Housing your Guinea Pigs
Whether you decide to keep your new pets inside or outside, you will need to provide them a hutch or enclosure that is sturdy and spacious. Roomier Cages offer many advantages that will be enjoyed by both you and your pigs. Larger cages are one of the most basic types of enrichment you can provide. Guinea pigs can live 5-7 years and can become bored and depressed without adequate stimulation. Imagine spending your whole life in a walk-in closet. Even with occasional breaks, life would be pretty drear. Adequate room to exercise means that your guinea pigs are less likely to develop medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, bumblefoot, and anal impaction. With a roomier enclosure, guinea pigs can exercise on their schedule, not yours. Guinea pigs tend to be most active in the morning and evening when it may not be convenient to take them out for playtime. Larger housing increase the likelihood of peaceful co-existence among multiple guinea pigs (and since guinea pigs are social animals, they do best when housed together). Larger cages are actually easier to clean because they prevent the buildup of waste and allow guinea pigs to separate their bathroom area from other activities. With the opportunity to express a wider range of natural behaviors, your guinea pigs will be happier and it will be easier to get to know their personalities.
The cage should be well ventilated and easy to clean. If kept indoors choose a bright, draft-free area (e.g. away from doors and windows and on an elevated surface) with a stable temperature range. Guinea pig housing should be located away from strong heat sources such as direct sun, wood stoves, fireplaces and heating vents. Guinea pigs cannot sweat when they become too warm and are particularly susceptible to heat stroke. They enjoy being near family activity and benefit from more attention when they’re easy to see and hear. A family room or living room works well, but make sure your pigs have a place to retreat if they need some quiet time.
Guinea pigs have very sensitive hearing and their cages should not be placed next to stereos, televisions or other loud noises. If outside make sure the hutch is kept out of drafty, damp areas and direct sunlight on hot days. Guinea pigs don’t do well under humid conditions. Dampness promotes the growth of mold in their hay and bedding and can make guinea pigs more prone to sickness. Do Not leave Guinea pigs in the direct sunlight on hot days as heat stress can kill them. A hutch that can be moved around the garden to provide fresh grass is ideal. It needs to be secure to protect them from predators and they need somewhere to run and hide in if they are suddenly frightened.
Bedding can be a variety of things. Grass hay or straw work well, and satisfies a guinea pigs desire to nibble and burrow. Paper bedding (Back to Nature) or wood shavings are also very popular and very absorbent. If you line the hutch with newspaper first, cleaning will be easier. Whatever you decide to use, you will need to clean out the cage regularly and replace all the bedding. Periodically the hutch will need to be thoroughly cleaned and scrubbed and allowed to dry completely before being used again. Hutch cleaner’s are available from pet stores or a little disinfectant in the water will keep the hutch clean.
Food and Water Containers
Provide a Food bowl that is solid and cannot be overturned. A good quality drip feed water bottle also needs to be provided and both need to be cleaned regularly.
One guinea pig: 7.5 square feet cage (minimum), but more is better; generally 30" x 36" is a good size.
Two guinea pigs: 7.5 square feet (minimum), but 10.5 square feet is preferred; generally 30" x 50" is a good size.
Three guinea pigs: 10.5 square feet (minimum), but 13 square feet is preferred; generally 30" x 62" is a good size.
Four guinea pigs: 13 square feet (minimum), but more is better; generally 30" x 76" is a good size.