You can have a lot of fun getting your guinea pig’s habitat ready for him before you even bring him home. Get your children and spouse involved in creating a colorful, healthy environment for your pet! There are many guinea pig cages to choose from, and some containers should be specifically avoided.
First, let’s look at the ones you don’t want: Good guinea pig cages never have exposed wire mesh on the bottom. There should be no wiring, shelves, or ramps, because they can catch their feet on them and injure their pads. Never use plastic tubs or aquariums. Avoid anything that will prevent adequate ventilation or limit his view of the world around him.
Many old-fashioned breeders will tell you that guinea pig cages do not need to be larger than two to four square feet. This simply is no longer true! A cage that small is nothing more than a litter box, and you are forcing your pet to live in his own waste. You need a roomy environment so that he gets adequate exercise and enjoys his world.
C & C Cages
The best guinea pig cages are made from cubes and Coroplast, also known as C&C. You generally buy the cubes in packages of 14 grids, which are made of coated wire; connectors are included so that you can put them together. The grids measure about 14 inches, and the little square openings should be no wider than 1.5 inches. Check the product carefully before you buy or order it, because while most of them follow those dimensions there are some with slightly wider square openings that are dangerous to little feet. As you become skillful with your cage design, you might even want to add a level so your pet feels like a world traveler.
The Coroplast is actually the trade name for a corrugated plastic product. The best thickness is 4mm (.15 inches). Anything thicker than a quarter inch (6.35 mm) won’t hurt your pet, but it’s difficult to work with it when you’re creating your cage. You need to line the bottom of the cage with this product, and you should have walls that extend up about six inches. Tape the pieces of Coroplast together for a seamless, safe lining to your cage.
Using C&C, guinea pig cages should measure two by three grids for one pet and two by four for two pets. Add one additional grid length for each additional pet. You can use other cage types as long as they are smooth-bottomed. They also must allow your pet to see and provide good airflow. Buy a 5×7 table to use as a sturdy base, or rest some shelving low on the floor near a cheery window.
A Good Flooring
The next step is to give it good flooring. Some people use fleece, although this will require regular washing. Others use a commercially marketed flooring product, aspen shavings, or oven-dried pine, to a depth of one to one-and-a-half inches. Any surface in the cage where he’ll walk, including ramps from one level to another, should be covered to keep his feet safe.
Of course all good guinea pig cages contain a floor plan, and so you can install a small covered box for his bedroom. Some people use a plastic cube to color coordinate with the Coroplast. Even if he doesn’t sleep there, he’ll want a place where he can huddle sometimes just to feel secure.
Inside the cage, attach a water bottle and add a bottom-heavy dish for his pellets so that he can’t tip it over. If you like, you can install an extra shelf for his Timothy hay.
Clean the cage about once a week, or more if you can smell an odor. Use a mixture of half water, half white vinegar.
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Guinea pig cages should never be placed outdoors. These little animals do not have the constitution to withstand Nature’s sometimes-harsh elements! And you should not hide them away in somebody’s bedroom. Children often develop allergies from sleeping in close proximity to these cages. But most importantly, if you don’t put the cage in a well-trafficked area of your home, your guinea pig will be lonely and forgotten.
If you’re investigating the best way to establish a guinea pig hutch for your pet, the first thing you need to know is that outdoor hutches do not make ideal habitats for guinea pigs! Nevertheless, a hutch does have its uses and its place, so read on for our best advice about how you can incorporate one into your pet’s life.
When you look up the definition of the word hutch, you’ll see that this word refers to an enclosed pen or coop, or a cabinet-type structure that is raised on legs. It’s generally thought to withstand the elements, such as rain, wind, and temperature extremes.
The problem is that your guinea pig, placed inside a hutch, cannot withstand those elements. These furry little critters fare best when they are indoors, in a cozy, roomy structure that you’ve supplied for them.
The outdoors can bring either very hot or very cold weather that’s harmful to your pet. You and your pet might enjoy a warm, sunny afternoon outdoors. But when the day descends into a cool or even a rainy evening it’s not likely to be any more comfortable for your pet than it is for you. If it storms, the thunder will frighten him. Even the U.S. Department of Agriculture has established regulations ensuring that breeders and dealers house them indoors.
In addition, there’s no way you pet can keep bugs from entering his hutch. And if you think bugs are a threat, just think about a roaming dog approaching the hutch and scaring your pet, or worse yet breaking into the hutch and injuring him.
Another reason why we rate guinea pig hutches below our very favorite housing type is because the walls of a hutch prevent your guinea pig from looking out on the world. He likes to see what’s going on around him, and he wants to know when you’re entering or leaving the area!
But if you are still enamored of the idea of a guinea pig hutch, there are ways to feature this popular style in your pet’s world. There are beautiful hutches you can buy or make.
You can build or buy a hutch by raising an oblong wooden crate on sturdy legs at each corner. Some are enclosed on three sides, with the front made up of wire with openings no wider than 1 inch. Others are basically wooden 2x4s hammered together into a rectangular box, with caging wire fastened to the wood.
You can add a dividing wall so that your pet can travel back and forth between rooms. Overall, the hutch should have the same dimensions as standard C&C cages-at least two by three feet for one guinea pig, two by four feet for two guinea pigs, and adding a foot for each extra pet.
Take time to sand the wood so that your pet won’t be hurt by splinters. Pay special attention to the floor: You can’t just cover it with wood chips, hay, or processed paper products. There should be a piece of Coroplast or vinyl floor tiles beneath the bedding to keep urine from soaking into the wood.
You can keep your guinea pig hutch in the backyard so that the two of you can enjoy sunny days together. He’ll enjoy this bit of camaraderie, and he’ll love it if you put fresh grass-chemically untreated, of course-into his hutch for nibbling. But never, never leave him alone and unprotected from a prowling dog or cat, or at the mercy of the elements. When you go indoors, take him with you.
If you’ve got the standard C&C cage that comes so highly recommended, you can add a miniature guinea pig hutch inside of it. You can buy panels of plastic with jigsaw-type edges that fit together. There are even log-cabin types. Your pet will undoubtedly enjoy this cozy enclosure as a place to go when he feels tired or just if he wants to get away from the world for a while.
Keep his cage, and him, out where he can be a part of the family. You will enjoy one another’s company!