My guinea pigs had a habit of knocking their water bottle down.
No matter what I tried, they’d find a way to knock it out of the wire holder.
After fighting this losing battle for months, I decided to use a water bowl instead.
Even though most guinea pig owners use a water bottle for their furry friend, guinea pigs can easily drink out of a bowl. After all, wild guinea pigs don’t have access to a bottle to drink from. Bowls are easier to wash and easier for guinea pigs to drink from, but they require more precautions and maintenance.
Read on to find out if switching to a bowl is right for your guinea pig, make the switch, and keep your guinea pig’s new bowl clean.
Table of Contents
What Are the Benefits of a Guinea Pig Water Bowl?
There are a few reasons guinea pig owners switch from the tried and trusted bottle to a bowl.
A few of the most common are listed below.
Easy to Access
A bowl is more accessible because it’s lower and easier to reach, so your guinea pigs might prefer drinking from a bowl instead of a bottle.
This is especially true for old, sick, or young guinea pigs who have difficulty raising their head and stretching their neck to drink from a bottle.
A bowl on the ground of the cage eliminates any reaching the guinea pig would have to do.
Since it’s easier access to water, your guinea pig may even increase their water consumption!
Easy to Learn
While drinking out of a bottle isn’t rocket science for the average guinea pig, it’s more complicated to learn than drinking out of a bowl.
Baby guinea pigs especially can benefit from this when they transition from drinking their mom’s milk to water.
A bowl offers water that is easy to interact with, while a bottle requires knowing how to press up on the metal ball to get the water.
Easy to Wash
A bowl is easier to wash and dry than a plastic bottle, a huge advantage of water bowls.
Bottles have nooks and crannies, which may require special tools like a bottle brush to clean.
Even then, some dirt or bacteria may be left behind.
This is the main drawback to water bottles.
A bowl for a guinea pig, on the other hand, is as easy to wash in soapy water as your everyday dishes.
If you get a dishwasher-safe bowl, it’s even easier.
The ticking noise from your guinea pig friends drinking from a bottle is pretty annoying if their cage is close to an area you sleep or relax in.
With a dish of water, there is nothing for your guinea pig to tick, click, or tap when they drink.
What Are the Drawbacks of a Guinea Pig Water Bowl?
Since we’ve covered the benefits of using a bowl, let’s talk about some issues.
The Water Will Get Dirty
Guinea pigs aren’t the cleanest creatures, so anything on or in their cage is at risk of getting dirty.
Instead, the open nature of a bowl lends itself to getting any sort of thing knocked into it.
This could include bedding, bits of food, and worst of all: feces.
Because of this, your guinea pig’s water is a source of bacteria, which can propagate and lead to sick guinea pigs if left unchecked.
This may also affect how much water your guinea pig drinks.
You wouldn’t want to drink contaminated water with gross things floating in it.
Neither does your guinea pig!
They Could Tip It Over
If you use a light, unsecured bowl, guinea pigs can tip it over from time to time.
The spilled water then creates wet bedding.
If you aren’t around to clean it up and replace it with fresh bedding, this can cause bacteria growth and sickness from being in a damp, cold environment.
If your little animal friend frequently tips their water, they likely won’t be drinking enough of it since the water source would be empty.
You’ll have to closely monitor for signs of dehydration if this is the case.
- Thick sticky saliva
- Crusty eyes
- Poor appetite
- A lower level of activity
- Small amounts of dark-colored urine,
- Hard, dry fecal pellets
Learn more about what guinea pig poop should smell and look like as an indication of health.
Tipping might also cause danger to baby guinea pigs since the bowl could fall on them and put their life at risk.
If you have young guinea pigs with an adult, you’ll have to be extra careful the adult doesn’t tip the bowl on top of the baby piggies.
They Might Jump In It
Another drawback of water bowls is some guinea pigs will take a swim in them.
This tracks bedding and fur into the water.
On the flip side, the guinea pig may track water out of the bowl and into the bedding.
Like tipping the bowl, this creates damp bedding and ties back into the drawbacks of health issues and not always having clean drinking water.
There is also a chance of drowning a baby guinea pig if the bowl is deep enough.
It’s More Maintenance
Overall, when it comes to the battle of bottle vs. water bowl, the bowl is more maintenance.
You will have to keep a closer eye on it and clean it more often because of the reasons above.
If you have a busy life, spend long hours away from home, or often travel for stretches of time, you won’t be able to clean a bowl multiple times a day if necessary.
How to Keep a Guinea Pig Water Bowl Clean
Luckily, there are ways to address or prevent the drawbacks, especially fouling and maintenance issues we just discussed.
If using a guinea pig water bowl, the best thing to do is prevent tipping.
There are a few ways to do this.
The easiest step is to use a ceramic bowl or another shallow, heavy bowl that is hard for a guinea pig to tip over.
If you want to use a light plastic bowl instead, tape it to the cage floor using duct tape or another sturdy tape.
Flimsy tape isn’t going to cut it.
Another option is to use a bowl with clips to attach to the side of the cage.
Whichever option you choose, make sure the bowl is stable and hard to tip over.
Location, Location, Location
Where you put the bowl in the cage is important and affects how dirty it will get.
It might be tempting to put the bowl next to the guinea pig food bowls, but this is asking for a mess.
Your guinea pig might drag his or her pellets into the water.
You also want to keep the bowl away from any toys, tunnels, or other obstacles.
A playing guinea pig is more likely to knock into the bowl, splash water, or throw bedding into the bowl.
Put in the Work
Keep an eye on the bowl and commit to regular washing.
Clean the bowl and replace it with fresh drinking water as needed throughout the day.
You will likely have to do this more often than using a bottle.
How to Switch from a Water Bottle to a Bowl
If you’ve decided the pros outweigh the cons, switching from a water bottle to a bowl is easy.
It is a very straightforward process taking little time or effort.
Add a bowl of water to an ideal location in the cage and make sure it’s secure by using a heavy bowl, duct tape, or cage clip.
Then test how easy it is to tip.
If it passes, you’re good to go!
Your guinea pig might check out the bowl right away, or they might ignore it.
Leave the bottle in the cage to start.
If you want to fully transition to a bowl, remove the bottle after the guinea pig is used to the bowl.
Monitor how much water your guinea pig drinks from the bowl and ensure they meet their water requirements.
Remember each guinea pig should be drinking around 100ml of water a day.
If you have multiple guinea pigs, spend some time watching if they are all using the bowl, the bottle, or a combination of the two.
Some guinea pigs prefer to use bottles, and some prefer drinking from bowls.
If your guinea pig doesn’t want to drink out of the bowl after a week, don’t force him or her to.
If your guinea pig is drinking enough fresh water from the bowl, remove the bottle from the cage.
Other Water Options For Guinea Pigs
If cleaning the nooks and crannies of your guinea pig’s bottle is too difficult and maintaining a clean water bowl isn’t an option, don’t fret; there are other options.
These include a gravity water system and side bars.
Essentially, any water source at the right height for guinea pigs to drink from will work, as long as it doesn’t endanger them.
Any system will have its pros and cons, so don’t be afraid to give different options a whirl until you find what works best for you and your piggie.