When shopping for a guinea pig cage or hutch, your choices are wide and varied. There are many different types made out of different materials. How can you choose? How do you know which cage or hutch is right for your guinea pig?
Indoors or Outdoor Guinea Pig Cage?
The first thing to consider is where your guinea pig lives. Indoor cages are usually made with a plastic bottom and a wire mesh surround, ideal for easy access and allowing your guinea pig to see the world around it similar to C & C cages. This type of cage is not suitable for outside use as it does not provide enough protection from the weather or predators.
Outdoor hutches are normally made from hard plywood, with a felted, sloping roof and fox-proof, wire mesh front. The doors have locks on them to stop the guinea pig from escaping and to prevent any predators from entering. These hutches usually have legs to keep them off the cold ground. While there is nothing stopping these types of hutches being used inside, they are normally kept outside as they are quite big and bulky.
Do not keep guinea pigs in metal hutches outside. These heat up easily in warm or hot days even when in the shade. Guinea pigs are very susceptible to heat stroke. It is important to move your outside guinea pigs indoors when temperatures exceed 28 degrees.
Never keep rabbits or guinea pigs in a cage that has a wire floor as this is not only uncomfortable and difficult to walk on but can also lead to serious injuries and infections such as bumblefoot. If you do have a wire floor cage ensure that appropriate flooring is added.
The size of a guinea pig cages varies, the smallest sold normally being 48 inches long. These small hutches are only suitable for single guinea pigs. However, if you have two animals, it is advisable to buy a larger hutch so that they have room to move around and get away from each other if needed. As well as single-story hutches, you can buy others with two or three levels.
- 1 guinea pig: 60cm x 120cm or 0.72m2 = 2×3 C&C grid cage
- 2-3 guinea pigs: 70cm x 140cm or 0.98m2 = 2×4 grid cage
- 4 guinea pigs 60cm x 180cm or 1.08m2 = 2×5 C&C grid cage
- Add 60cm x 30cm or 0.18m2 for any additional guinea pig.
Most guinea pigs don’t jump or climb so the sides of the enclosure need only be at least 30 cm high
When choosing a guinea pig cage or hutch, make sure it has separate bedding and living areas. If a nest box or partitioned area is not built into the hutch, then one can be bought. Fleece bedding make adequate bedding areas.
In the living area, a bowl of food and water bottle should be made accessible at all times. Some hutches or cages include a hay rack, which helps to keep feeding hay away from bedding hay and off the floor, keeping it dry and clean. Wild guinea pigs are a prey species and, like rabbits, your pet guinea pig will retain some of these characteristics. As such, you will need to provide your guinea pig with a place to hide, so that he/she can run for cover if startled. It is also a good idea to provide runs, toys and tunnels for your guinea pig to explore and play in – guinea pigs can become listless or frustrated if they become bored.
Finding the right guinea pig house does not have to be difficult. Compare their pros and cons before making your final decision, to ensure that your guinea pig gets the best home possible. Always ensure the cage you are purchasing is large enough for the number of guinea pigs you intend to have as many places sell tiny cages and claim they are big enough for multiple guinea pigs.
More information can be found at RSPCA