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Housing

 

The choices for housing your guinea pigs are endless and sometimes a little creativity or a handyman with hammer and nails can go a long way.

Your guinea pigs cage is their home in which they will spend their entire life day in and day out. Guinea pigs are herd animals and active animals by nature and require space to run and play with further space to sleep and eat. Guinea pigs that are kept in housing where they have limited/inadequate space for movement and to roam freely are prone to all sorts of health problems in the long term which included becoming overweight and stiff joints/arthritis from lack of movement. Along with health problems a guinea pig can develop behavioral problems from boredom such as excessive squeaking for attention and food, chewing of cage bars/wire, it's own fur ( this is called ' barbering ' ) along with anything else they can find to chew. Emotional factors such as depression can also become apparent. Small enclosures can also mean extra work for you so it is not just the guinea pig that suffers. A small cage becomes dirty very easily and quickly and in turn your guinea pig will need bathing more frequently and the cage will need to be cleaned every couple of days.

 

Where to house my guinea pig? It is recommended to house your guinea pig indoors or undercover somewhere such as a patio or inside the home in a predator proof enclosure. Their are many benefits/reasons for this. Guinea pigs housed indoors generally have less chance of developing some health issues in the long run. They are less prone to predator attacks and are safe from harmful weather conditions such as the summer heat, winter cold and rain. Another common practice now days is to house the guinea pig/s outdoors during the day in a play run ( while someone is home...it is not recommended to leave your guinea pigs outdoors if no one is home ) and to then to bring them inside at night or when no one will be at home. This is a fantastic practice and your guinea pig receives the benefits of both worlds being able to enjoy the lawn and fresh air outdoors during the day and then the safety and comfort of an indoor enclosure at night or during bad weather conditions. It is a comfort knowing that your guinea pig/s are 100% safe in an indoor enclosure permanently or while not at home rather than for them to be left outdoors 24/7.

It only takes once for a guinea pig to lose it's life by being left permanently in an outdoor enclosure whether this be by suffering conditions such as heatstroke (A guinea pig can die from heatstroke in as little as an hour if sun is on their cage), respiratory infections/colds or worse, being attacked by a predator (e.g. cat/dog/snake/bird)

Recommended Cage Sizes:

ACS recommends that housing size for 2 guinea pigs be a minimum of 1.2-1.3meters x 60cm and 1.4 meters x 60cm or larger for 3/4 guinea pigs. ACS and Vet specialists recommend a minimum of 60cm x 60cm per guinea pig of cage space.

When searching for a cage remember the 3 S's!

SIZE!  SAFETY! SUFFICIENT!  

 

 

Inappropriate Housing and Cage Sizes

 

Cages on the Market

For many years guinea pig housing available on the market to purchase has been created for convenience and profit rather than for the wellbeing and happiness of the small animal. Many of the common guinea pig cages you can purchase through Pet Shops are created far to small in size for guinea pigs with some cages measuring less than 1 meter in length and the smallest on the market measuring less than 50cm in length. These cages are created to fit easily in the boot of your car, they are often not sturdy or predator proof and they often cost an arm and a leg even though they are so small in size.

 

Wire Flooring

Wire flooring on the base of a guinea pigs cage is definitely not recommended, for several reasons. CLICK HERE to read a very important information page regarding wire flooring. If you purchase a cage with a wire floor and you arn't planning on lining it with bedding we recommend removing the wire.

 

Below are some examples of unacceptable housing for guinea pigs.

 

Fish tanks or Large Solid Plastic Containers

Fish tanks are made for fish and not guinea pigs. The provide very poor air circulation for a guinea pig and in turn the guinea pig can develop respiratory infections and bacterial infections. Many pet shops house their guinea pigs in fish tanks and this can be very misleading for the public.  Some people house their guinea pigs in large plastic containers which is just as bad. The information above applies to containers or any enclosure with all four sides being solid.

Tiny wooden hutches

These hutches can typically still be found in some stores today. They generally are less than 90cm meter in length ( usually no longer than 78cm in length ) and have wire bottoms. These hutches are not sturdy enough to be predator proof. The size is unacceptable and guinea pigs can barely move about the little enclosed ends are usually only large enough to fit the body size of one guinea pig.

Metal Enclosures

Guinea pig outdoor housing that are made from metal materials is not appropriate to house your guinea pig in. In hot weather the metal can heat up and get to temperatures that will literally toast a guinea pig. If the cage is left in the sun it only takes once for a guinea pig to develop heatstroke. Metal cages can also become very very cold in winter and guinea pigs are more prone to pneumonia and catching colds as a result. Most metal cages on the market are also in-appropriate sizes some are as small as 50cm in length.

Common Small Pet Shop Cage with plastic base and/or on stand

These cages are fantastic for quarantine or transportation although are unsuitable for permanent housing. These are your typical pet shop cage usually measuring less than a meter in length more commonly approximately 70cm x 40cm in size. These cages generally have a solid plastic base and wire sides. They can be purchased on stands and sometimes have levels inside the cage. Again these cages are simply far too small for guinea pigs and generally are overpriced costing more than $100 to purchase. Their are larger plastic base cages on the market which are over 1.1m in length and these cages usually come on stilts with wheels although it can be difficult to find the larger cages as many stores do not stock them.

 

 

 

Appropriate housing for guinea pigs

 

It can be difficult to find good housing for guinea pigs in particular good size housing. Below are some ideas and examples of appropriate guinea pig housing.

 

EBAY

Their are sellers interstate and local on Ebay which ship directly to your door! Flashy  Two-Storey Hutches at bargain prices! Check out Ebay!

 

C&C Cages

CLICK HERE to view our webpage and to find out information about this ideal modern day guinea pig housing.

 

 

Home Made Cages

If you have a handyman around the house a way to build a good size, quality and often cheap enclosure is to grab a hammer and nails and start building and designing! Click on thumbnails below to view examples of some different styles of home made guinea pig enclosures.

 

The exceptional large sized pet store plastic base cage

Some pet stores and pet warehouses sell large versions of the plastic based wire sided cage. These cages measure 1.5metres in length and are a fantastic size and quality cage to house guinea pigs in.

 

Quality lawn hutches both store bought and home-made (including size).

It is recommended to have outdoor and indoor/night housing for your guinea pig and even though many pet shop hutches just don't cut it as appropriate for guinea pigs ( whether this be in size, strength or quality ), their are some lawn hutches around that are appropriate for piggies it just takes some looking to find one of these hutches. Usually a good quality lawn hutch  has a weatherproof enclosed end on one end of the cage with a solid base on the end as well for bedding. A good lawn hutch will be large in size approx 1.2metres +  and will be a quality sturdy/predator proof make.

 Quality lawn hutches don't come cheap when shopping through Pet Shops and usually cost between $150-$300 for something a decent size. Their are regular sellers on EBAY which sell good large lawn hutches at wholesale prices (around $100) and that ship interstate to your door for under $30. If you have a hammer and nails you can probably build a large quality lawn hutch for less than $100. The trading post is also another good place to check out!

Pictured below is an example of the tiny size of an average pet shop cage (under 85cm in length) compared to a home-made cage (Approx 1.5 meters in length). Big difference in price, quality, size and in turn the happiness of your guinea pigs!

Photo courtesy of Michelle

 

Convert a Cupboard!

One of the best ideas created is the convert a cupboard method. You can purchase sideboards, cupboards, wardrobes and beautiful antique items of furniture from bargain prices as low as $10 if you purchase from second hand stores, to $100 dollars or more if purchasing a brand new piece of furniture, which can be transformed into a display piece in the house better known as your guinea pig cage. To convert a cupboard it is very easy you simply knock out with a hammer the inside of the doors and then purchase some wire to nail across the windows which are left. You already have your door handles and can line the timber or roof with waterproof corflute if desired. You can also convert cupboards into fantastic lawn hutches using the same method. Inexpensive, appealing, large, easy-to-make and appropriate housing for guinea pigs.

Cots

No longer are cots just being used for human babies but for some families their guinea pig babies! You can purchase a cot either new or second hand or from Ebay as a fantastic indoor enclosure for your guinea pig. Simply purchase corflute or something waterproof for the base and you're set!

(c) Copyright 2006, Australian Cavy Sanctuary. All rights reserved.