What Do Guinea Pigs Need?

Inquisitive white and ginger guinea pig sitting on the lawn

If you’re getting new guinea pigs, you’ll need to be prepared and buy all the essentials that a guinea pig needs before bringing them home. 

We’ve created the definitive Guinea Pig Starter Kit List which is a Shopping Guide showing you all the essential items you’ll need to buy for your new pets. These recommendations also have links to where you can buy the items.

We are very careful what we recommend because not all things that are sold for guinea pigs are safe or suitable.  We only suggest items we have either tried ourselves or ones that we know to be good for your guinea pigs.

White and ginger guinea pig peeking out of a hideout
Mr Jaffas in one of his hideouts

It’s vital you have all these items ready BEFORE bringing your guinea pigs home so you can settle them into their new environment straight away. A rescue centre will require that you have your cage set up so they know you can provide a good home for your new guinea pigs.

Guinea pigs should be housed in pairs and not on their own. You can find out more about this here….

Here is the definitive starter kit list of what you need to get for your new guinea pigs. We’ve given you a few buying options on each item you need so you can choose what suits you the best:

Cage or hutch

It’s important not to scrimp on your cage. This may be the most expensive purchase but it is one that needs to last and is your guinea pigs home. Give them the best you can afford.

Midwest Guinea Pig Habitat Cage
Midwest Guinea Pig Habitat (the minimum sized cage for guinea pigs)

Your guinea pigs will need a large cage. Housing for 2 females should be a minimum of 120cm x 60cm but a male pair will need a bigger space – ideally a minimum of 160cm x 60cm. With cages, bigger is always better so always buy as big as you can fit in your space. 

We always recommend housing your guinea pig indoors as it is dangerous for them to be outside in cold or hot weather. However, we will recommend both indoor cages and outdoor hutches in case you are planning to house them outdoors in suitable weather and bring them indoors if needs be.

5ft Wooden Hutch for Outdoors

If you are adopting a guinea pig from a rescue centre, we recommend you check what their requirements are regarding housing before you buy one to ensure it matches their criteria for a successful adoption.

Bedding

You’ll need to buy bedding when you first get your guinea pigs but you’ll also need to buy it on a regular basis unless you decide to opt for the washable fleece liners. 

Fleece liners are more expensive but will save you money in the long run. They will also need regular washing and tend to need cleaning out more often.

natural paper bedding for guinea pigs
Natural paper bedding for a guinea pig cage

Disposable bedding creates more waste and you’ll have to buy it on a regular basis but doesn’t need a full clean as often. You’ll need to decide which you feel is best. You can find out more about bedding options here…

Feeding Hay

Grass hay needs to be available for your guinea pigs ALL the time. There should never be a time when there is no hay in their cage as it can result in their teeth overgrowing, a very serious condition for a guinea pig. Timothy Hay or Meadow Hay can be fed to guinea pigs.

Small Pet Select Timothy Hay for Guinea Pigs
Timothy Hay from Small Pet Select is excellent quality feeding hay

More hay options and information here…

Guinea Pig Pellets

Your new pets will need a daily portion of guinea pig pellets. These pellets are specially formulated for guinea pigs to give them the nutrition specific to a guinea pig’s dietary requirements. Don’t buy pellets that are made for rabbits or other small pets as they aren’t suitable.

American crested guinea pig eating guinea pig pellets from a bowl
Guinea pig pellets

Food Bowls

You’ll need at least 2 food bowls – one for pellets and one for fresh daily veggies. You can put all their pellets in one bowl but they won’t be big enough for a daily portion of veggies for 2 guinea pigs so make sure you buy enough for the number of piggies that you will have.

Because guinea pigs like to put their feet on the side of the bowls, you need to buy bowls that don’t tip. Either go for the heavier and more chunky ceramic bowls or a non-tip bowl. These are the bowls we recommend:

Drinking Bottle

We don’t recommend putting water in a bowl as it can get dirty very quickly and they won’t drink contaminated water. Always use a water bottle and preferably a glass one.

Many people have problems with leaky bottles but we’ve been using the Trixie Honey & Hopper glass bottles for a couple of years and they have never leaked so this is the one we would recommend. Glass bottles also last for ages providing you don’t break them whereas plastic ones do need replacing after a while.

Grey and  white  guinea pig in cage next  to  a glass water bottle
Trixie Honey & Hopper Glass Water Bottle

Hay feeder

A hay rack or feeder is another useful and, in our opinion, an essential item you’ll need to buy when you first get your guinea pigs. We always recommend putting hay in a hay feeder because a guinea pig will not eat hay that has been soiled. A hay feeder keeps the hay clean.

Please DON’T BUY the metal ball hay feeders as they are dangerous and can trap a guinea pig causing potentially serious injuries.

Various hay feeders including wooden hanging hay feeder, tunnel feeder and forage ball
Wooden Hay Feeder

Hideout

This may sound like an optional extra for a guinea pig starter kit but guinea pigs need a place where they can hide and feel safe. They can become very scared if they don’t have this option in their housing. 

Ideally you’ll need to have a hidey for each guinea pig as they like their own space and can get a bit moody if another piggy is in the only hidey that is available! 

Beware of buying any wooden houses that contain glues or nails as these may not be safe. We recommend and use hideys from the Resch range. They are excellent quality and will last a long time compared to some of the cheaper and badly made options.

Guinea pig in a wooden hideout
Mr Jaffas in a wooden hideout

Boredom Breakers

This is sometimes not considered but should be an essential in your guinea pig starter kit. 

It’s important your guinea pigs have enrichment toys as they are intelligent animals and need stimulation. This can be in the form of bridges, tunnels, safe balls, things they can chew on etc.

Guinea pig with a colourful treat ball
Sunny Pig with the Haypigs Treat Ball

Pet Friendly Disinfectant Hutch Cleaner

Within the first few days of getting your guinea pigs you’ll need to clean their cage. So some safe cleaning fluid is an essential part of your starter kit. 

It isn’t safe to use a standard household cleaner for this because of the chemicals it may contain, so it is important to buy a pet-friendly disinfectant.

You can alternatively use vinegar which we prefer as it’s 100% natural. The vinegar does come in large packs but you can use it in the home too.

Care Sheets & Safe Fruit & Veg Info Packs

As a new guinea pig owner, you will be keen to make sure your pets are looked after with the best care. You may well be learning a little as you go along.

Guinea pig care sheets and checklists
Guinea Pig Care Sheets designed by Guinea Piggles

We’ve created care sheets and safe fruit & veg sheets just for you. These will be an essential part of keeping on track with all your guinea pig tasks and to help you know what is safe to feed your piggies.

The care sheet pack includes checklists and pages that you can fill in with useful information about your guinea pig, vet, medication, appointments etc. The safe fruit & veg sheets list many fruit & vegetables your guinea pigs can eat, and how often. To help you identify them, all the food is in full colour!

These are available to buy online and download then you can print as many as you need as and when you need them.

You can find them here: ** BLUE PACK**  or **PINK PACK**