We have seen some pretty heavy discussion about whether guinea pigs should be drinking from bowls or bottles. If you head to a pet store, then they will likely have both available. So, which one is right for them? While most people will opt for a water bottle for their guinea pig, can guinea pigs drink from a bowl?
On this page, we want to run you through the answer to this question, as well as give a comparison to water bottles. This way, you should discover exactly what is going to be the right option for your furry friend.
Can Guinea Pigs Drink From a Bowl?
There is absolutely nothing wrong with guinea pigs drinking from bowls. However, if you have a guinea pig that has grown up drinking from a water bottle, then they will probably find it difficult to start drinking from a water bowl. There is nothing that says you won’t be able to train them to drink from said water bowl, but it is probably going to be more hassle than it is worth.
How Do I Get My Guinea Pig to Drink from a Bowl?
As we said, you will have a much greater chance of encouraging a guinea pig to drink from a bowl if they have managed to grow up drinking from a water bowl. There are some guinea pig owners that try to transition to water bowls later on in the guinea pig’s life, but they tend to do it wrong. The result? The guinea pig won’t drink from the bowl. There is one method that seems to work the majority of the time, though.
If you are trying to make the guinea pig transition to a water bowl, then you will probably want to ensure that they quit the water bottle ‘cold turkey’. There are a few people out there that will give their guinea pigs a bowl alongside the bottle. The problem is that if the guinea pig is comfortable drinking from that bottle, they aren’t going to touch the water bowl. This means that you just need to take the bottle away.
Trust us, your guinea pig is not going to dehydrate when you take their water bottle away. They will be able to sense that there is water in a bowl for them to drink from. If they don’t seem to spot the fact that there is water right there in front of them, then you can try and splash it about a little bit. This may encourage the guinea pig to check it out. As long as the bowl isn’t too high (we will talk more about this in a short while), then they should easily be able to start drinking.
That being said, it may be worth taking the time to watch your guinea pig’s water consumption for a day or two. If they do not seem to be drinking from the water bowl, then you will want to try and work out what the problem is. A lot of the time, it is because the water bottle is going to be a little bit too high or, in rare cases, it is because the water is dirty or inaccessible. Once you have dealt with the problem, then it is likely that the guinea pig will start to drink from the bowl.
Honestly, it is very, very rare that a guinea pig will never drink from a water bowl. If you have tried for a few days and nothing seems to be happening and they only want to drink from the bottle, then just give up. There are no benefits from drinking from the bowl that is worth pursuing it that heavily.
What Are the Benefits of a Water Bowl?
There are several reasons why you may want to use a water bowl with a guinea pig.
One of the most common reasons cited is the fact that it is incredibly quiet. If you have ever heard a guinea pig drink from a bottle, then you know that it is going to be incredibly loud. Now, we know that loudness shouldn’t be the main reason why you choose something. We know that guinea pigs can be active at odd hours and, if you have one living in your home, it is going to be incredibly loud constantly hearing them drinking from a bottle.
Water bowls tend to be easy to clean too. If you have a bottle, then it can be pretty difficult to put your hand into it and ensure that everything is given a good scrub down. This means that there may be some lingering bacteria, and that is not going to be good for the guinea pig.
When you use a water bowl, you will also be getting closer to the natural behavior of the guinea pig. Now, obviously, domesticated guinea pigs are not exactly the same as wild guinea pigs. They have been heavily bred. However, they will still have those behaviors that help them to survive e.g. where to drink from and what to eat. This isn’t something that can bred out of them. Using a water bowl is similar, but not exactly the same, as where your guinea pig would be drinking from if you let them loose outside (please don’t do that!)
In addition to this, there are some people that say that guinea pigs are more likely to drink water from a bowl than from a bottle. Some people have reported that their vets have told them that water bowls can help when it comes to calcium deficiency in guinea pigs. Not because the water provides calcium, but because it can really help to alleviate the symptoms of the deficiency and encourage the guinea pig to prevent themselves from becoming dehydrated.
What are the Downsides of a Water Bowl?
One thing we want to clear up here is that guinea pigs cannot suffocate drinking water from a bowl. We read this ‘rumor’ online during the research for this article, and it seemed to appear in several different places. This is not going to happen to a guinea pig. How do you think guinea pigs drink water in the wild? They don’t have access to water bottles. They just drink from puddles, slow-flowing rivers, lakes, etc. We can assure you that any water bowl that you give your guinea pig will be far less deadly than either of those.
The major downside is that if you buy the wrong water bowl, there is a small chance that your guinea pig will end up tipping it over. You really do not want your guinea pig to be tipping a water bowl over. It will ruin the bedding, and it is going to be a major cleaning job. If you look to the next section, we will give you a few tips on ensuring that you choose the right water bowl for your guinea pig.
On top of this, water bowls can get dirty very, very quickly. While water bottles are a sealed unit, water bowls are just going to be out there in the open. This means that all sorts of dirt and debris will fall into the bowl. While most guinea pigs are probably not going to have any issues actually drinking from a dirty water bowl, you will still need to clean it regularly to help prevent the build-up of any bacteria.
Finally, water bowls just take up space in the cage. So, if you have a water bowl, you have to remember that the guinea pig is going to have far less opportunity to just roam around and ‘do their thing’
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What Should You Look for in a Good Water Bowl?
Alright. So you want a water bowl, what makes a good water bowl?
You should only ever be buying a water bowl made from ceramic. You should never be using a metal or a plastic one. If you do, then your guinea pig is liable to tip them over. In fact, they will probably do it within seconds of them starting to drink from the bowl.
The only exception to this rule is if you buy a water bowl that clips to the cage. These are impossible to tip over, so you don’t have to worry about the material. Plastic is probably going to be your best option here.
Size of the Water Bowl
The actual circumference of the water bowl doesn’t matter that much. If you own a water bowl, you will be refilling it a couple of times per day anyway. This is to ensure that your guinea pig will always have access to the water that they need.
We are talking about the actual height of the water bowl. We are sure that you have noticed already, but guinea pigs are not the best climbers. They can’t arch their back all that much, and they have rather tiny legs. This means that the water bowl shouldn’t have high walls. If it does, then your guinea pig is going to have a tough time drinking from it.
Honestly, these two things are the only things that you should be worrying about when you are looking to buy a guinea pig bowl. As long as you ensure that you purchase a guinea pig bowl from a reputable vendor, then you shouldn’t run into any issues. A decent guinea pig bowl is going to last you for years.
Water Bowl vs Water Bottle
So, now for the big one. Let’s put water bowl vs water bottle and help you to decide, once and for all, which one is going to be the best option for your guinea pig.
Water bottles are noisy. They have that little ball inside of them decide to stop water from leaking out. However, once your guinea pig starts to drink, that small ball is going to be bouncing up and down. It is going to be incredibly annoying in the middle of the night.
Ease of Access
If you have multiple guinea pigs, which you probably should do since they are herd animals, you will likely have them at two different heights.
When you attach a water bottle to the cage, it needs to be put on at a very specific height. If you put it too high, one guinea pig may not be able to reach it. If you put it too low, the same problem could also happen.
This is not something that you need to worry about with a bowl. As long as you have one with shallow enough sides, then your guinea pig should have absolutely no issues drinking from it, no matter their height.
It is fair to say that water bottles are more sanitary than water bowls.
If you have a water bottle, then you may only need to change the water once every day or so. Do not let it hang around for too long because still water attracts bacteria.
On the other hand, your guinea pig will likely pee and poop inside of the water bowl. This means that it is not uncommon to change the water bowl 3-4 times per day.
Water bowls are always at risk of being tipped over by the guinea pig. However, if you get a ceramic bowl, the chances of this happening are minimal.
A water bottle can leak. In fact, a water bottle is more likely to wet the bedding in the cage than a water bowl (if you choose a decent water bowl). This is because bottles will wear out over time. They will need to be replaced a lot more often. A decent bowl could last years.
Water bottles will take up a fraction of the space that a water bowl will take up. So, if your guinea pig has limited cage space, you may want to opt for a bottle instead.
Guinea pigs can drink from water bowls. To be honest, there is no major advantage for a guinea pig to be drinking from a water bowl in comparison to a bottle. Both will hydrate your guinea pig. You should just go for the option that seems to work best for your animal.