The right environment for your guinea pigs
Guinea pigs can live outside and indoors. Although in these two environments, their housing will be slightly different, the fundamentals of a great guinea pig house are the same. Think of your guinea pigs’ housing as a ‘bedroom’, so it should be permanently attached to a much larger guinea pig run. Your guinea pigs only sleep for around four hours a day, so they’ll need plenty of space to exercise throughout the day and night.
Their housing should be as big as possible, but at an absolute minimum it should be 4ft by 2ft to allow your guinea pigs to exercise with plenty of space. Make sure there is a separate toilet area to their sleeping area, with plenty of guinea pig bedding hay or straw, or paper-based, non expanding litter.
The guinea pig essentials
Enrichment for your guinea pigs is really important. As prey species, they need lots of safe hiding places in their exercise area. The perfect guinea pig hideaway involves tunnels, pipes and guinea pig nest boxes. Deep piles of hay will also allow for natural tunnelling behaviour, as well as making sure they’re getting enough fibre in their diet.
The essentials you’ll need to make the perfect set up for your guinea pigs, whether they are outside or inside guinea pigs are:
- Lots of tasty Excel hay
- Guinea pig-proofed space
- Food bowl
- Water bowl
- Hidey holes and tunnels
- Boredom breakers (tunnels and pipes)
- Guinea pig bedding
- Guinea pig safe cleaning products
Indoor guinea pigs
You can keep your guinea pigs indoors, but it is important that they get used to common household sights, sounds, and noises.
You can provide them with indoor housing or an indoor run or you can put them in a guinea pig proofed room of their own. Make sure all areas your guinea pigs move around in are safe. For example, cover all electrical cables to stop them from being chewed, and move any unsafe house plants out of the area. Non-slip flooring is also key to avoid any injuries.
Remember to keep your guinea pigs away from radiators and keep the room well ventilated. The ideal temperature is between 17-20 degrees. Provide them with a separate toilet and sleeping area, and give them lots of guinea pig safe toys to play with!
Outdoor guinea pigs
Guinea pigs can live outdoors, they just need their housing to be adapted to protect them from hot weather in the summer and poor weather in the winter. When the weather is particularly bad, don’t put your guinea pigs in their outdoor run. Instead pop them inside or in a guinea pig proofed outdoor shed. In the cold wintery days, move their accommodation to somewhere warmer and give them plenty of extra guinea pig bedding to help them stay nice and cosy. When the weather is good, keep your guinea pigs’ house and run out of direct sunlight, and fill it with lots of places to hide.
Keeping guinea pigs outside means they may encounter predators such as foxes. Keep their housing secure with good quality wire and bolts. Certain garden chemicals, such as pesticides, can be poisonous. Make sure your guinea pigs are kept way from areas that could contain these chemicals.
Cleaning your guinea pigs’ housing
You should give your guinea pigs’ housing a quick clean daily, throwing out wet/dirty bedding, uneaten food and cleaning and reﬁlling food and drink containers.
A more thorough clean should be completed weekly which involves removing and replacing all bedding as well as cleaning out the litter trays.
Every month you should give your guinea pigs housing a ‘deep clean’ where you take everything out, scrub the housing with a animal-safe cleaner then replace the bedding with fresh hay.