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Almost Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Fleece

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Almost Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Fleece

Post  CometCuppyParsley on Tue Jul 14, 2009 7:42 am

To sum it up in a sentence, pigs LOVE fleece. No bedding seems to make them happier. This has been my favorite bedding so far because even though frequent cleaning is a must, it is less of a hassle than other bedding I've used and is a lot more economic.

The Specs

Fleece is a soft fabric, often you will see blankets made out of it used by campers or just as normal blankets.

You want to get fleece that is made from 100% polyester, not 'real' fleece. There are a few different types of fleece out there the two most common are polar and anti-pill. If you can't find polar or anti-pill fleece, I know a couple people who us sherpa fleece instead.

Fleece comes in a large variety of colors and patterns, some pigs have 'favorite' colors, but it doesn't usually matter to them what color it is so pick the one you like.

Where to Buy

You can buy fleece at fabric stores, usually by the yard. You can get a nice range of choices this way, but it can be a bit expensive especially if you have a large cage.

You can also get fleece blankets from various places (Ikea, Albertson's, etc.). These tend to be big enough that you can fold it over twice and it fits perfectly in a 2x3 C&C cage, or even bigger. If you get fleece this way it may be a bit cheaper but you're usually limited to a small choice of a few solid colors. Red, dark blue, and forest green are very common.

You can get used fleece blankets from thrift stores and places like Goodwill. These are used and may not be in perfect condition, possibly faded or patched, but if you are careful you can get great fleece for great prices. You also have a wide variety of colors and patterns to choose from. This fleece has probably been washed several times before too, so you only need to wash it once or twice after you bring it home. This is also a great place to get towels to go underneath too. I bought my first two sets of fleece and towels (two fleece blankets, 6 towels) for under $20 USD.

How it Works

You're probably wondering how using a blanket for your guinea pig to pee on would do you any good, and how it would work in the first place. The important thing is that this bedding is layered. That is why you need to get towels. No nasty, thin towels. You need good absorbent ones. How this bedding works is that the fleece is the only thing your pigs touch. When the fleece has been washed enough to break down the water repelling 'layer' on it, liquids will go straight through the fleece right to the two or three towels you have underneath. The more towels the better. If everything works properly, your pig will stay nice and dry.

The problem is, solid waste can't be conveniently wicked away out of sight. This is where you come in. You either need to vacuum or sweep the fleece up AT LEAST once a day. Otherwise poo can get stuck to your pigs' feet and that, of course, isn't comfy for them. My cage is smaller so I use a small broom and dustpan. Other people use various hand vacuums. The more you sweep/vacuum, the nicer the cage will smell.

You also need to wash the fleece a minimum of once a week. Depending on your pig/cage space ratio you may need to wash it more. As said before, the more you clean the less it will smell. Wash your fleece and towels normally, but NEVER use any type of fabric softener/scent. Some people put bleach or vinegar in with the wash, but I haven't noticed a significant difference. You can either line dry the fleece/towels or just throw them in the dryer. In the summer I prefer to line dry because it saves money.

While you've got the fleece out of the cage for your weekly (or more frequent) washing, this is a great time to disinfect the cage. You can use either a vinegar/water solution or a bleach/water solution. Let it air out a bit for either one.

What You Need

You will need a minimum of two 'sets'. A set consisting of one fleece blanket and at least two towels. I would not recommend having only one set because the process of washing/drying can take a while and you don't want your pigs sitting around for three hours.

No matter where you get your fleece from (unless it's one you use around your house already, even then usually.) you should wash it at least once before use. After the first washing and drying, put the fleece on top of your towels just like it would be when in use and poor a small amount of water onto it. About the amount it would normally absorb when nature calls your guinea pig. If it takes more than about 20-30 seconds for all of it to be absorbed, wash and dry it again. Repeat this until everything absorbs properly. It can take as many as ten times depending on the type of fleece you have.

Pros

You can choose from many colors and patterns.

Looks nice and your pigs stay drier and more comfortable.

Simple to use and clean.

Economical, with weekly washings one set of fleece could last upwards of four years. After the initial cost (around a minimum of 20 USD for two sets.)

The pigs will be thrilled!

Does not smell bad if you clean it properly.

Quieter than a lot of bedding.

Easy to find.

Does not cause allergies for guinea pigs or their owners. Perfectly safe.

Easier to keep tidy, though some pigs burrow under their fleece. Unlike some bedding that can be kicked out of the cage to make a mess on the floor.

Environmentally friendly.

Cons

Smells REALLY bad when your first lift the fleece and towels up out of the cage for washing. This lasts less than five minutes. Just get those towels to the washer ASAP.

Can be inconvenient for cleaning if you don't have time for sweeping the cage everyday.

May need patching if pigs chew a whole in it.

May fade with time.

Poop sticks out like a sore thumb if you don't sweep the cage enough.

Some pigs like to burrow in it which can make things difficult.

Do's and Don'ts

DO:

Sweep the cage at least once a day and wash the fleece and towels at least once a week.

Use at least two absorbent towels underneath the fleece.

Use either Polar or Anti-Pill fleece.

Wash the fleece as many times as necessary before use.

Have at least two sets of fleece.

Disinfect the cage between fleece sets.

Use something to hold the hay in, such as a corner litter pan with another type of bedding that can be easily dumper out or a safe hay rack. Otherwise it is almost impossible to get all the little bits of hay off the fleece.

DON'T:

Use newspaper under the towels. This stinks really bad because newspaper isn't very absorbent. Also, in my experience, makes the towels less absorbent so your pigs end up getting wet.

Expect the fleece to work perfectly the first time you use it. Sometimes it just takes a while for you to get everything right.

Place veggies or fruit directly on the fleece. This makes the fleece very sticky.

Use another type of bedding on top of the fleece.

My Personal Thoughts On Fleece

I got my fleece set up on May 24th, 2009 so about two months. Over that short time period I've learned a lot about fleece from experience. The two most important things I've noticed are HAVE AT LEAST TWO SETS OF FLEECE. ONE BEING USED AND ONE READY TO GO! The other thing is KEEP IT SPOTLESS. Maybe not spotless, but you get the idea. Piggy excrement doesn't smell pretty, so don't let it lay around. Especially on hot days. I'm a relatively busy person but it was easy to fit fleece into my schedule. It's actually a lot easier than my old wood pellet bedding which got stuck together and looked disgusting. I sweep the cage when I get up in the morning and before I go to bed. That's normally when I give them hay and veggies, so it really wasn't difficult.

The fleece faced a true test a couple weeks ago when I went on vacation to California. The petsitter. Everything went fine, the person who was watching my pigs said the bedding was easy to take care of and looked nice. Never smelled bad or anything.

My rating of fleece: 9

Petsitter's rating: 10

Alternatives:

There are quite a few alternatives to fleece, since fleece isn't really a traditional bedding. The following beddings are safe for piggy use:

Aspen/Kiln dried pine shavings:
Pros:
Don't smell like much. Relatively appealing to look at when clean.
Cons: Can smell bad if not cleaned enough. Require daily spot cleaning. About as much work as fleece without the variety of colors. Not as cheap.
Overall rating: 6

Wood Pellets (Such as DryDen or ABM):
Pros: Somewhat easy to clean. Pigs can't really burrow in it. Economical.
Cons: Smells bad. Can get oddly sticky if not cleaned enough. Not as easy on the feet. Very loud if the pigs like to run.
Overall rating: 7

Paper Bedding (Things like CareFresh):
Pros: Small variety of colors. Can often get a recycled option. Soft, easy on piggy feet. Does not cause allergies in most cases. (It made me sneeze.)
Cons: Looks disgusting when dirty. Stinks really bad when not cleaned enough. Very expensive, especially when you need a lot for a large cage.
Overall rating: 6 (I'm not a huge fan of CareFresh.)

Newspaper:
Pros: Cheap, easy to get.
Cons: Not absorbent. Looks even worse than CareFresh. Can get pigs really dirty if the ink runs. Crackles when pigs walk. Slippery, but not hard on the feet. Smells horrible. This bedding is 'safe' for pigs nowadays because the ink is soy-based, but DON'T use this bedding.
Overall rating: 1

There are quite a few others out there, such as Yesterday's News which I've heard good things about, but these are the only ones I have ever tried.

Pictures:





Notes

I have noticed that for about three to five hours after I first change the fleece the cage smells bad. This goes away.

If you have any questions, feel free to send me a personal message. I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

WARNING: Using fleece as bedding may lead to extreme happiness for your guinea pigs and you! Be prepared for excessive popcorning and wheeking!

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CometCuppyParsley
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Location : Washington
Registration date : 2009-03-31

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