Figuring the Right Size for Your Guineas’ Living Space
The majority of guinea pig cages advertised at pet stores are generally too small for guinea pigs. They tend to be 30in x 18in x 16.5in which is only approximately 3.75 square feet. This is equivalent to a human living in a standard walk-in closet (if not a small one). Put in a bed in that space and a small table for the food, and you can imagine how much space you would really be left with. For a guinea pig it is that small of a space when a hidey hut is put in along with a food bowl. After those important items go in there is very little room for them to move around and exercise. They are cramped in the space that they have. The mini cage above with Kalsie only has her food and water bottle in it giving her plenty of room as her litter box right now (since she has a whole fleece area expanding the area to 13.6 square feet). That said, if you were to put the igloo in, her chews, and boredom busters, there wouldn’t be any more space to really run around, especially for her zoomies.
Guinea pigs need room to move around and run around. They also need items within their cage they can hide under or in (since they are prey animals and it helps them feel secure) and play with. Not including a hiding space items to keep boredom at bay might give them a bit more room in a cage, but you’re taking away their comfort/security and happiness. Guinea pigs, like most creatures, can become depressed and bored. Even if they are taken out often, the small area isn’t a good permanent solution because it doesn’t promote their health.
A bigger cage provides many benefits for both you and your guinea pigs. These include, but aren’t limited to:
- Happier and popcorning guinea pigs: The additional room allows them to be themselves and showcases their personality. It’s more fun to watch and see what behaviors they exhibit. It also allows you to put in more toys and boredom busters so your guinea pigs don’t become bored or depressed.
- Comfortable guinea pigs are easier to bond: With being happy and having the option to come closer or stay a bit farther away, you can begin to build a bond with the guinea pigs.
- Increase lifespan: The exercise guinea pigs get on their own is very important. Guinea pigs can live 4-8 years, but with more enrichment in their lives and room to run around, they can live longer and are less likely to develop medical conditions that may shorten their lifespan such as diabetes and heart disease.
- Ability to house a guinea pig herd (even if it’s a herd of two): Guinea pigs are herd animals and once bonded to another guinea pig, or even just having another guinea pig nearby, they are happier since they are such social creatures.
- Easier maintenance: It sounds weird, doesn’t it? However, with a larger area guinea pigs might choose a specific place to use as their bathroom and less waste is built up since they have more area to run and play. This also allows one to try to litter train their guineas so they go in one place away from other areas.
Rule of Thumb
The general rule of thumb for cage sizes is to have, at minimum, 7.5 square feet for a single guinea pig with 2-4 square feet additional for each additional guinea pig. More is always better, and remember, you can also add levels to add area, as long as the bottom still has enough room.
One Guinea Pig: 7.5 square feet minimum, but 30in x 36in or more is preferred.
Two Guinea Pigs: 7.5 square feet minimum, but 10.5 square feet is prefered (30in x 50in)
Three Guinea Pigs: 10.5 square feet minimum, but 13.5 square feet is preferred (30in x 65in)
More than 3 Guinea Pigs?
More than 3 guinea pigs minimum cage size: 7.5 square feet + [2 square feet x #ofpigs]
It is important to note that no matter how big your guinea pigs housing is, it is still important to take out your pigs for floor time and hang out with them. Fun and healthy interaction with you will improve their lives and happiness.
Willow, Cora, and Kalsie are loving their 13.6 square feet digs right now and we wouldn’t have it any other way. ❤