Aspen bedding for guinea pigs is an alternative type of wood shaving bedding to pine, but how does it compare to the more traditional shavings that we often find in the pet store?
Is aspen bedding safe for guinea pigs?
Wood shavings are a popular bedding to use in a guinea pig cage and aspen is preferable to pine shavings because this type of wood does not contain any aromatic oils (phenols) that are of so much concern to guinea pig owners.
This makes it a really safe alternative for those who like to use shavings but worry about using pine.
Aspen bedding should always be dust-extracted for guinea pigs to protect their sensitive respiratory system. This makes the shavings safe for our small pets.
Aspen bedding absorbency and odours
We tested the Small Pet Select Aspen shavings as it is 100% natural without any fragrances.
Unlike pine, aspen doesn’t really have a noticeable natural smell and we find aspen matches pine’s excellent odour controlling properties as there was no odour to the cage at all.
Compared to pine shavings, we found aspen was not quite as absorbent but still performs extremely well.
How often will I need to clean out aspen bedding?
You will need to spot clean your cage every day, removing any wet areas which we find generally occur in dark corners and in hideys. Always make sure your guinea pigs are left with plenty of bedding to absorb the urine so they don’t get a damp coat.
If it begins to look a bit thin in places when you spot clean, just add a few more shavings.
We found that when using aspen bedding, the cage needed a full clean after 5-6 days. The full clean involves completely removing all the bedding, washing down the cage and re-filling it with fresh clean substrate.
Is aspen comfortable for guinea pigs?
Aspen shavings are not quite as soft or fluffy as pine but it is a good soft bedding for your guinea pigs. If you wanted to add extra softness, you could add some bedding hay to their hideys and sleeping areas.
Is aspen bedding messy?
If you’re used to fleece bedding, any other options will be messier and, as with pine, hemp or paper bedding, using aspen will mean that you’ll end up with a few bits on your floor from time to time.
Like pine shavings, aspen tends to stick to fleece hideys so anything you use in your cage that is made of fleece will need a bit more of a brush down before putting in the washing machine. If you’re looking for a bedding that doesn’t stick so badly to fleece, hemp is a great option.
Can you compost aspen bedding?
Aspen bedding can be composted, so, if you have the outdoor space, you can put it in a composter or on a compost heap. However, you can actually put it straight on to your garden (apparently this is called “cold manure”) where it will break down much faster, particularly if you mix it with the top layer of soil.
Guinea pig poops have similar qualities to horse manure and are a great fertiliser. So even though you’re having to buy shavings on a regular basis, you can make the most of this potential compost and use it for your plants or vegetable plot!
When NOT to use aspen bedding
Any guinea pig who has very sensitive skin, has had a recent operation, open wound or is a hairless variety should be using fleece bedding. In those cases, aspen shavings are not soft enough and could irritate their skin.
Quality vs cost
It’s important that you choose the best quality bedding for your guinea pigs to keep them healthy, so check the aspen you buy is 100% natural with no additives and that it is kiln dried to remove dust. We recommend Small Pet Select Aspen Bedding which is really good quality.
Aspen bedding: pros and cons
Let's look at the advantages and disadvantages of aspen bedding:
- Great odour control
- Aspen has no smell
- No dangerous aromatic oils so 100% safe
- Lasts well between cleans
- Can be composted
- Gives the cage a natural looking environment
- More expensive than pine shavings
- Not quite as absorbent as pine or hemp bedding
- Need to keep buying it as it’s disposable
- Can be messy
We really liked the aspen bedding because, although it wasn’t as absorbent as pine or hemp, it still absorbed extremely well, didn’t smell at all and doesn't have the toxic aromatic oils that are naturally occurring in pine.
Aspen also gives a lovely natural and organic look to your cage set up.
We liked the fact that the Small Pet Select aspen was 100% natural with no additives and wasn’t dusty.
This bedding worked out a bit more costly than some of the others but we would rather pay more for a quality product than buy cheaply and end up with sick piggies.
We haven’t tried other brands of aspen but we would definitely recommend the Small Pet Select Aspen for guinea pigs as an excellent and safe bedding option.