Providing an appropriate guinea pig cage for your pet is one of the best things you can do to show that you are a responsible pet owner. Since guinea pigs spend most of their lives in cages, it will be worth buying a guinea pig cage that is roomy enough for them to move about, to play and to exercise. Besides, it will require a bigger space to contain a nest box, a food dish, a water bottle and some toys.
What Kind of Cage is Best for a Guinea Pig?
Since guinea pigs are sociable animals, it will be good to consider getting at least a pair. This, therefore, there will be a need for you to have a bigger size of guinea pig cage. One reason for this is so that they have room to walk and sprint around; they are not like mice and hamsters that are happy to run on a wheel all night.
In fact, they don’t even use a wheel; even if you ignore me and put one in there anyway, just know that your guinea pigs will not use it; it may be a point of interest for a few minutes, but that would be about it.
The second consideration for a guinea pig cage is that it has to have a removable plastic bottom. This will make it easier for you to clean it at the end of the week. Also, make sure that the bottom tray sides are quite high, because guinea pigs like to dig around and kick up their litter. It can get quite messy around the cage if the sides aren’t tall enough.
But anyway, consider that these animals can live up to ten years, so can you imagine having trouble with a cage for that long? Guinea pig cages can be expensive, but it is money well spent when you think of the long term. And after you bond with your new pet, you will not regret one single penny spent.
Nowadays, the Cubes and Coroplast (C & C) style of cage, is now fast gaining popularity. This kind of guinea pig cage was designed to contain a big number of guinea pigs. It is made from a combination of metal wire grid, joined together, to serve as walls for the enclosure and corrugated plastic to be used as a container to hold the bedding and the waste materials of the guinea pigs.
This cage can be constructed by means of do-it-yourself instructions that are available online, through C & C cage links. As compared to the commercial cages available, this is a healthier choice for your pets with the ample size it offers. Besides, it is more reasonable to build one because of its lower cost.
Since these animals are quite large, they are not into climbing so a sensible height of 18 inches will do for a guinea pig cage.
It is vital to choose bedding that is safe for your guinea pigs. Aspen shavings as well as hay are good alternatives to cedar and pine. Furthermore, placing paper below will help with the absorbency. Aside from the aforementioned, the newer type of beddings made from recycle paper is, also, a good choice for a bedding.
A place to hide such as a nest box is essential to guinea pigs. It may either be a plastic pail, tub or a cardboard box, which is easy to replace when dirty. Shoe boxes and PVC pipes with large diameters are, likewise, good choices for nest boxes.
Guinea pigs are playful animals so they love to have toys in their midst. They play with all sorts of stuff such as balls, crumpled paper, wooden blocks, paper bags, tunnels, tubes and hanging bird toys, among others. These toys, however, should not contain parts that are too small for fear that they may be swallowed by your pets.
Since they are active pets, guinea pigs need ample space in their guinea pig cage to exercise. Exercise wheels are not recommended because these are not suited to their larger size. These and exercise balls may do more harm than good and may even cause injury.
Food Dish and Water Bottle
A ceramic bowl is a good choice for a food dish. On the other hand, a water bottle with a steel spout is a better alternative to a water bowl because this can maintain cleaner water to drink.
Since guinea pigs are fond of drinking, they can easily finish the water that is provided. So, it would be good to check on the water supply from time to time to replenish when needed.
To enable your pet guinea pigs to be active, you can make your own exercise pen. You can, also, buy a pen made from wire that is designed for small animals. Playing inside these corrals keeps them from chewing on the furniture. The practical thing about these portable pens is that they can be brought anywhere, even in the lawn which can serve as a nice backdrop for playing. But you have to make sure that no pesticides have been sprayed on the grass to prevent pets from breathing in toxic chemicals.
Proper Place for Guinea Pig Cage
It is, also, important to consider the right spot to situate your guinea pig cage. When it is inside the house, it should be placed near the window where your pets can be able to get the healthy benefits provided by the sunlight. It should be far from too much noise. The temperature should fall within the range of 65 to 75 deg F to prevent them from getting sick.
When the guinea pig cage is brought outside, it should not be placed too far from the house. It should be kept under a shade to keep your pets from either the sun’s harmful rays or getting wet from the rain.
Keeping your pets in the best guinea pig cage is the most important way of assuring their safety and well being throughout their life span. This way, you will have pets to enjoy for a longer time.
How to Choose Guinea Pig Beddings
When it comes to choosing guinea pig beddings, the good news is there are a lot of options available to you. The bad news is, there is no such thing as the perfect bedding. Well, not yet anyway. The most suitable bedding for your guinea pigs will depend entirely on your priorities.
There are many factors that people consider when choosing their guinea pig’s beddings. Of course, beddings that are healthy and not toxic to your guinea pigs is up at the top. We also want one that’s inexpensive and easy to purchase; one that will not require frequent cleaning or changing; beddings that are environment friendly and won’t trigger any allergies; and one that can absorb and neutralize smells very well.
Fortunately, we have plenty of alternatives when it comes to guinea pig beddings. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each one:
Using old newspapers to line the floor of your guinea pig’s cage is an economical option. Newspapers are inexpensive and it makes cleaning up your cavy’s cage easier, too. Plus, when you use old newspapers, you are recycling, so its actually good for the environment when you reuse in this manner.
Packed paper beddings
In many pet stores you will find various brands of paper based beddings. Paper beddings are great because they are absorbent, less expensive, and are usually more absorbent compared to wood based beddings. The drawback with paper beddings is that they may carry some dust which can cause respiratory problems for your guinea pigs.
Kiln Dried Pine Shavings
For many pet owners, kiln dried pine shavings are considered suitable for guinea pigs. However, there are some who believe that pine shavings may cause fungal infection and respiratory problems like allergies in cavies. When using pine shavings, make sure you get the one that is kiln dried and not those that are air dried.
Air dried pine shavings retail their phenols, which in large quantities is toxic to guinea pigs. This is the same reason why cedar and other softwood tree shavings are considered harmful when used as beddings for guinea pigs.
Another type of wood shavings that can be used in guinea pig beddings is the aspen shavings. While it is pricier compared to other wood shavings, it is possibly the only type of wood shaving that’s considered completely safe for guinea pigs.
While hay is not strictly a bedding material, it works great when used with other bedding materials, both paper and wood based. Those who use it say that guinea pigs love to run over hay. A layer of hay on top of the other beddings also prevents dust and pieces of the wood or paper shavings from being kicked around and turning messy. However, when using hay, it is important that you replace the hay daily.
Instructions on Cleaning a Guinea Pig Cage
Cleaning a guinea pig cage is part and parcel of caring for your cavy. Keeping the housing of your cavy clean will help keep it healthy and deter any build up of foul smell emanating from it. How often to clean the guinea pig cage is up to you, but generally a once a week schedule is what most pet owners observe.
Several factors will affect how often your guinea pig cage needs to be cleaned. The type of bedding material that you use on your cage is one of them. Some types of beddings are more absorbent than others, or neutralizes smells and urine much better. Fleece is a popular bedding material used by many pet owners. With fleece, daily spot cleaning by picking up droppings is usually observed.
Other factors include the size of your cage and the number of guinea pigs that you have sharing a cage. The bigger the cage is, the less frequently you will need to clean it. But, the more guinea pigs you have to care for, the more mess they’ll make, which means more frequent cleaning.
When cleaning a guinea pig cage, here are the steps you need to observe:
- Wear a mask and gloves to protect yourself especially if you have allergies.
- Transfer your guinea pigs temporarily to a clean and secure enclosure while their cage is being cleaned.
- Remove accessories in the cage such as their food and water dishes, igloos, and toys. Wash or launder toys, igloos, food containers and water bottle as well.
- Remove disposable bedding materials and dispose of properly. If using towels and fleece beddings, replace them with a fresh set of towels and beddings, or wash and dry before reusing.
- Use a vacuum cleaner on the floor of the cage to remove any stray bits. Or sweep with a broom and dustpan.
- Prepare a vinegar solution by mixing 3 parts water with 1 part vinegar. This vinegar solution will neutralize the smell from guinea pig urine. Spray the floor and the walls of the cage liberally and wipe with a dry cloth.
- To clean calcium deposits that are stuck on the floor, put vinegar on the stain to loosen it. And then with an old toothbrush, scrub the floor lightly to completely remove it.
- To disinfect the cage, create a bleach solution by mixing about 2 tablespoons of bleach to a litter of water and clean the cage using it.
- After cleaning the cage, it’s time to put the beddings back, then the accessories. When everything is in place, you may return the guinea pigs back to their cleaned cage.
Guinea Pig Water Bottles and Guinea Pig Bowls
Like all living creatures, in order to survive, guinea pigs need a constant source of fresh and clean water. It is necessary to change it every day. I find it easiest to make it part of the feeding routine.
The best way to give water to your guinea pig is to use one of those water bottles that hang on the wires of the cage from the outside. You can use a water bowl, but it isn’t very sanitary and you would need to clean it way more often, as these animals like to sprint around and kick up a mess and some of it is bound to hit the water bowl. The guinea pigs are also prone to spilling it and a bowl will just end up wetting the cage and cause extra mess and clean up.
The second item I wanted to mention is a food bowl, you can use a metal, ceramic or plastic bowl if you like. You will not require one for their vegetables and fruit because you can just place these in the middle of the cage. A bowl is needed to hold their pellets, however. This is for two reasons: to keep the cage clean and to keep the pellets clean and away from their feces and urine.
You can find water bottles and bowls made specifically for this purpose in any pet store or by shopping online. They are not very expensive and considering that guinea pigs live 4-8 years, they are a worthwhile investment.
The Importance of a Guinea Pig House
Aside from a cage, food and water, a house is the most important item that you should provide for your guinea pig. The reason for this is that they have a natural instinct to hide because they are at the bottom of the food chain; in other words, they are considered food for larger carnivorous creatures. Your pet will never totally feel secure and safe if you don’t give them a house to sleep and hide in.
These houses are commonly referred to as an “igloo”, because they are igloo shaped. They are constructed of a hard plastic and are the perfect size for one pig. You may find that your guinea pigs don’t mind sharing one, but it’s still a good idea to provide one for each animal, just in case.
Guinea pigs are nervous and jumpy by nature, and if they feel that they are in any kind of danger, they like to scurry to where they feel safe from predators. A house of some kind will satisfy this need to hide. Of course you don’t necessarily need to buy a plastic hut, you can simply make one yourself.
Shoe Box for Hiding Guinea Pigs
An old cardboard shoebox with a guinea pig sized hole cut in it will work just as well. The problem with this is that you would need an endless supply of shoe boxes. You can’t wash cardboard and you would need to throw it out at the end of the week because guinea pigs pee and poo all over the place and it wouldn’t be very sanitary.
One of the suggestion is that you can use a flowerpot for a house; just turn it on its side and the guinea pigs will love it. Whichever way you decide to go is fine, as long as you provide a nice hidey-hole for your pet, he/she will be all the happier because of it.
Where Should my Guinea Pig Live?
Where you keep your guinea pig largely depends on your own circumstances and personal preferences. The weather plays a part too. They need to be kept warm in the winter and in the shade in the summer. Wherever you choose to keep them it is important to keep their bedding and living quarters as clean as you can.
Cleaning the cage or hutch out 2 to 3 times a week should be a minimum. More so in hot weather to prevent flies and other unwanted attention. You must also consider the size of the cage according to how many guinea pigs you have. Many cages and hutches are double floored these days which is brilliant for allowing guinea pigs to roam and get some personal space if they want it.
If you have the space you can keep them indoors with you. There are plenty of guinea pig cages for sale that can be bought online through many stores or at your local petshop.
You can put them to run outside on pleasant days so that they can munch through the grass. They love to eat grass. Plus guinea pig poo is a brilliant manure for the grass! Just make sure you keep moving the run around your garden so they can get to work on the whole garden.
Guinea pigs do well living inside with the family. They like the same temperatures as us (make sure they are not right next to a radiator or in direct sunlight).Your guinea pigs will soon become used to everyday family life and probably benefit from extra cuddles if inside!
One point to mention is if you decide to let your guinea pigs roam around make sure there are no electrical leads or telephone cables they can chew through.
If you are going to be mainly keeping your guinea pig outside you need to make sure your hutch is both weather proof and secure. Be aware of local cats and cunning foxes who will all be intrigued by your little furry friends. Make sure the hutch is at least a metre off the ground and secure against a wall or fence.
Make sure the hutch has a felt roof to protect it from the elements. In wet weather and colder nights you might want to put a cover over the cage at night to give your piggies so extra warmth. Always make sure your guinea pigs have plenty of bedding to keep them warm and dry.