When buying a guinea pig hutch for the outdoors, you need to make sure it is big enough, safe enough and strong enough to ensure your guinea pigs have a secure place to live in comfort. It's important to take your time to find the best one that will serve as a good home for them..
Here is a quick summary of the outdoor hutches we recommend:
- Two story "SmithBuilt" wooden hutch with enclosed run - good for grass grazing. Has a pull out tray for cleaning and the roof opens for easy access plus non-slip ramp.
- "Good Life" two floor wooden hutch - this double decker hutch is fully enclosed and raised off the ground. Roof opens for easy access and pull out floors top and bottom for easy cleaning.
- "PawHut" Multi Level hutch with enclosed run so good for grass grazing. Also has a hinged roof for easy access and pull out tray for easy cleaning.
- "PawHut" two story stacked wooden hutch. Note this is suitable for 2 pairs of guinea pigs with 1 pair living upstairs and one downstairs. There is no ramp for 2 level living. Fully enclosed and raised off the ground with pull out floors to make cleaning easier.
If you're looking for a hutch that has an integral run, you can see our recommended housing options on best hutch and run combo...
A hutch should measure around 4ft x 2ft (120cm x 60cm). There are many hutches for sale that don't fit these requirements and it can often mean a lot of shopping around to find ones that do which is why we've put together this list of best buys to save you some time.
The reason guinea pigs need this amount of space is that they are active pets who need to be able to run around. Having said that, they will also need a run for extra exercise space. A good option is to buy one that has living space on top with a run area underneath or you can buy a separate run which you put them in for an hour or so each day.
Keeping the Hutch Safe from Predators
The hutch wood should be thick and strong enough to withstand potential attacks from predators. The type of predators you may have will obviously depend on where you live. Whether it's foxes, snakes or raccoons or other predatory animals, you must take this into consideration when choosing the hutch.
If you aren't 100% sure your guinea pigs will be safe from being attacked you should house them indoors instead.
Remember that even rats can gnaw their way through a hutch that is too flimsy and they will kill guinea pigs. Foxes are cunning and can open loose bolts or catches.
Protection from Weather
A hutch can get extremely hot or cold at different times of the year. Assess this risk before choosing to buy an outdoor hutch. Guinea pigs like similar temperatures to us so if you would find it too extreme, your pets will feel the same way.
In some states, your weather may be too extreme to house a guinea pig outside at all. In other places you may be able to have them outdoors at certain times of the year and indoors for the rest of the time.
The hutch you buy should have been treated with a wood preservative but if it hasn't make sure you do this before using it. This will help lengthen the life of your hutch and will make it more weather resistant. Just make sure you use a water-based pet-friendly preservative.
Ease of Cleaning
It is really important the hutch is cleaned regularly as outdoor guinea pigs are especially at risk of flystrike, particularly in the hotter weather. Flystrike is a potentially fatal disease that can be avoided by a good cleaning and hygiene routine.
Features that make cleaning easier are pull out trays or top opening hutches. All the hutches we have recommended at the top of this page have pull out trays and all but one have an opening roof.
Strong Mesh & Secure Bolts
Check that the hutch you buy has strong wire or mesh and secure bolts. If the bolts are loose, you could make them more secure by adding padlocks or additional fox-proof bolts.
Constructing the Hutch
Most hutches come as flat pack items with instructions on how to put them together. You will need to follow the instructions carefully and make sure your hutch is built so that it is strong and robust. Make sure there are no gaps where your guinea pigs might be able to escape.
If you're not particularly keen on putting it together yourself, you can usually find someone who puts together flat pack furniture for a living and will charge you just a small fee to do this. Alternatively you may have a keen DIYer in the family who will be happy to help you. If you're not confident you can put it together securely, it is better to have someone do it for you.
FAQs when buying a hutch
Here are some common questions people ask when buying a hutch:
Do I need a rain cover (hutch hugger)?
You will need to protect your guinea pigs from the rain somehow as damp is extremely dangerous for guinea pigs. If you can't find a rain cover to fit your hutch, you could cover it with tarpaulin but make sure there is plenty of ventilation. A heavy blanket is also good protection from wind and cold.
Bear in mind that your guinea pigs are happier if they can see out of the cage so don't leave them in darkness - only use a covering when it is necessary for their protection from weather.
Is a two story guinea pig hutch better than a single story hutch?
Both single or double story are fine but as guinea pigs get older they can find the ramp more of a struggle as can guinea pigs who are overweight. However, a double story is fine unless you find your pets have trouble using it.
Is a 3ft or 4ft guinea pig hutch big enough?
A 3ft hutch is too small. Even if you only have 1 guinea pig (which is not recommended) it is too small. A 4ft hutch is fine for 2 guinea pigs but larger is always better. If the actual living space is a bit small but there is an integral run that they have almost permanent access too then you can get away with a smaller living space.
Is it safe to paint the hutch in a color of my choice?
If you're painting the hutch, it is best to use a preservative but one that is pet-friendly. Some brands do them in different colors so you can choose whatever suits you.
Keeping your Guinea Pigs Safe Outdoors
Don't forget to read our article on keeping outdoor guinea pigs to ensure your pets are safe and live happy lives.