Guinea Pig Housing: Deciding on Cage Type

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One search on google, pinterest, or instagram will show many different acceptable cage designs that are anywhere from very basic (but functional) to very fashionable with a complex design.

It’s important to note that your guinea pigs will be happy as long as they are going to be in a place of family activity, have a cage large enough for them, and are taken care of properly. They couldn’t care less how decorative the cage is*.

Cage Types Discussed are the following:

  • C&C
  • Midwestern
  • Wood and Plexiglass
  • Other
  • Most Cost Effective

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Guinea Pig Housing: Where to Put Your Guinea Pig in Your Home

Location, Location, Location

Location Matters

The best place to put your guinea pig cage is a place where the family activities generally take place. This allows more interaction from both parties! It also means that they will get used to you and your family members more quickly. If this is the family room, the living room,  or perhaps the basement, then that’s where your guinea pigs should be! This way they will not be forgotten, gain social interaction, and both humans and guinea pigs can enjoy each other’s company.

Temperature: The optimal temperature is between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit (or 18-24 degree Celsius).

Area Considerations: The cage should not be in direct sunlight, but the room should get some sun. It should not be anywhere that may be drafty such as by windows, doors, or air/heating vents. If the vents or air conditioning is not in use, then guinea pigs can be placed there, but moved immediately before those air/heating vents are to be turned on or used.

Other Pets: If you have additional pets that free roam your home, make sure that the guinea pigs are properly protected whether with a cage cover, being elevated off the floor, or being placed in an area that can keep them safe.

 

Do NOT house your guinea pigs outdoors! I cannot stress this enough.

Guinea pigs are meant to be kept indoors. The amount of pigs that have died outdoors due to owner forgetfulness, temperature fluctuations (or owners leaving pigs out when the temperature becomes too hot or too cold), getting sick and owners not noticing quickly enough, and blown-over hutches and cages are too great to count. Guinealynx has a great picture of a blown over hutch, and luckily no guinea pigs were in there when the hutch was blown over. 

Guinea pigs are prey animals with no defenses if a predator breaks into their hutch or enclosure. Being prey animals, they also can become stressed and fearful of what is going on outside their enclosure, which would decrease their quality of life.

Guinea pigs don’t handle temperature changes well. Again, the optimal temperature for a guinea pig is between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit (or 18-24 degree Celsius). Even if the day is between 65-70 degrees during the day, at night temperatures can fall below that. Even with fur they can get cold.

If it’s not predators, it’s the insects and parasites. Insects can go into the hutch or enclosure and transmit infections or illnesses to your guinea pigs. Cages have also been reported to have maggots when not cleaned often enough. Additionally, slugs and snails can make their way inside guinea pig enclosures. Slugs can carry various parasites and can be harmful to your pigs.


If you have figured the perfect location that you’d love your new, or current, furry friend to be, check out the dimensions that the cage should be to keep your guinea(s) happy and healthy here.  


Where in the apartment/houses are Once Upon a Wheek’s piggies located?? (Responded by Ali and Reketio)

Willow: Since I, Ali, lived in a shared four bedroom apartment and none of the other roommates liked guineas, I had Willow in my room where I was 99% of the t1441509591523 (1)ime studying, doing work, and sleeping. Since the cage was small (usual pet store cage size which was the only thing that would fit in my tiny room), I trained Willow to be free ranging so he had the run of the whole room. When I moved out to a studio, Willow was located right next to my desk area and had the entirety of the apartment to run around in and popcorn (after a bit of piggy proofing). There were many old pictures where he was playing around, falling asleep everywhere, and climbing on my leg to demand something (usually my food).

Currently, Willow now lives in my office/hang out area where I usually am about 90% of the time when I’m home. He still has the run of the room (he doesn’t venture out onto the tile floor to get to the other room), but just to ensure his safety, as per usual, I place him back in his cage since he’s still learning the ropes of the new place!

 

Kalsie and Cora: Kalsie lived with Cora originally in the family room of my family’s house where people were always going and watching TV. When they were separated, they still were placed next to each other to have a ‘friend’ to talk to if they wanted. Right now, Kalsie lives in the main room of Rekeito’s place right near her desk, and Cora remains in a family room at York’s place where a lot of the family activities take place. Plus, she has turtles as roommates since they live above her cage area.

Guinea Pig Housing: Dimensions

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. MG_7073 (1)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. ❤