It is essential that your guinea pigs get plenty of exercise. A good quality, safe outdoor run (or indoor playpen for bad UK weather!) that is large enough for them to exercise properly will give them space to play as well being a different and stimulating environment, especially if filled with toys such as tunnels and chews.
Even if you have a large hutch or cage, it is beneficial for them to have the use of a larger enclosure too. We recommend and give links to 2 good enclosures for both indoors and outdoors. If you're in a hurry you can check them out here but please read further down for the benefits and for safety advice:
You will probably be able to leave the run out during the summer months and during the warmer spring/autumn months but when the weather deteriorates you can remove the top and pack the run away in your shed as this collapsible run conveniently folds down to take up less space. Not all runs do this so it's a very useful feature.
The large folding 6ft long run pictured below is one that we use and recommend. It is sturdy and has 2 top opening panels as well as 2 side opening panels. The roof panels make it a lot easier to catch the piggies when it's time to go back in the hutch! It's also very easy to put together so if you're not great at diy you needn't worry. It's for sale on Amazon - click here to check the price.
Guinea pigs love fresh air and exercise and will enjoy running around on a lawn during the summer months but do ensure that part of the enclosure is sheltered in case of a shower or direct hot sunlight.
Remember that if the weather is bad, they will still need exercise, so an indoor option may still be required.
- Guinea pigs love munching on grass so they'll help keep your grass short and will even fertilise it for you! Although a lot smaller, their droppings are very similar in quality to horse manure.
- Make sure there are no poisonous plants or vegetation in the area where you let them run.
- If you are building a run, it should measure approximately 1.2 metres x 1.2 metres and be 30 cm high. It can consist of wire mesh attached to a wooden frame but ensure that there are no sharp wires or bits of wood which may hurt them. This frame should be made so that it is light enough to move around your garden.
- Never let them roam free in your garden. There may be a hole that you haven’t noticed which they will use as an escape route or they may eat something that is poisonous.
- An outdoor run must always have a cover, preferably hinged and bolted so that you can also get in there easily but predators are kept out.
- Never leave your guinea pigs in an outdoor run overnight. It is not safe and they may become scared.
Exercising Guinea Pigs Indoors
Because guinea pigs are sensitive weather and enjoy similar temperatures to humans, it is sometimes too cold, hot, windy or wet for them to be running around outside. Therefore it is adviseable to purchase an indoor pen for those days when outdoors is not an option.
The pen pictured below is the one we recommend for indoors. The great thing about this is that you can buy as many as you want and join them together to make one big run to suit the space you have.
Alternatively you can somehow section off part of a room for them to run around but it is far more convenient and safe for them to be in a pen. The wire/metal panelled pens are ideal for creating a playpen of the size and shape that fits your space.
You will need to protect your flooring whether you have carpet, wooden floors, lino or laminate flooring. Cavies don’t like sliding around on slippery floors! A small piece of tarpaulin with a fleece over the top is perfect as it gives your floor protection while your guinea pigs have a comfortable surface on which to run around and play.
This run measures 150cm x 150cm so gives your guinea pigs a good amount of room to run, play and popcorn but is even better with 2 joined together for a much larger area! You can check the price of this indoor pen on Amazon here.
Safety for Indoor and Outdoor Enclosures
Safety and security for your piggies is important so always make sure you either supervise them or ensure that the enclosure is safe from predators such as foxes and rats or household pets and any other potential dangers if they're outside. If they are indoors, you must ensure any pets can not upset them by prowling around by the pen and make sure the pen is sturdy and safe so no pets can get into it.
It is worth bearing in mind that a very large pen can be frightening to a guinea pig. Always give them somewhere to hide such as a cardboard box or a pigloo.
Are you looking for a hutch and run combo? Check out the one we recommend here...