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What Do Guinea Pigs Need? 10 Starter Kit Essentials

Getting new guinea pigs is an exciting adventure, and one of the best parts is selecting all the essential items they need. This article will guide you through choosing the right supplies, including housing, cage accessories and food. Our comprehensive starter kit list is designed to ensure you are thoroughly prepared for your new pets.

Make sure you have all the necessary supplies and accessories ready before bringing your guinea pigs home, as they should immediately settle into their new housing setup upon arrival.

guinea pig under a small bridge
Guinea pigs love bridges

Guinea pig starter kit: essential supplies

Here are the 10 essential items that guinea pigs need:

  1. Enclosure: Choose a spacious cage or hutch.
  2. Bedding: Opt for comfortable, absorbent materials.
  3. Hideout: A cosy spot for privacy and rest.
  4. Food Bowls: For easy feeding.
  5. Drinking Bottle: Keeps water fresh and accessible. 
  6. Hay Feeder: Keeps the feeding hay hygienically clean
  7. Feeding Hay: Essential for their diet.
  8. Pellet Food: Nutritious guinea pig-specific pellets.
  9. Fresh Food: A variety of safe vegetables and fruit.
  10. Cage Cleaner: For maintaining a hygienic environment.

Buying recommendations for each item are listed below, with links to where to purchase. For more in-depth information on each item and alternative good product options, please check out the links at the bottom of this article. We also have some downloadable resources available for purchase that are a big help for new guinea pig owners.

1. Enclosure

The choice of enclosure for your guinea pigs depends on whether you will house them indoors or outdoors

If you’re planning an indoor setup, a modular C&C cage is an excellent choice due to its flexibility and size adaptability. For outdoor housing, I recommend the 6ft Chartwell hutch, known for its spaciousness and durability.

2x4 C&C Cage for guinea pigs
C&C Cage

It’s important to remember that guinea pigs need a large living space. Therefore, if you opt for a different hutch or cage, ensure it meets the necessary size requirements to provide your pets with a comfortable and healthy environment.

2. Bedding

Choosing the right bedding for your guinea pig’s enclosure is critical. It must be safe, absorbent, and comfortable. Be cautious, as not all small pet bedding is appropriate for guinea pigs.

Washable options like fleece liners allow for a colourful or neutral setup, whereas disposable bedding such as Aspen shavings offers a natural look. Avoid sawdust, as it’s not suitable.

An economical and increasingly popular washable option is noodle bathmats. I recommend these as I use them in my guinea pig setup, having previously tried many other types of bedding. They are comfortable, easy to wash and quick to dry.

Guinea Pig Bedding: Noodle Bath Mats
Noodle bath mats as bedding for the guinea pigs

For a broader range of options and detailed information, refer to the bedding page, where I discuss several other bedding choices.

Guinea Piggles Website Thumbnails 6

3. Hideout

A hideout is not just a luxury for guinea pigs; it’s a must-have item. Providing a safe and secure hiding place is crucial for their well-being. Although guinea pigs sometimes share a hideout, you should buy one for each guinea pig as they also like their own space. 

My top picks, which have served well for several years, are the Resch wooden corner houses for their exceptional quality and the Trixie Log House, a favourite among my guinea pigs.

Guinea Pig Log House
Trixie log house

For those using fleece bedding, consider fleece hideouts for added comfort. The Haypigs Hidey Hut, for instance, is not only colourful and fun but also cosy, making it an excellent choice.

There’s a wide variety of hideouts available, and you can learn more about the ones I recommend in my detailed article on guinea pig beds and hideouts.

4. Food bowls

For your guinea pigs’ dietary needs, it’s ideal to have two types of food bowls: a smaller one for dry pellet food and a larger one for fresh food. Keeping two sets is practical, ensuring you always have clean bowls available.

In my experience, the Haypigs non-tip bowls stand out as the best. They offer a mini bowl, perfectly sized for a daily portion of pellets for two guinea pigs, and a bigger bowl suitable for fresh food. These bowls are superior quality and the only non-tip bowls I’ve found that never tip over.

Large Haypigs food bowl and the Trixie glass water bottle
Large Haypigs Bowl and Trixie Glass Water Bottle

5. Drinking bottle

A drinking bottle is essential for providing clean, hygienic water to your guinea pigs. 

Many bottles drip, but I’ve found the Trixie Glass Water Bottle reliable. It’s high-quality, non-dripping, and a preferable alternative to plastic.

6. Hay feeder

Providing a hay rack or feeder is important to ensure your guinea pigs always have access to clean hay. 

A cage-mounted wooden hay feeder, such as the Small Pet Select Hay Manger, is a practical, space-saving option.

Hay feeders for guinea pigs
Wooden hay feeder and Rosewood log

The Rosewood log feeder is another excellent option for providing clean feeding hay to your pets. Guinea pigs can easily reach the hay from the top or inside the log. Despite being marketed as edible, it has lasted quite a long time in my experience, as my guinea pigs have only nibbled it slightly.

Important Note: Some hay feeders, such as wire balls, pose safety risks like trapping or injuring your guinea pigs, so avoid buying these. Additionally, ensure the feeder you buy allows your guinea pigs to access the hay easily.

7. Feeding hay

Hay is the most important part of your guinea pig’s diet and must always be available. Timothy Hay is the optimal choice for guinea pigs, though meadow hay is a suitable alternative. 

Fresh Timothy Hay in a log feeder
Fresh green timothy hay in the Trixie log hay feeder

When selecting hay, look for freshness and a green colour. Specifically, the 2nd cut of Timothy hay is often considered the best for guinea pigs due to its balance of leafiness and stems.

Find out more about feeding hay to your guinea pigs here…

8. Pellet food

A small amount of dry pellet food is an essential supplement to your guinea pig’s diet. These pellets are specially made for guinea pigs and contain the necessary vitamins for their health. 

American crested guinea pig eating guinea pig pellets from a bowl
Small Pet Select Pellet Food in a the mini Haypigs bowl

For top-quality pellets, Small Pet Select Premium Guinea Pig Food is an excellent option. Burgess Excel Nuggets is another high-quality option that I currently use for my guinea pigs, and they enjoy it immensely.

Find out more on pellet food here >

9. Fresh food

Daily fresh vegetables are essential for your guinea pigs’ diet, so you’ll have to stock up on these. For comprehensive information on suitable vegetables and fruit and recommended quantities, please visit our section on safe vegetables and fruit for guinea pigs.

Guinea pig food chart and meal planner - printable pdf download in full colour

10. Cage cleaner

You will need to give your guinea pig’s enclosure a regular deep clean. For this you’ll need a guinea pig-safe cleaning product to prevent bacteria and ensure hygiene. The Johnsons Clean’n’Safe cleaner, specifically formulated for pet safety, effectively eliminates harmful bacteria and maintains a clean habitat for your guinea pigs.

Optional extras for your guinea pig’s enclosure

After buying the essentials for your guinea pig’s cage, consider enhancing their environment with additional accessories for enrichment. Tunnels and bridges offer great opportunities for exercise and exploration, adding an element of fun to their daily routine.

Regarding treats and chew toys, it’s essential to choose wisely, as guinea pigs can be selective. I’ve compiled a list of the most popular and engaging toys based on our guinea pigs’ preferences. I also have a page on some of the best guinea pig treats that my own guinea pigs have enjoyed.

Care sheets and resources for guinea pig care

To assist you in providing the best care for your guinea pigs, I’ve developed a range of downloadable resources. These include detailed care sheets, a fresh food guide, a forage guide (free fresh food!), and meal planners specifically tailored for guinea pig care. 

Guinea Pig Care Sheets - Printable PDF Download - Checklists, Logs and Information Sheets

Conveniently available for purchase to download and use straight away, you can easily print these resources at home for your reference. See my full range of guinea pig care downloads here.

Other guinea pig needs

As well as the practical items I’ve listed in the starter kit list, guinea pigs need a nurturing environment filled with love, attention, and proper medical care. You might also find building a handy first aid supply with items from our guinea pig first aid kit list helpful. 

Further information on caring for your guinea pigs

Find out more about how to care for your guinea pigs on the following pages:

Written by Monique, an experienced guinea pig owner with the guinea pigs’ best interests at heart. Find out more about me here.

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