Indoor guinea pig cages and pens
Indoor cages or pens are available in most pet stores but you can also build your own. There is some excellent information on cavy housing at CavyCages.com which also includes a good ‘Size Guide’ to help you calculate how big a cage you need. The wire shelving units used can be bought in the UK from Argos and the corrugated plastic for the base from sign makers shops.
Remember baby guinea pigs grow into adults weighing in it around 1kg each and as they like each other’s company you need at least a two pig cage 1.25 metres x 0.75 metres (50″ x 30″ – 4ft 2″ x 2″ 6″ ) or around 1 square metre.
Guinea pigs love hiding in small houses stuffed with soft hay. It gives them the same type of security they would have in their natural habitat crawling through long grass or sheltering in old burrows abandoned by other animals.
Outdoor guinea pig runs
Houses can also be used to provide shelter from the sun or unexpected showers for guinea pigs in outside run. You must take care however that the soil you place the house on is not damp. This wooden shelter is nicely ventilated and helps provide environmental enrichment with it’s various views. Wooden houses like this are also perfectly safe if chewed.
Just as with outdoor accommodation, care must be taken to ensure not only that the guinea pig doesn’t get out, but also that any family pets such as cats and dogs cannot get in. If there are no other pets or young children in the house, then guinea pigs can be kept in high sided open top pens with mesh, wooden, glass or plastic sides.
Guinea pigs are not at all easy to house train so give them the run of the floor at your peril! The ideal guinea pig housing has an easy to clean, non-porous, floor surface. Wood allows urine to penetrate into the cracks where the fumes from ammonia can contribute towards respiratory irritation and increased stress. A Sussex guinea pig breeder, Kit Lesley, lines his wooden carrying boxes by painting them with rubber ‘roof’ paint.
Guinea pig housing needs more protection than rabbit housing
Cavies or guinea pigs need more sheltered accommodation than rabbits. If kept in outdoor hutches then extra insulation, hideaways and thick bedding are essential in the colder months. Welded wire mesh is recommended for the open front of outdoor hutches. Chicken wire is far too flimsy and there is the risk of nails being caught in it. There should always be a secure, sheltered bedding area in an outdoor hutch and this should be draught free. Ideally the hutch should be inside a shed or porch. Never keep your guinea pigs in a garage where vehicles are stored. The fumes from motor vehicles are toxic to guinea pigs.
The hutch should be well secured against foxes who have been known to undo bolts and latches and rip out flimsy chicken wire fronts. Garden runs should ideally have heavy duty mesh on the base to prevent predators from digging underneath the run. This is essential if the guinea pigs are to be left in the run unattended. A flat resting board and shelter from sun and rain are essential in an outdoor run. Wet or damp grass is hazardous to guinea pigs. Do not allow your guinea pig to eat grass clippings either as they ferment in the stomach and cause bloat.
If you cannot house your guinea pig hutch inside a shed or other outbuilding, you must make sure your guinea pigs are protected against wind, rain, damp and cold. Hutch Huggers, which come in regular and thermal, are tailor made to protect the hutch from bad weather.