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We currently own four guinea pigs. Hay is important to guineas, to help their digestion and to grind their teeth on, so it's part of the regular shopping list for keeping them healthy and happy.
But hay has a nasty habit of being dragged through the house on the children's shoes, falling into the washing-drying basket, forming tumbleweed under the radiators and generally getting everywhere and driving me stark stare raving mad. This is why the happy invention of hay cookies is a positive boon: unlike loose hay, a hay cookie stays in the cage.
It's the same amount of hay (a kilo) as a normal bag of hay that you can buy from most pet shops, but compressed down into rounds. They're about an inch thick and palm-sized, with usually six or seven to a packet. The cookies are pure meadow hay, according to the packaging. Because it's all squashed down, less plastic is used as wrapping, so it's better for the environment in that way.
It is recommended that you feed half a cookie a day per guinea pig, and you can break the cookies up if you like. I usually just put in one per cage until it's all gone (within a day or two) and then put in another. My guineas like these: they gnaw their way through merrily, and seem pleased when they get one, squeaking musically.
The disadvantages of the cookies is the hay isn't long or good for burrowing through, hiding in or sleeping in particularly, it's only good for eating. Cappuccino does break up his and lie on it when he's eaten his fill, while the others' just vanishes mysteriously. The cookies are interesting to them, but don't have as much play value as loose hay. However, the benefit to me of not having the brush & hoover clogged up with hay balances that out, in my view! The hay doesn't escape all over the place in the same way - little mess going from packaging into the cages, and none being kicked out.
Hay cookies are recommended for small animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas and degus. A packet is sold at around the £4 mark, from most good pet shops.
I am the owner of 3 guinea pigs and hay is something they get through in an abundance. Not only is hay jam packed full of fibre to keep their digestive systems moving and in tip top condition, hay is also an important tool in helping to grind down a rodent's teeth which grow continuously.
My trio love their hay with a passion and they seem to spend most of their day chomping away. I was browsing in Pets at Home recently when I spotted these hay cookies, they seemed a novel way of providing hay and promoting chewing, due to the fact that the hay is very compressed your pig will only need 1 cookie a day and it takes longer to eat and requires a lot more chewing than normal hay.
The meadow hay in these cookies is lovely and green which means it is fresh, I don't know if your guinea pigs are like mine but my trio will only eat the freshest hay, they turn their noses up at anything remotely brown or dusty!
These cookies are securely wrapped in a clear plastic so you can see exactly what you are getting, on the back is all the nutritional values and essential information as well as a guide on how much to feed depending on your particular rodent. On average you get around 7 chunky cookies per pack.
These cookies went down a storm with my pigs and they ate them along side their regular hay, though it is fine to feed them on their own. My boys loved chewing on these though when they have been chewed to bits they are quite messy, I found hay scattered everywhere, but then again they are no messier than regular hay which also seems to end up strewn throughout their cage!
These cookies are reasonably expensive at over £4 for a pack, I buy these now and again as a treat and they have proven to be very popular, I would definately recommend these to other rodent owners.
I have to say that behind my children, my pets are almost as spoiled as they are, with every trip to my local "Pets at home" seeming to cost me twice the amount it should!
One thing that my guinea pigs love is hay, they should always have a supply of fresh hay anyway, this is for them to nibble on to help grind down their teeth, but also to aid digestion of food.
I purchased the thing I will no review for you as I thought it would aid there teeth more, still help their digestion but with the bonus of something to play with too, how wrong could I have been!
The product in question is - "Boredom breakers hay cookies".
There are many ideas behind this product, more environmentally sound as there is much less packaging needed to sell them, cleaner to use, as with the bags of loose hay there will always inevitably be mess and quite a lot of dust from the bag too, and also the "fun factor", I would imagine my guinea pigs get incredibly bored, so I have found that giving them plenty of things to chew, especially foody type products keep them entertained, with my two visible wetting them selves with excitement when a willow ball appears for their delectation!
Within a 1kg pack, there are around 7 "cookies" which are simply round discs of pressed hay, not pressed so tightly that there are brick like, but enough to give any small animal these have purchased for a good nibbling session, helping to grind down there ever growing teeth, as if left to grow too log will cause them a great deal of discomfort.
The ingredients of each cookie is simply fresh meadow hay, with it stating that nothing else is needed to be added due to nature providing all that is needed.
I was looking forward to seeing how my boys reacted to these, as anything that can be eaten and played with at the same time is a joy to them, actually it sounds like the sort of thing my own kids would like too!
For a single guinea pig only ½ a cookie is needed per day, and it does state that these are easy enough to break in half (it is not, I have tried!), and that some animals may prefer it in that form, which again would defeat the whole point of this being a hassle, mess free product!
I have two "boys" so threw a whole cookie in for them.
They were actually a little wary of this, they could smell that it was hay but couldn't understand why it was a block and they couldn't run through it and fling it about like they normally do, though after about ½ an hour they did start to nibble it.
And herein lives the problem, these are made from good quality hay, and in a format that may well work for some peoples pets, but unfortunately mine were not impressed at all....how do I know, well, every time I went to get my coat from the coat/guinea pig food cupboard, Fudge squeaked so loudly for hay my husband could hear him over the television, and it had to be hay he was after, as he had everything else he required ( a point to make is that there should always be a steady supply of fresh drinking water for your pets, guinea pigs hate stale water, as we would do too!).
The problem with my boys is not the fact that they didn't like it (they still managed to eat the pack of cookies I had purchased for them!) but more the fact that they missed me piling a huge mound of hay into their cage, then watching them run around like lunatics, making little burrows through the centre of the pile, and flicking it all over my floor.....again very much like my children!
So this or my boys is just missing the "fun" element.
Price wise these are available from most good pets shops and even on www.amazon.co.uk for around the £1.50-£2.00 mark, which is around the same for a bag of loose hay.
This is a nice concept that may well work for anyone who owns a small pet such as rabbits, chinchilla's, degus or of course guinea pigs, though for my two they weren't at all impressed!
Thanks for reading x