Although guinea pigs are small creatures, they need plenty of space to run around. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Guinea pigs are naturally grazing animals. Weather permitting, they need a minimum of 4-6 hours a day on grass or with access to a good mixture of safe garden plants. Guinea pigs who are confined to a hutch for long periods of time are more likely to suffer health conditions and potentially fight with their companions.
The garden run needs to be secure, have a lid and be well-built to prevent predators and young children trying to climb in when you’re not able to supervise.
Metal folding runs and A-frames are not suitable for guinea pigs. Metal runs don’t often have a secure lid and are flimsy against predators and weather. A-frames often only have one door so rounding up the guinea pigs can be very tricky – and they’re rarely available in the required minimum size.
Your guinea pigs will need at least three hiding areas or tunnels within their run. They don’t feel safe grazing in open spaces and will often hide in one corner or under the only shelter if they don’t have several options to move between.
If you’re considering building your own guinea pig accommodation, it’s vital you use the right materials. Here are a few things to bear in mind before you start building: