saving a ton.

Toys here is a fantastic list I have made for my personal use:

1. A box: Really, any kind of box will do. An empty soda box, tissue box etc… Cut an entrance hole big enough for your guinea pig to fit through, make sure all plastic tape or laminated coating is removed, and place it in their cage. Don't be surprised if it has chew marks on it within the hour. Remove when soiled.

2. Cardboard rolls: Take an empty toilet paper or paper towel roll and cut it length- wise so there's no chance your pig will get stuck in it. You can give this to your pig as is or stuff it with hay. Or take a paper punch and punch a hole in it and string it up in the cage. They like to push it, pull it and try to get it down. Another one is a snack tube. Take a toilet paper tube and make 2 slits in each end so you can fold them in to make a container for their favorite fruit or veggie treat.

3. Paper plates: Some pigs enjoy flipping these around; others like to hide under them. I take a paper plate and fold it in half so it makes a kind of tent. Make sure you use a plain paper plate and not one with any kind of plastic coating, as plastic and laminating are very harmful to guinea pigs' digestive systems.

4. Tissue paper/newspaper: take plain white tissue paper, crumple it a bit and place in her cage. I think she enjoys the sound it makes when she moves it around- plus, it doubles as a hiding space. Open a sheet of news paper and stick it in the cage. Also very simple, but a big hit. Good to chew on, crawl under, play tug-of-war with. Make sure there are no staples. Most newspaper is made with soy-based dyes which are safe for the pigs. Check with your newspaper company if you are not sure.
5. Stuffies: Take a sock, stuff it with either clean bedding or hay, and tie off the end (you can also sew it shut if you like). Some pigs like to shove their socks around and show them whose boss while others cuddle with them almost like a stuffed animal. Plus, if it gets dirty you can wash it or just throw it away. Stuffed animals with NO beans inside or button/hard noses or eyes. They like to cuddle with them, bury under them, push them etc…Make sure they don’t chew it enough to get to the stuffing. They could really get sick. If they keep chewing to get to the stuffing remove all the stuffing and restful with hay and sew it up!!!

6. Pig sized sleeping bag: This sounds complicated, but really isn't. I used two old washcloths, but any similar sized pieces of fabric will do. Take the fabric and sew them together on three sides, then fold the open side back a bit (like a turtleneck sweater) so the sleeping bag stays opens. Voila! You have a pig sized sleeping bag they'll love to sleep in.

7. Tent: Take a piece of yarn or twine and tie it to the corner or in the middle(across) your cage, then place a piece of fabric or a sheet of newspaper and fold it over (I used part of an old pillow case). It sounds too easy to be useful, but my guinea pig loves to sleep in this tent and keep one eye on me to see if I approach the kitchen. There are also little pre-made tents available at pet stores that sell ferret toys but all you have to do to make one is attach various panels of fabric to the corner of the cage. Try different sizes and shapes to make creative enclosures

8. : House: a colander that was the same size as a plastic pigloo, plastic igloo shaped home for guinea pigs, cut a hole in it as big as your pig and you have a house. You can use wood and make your own. You can take Lincoln logs and make a little house. Be creative. Guinea pigs can see color and have color preferences so have fun changing it up!!!
9. Paper bags: either stuffed with hay, veggies, other edibles or empty.
10. Tunnels: there are many options, bending a grid into a curve and covering it with a towel, a piece of fleece or even a cheap book cover. Any box, container can be made into a tunnel. Oatmeal containers, 4 or 6”PVC piping. I especially favor 6” PVC piping. I cut an 8 inch chunk out and then cut an inch off the bottom creating a C shape so the tube doesn’t roll and so it is more comfortable to lay in.
11. Bricks, Cinder Blocks, Rough Stones or Ceramic tiles: May help in wearing down nails. Make a pad of bricks available in the summer time. They can lie on the cooler bricks. Also, you can put the bricks under the water bottle to help absorb drips and ensure they get their little claws on them. Or, make a little low pyramid with bricks (assuming you have a large cage) and put the food on the top platform. With bricks, cinder blocks, and stones, make sure there is NO danger of any item falling or dislodging in such a way that could hurt a piggy or piggy paw. Try putting the stones or bricks under or next to the hay racks, especially if you hang the hay racks from an upper deck in a cube cage. A cinder block with holes in it can make an interesting gym for them.
12. Balls: ping pong balls/Tennis Balls: better than cat toys as they will roll around easier on bedding.
13. Tossies: any lightweight container they can flip, toss or push. Like cleaned butter or margarine tubs place a favorite treat under and see how long it take to flip it.
14. Pine Cones: don't have the pine bedding risk, but they should be sterilized first. Bake first to sterilize at approximately 200° for 20-30 minutes on foil to catch any sap drippings. These might be a favorite.
15. Reflective objects: Mirrors are great for any animal. Make sure they are pet safe if you are putting it in the cage.
16. Fruit Tree Branches: Good chew treat, free if they come from your UNSPRAYED backyard. Untreated wood, twigs and logs that have been aged for at least 3 months. Apple tree branches can be eaten fresh off the tree. Stay away from: cherry, peach, apricot, plum (fruit trees with pits) and redwood branches, which are all poisonous.
17. Wooden Blocks: For chewing and pushing around. Please make sure any children's blocks are not coated with any sealants (shiny or smooth looking) and are basically just plain wood.
18. Snuggle tunnel: all you need is an open ended container (box, oatmeal container etc…that has 2 holes large enough for your guinea pig) and a piece of fabric 2-3 times longer than the container (preferably fleece). You roll up the fleece like a taco. Then insert it through the opening of the container. Center the container in the middle of the fabric taco. Then take the fabric at one end and start to unroll and flip it over the container. (similar to flipping up a cuff of a sleeve). You can also check out the you tube video I made there is a link in my website.
19. Look out: Take a sturdy box, stool or house that has a flat large roof. Add a ramp and place it in the middle of the cage. You will have given them a great look out spot to run up to and run down from.
20. Food balls: Take a piece of newspaper or other kind of safe paper and put a days worth of pellets in it. Pull all edges of paper up and twist real tight like a candy wrapper. There is no tape, glue or sting needed. You can put it in the cage as is or you can punch a few holes in it to make it a bit easier to open depending on how much your guinea pig likes to chew. You can also do this with any timothy cubes or fruit or veggie treats.
21. Food bounce back. Take a large or extra large plastic Easter egg and fill the bottom (fatter part) with cement, or take rocks and white glue to make a sturdy base. Then take the top half and very carefully carve out holes large enough for food to fall out when knocked. When all done you can fill with food and set in cage. They can knock it around and food will spill out.
22. Watermelon (or other food) House. Make sticks and lay them in down log cabin style to make a little box. Or you can take half a watermelon rind and cut a door in it for them to eat from.
23. Mini bags. Sew up a small bag with rice or barley. In the winter or if you have an older guinea pig just pop the bag in the microwave for a few seconds and let the piggies cuddle up to it.
24. Pellet ball: take a solid hard plastic ball and drill a few holes that are a bit bigger than a pellet. Drill about 3-5 holes into the ball. Then stuff the ball full of pellets and let them nose the pellets out. They will chase that thing until it is empty. A good way to keep piggies entertained.
25. Foraging pot: Take a large heavy container like a glass 8x11 baking dish. Put in some pellets, some hay, some tiny pieces of veggies. Then top with bits of cardboard, some paper, those wood chews you always buy but they never touch etc… Put it in the cage. The piggies will have to dig for their favorite treats and it will keep them busy and entertained for a long time.

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I can answer number four! YES YES and YES I have found the best grids at bed bath and beyond for 19.99 a box. They are sturdy and my precious cavies don't escape:cheerful: With a coupon I can imagine a better price. I have shopped around looking at walmart and target but nothing as good of a deal plus their grids aren't as sturdy.

For your home made hideys more than one box can be fun! Cut holes in different areas of the box and put hay in them. It makes it attractive plus a ton of fun for the cavy if you have them outside their cage (or inside). But boxes can be bulky and I tend to use them for their outside-the-cage time. There are some great cheap chewable hideys at walmart/target that can fit inside the cage. I am not great at making other hideys than the box LOL :shhh:
You can use PVC piping cut into tunnels from a home improvement store, or stuff hay into a paper bag.

I use small, ceramic Easter egg dip bowls as their pellet dishes. They were a dollar each at Safeway.

I have a shower basket for one pair of pig's hay holder, the other pigs have a utensil holder ( That I'm not sure I like yet). You will most likely have extra grids leftover. Unless you plan on making a giant cage, or make a grid stand, using one as a hay rack seems nice. Just make sure your pigs head's aren't small enough to get stuck in them. There' a recent thread about that issue that was horribly scary.

My favorite pig accessories come from Etsy.com. I really recommend Penny Gig designs and Cobb Cabin Crafts. Jen's custom crafts and piggiebedspreads also sell accessories.
FYI: My grids come from Bed Bath and Beyond and they are squares.
FYI: My grids come from Bed Bath and Beyond and they are squares.

I wasn't exactly sure either when I said that....... I must have been wrong.
a couple of things i've learned over the past few months: most of the stuff i bought for my boys they ended up not liking, and i spent too much money on. pigs, like kids, don't need stuff to make them happy - they like other pigs and YOU! and what they like or don't like is impossible to predict. i've also changed my cage and the stuff in it around more times than i can count, so whatever configuration and stuff you get, i practically guarantee that within a couple of months you'll be changing it up anyway! keep it simple - resist the urge to fill their cage with stuff- they like space to run and popcorn! if you really feel the need to get stuff, try shopping at dollar stores for cheap stuff, or look around your house for things you can use.
If you shop at Kmart or Sears have have a "preferred card" you earn points. I used my points and got my grids for almost nothing when they were on sale at Kmart. Depending upon which state you're in, Oxbow or Sweet Meadow hay could be cheaper than KM. All 3 sell quality boxed hay and it's the shipping cost that makes the difference. You can find a lot of supplies at thrift stores, Goodwill, Salvation Army, Craigslist or Freecycle.
4: Bed Bath and Beyond, may be a good source for grids, but I am no expert. I have heard that their grids don't have nearly as good of circulation as the ones at other stores, because their openings are shaped like circles and not squares.

Bed Bath and Beyond should sell the normal grids, specifically these ones:
(broken link removed)The circular ones are cheaper ($12-15/box) and come from Walmart - or atleast that's where I bought mine. You can see a pic of my cage here:

The bottom level is storage, I used the "circular" ones for that and the other 2 levels are the regular grids. The 2x3 cage is made from grids from Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Hope this helps!!
oh and paper bags some piggies go nuts for a paper bag.
I get grids at Goodwill and other thrift stores. Usually there are some great deals to be found that way. You can also find other cage items, like fleece and blankets/towels, and even food bowls at thrift stores.

I also don't use any disposable bedding, so I'm not spending money on CareFresh or aspen or anything else like that. We end up doing a lot of laundry, but detergent is cheaper by far.

You can also make hideys out of cheap pine pieces you can get at Home Depot or Lowe's if you have a drill and/or wood glue. I discovered this when a friend made some ledges and hideys for my chinchillas. Much cheaper and more durable than pet store items!

I put hay in 12-pack soda cartons cut in half, cereal boxes, etc. Keeps it up off the cage floor and it's no big deal to replace when/if the animals destroy it. You can also usually find great deals on hay either at a feed store or by checking locally on Craigslist or other local classified ads. CL is usually cheaper, actually I just found a farmer who sells second cut 80 lb. timothy bales for just four bucks!

Another cost saver, for me, is with produce. And this is huge for me. If you ask produce managers at your local grocery stores about trimmings or excess produce, they will sometimes give you produce that they are going to throw out for free or at a drastically reduced cost. Not all will do this, as some have company policies in place that disallow it, but if you are persistent and explain that the food is not for you or other people, but animals, you can usually find a place that will keep you in plenty of produce for free (or significantly less than normal). I haven't paid for produce for my rabbits and guinea pigs for quite some time, and considering the amount I go through, that has been a HUGE cost saver for us.
Wow! Super thanks everyone for the replies! I never thought so many people would give me advice! I will deffinetly use these. Thank you!!
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