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Guinea pigs make great pets and are fairly easy to take care of. However, cleaning their cages and keeping them clean in general can be a bit tedious.
Regardless, it is a task that you simply can’t put aside. Not only is it vital for the health of your guinea pig, but keeping their cages clean is also one of the only ways you’ll be able to keep out unwanted pests like flies.
Flies, whether they be fruit flies or house flies, may seem harmless but are actually riddled with diseases and could cause serious health problems for your pets.
If you’re a guinea pig owner who has found yourself dealing with this problem, keep reading to learn how you can keep flies away from your guinea pig cage.
What Attracts Flies?
Before you are left having to deal with the nuisance that is flies, you should try everything in your power to prevent them from entering your home in the first place.
For the most part, flies are attracted to anything damp. This means your guinea pig cage, where they use the bathroom, is a prime spot for flies.
Another common attraction for flies is food, particularly food that has been left sitting out for too long. If you’re a fan of feeding your guinea pigs fresh fruits and veggies, make sure that you are clearing out any food they didn’t finish and that has been sitting there longer than a day.
If you prefer to use hay in your guinea pig’s cage as opposed to traditional bedding, you may be inadvertently attracting flies. This is especially true if the hay is moist.
How Do Flies Affect My Guinea Pig?
Though they might not seem to be much of a threat, flies can cause significant damage to your guinea pigs. So much so, in fact, that they can end up feeding on your guinea pigs or using them as breeding grounds.
As horrible as it may sound, flies will aim for any areas on your guinea pig that are most vulnerable. This means areas such as their eyes, ears, and anus. If your pet happens to have any sort of superficial injury or a fungus growing, a fly will also try to attack that area.
Another thing to consider is that a guinea pig’s bedding, if not changed often enough, can also be an attraction for flies. If your guinea pig’s fur gets matted with their own feces or urine, the flies will be even more attracted to your furry friend.
When flies attack guinea pigs, they will lay eggs and, in just a few hours, the larvae will hatch and start to feed on your guinea pig straight away. This is commonly known as flystrike.
To prevent this, it is vital that you keep your pet’s cage clean, dry, and empty of old or uneaten food.
What Exactly Is Flystrike?
As previously mentioned, flystrike is a painful and dangerous condition that involves flies laying eggs on your guinea pig or in their cages. The eggs later hatch into maggots.
As if having maggots in your guinea pig’s cage wasn’t bad enough, they will eat away the flesh of your guinea pigs, which will eventually cause them to die. By this point, the only way to really help your pet is by taking them to a vet and having them treated there.
Keep in mind that your maggot problem tends to get much worse if it takes place during the hot summer months. Flies thrive during this time and the more flies that you have, the more eggs will be laid.
Not only that, but the eggs tend to hatch at a much quicker pace during the hot summer months.
In order to prevent flystrike from affecting your animal, keep in mind that you must make sure that they are clean at all times.
Many pet owners may not be aware when their pets are suffering from flystrike, so it’s important to keep a close eye on your guinea pig to make sure that they aren’t suffering from any of the typical flystrike symptoms.
These include maggots on your guinea pig’s bottom, a significant amount of flies near their cage, missing fur, and more. If you have noticed any of those symptoms on your pet, be sure to take them to the vet as soon as you can.
Be sure to let your vet know of the symptoms that your pet is experiencing and inform them of the fly situation. One of the worst things you can do is leave your pet alone and hope that the situation solves itself. Unfortunately, most of the time it won’t.
Under no circumstances should you take matters into your own hands. Do not try to remove any maggots that have attached themselves to your guinea pig on your own, as this could cause them to go into shock.
The best thing you can do is have them visit your vet, where they will not only be able to safely remove the maggots but also to prescribe antibiotics for your guinea pig to take. These antibiotics will help in keeping other infections at bay while also helping your furry friend heal.
The sooner you get help, the more likely your guinea pig’s chances of survival are. If you wait too long, however, a vet may deem your pet too sick to save and you will eventually have to decide whether or not you want to put them out of the pain they are in.
Don’t risk putting your guinea pig through the horrors that come with flystrike. Be sure to check in on them throughout the day to make sure that they are staying clean.
If you find matted fur anywhere on their body, you will need to clean them yourself as they are likely having an issue with self-cleaning.
Guinea pigs that are old or suffer from chronic conditions tend to have a harder time cleaning themselves than other healthier guinea pigs do. If you know that your pet suffers from any of these things, be sure to help clean them.
Although most people tend to keep their guinea pigs indoors, some may not. It is not advisable that you keep them outside as they are more likely to suffer from flystrike outdoors.
Make sure that you are also feeding your guinea pig a healthy diet. This way, they won’t suffer from stomach problems that could cause them to have diarrhea, which could in turn attract more flies.
Because of their thick fur, it can be hard to tell when a guinea pig gets hurt. However, leaving a wound untreated is guaranteed to attract flies.
If your pet is acting strangely or moving unusually, be sure to do a thorough check to make sure that they aren’t injured in any way. Remember, flies are attracted to open wounds.
If you are lucky enough, you may be able to catch fly eggs on the fur of your guinea pig before they hatch. If you do, be sure to take them to the vet right away.
They will be able to remove the eggs, but only if you’ve caught them in time, before they begin to hatch.
How to Keep Flies Away from Your Guinea Pig Cage
The most obvious thing that you can do to prevent flies from getting into your guinea pig cage is to keep your pet’s cage as clean and dry as possible.
Be sure to change out the bedding and clean the cage at least once a week. You will also want to switch out any old and uneaten food, as we mentioned earlier.
Another thing you can do is make sure that you are using an absorbent bedding for your guinea pig. This means having to spring for the good stuff every once in a while, as cheaper alternatives to guinea pig bedding tend to not be as absorptive.
Although guinea pigs tend to clean themselves, be sure to give them a wipe down every once in a while, especially if your pet is sick or you see matted fur. This is a surefire way to keep any type of fly away from your guinea pig.
How Do I Get Rid of Flies?
If you have found yourself deep in a fly infestation, rest assured that there are ways to solve this problem. Your best and safest bet would be to use sticky fly traps. These are free of chemicals and more efficient than you might think.
Place them around your guinea pig cage, far from your animal but close enough to their cage that they will attract any flies lurking about.
Again, you can always prevent this fly situation from happening in the first place by keeping your guinea pig cage clean and free of old food. You may also want to consider getting a sturdy water bottle for your pet so that it doesn’t leak whenever they drink from it.