Toys are essential for your guinea pig's health because they keep him physically active and mentally alert. Without toys to keep him occupied, your guinea pig's boredom could lead to stress and destructive behavior, and his inactivity could lead to obesity. It is, therefore, essential that your guinea pig be able to play with a good variety of toys, and most preferably, with your participation.
One of your guinea pig's favorite pastimes is chewing -- it trims his teeth and keeps him emotionally content. Commercially available chew toys, some with treats inside, include:
You can also give your guinea pig some chewable items from your own back yard, like:
If you're the handy type, you can build a wooden "guinea pig play house" with several stories joined by ramps. Or you can simply assemble boxes of varying heights to simulate stairs, and punch out doors and windows for your guinea pig to peek and scamper through.
Digging and Burrowing Toys
If your guinea pig's not sleeping or chewing, it's a good bet he's digging or burrowing. You can create an excellent digging environment for your guinea pig by placing shredded paper or straw inside a wicker basket, cardboard box or wooden crate. To satisfy your guinea pig's tendency to burrow into and hide out in tunnels, use a long, narrow cardboard box and stuff one end with shredded paper or straw. You can buy those commercial "cat tunnels," but paper bags are fine, and cardboard boxes turned upside down (with breathing/viewing holes) make great guinea pig hideouts.
Your guinea pig will very much appreciate being able to play outside. To ensure his safety, keep him in a playpen (also referred to as "hutch") -- a large enclosure, generally made of wood and wire (or steel mesh), with a wire bottom (to prevent digging out) and a partially solid lid (to provide shade). Line the playpen with plenty of clean straw for your guinea pig to dig in. Put in enough toys for him to play with, and he'll be happy and content.
As with children's toys, make sure that the playthings you give your guinea pig are free from toxic materials, sharp edges and splinters. Ensure that any climbing structure you build is stable, and won't cause your guinea pig to fall. Plastic toys should be hard enough that they can't be chewed apart and eaten; all toys must be large enough so they can't be accidentally swallowed.