Posted on March 5, 2021 by Monique Hanford
If you are housing your guinea pig in an outdoor hutch, you will need to buy a good, large solid and sturdy wooden hutch where your guinea pigs feel safe and happy. The hutch will also need to stand up to bad weather and potential predators.
A guinea pig hutch should have an internal space of AT LEAST 120cm x 60cm for two guinea pigs. If you have just one guinea pig, you still need a hutch of this size. If you have more guinea pigs, you’ll need a much bigger hutch.
Because guinea pigs are very active pets, we strongly advise, if you have the space in your garden, or on your patio, and can afford a larger hutch, that you but a much bigger one that gives your small pets as much space as possible.
There are many hutches that are sold for guinea pigs but are actually far too small for these small pets. Many are only 50cm deep and sometimes even less. This means you have to be careful when choosing a hutch and check the full measurements before buying.
It is important to know that the dimensions given for a hutch usually refer to the outer dimensions and not the actual space available inside the hutch. There can be quite a big difference when you take into account the thickness of the wood, so always try to find out the interior hutch measurements.
A 4ft hutch won’t give your guinea pigs 4ft of floor space inside, so we no longer recommend these hutches. We recommend 5ft as the minimum length for a guinea pig hutch.
Below are some good outdoor hutches we recommend, along with information on how many guinea pigs should be housed in a hutch of that size. We’ve worked out the available space on the inside of the hutches to help you find the best hutch for your guinea pigs.
|Hutch||No. Guinea Pigs||Interior Size|
|5ft Single Kendal||2||140x52cm (7.8 square ft)|
|5ft Single Kendal with run||2||140x52cm (7.8 square ft) plus run|
|5ft Single Chartwell||2||139x56cm (8.4 square ft)|
|6ft Single Kendal||2||170x52cm (9.4 square ft)|
|6ft Single Kendal with run||2||170x52cm (9.4 square ft)|
|6ft Single Chartwell||2||170x56cm (10.2 square ft)|
|5ft Double Chartwell||4||139x56cm (8.4 square ft) on each level|
|6ft Double Chartwell||4||170x56cm (10.2 square ft) on each level|
|6ft Double Chartwell & Run||4||170x56cm (10.2 square ft) on each level plus run|
If your guinea pigs’ hutch is too small, it can make your guinea pig’s feel depressed and sad. Guinea pigs love to run around and this is natural behaviour for them. If they can’t exercise properly, it can affect how they feel and they can become very unhappy.
A hutch that is too small can create aggression and depression amongst guinea pigs. If they are in a cramped space, they are likely to become agitated and may even end up harming each other.
If you end up in this situation, you may end up having to re-home your guinea pigs or upgrade to a larger hutch. Although a larger hutch is more expensive, it is better to buy one that is good for your guinea pigs from the outset or it will cost you more later. If you can’t afford to buy one of these hutches or the space in which to put it, you would be better to consider another pet that requires a smaller space.
Two of the hutches that offer the most space for your guinea pigs are the Chartwell and Kendal hutches. Chartwell hutches are deeper than many guinea pig hutches, including the Kendal hutch, which is a real advantage for your small pets, giving them more space to play.
There are a couple of things to bear in mind when deciding on a single or double storey hutch:
A double hutch is not necessarily a bad idea, but you must take these points into consideration when deciding which housing to buy.
If you have older guinea pigs, or if they have arthritis or something else that impedes their movement, a single hutch will be required.
Most guinea pigs will get used to using a ramp, but this is not always the case. In some circumstances, a guinea pig may not physically be able to use a ramp.
If you have new guinea pigs, check they can use the ramp before leaving them in the hutch as it can sometimes take a bit of coaxing at first. Try putting a bit of food at the top of the ramp or make a food trail with pea flakes, pieces of lettuce, or their favourite food, to encourage them to go up or down to the next level.
Make sure you guinea pigs are confident with using the ramp both ways. It might be they’re ok with going down the ramp but need a little persuasion to go up.
A ramp is safe if it is not too steep and is securely locked in place with no risk of falling.
After constructing your hutch, and each time after you’ve cleaned the hutch, it’s important to make sure the ramp is always locked securely in place.
If the ramp isn’t secured correctly, the ramp may fall and hurt one of your guinea pigs. Or, if the ramp falls when your guinea pigs are in the upper level, they will be unable to get to the lower level and may even fall and hurt themselves.
Guinea pigs don’t like steep ramps so avoid buying a hutch that has a steep ramp. Your guinea pig will be a lot more confident if the ramp has a more gentle slope.
Providing each level in your hutch meets the minimum interior space requirements, a second level can count as twice the space.
For 4 guinea pigs, a double decker hutch with two floors, each with an interior measurement of 120cm x 60cm, would be acceptable, providing they are all females or 3 females with 1 neutered male. This is the very minimum and we recommend going up a size. Many rescue centres will want you to have a larger hutch so it’s worth buying a hutch that offers the guinea pigs more room.
If you had a small hutch with 60cm x 60cm on each level, this would NOT be at all suitable, as 1 or 2 guinea pigs need AT LEAST 120cm x 60cm on ONE level.
A hutch and run combination is a really good idea as this makes it much easier for you and your guinea pigs when it comes to exercise time. It can also be cheaper to buy a hutch run combo rather than buying these items separately.
Many of the hutch and run combinations that are available for sale are too small. They don’t meet the minimum size requirements and are not big enough to house guinea pigs or give them enough space to exercise.
The 5ft and 6ft Chartwell and Kendal hutches offer a good hutch space and the runs are a good size too. A long run is always best so if you’re going for a hutch and run combination a good choice would be a 6ft hutch like the 6ft Double Chartwell and Run Combo. The 5ft or 6ft Kendal and Run Combo is also a decent option.
You may alternatively decide that you want your hutch and run to be separate. In this case you will have more choice of guinea pig runs and you can also have the freedom to place it away from the hutch in the best place for them within your garden.
We’ve already gone into a lot of detail relating to the size of a guinea pig’s hutch but there are several other factors you should also consider when looking for the best hutch:
Most hutches come as flatpack 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. If you’re not particularly keen on putting it together yourself, you can usually find someone who puts together flatpack furniture for a living and will charge you just a small fee to do this.
It is important to protect the hutch from all types of weather as guinea pigs can become ill very quickly in the following conditions:
When it rains, the guinea pig hutch will become wet inside if it is not protected. Even if the hutch is positioned so it is sheltered from the rain, it is still likely to become damp.
It is essential you have some kind of rain cover (also known as a hutch hugger) which you can use for these bad weather days. You can alternatively use tarpaulin. Once put over the hutch, the front can be rolled up or down according to the weather.
A hutch will always be warmer than the outside temperature and heat stroke can easily occur if they overheat. In hot weather, there are also likely to be flies which can be a real danger and potentially result in a potentially fatal condition called fly strike.
Cold weather is equally dangerous as it can cause pneumonia guinea pigs. Even when it is mildly cold, your guinea pigs will need some protection, as they like the same temperatures as we do.
One way to protect your guinea pigs from both heat and cold is by insulating the hutch. You can insulate the hutch by lining it with insulating wrap but you’ll need to cover this with additional safe boarding so it can’t be nibbled. To protect your guinea pigs from the cold, you could put a blanket over the hutch, but make sure there is enough airflow for them.
There are other ways you can help keep your guinea pigs cool during hot weather and warmer during the cold weather. Check out our articles on “how to keep guinea pigs cool in a heatwave” and “how to keep guinea pigs warm in winter“.
If you decide that you’d rather keep your guinea pigs indoors, check out our best indoor cage recommendations.
We’ve designed some helpful care sheets including checklists and record sheets that will help you keep organised and up to date with the care of your guinea pigs…Find out more...