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Housing Guinea Pigs: Cage Size | Inside vs Outside + Ideas

When deciding to get guinea pigs, your first thought might be whether you will house them indoors or outside. However, there are numerous other vital aspects to contemplate regarding their housing needs.

We’ll look at everything from the ideal cage size to adapting to different weather conditions, managing indoor and outdoor risks, and considering guinea pigs’ particular needs. Whether it’s a cosy room setup or a spacious outdoor hutch, we aim to help you provide a safe, comfortable, and enriching environment for your guinea pigs.

Should guinea pigs live outside or indoors?

Modern recommendations often lean towards housing guinea pigs indoors, mainly because of the controlled environment it offers. However, with proper care and setup, outdoor housing can also be suitable if it better fits your situation. 

It’s important to note that many rescue centres may require a commitment to indoor housing when adopting out guinea pigs. This stipulation is typically in place to ensure the animals’ safety and well-being in varying climate conditions.

Housing guinea pigs indoors: Pros and cons

Advantages

  • Increased Interaction: Housing your guinea pigs inside your home allows for more frequent interactions, ensuring they become a much-loved part of the family.
  • Health and Comfort: Being indoors means your guinea pigs are in a warm, comfortable environment, which is conducive to their well-being.
  • Early Detection of Health Issues: It’s easier to notice any health problems early, thanks to the closer proximity and increased interaction.
  • Enhanced Friendliness: Frequent interaction with humans can help guinea pigs become more friendly and accustomed to handling, making them tamer and more approachable.
  • Easier Maintenance: Managing your guinea pigs’ health and hygiene and cleaning their enclosure tends to be more straightforward and convenient when you house them indoors.
a tame indoor guinea pig
a tame indoor guinea pig

Disadvantages

  • Allergies: Family members may have allergies to guinea pigs, hay, or bedding.
  • Noise Levels: A noisy household might be stressful for guinea pigs.
  • Messiness: Hay and bedding can sometimes scatter outside the enclosure, which might be a concern if you live in a spotless home.
  • Space Requirements: The sizeable cage necessary for guinea pigs’ well-being can occupy a significant amount of space.
  • Safety Concerns with Other Pets: Boisterous dogs or other pets could pose a risk to the guinea pigs.
Guinea Pig Care Sheets - Printable PDF Download - Checklists, Logs and Information Sheets

Housing guinea pigs outdoors: Pros and cons

Advantages

  • Natural Environment: Outdoor housing can provide a more natural setting with fresh air and, often, constant access to a large run, enhancing their quality of life.
  • No Indoor Mess: Keeps hay, bedding, and other messes outside, helping maintain a cleaner home interior.

Disadvantages

  • Predator Risks: Outdoor guinea pigs face potential dangers from predators like foxes and rats.
  • Increased Risk of Flystrike: Being outdoors, especially in warmer weather, raises the risk of flystrike, a severe health concern.
  • Weather Vulnerability: Exposure to weather extremes (cold, damp, or heat) can lead to severe health issues in guinea pigs.
  • Delayed Illness Detection: Spotting signs of illness may be slower than in indoor housing, where closer observation is possible.
  • Challenges in Cleaning: Maintaining and cleaning the hutch can be more difficult, especially in adverse weather conditions.

Housing ideas for your guinea pigs

When finding the perfect home for your guinea pigs, there are several housing options. Whether you plan to keep your guinea pigs indoors or outdoors, understanding the different types of available housing will help you make the best choice for them.

Indoor Guinea Pig Housing
indoor guinea pig enclosure

Note on Social Housing: Guinea pigs are social creatures and thrive when paired with at least one other guinea pig. To learn more about the social aspects of housing and pairing, visit our page on guinea pig social needs.

Indoor housing ideas

The choices extend beyond traditional cages or enclosures for keeping guinea pigs indoors. Some owners allocate a portion of a room for their guinea pigs, using dividers to create a contained space. This setup allows for more freedom and interaction. 

Alternatively, dedicating an entire room, such as a small spare bedroom, is another popular option, offering ample space for the guinea pigs to roam and explore.

Regardless of your chosen method, it’s essential to ensure you use suitable flooring and bedding to maintain a clean and comfortable environment. Please refer to our cage recommendations page for comprehensive details and recommendations on indoor enclosures, including the best cages and setups.

Outdoor housing ideas

While traditional hutches are a common choice for housing guinea pigs outdoors, other creative options are available. Some owners opt to convert sheds or large playhouses, creating a guinea pig habitat within these structures. 

A popular approach is to build housing around the sides of a shed at a raised level, often incorporating storage underneath, and provide access to an outdoor run. This design facilitates easy maintenance and maximises space, allowing guinea pigs ample room to roam inside and outside.

Guinea Pig Shed Setup
guinea pig shed setup

These converted structures can be equipped with heating, courtesy of electrical installations, offering a safer and more controlled environment. They should, however, have plenty of natural light and proper ventilation. 

Caution is advised during summer, as wooden structures can become very hot; ensuring they remain safe and comfortable in all weather conditions is essential.

Garages, on the other hand, are generally not suitable for guinea pigs. The lack of natural light and the potential presence of motor vehicles or toxic materials can create an unsafe environment for these small pets.

Positioning your guinea pig’s enclosure

Whether indoors or outdoors, it’s crucial to position your guinea pig’s enclosure in a location that ensures their safety and well-being.

Positioning an outdoor hutch

When situating an outdoor hutch, placing it in a spot sheltered from direct sunlight and shielded against wind and rain is important. 

Raising the hutch off the ground promotes air circulation underneath, which helps prevent the wood from becoming damp and rotting. 

Additionally, ensure you position the hutch safely, away from potential predators and environmental pollutants like farm sprays or heavy traffic emissions.

Positioning an indoor enclosure

When setting up an indoor enclosure for your guinea pigs, it’s advisable to place it off the floor, especially if you have other pets. 

Avoid certain locations, such as conservatories, which can become excessively hot, and areas prone to spray use, such as bedrooms. Also, particularly noisy spaces are not ideal for guinea pigs. However, they do appreciate being in a spot where they can observe household activities, so positioning the enclosure in a place with good visibility, like a large hallway, can be ideal. 

Ensuring a balance between quietness and social interaction will contribute to their happiness and comfort.

How much space do guinea pigs need?

While some animal welfare organisations recommend a minimum cage size of 120cm x 60cm (4ft x 2ft) for two guinea pigs, we advise opting for a more spacious enclosure measuring 150cm x 60cm (5ft x 2ft). This larger size significantly improves the living space for these small pets, contributing to their overall well-being. A bigger cage provides more room for movement and enhances their quality of life.

Extra Large Guinea Pig Cage
Extra large guinea pig enclosure for several guinea pigs

Also, some rescue centres require adopters to provide the larger enclosure size we recommend. So, if you plan to adopt from a rescue, check their specific cage size requirements beforehand.

Guinea pig cage size chart for 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 guinea pigs

Ensuring they have ample space for exercise is crucial when housing guinea pigs. The chart below provides recommended enclosure sizes in square metres, square feet, and C&C cage grid sizes tailored to the number of guinea pigs you have.

No. Guinea PigsM2Square FtC&C (in grids)
21102×4
31.2132×5
41.5162×6
51.7518.52×7
62212×8
Recommended guinea pig cage sizes

A key consideration is to aim for approximately 60cm (2ft) in width for the enclosure while increasing the length for each additional guinea pig. This approach ensures your pets have enough room to move around and stay active.

Please note we have updated our cage size recommendations since producing this video.

Multi-level housing for guinea pigs

The recommended housing sizes provided are for single-level enclosures. If you add another level to your guinea pig’s habitat, you should view this as bonus space. A pair of guinea pigs must have a single-level space that measures around 10 square feet.

Benefits of additional levels

Adding an extra level can create a quiet retreat for your guinea pigs, separate from the main activity area. This setup allows for better distribution of hideouts and enrichment features, providing more open space for movement on the ground level.

C And C Cage With Loft And Storage
Modular C&C cage with loft and storage

Considerations for multi-level housing:

If you’re contemplating a second level, ensure the ramp has a gentle slope. Remember, older, overweight, or mobility-challenged guinea pigs may find ramps difficult to navigate. It’s essential to consider their abilities before opting for a multi-tiered enclosure.

Be wary of multi-level cages sold in pet stores, as many are unsuitable for guinea pigs. 

For guidance on choosing appropriate cages and instructions on building a modular C&C cage, please see our detailed articles:

Housing male guinea pigs

When housing male guinea pigs, especially if there are two or more together, consider opting for a larger enclosure than the standard recommended sizes. Males often require more space to coexist peacefully; cramped conditions can lead to aggression and fighting.

What temperature do guinea pigs like?

Guinea pigs thrive in temperatures that are comfortable for humans. The RSPCA recommends maintaining a room or hutch temperature between 17-20°C (62-68°F) for guinea pigs and the Humane Society of the United States suggests a range of 65-75°F (18-24°C).

Do guinea pigs get cold?

Despite their furry coats, guinea pigs can get cold in lower temperatures. Consider indoor housing, where controlling and maintaining a consistent, comfortable temperature is easier.

Too cold for comfort

Guinea pigs can sometimes adapt to slightly cooler temperatures. In my experience, my indoor guinea pigs have comfortably coped with night-time temperatures dipping to around 10 degrees. 

Bear in mind that although this may be similar to some extent for outdoor setups, wind chill and dampness can significantly increase the cold’s impact. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure outdoor guinea pigs are adequately protected or brought indoors during colder periods to prevent any risk of illness.

Safety during hot weather

Conversely, temperatures exceeding 26°C (79°F) can lead to heatstroke in guinea pigs, a severe and often fatal condition. Moving your guinea pigs indoors to a cooler environment is vital if the outdoor hutch becomes too hot and you cannot lower the temperature.

Monitoring outdoor temperatures

Placing a safe thermometer in an outdoor hutch is a wise precaution, as you can regularly monitor the temperature. The temperature inside a hutch can be significantly higher than the ambient air temperature outside, especially on hot days.

Further information on housing your guinea pig

I hope this article has given you a helpful overview of housing your guinea pig. For more in-depth guidance on selecting suitable housing and additional information on this subject, please take a look at the following resources:

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