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Can Guinea Pigs Eat Paper? Vet Approved Facts & Safety Guide

Kit Copson

By Kit Copson

shredded paper in a box

Vet approved

Dr. Chyrle Bonk Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Chyrle Bonk

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Paper is commonly placed in guinea pig habitats as something to play with or burrow in, but will it hurt them if they start munching on some? Typically, no. Chewing on or eating plain paper or newspaper (with non-toxic ink) now and then is a pretty normal behavior and isn’t usually harmful.

However, guinea pigs shouldn’t consume large quantities of paper, and they should have a variety of safe objects to chew on to prevent them from overdoing it with one material. Furthermore, a healthy diet and plenty of hay are essential. Read on to learn more.

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Is It Okay to Put Paper in My Guinea Pig’s Cage?

Yes. Scrunched-up pieces of plain paper (or paper with non-toxic ink) make fun and inexpensive toys for guinea pigs. They also love cardboard boxes and paper bags to hide in and shred up from time to time. It’s fine if they eat some of it—and eat it they most likely will—sometimes, but just keep an eye to make sure they’re not eating it all the time or eating large quantities of it.

Guinea pigs should be munching on a variety of foods, quality hay, and chew toys—not just paper, which has no nutritional value. If you observe your guinea pig eating large amounts of paper, remove it from the habitat and call your vet for advice.

Is Newspaper Toxic to Guinea Pigs?

It depends on the type of ink printed on the newspaper. Fortunately, in modern times, more than 90% of newspapers in the U.S. use soy ink, which isn’t toxic. This is in stark contrast to types of ink commonly used in the past which were petroleum-based and indeed toxic.

Nevertheless, it’s wise to check what kind of ink your daily newspaper uses before putting any in your pig’s cage because some may still use petroleum-based inks.

hand showing heap of shredded paper
Image Credit: Hafiez Razali, Shutterstock

Can I Put Cardboard in My Guinea Pig’s Cage?

Yes, cardboard is fine for guinea pigs as long as there’s no toxic ink on the cardboard. Also, watch out for glue, tape, or staples, as you don’t want your guinea pig swallowing these. As with paper, your guinea pig might chew on the cardboard, and, provided they’re not doing it constantly, this isn’t typically a problem.

What Happens If My Guinea Pig Eats Too Much Paper or Cardboard?

Many sources suggest that the consequences of this might range from an upset stomach to an intestinal blockage. This is why it’s wise to contact a vet if you suspect your guinea pig may have overindulged, just in case.

Moreover, guinea pigs that aren’t provided with a healthy diet and turn to eating items like paper instead may be suffering from serious nutritional deficiencies.

Why Is My Guinea Pig Obsessed with Paper?

Guinea pigs simply love (and need) to chew, and they have a special affinity for wood items. If your guinea pig only chews paper, you might want to consider whether their habitat has enough of a variety of chewable and edible items.

One of those items is hay. Guinea pigs need to eat hay for its fiber content, and their diets should be made up of around 80% of it. Hay is not only important for their digestion due to its fiber content, but they love chewing on it, which is great for wearing down their ever-growing teeth.

Guinea pigs also need other types of fresh greens and veggies (Swiss chard, spring greens, Bok choy, bell peppers, and many more) for vitamin C and, of course, for getting a good chew on. About ½-1 cup’s worth of these per day should do it.

High-quality guinea pig pellets (not muesli-type mixes) are also an essential part of a guinea pig’s diet. In addition to a healthy diet, there are a variety of toys and chew toys you can offer as well.

shredding paper using a machine
Image Credit: EKKAPHAN CHIMPALEE, Shutterstock

Toys for Guinea Pigs

Above, we discussed why guinea pigs need nice, crunchy hay and greens to crunch on, but a guinea pig that won’t stop chewing paper may be bored. By providing some simple but fun toys, you can help keep your cavy mentally stimulated.

Options include:
  • Wooden chew toys
  • Wood blocks with holes (can be stuffed with hay)
  • Hay twists
  • Tunnels
  • Scrunched-up paper balls
  • Cardboard boxes with holes cut in
  • Hammocks
  • Cuddle cups
  • Hay-stuffed toilet paper rolls
  • Wooden houses
  • Foraging puzzles
  • Ping pong balls
  • Light plastic containers (for tossing about)

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Final Thoughts

So, a bit of paper is unlikely to harm a guinea pig, but it certainly shouldn’t be offered as a food source and your guinea pig shouldn’t be constantly feasting on paper. If this is the case, make sure they are getting a balanced diet and think about how you can mentally stimulate your guinea pig. You should also offer other opportunities for chewing within the cage in the form of hay, toys, and crunchy veggies. Speak to your vet if the issue persists.

Featured Image Credit: mdbildes, Shutterstock

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