Shredded Paper as Guinea Pig Bedding: Pros, Cons, & Tips

Human bedding only needs to be soft and warm. Guinea pig bedding is more complicated as it must also be soft, absorbent, dust free, hygienic, non-toxic, odor-free, and affordable. Using ordinary shredded paper as guinea pig bedding is a hotly debated topic among piggy owners, with some using it exclusively while others avoid it entirely.

Shredded paper can be used as guinea pig bedding, but it is not ideal. The pros are that it is inexpensive, comfortable, and dust free. Cons are that it doesn’t absorb urine effectively, gets smelly quickly, and can be toxic if consumed. It is a good option for short-term use as temporary bedding.

If you have a paper shredder, you may think you have hit the jackpot, as you won’t have to buy bedding for your piggy cage ever again. While that might be true, let’s find out why this recycled option may not be as ideal as it seems.

Can Shredded Paper Be Used For Guinea Pig Bedding?

Just because you can do something doesn’t always mean that you should. Shredded paper is a tempting cavy bedding option since it is inexpensive and readily available. For many piggy parents, it is also a sensible way to recycle paper, and it can even be composted once it’s done time in the piggy cage.

Guinea pigs are active little animals that love to burrow in their bedding, so shredded paper may seem like an ideal option. It is inexpensive, light, and absorbent, so it can work well in some situations.

So far, everything sounds ideal, but there are a few significant downsides to this free resource. Firstly, not all paper is suitable to be used as bedding. Just because it has been through a shredder does not make all types of paper safe for piggies.

  • Some printed paper contains ink chemicals that aren’t safe. If you use newspaper, ensure it has been printed using non-toxic dye.
  • Some paper, like gift wrap, may be coated with a thin plastic film, making it hard and waterproof.
  • Shredding junk mail, envelopes, or anything other than printer paper may contain adhesives.

In addition, paper doesn’t stay fresh for as long as many other types of bedding. It becomes pulpy and forms damp, smelly clumps on the cage’s base when it is wet.

Shredded paper ticks quite a few boxes when it comes to providing a fluffy substrate for your cavies, but it isn’t ideal for everyone. It needs to be cleaned out and replaced more frequently than most other types of bedding.

Let’s take a side-by-side look at the pros and cons of using shredded paper as piggy bedding.



Cavies love burrowing, so clean shredded paper provides a stimulating environment.

It tends to become smelly quickly.

It’s inexpensive or free.

You need to clean the cage out more often.

Dust free

Some inks on the paper may be toxic.

It’s a recycled product and can be composted

It is not as soft as fleece or paper bedding

Paper quickly absorbs moisture.

Wet paper tends to form clumps at the bottom of the cage.

It can be insulating and feel comfortable while it is clean and dry

If the piggies chew it, it could form a blockage in their gut.

Paper bedding is an excellent option as temporary bedding when you’ve run out of your regular supply but need to clean the cage. It is also a super stimulating activity for your piggies to play in occasionally.

If you plan to use shredded paper, try teaming it up with a fleece liner below to wick wetness away quickly. Keeping it clean and fresh for extended periods may be challenging, so adding an absorbent liner below will make it stay dry for longer.

What To Look Out For When Choosing Guinea Pig Bedding

Choosing the most suitable bedding for your guinea pigs makes a difference in how your little pets experience the world. Being stuck in a smelly, damp environment isn’t pleasant, so piggy parents must know what to look for when selecting the best bedding.

To keep cavies healthy and content in their cage, their bedding should be:

  • Absorbent – Guinea pigs urinate a lot! Bedding should be super absorbent to keep moisture away from the animals.
  • Absorb odors – With a lot of urine and poop getting deposited on the bedding throughout the day, it can quickly become smelly.
  • Dust free – Cavies have short legs, and their noses are close to the bedding. To avoid respiratory issues, it is essential to select dust-free bedding.
  • Non-toxic – Piggies are curious, and they may chew their bedding.
  • Texture – Could the material cause an impaction in the gut if swallowed? Does it change form when it gets wet?

To make life easier for owners, it also helps if the type of bedding used is affordable and easy to clean. Wet shredded paper can form messy wet clumps in the cage that are difficult to remove.

What Is The Best Kind Of Bedding For Guinea Pigs?

The best bedding for guinea pigs provides insulation, cushioning and keeps wetness away from the surface. The material under their adorable little paws makes a big difference to a piggy’s health and well-being.

With so many options available, knowing which one to choose can be confusing. The best option is bedding that meets all the health requirements and fits your routine. If you have time to do a complete cage clean every few days, shredded paper bedding may work, but it is not suitable if you can only do a deep clean once a week.

Two safe choices for premium guinea pig bedding are:

  • Natural paper small pet bedding – This pillowy soft, dust-free paper bedding is twice as absorbent as shavings and super gentle on delicate feet.
  • Guinea pig fleece cage liners – The great thing about using a liner like this is that it is designed to keep the top layer dry. Although the initial outlay is high, the liner is washable and will last a long time. However, paper-based bedding has better odor control and allows the piggies to dig.

What Should Not Be Used As Guinea Pig Bedding?

Guinea pig cages should be as big as possible to give your cavies enough space to exercise and enjoy a stimulating environment. But with extra floor space comes additional costs for owners, as larger cages require more bedding.

Piggy owners may need to explore alternative, more budget-friendly bedding options. Although shredded paper or thick bathmats can work in a pinch, quite a few substrates should be avoided as they are unsuitable for guinea pigs.

Some materials to avoid when searching for alternatives to traditional guinea pig bedding include:

  • Straw – It is not absorbent, and the sharp pieces can cause eye injuries.
  • Wood shavings that are not dust extracted. Also, always avoid any pine or cedar bedding.
  • Clumping kitty litter – Keep your kitty litter for your cat’s litter box only. It is unsuitable for piggies and can be dangerous if the little animals nibble on it.
  • Shredded paper that contains harmful dyes – Not all ink used for printing is safe for cavies, especially if they ingest it.
  • Wire mesh flooring – Cavies have soft, delicate feet, and a bare wire floor would be very uncomfortable and may cause injury. In addition, soft bedding provides warmth and insulation.
  • Corn cob bedding – Tends to be messy and sticks to everything. In addition, piggies often try to eat it, which can result in abdominal blockages.


Although shredded paper is safe to use as guinea pig bedding, when it is wet, it forms sodden clumps in the cage that can be smelly. When shredded paper that doesn’t contain any harmful inks is used, it can be an excellent stimulation activity for the small animals to play in. It also works well as a bedding that cavies can burrow in when teamed up with an absorbent base like a fleece liner.