It is important that you guinea pig's housing gives plenty of room for their needs including eating, sleeping and space to play and exercise. We have put together this housing guide to help you find the best housing for your guinea pigs.
Table of Contents
- Should I keep my guinea pigs indoors or outdoors?
- Guinea pig cage size recommendations
- What sort of cage is best?
- What type of flooring should be in the cage?
- What do I need to put in a guinea pig cage
- Keeping the cage clean
- Is it safe to house rabbits and guinea pigs together?
Should My Guinea Pig be Housed Indoors or Outdoors?
The climate in which you live depends a lot on whether your guinea pigs can be kept indoors or outdoors but you need to ensure you have the right environment for them whichever you choose. Generally in the US and Canada, we strongly recommend your guinea pigs are housed indoors.
Guinea pigs like similar temperatures to us and the best room temperature for them to live comfortably and safely is between 17-20°C. This means they really need to be in a temperature controlled environment. If you live somewhere that gets particularly hot or cold or can be very windy and damp, they should be kept indoors.
If the temperature goes below 15°C they can catch a chill and if they become too wet and cold they can get pneumonia. If it gets very hot and especially if it exceeds 26°C your guinea pig can be in danger of suffering from heatstroke. Remember that, like a wooden shed, a hutch may become much hotter than the air temperature around it.
Suitable indoor housing provides a safer environment for them where they will feel comfortable.
If you live in a place where there are potential predators such as foxes, stoats or other animals that may try to access your guinea pig’s housing, it is safest to have them inside your home. Remember that even your household pets (eg dogs and cats) can be predatory to guinea pigs.
Wellbeing and Health
Housing your guinea pigs indoors means you can interact with them a lot more. They will enjoy this and become much more friendly. It also enables you to notice much sooner if they are not themselves or need medical attention.
Guinea Pig Cage Size
You may be surprised to know that many cages that are sold for guinea pigs are much too small. Animal welfare organizations have guidelines on minimum sizes and the smallest cage that is suitable for two guinea pigs is at least 120cm x 60cm with a height of 45cm (4ft x 2ft x 1.5ft). Even if you have one guinea pig (in fact you should always have 2 for their wellbeing) this is still the minimum size you should be looking at.
Generally, the larger the housing is, the better it is for your pets but it depends on how many guinea pigs you have as to how much space they need.
Cage configurations: single or double story?
Although hutches and cages come in all shapes and sizes including single, two and three tier hutches and cages, guinea pigs are best kept in single story housing which has plenty of floor space.
They should certainly not be housed in one of those 3 tier cages you find in pet shops. These may be fine for hamsters and gerbils or other small pets but the floor area on each level is much too small for guinea pigs. Also, they may struggle with moving from one level to another as they get older. Guinea pigs are best with a good sized one level cage.
A run for extra exercise
Guinea pigs also need a run (either indoors or outdoors) so they can really stretch their legs and have a good play and run around on a regular basis. It’s good for them to get fresh air if the weather is dry and warm enough (but not excessively hot), however, an indoor pen is ideal for those climates that don’t allow for outdoor exercise.
What sort of hutch or cage should I buy?
There are 2 options we recommend - either a traditional cage or you could create the cage yourself using modular C&C Panels and Coroplast. Hutches take up a lot of space indoors and generally don't offer the spacious accommodation a C&C cage gives. You can take a look at the cages we recommend here…
Flooring in your guinea pig's home
The flooring in your guinea pig’s home should be smooth and without any sharp areas.
A guinea pigs feet and legs are very small and delicate and can easily get caught in wire or mesh. So, unlike some other small pets, they should not be running around directly on cage or wire mesh, even if you’ve placed wood shavings or similar bedding over the top because this could lead to serious injury, loss of a limb or even death.
What do I need to put in a guinea pig cage?
Once you've decided on the housing you are going to buy, you need to find out what to put in the cage and how to set it up. Here is a guide on what you will need:
You will need plenty of suitable and absorbent bedding for the cage to keep your guinea pig clean, warm and comfortable. Check out the different types of guinea pig bedding...
A cozy bed or house
Guinea pigs like to sleep in dark cozy places so it is essential you set them up with an area where they feel safe and comfortable. For indoor habitats, you could get a guinea pig bed which is soft and snuggly for them to sleep. Find out which beds we recommend here...
Toys and Boredom Breakers
Your guinea pigs will enjoy having toys that they can chew as well as places to hide. If they don't have enough to do they may become bored and depressed. Always make sure these toys are safe for your pet.
Change them on a regular basis so they have some variety and if they become soiled they should be thrown away. Here are some toys and boredom breakers we recommend...
Food Bowls and Water Bottle
Your pets must have fresh (daily changed) water at all times given in a bottle that is attached to the cage to ensure cleanliness. A daily supply of guinea pig nuggets and fresh veg are also needed so you’ll need food bowls too. Find out more about what what to feed your guinea pigs.
Keeping the housing clean
A guinea pig’s housing must be cleaned on a regular basis. You will need to spot clean the cage every day and do a full clean every 3 to 4 days (depending on the type of bedding you use and how quickly it becomes soiled).
Don’t leave it until the cage is smelling and soggy with urine as this is extremely bad for your pets. Guinea pigs need a hygienic and fresh environment in which to thrive and be healthy so always make sure their accommodation is cleaned on a regular basis. Find out more about how best to clean your guinea pigs cage...
Can guinea pigs live with rabbits?
Although it may look cute, you should NEVER house your guinea pigs with a rabbit for these reasons:
- Rabbit kicks can injure and even kill guinea pigs
- Rabbits will try to mate with guinea pigs and this can be stressful for them
- Guinea pigs eat different types of food to rabbits
- The two pets have different needs
Housing your guinea pigs with a rabbit could result in your guinea pig becoming seriously injured or even dead, so please don’t take the risk.