Small Pet DIY Enrichment Ideas

Hey! It's been a while since we talked about Knuckles and how I entertain him. If you are new, you probably have no idea who Knuckles is. Knuckles is our five year old guinea pig that we have had since he was young. Last year, our other guinea pig BMO passed away which now means I need to work even harder to keep Knuckles entertained and not bored. I have been asked why I haven't got another guinea pig to hang out with him. The main reason is that at 5, getting a baby pig would mean that Knuckles would be outlived and I would be in this same situation again. I also haven't got another adult male pig because Knuckles is not really the friendliest pig, and even though he lived with BMO for four years, they still didn't really get on that much.


With this all in mind, I thought I would share some of the things I do over the course of a week to make Knuckles have something to do. These can be transferable to other small pets including rabbits, rats and probably birds! You may just need to change some of the flavours in the toys, or the materials used.

I purchased a roll of these brown paper bags at an emporium for super cheap. I think there is about 50 bags in the roll, and it was around $2. These are perfect for making toys out of since they are just paper, your small pet can easily rip them, and you get a lot for your buck. If you don't have these, you can use normal brown paper as well. For the first toy, I stuff the bag full with grass clippings and hay. Once stuffed, I twist the top to prevent the stuffing falling out, and make small holes in the bag that would allow Knuckles to nibble the stuffing through. For a rabbit, I used to leave it with no holes which makes it harder for them, but generally they will just chew their own holes into it. Knuckles is just super lazy so I have to make it easier for him. Also, in regards to the grass, you will want to hand clip this grass and have grass that has been untouched by any dogs or cats. I have a special area where I graze Knuckles that Diego cannot get to, so clip the grass from there. Guinea Pigs do need to eat grass directly from the ground to help grind down their teeth, but as a treat when it is raining or too hot to have him on the grass this is perfect.


Many years ago my younger sister taught me this trick, and I have used it ever since. You will want to get an empty toilet roll, and cut circles out of it like shown in the photos. You will also want to cut small chunks of vegetables for your pet. I used carrot as this is a treat for Knuckles, but sometimes fill it with apple, silverbeet or celery. You want these pieces of vegetables to fit inside the inner circle of the toilet roll tube. Once you have both of these things, you will want to start overlapping the rings of toilet roll until it starts to form a ball shape. Before the ball is fully covered, you will want to push the vegetables inside and then cover them with more toilet roll tube. I am not sure if I explained this very well, but the photos should show what I mean! Knuckles takes ages to work out these, and it is probably the most time consuming toy that I have made. I remember my mini lop Schmutz used to love these toys and would spend ages throwing the toilet roll ball around his cage.


Now, we will combine two of those toys together. We will fill one of the brown paper bags with vegetables, grass and hay and then roll it into a tube shape. Once this is done we will shove it in a toilet roll. This makes it a lot harder than having these as seperate toys and would work fantastic with rabbits and rats. Another way to do it if you don't have the paper bags, is to fill the toilet roll with your chosen stuffing and then fold down the ends of the roll to prevent the stuffing falling out.


The final toy doesn't involve paper bags or toilet rolls! It does involve fruit tree branches though. Mum recently cut some branches off an apple tree which worked out perfectly for me so I got branches for Knuckles. If you don't have a fruit tree that you are able to grab a branch from, I also have this wood toy from Forage NZ that also works amazingly. You will want to chop the branches into small pieces and then connect it like a skewer. That is why the Forage NZ toy would work best as it will save you the work! When you make the skewer, you will also want to skewer on vegetables that your pet will like. I used the pre-made toy for this post, and because it was already skewered, I used silverbeet on the toy as it an be ripped over the pieces of wood.


These are just a few of the simpler DIY toys that I make for Knuckles on a daily and weekly basis. These help him keep active, and use his brain in what otherwise could be a boring caged world. I would love to see photos if any of you try these out, and let me know if you would like me to continue doing guinea pig posts! I stopped for a long time because I didn't know if these kind of posts would be enjoyed by you guys, but I got some encouragement on our Vlogs when I showed off Knuckles. I would love to hear your feedback as well though.

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