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 work out the best housing for your guinea pigs.
Guinea pigs can be kept indoors or outdoors but you need to ensure you have the right environment for them whichever you choose. There may be certain aspects about your situation (such as your own home, garden area, existing pets or potential outdoor animal predators) that will decide this for you.
Guinea Pig Cage Size
If you are new to guinea pigs, you need to be sure that you are buying the right sized housing. Unfortunately there are many cages and hutches for sale in the shops and online that do not meet the minimum size requirements recommended by the RSPCA.
Often they are better in housing that is marketed for rabbits as they are much larger and far more suitable.
The RSPCA recommend housing of at least 120cm long x 60cm wide and with a height of 45cm (4ft x 2ft x 1.5ft) for 2 guinea pigs (you should always have a pair, never one on its own).
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.
Guinea pig hutches and cages come in all shapes and sizes including single, 2 and 3 tier hutches and single and double storey cages. However, it is essential that at least one of the floors has lots of room to run and play. They will 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.
Should My Guinea Pig be Housed Indoors or Outdoors?
Whether you need a hutch or a cage is dependent on where you are likely to keep your new pets. Will they be outdoors or would you prefer them in your home?
Where Do We Keep Our Guinea Pigs and Why?
Our guinea pigs are kept indoors in a C&C cage (partially covered). This is because we have a good sized space in which to place a large enough cage and we like to have regular contact with them. Although we have 2 cats, they don’t bother the guinea pigs when they are in the cage - however this won’t be the case with all cats so you must be extremely careful!
When we first began taking care of guinea pigs, we housed them outside in a double decker hutch. There were several reasons why we brought them indoors. You may also feel that for the same reasons you would prefer to have your guinea pigs housed in your home rather than the garden:
- We wanted to see them more often and felt we could bond with them much easier
- Foxes were coming into our garden
- We took on more guinea pigs and they needed a larger space
- We worried a lot if the weather was very wet, cold or hot
- It wasn’t such a nice job cleaning out the hutch when it was pouring with rain
This obviously leads us to recommend having your guinea pigs indoors. However there are circumstances when it may be better to house them outside.
Housing Guinea Pigs Indoors - What are the Benefits?
Because Guinea Pigs like similar temperatures and weather to humans, they will feel more comfortable indoors. They will have more human interaction and you will notice more quickly if they need medical attention. Find out more about housing your guinea pig indoors...
Is it OK to House Guinea Pigs Outdoors?
Guinea pigs like the same temperatures as humans which means that it can be dangerous for them to be outside if they don’t have a hutch that is sufficiently protected from the weather.
If you decide to keep your guinea pigs outdoors, you will need a good safe and secure, large wooden hutch which also offers protection from predators.
You should consider buying a cage too so you can bring them into your home to shelter them from more extreme weather.
Alternatively if you have a suitable outbuilding or shed it may offer more warmth and security in the cold, wet weather. However, many sheds don’t make good shelters for pets in the summer as they can become extremely hot unless they have sufficient ventilation. Find out more about housing your guinea pig outdoors...
Should I Buy a Hutch or Cage?
If you are keeping your guinea pigs indoors, you will probably want a cage. This can either be a traditional cage or you could create the cage yourself using modular C&C Panels and Coroplast. Hutches take up more space but you could have an indoor hutch if you prefer.
For outdoor guinea pigs, you will need a solid and sturdy spacious hutch unless you are putting them in a shed or outbuilding, in which case they could be in a cage providing the accommodation is safe from pets or predators.
How to Set Up a Guinea Pig Cage
Once you've decided whether you're going to buy a hutch or cage, you need to find out what to put in the cage and how to set it up. This will depend to a certain amount on whether your guinea pig is outside or inside.
The basics that you will need are:
- Some kind of bedding
- Lots of hay to keep your cavies warm
- A pigloo or hidey hole so they have somewhere to feel safe
- Food bowls for nuggets and fresh veg
- Water bottle
- Toys to prevent boredom
Guinea Pig Bedding
You will need plenty of suitable bedding for the whole hutch or cage to keep your guinea pig clean, warm and comfortable.
Generally, for the main part of the housing you will need to have paper or wood based bedding. Lay some sheets of newspaper down first and then pile the bedding on top. Check out the types of bedding we recommend for guinea pigs.
Guinea pigs like to sleep in dark cosy places so it is essential you set them up with an area where they feel safe and comfortable. It depends on whether you house them in your home or outdoors as to what you put in here.
For guinea pigs with outdoor living quarters, they will need bedding that keeps them warm - lots of hay stuffed in a pigloo will help keep them cosy.
For indoor habitats, you could get a guinea pig bed which is soft and snuggly for them to sleep. You can find some of the beds we recommend here on our "Guinea Pig Toys" page...
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 here...
Cleaning a Guinea Pig Cage or Hutch
A guinea pigs 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).
This should always be done before it gets to the smelly stage and where it is clearly dirty. Guinea pigs need a hygienic and fresh environment in which to thrive so always make sure their accommodation is cleansed on a regular basis. Find out more about how to clean your guinea pigs cage here...
Flooring in Your Guinea Pig's Home
You should ensure that the flooring in the hutch or cage is smooth without nails, ridges and definitely not meshed.
Remember that a guinea pigs feet and legs are very small and delicate and can easily get caught in wire or mesh. This could lead to serious injury, loss of a limb or even death.
Unlike some other animals, but like us, they don’t have furry or hairy feet. This means that they need a comfortable surface to run around on. Imagine how uncomfortable your feet would be if you were to run around on wire mesh all day!
Housing Guinea Pigs 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.
Which Hutch or Cage Should I Buy?
There are many hutches and cages available to buy and it can be difficult to know which one is going to be best for your pet. Here are some articles to help you choose the best housing for your guinea pig. Each article has links to where you can buy the products we recommend.