In my first posting on this topic, Tammy asked why our critters' water needs to be changed daily, and why water bottles need to be cleaned so frequently.
They're good questions, and I'll answer both below.
- Every time a guinea pig (or any small animal) drinks from its water bottle, some food debris gets into the drinking spout. If you have a guinea pig who drinks a lot, if you have several guinea pigs sharing a water bottle, or if you have guinea pigs who habitually drink before they finish a mouthful of food, you're bound to find debris in the drinking spout. The more debris that gets in the spout, the more that gets up into the water bottle. The more debris that gets in the spout, the greater the risk that the metal ball inside it will get jammed and prohibit water flow.
- Bacteria builds up in the drinking spout just from normal use, and the bacteria that forms in the food debris just adds to it. The bacteria also gets pushed up inside the water bottle. Eventually, the bacteria gets in your guinea pig when it drinks.
- If you live in an area with hard water, deposits from the water build up in the drinking spout and the water bottle. Those deposits will give even fresh water an unpleasant taste, thereby causing your critter to drink less (or perhaps not at all). Over time, the hard water deposits in the drinking spout will cause the metal ball to get jammed and prohibit water flow. (If you live in area with hard water, we recommend giving your animals bottled water.)
While soaking the components of your water bottle in very hot water will remove some junk, I've found that nothing replaces a good scrubbing-down with brushes and cotton swabs.