Providing them with spacious housing and a secure outdoor run will help keep them active, happy and healthy.
Guinea pigs can live indoors or outdoors – there are pros and cons to each.
Keeping guinea pigs indoors
Indoor cages can come in large sizes – but they’re often very cumbersome and leave little opportunity for you to be creative with the environment.
If you’re thinking of keeping indoor guinea pigs, look out for modular cage ranges like those offered by C&C. They’re more flexible and more suited to empty spaces in your home – plus relatively low cost and easy to make.
- Pros of indoor guinea pigs: your piggies are likely to become more confident around you and being hand fed. You’re more likely to spot health concerns, and these may even be reduced as they will be in a dry, warm environment with a reduced risk of fungal and respiratory issue. They’ll also be safe from wild predators and bad weather
- Cons of indoor guinea pigs: it may be tricky to find a room that gives your guinea pigs quiet time. If you have cats or dogs they’re more likely to watch the piggies and cause them stress. They will have reduced opportunities to graze on grass, as they will need to acclimatise to the outside temperatures. You may also be allergic to their bedding.
Keeping guinea pigs outdoors
There are many hutches available in pet stores and online. However, many are very poorly made and often fall apart within the first two years. Consider investing a little more with a welfare approved hutch company where the hutch is made of strong wood with suitable bolts on the doors.
Double level hutches are not ideal for guinea pigs. Although some will use both levels, most only end up using one. They’re also at risk of falling down the ramp or floor hole when they are elderly and less mobile.
Consider using sheds or Wendy Houses
Whatever hutch you choose, try to place it inside a shed or well ventilated out building with natural daylight. This will keep your guinea pigs safe from predators and warm in the winter.
In fact, wooden Wendy Houses or garden sheds make an ideal home for your guinea pigs, especially if you have a group. Sheds can easily be converted with mesh doors and a step over barrier to stop them escaping. The shed offers more floor space for the guinea pigs and suits families who want to socialise with their guinea pigs but may be put off by the weather.
- Pros of outdoor guinea pigs: they will have a larger living area if you use a Wendy House or shed, and a calmer, quieter area away from determined pets such as dogs and cats. It’s easier to allow them to graze throughout the year, as they will be more acclimatised to the weather. It’s also safer if anyone in your home suffers from allergies
- Cons of outdoor guinea pigs: you’ll have less opportunity to socialise with your guinea pigs. They’re more likely to have health issues that go unnoticed for longer periods, and are at risk of wild predators such as foxes, stoats and rats. A risk of them becoming cold and damp during winter and overheating during the summer.
Ideal enclosure sizes for a pair of guinea pigs
Whether you choose an indoor or an outdoor set up, here’s how much space your piggies will need. Males often prefer a slightly larger space to avoid squabbles. Groups of four or more guinea pigs need a larger indoor set up or a converted shed or Wendy House.
- Hutch or indoor cage – 5 ft long by 2 ft deep (153 cm by 61 cm)
- Run for the garden – 6 ft long by 4 ft wide by 18 inches high (2 m by 1.25 m by 46 cm).