There are many options when it comes to choosing a place for your guinea pig to sleep. Some owners like to keep their guinea pigs inside the house all year round, whereas others decide to house them outside only bringing them in during the colder months.
Whether your guinea pig is inside or out, they will need accommodation of some type.
Hutches – If your guinea pigs are kept outside they will likely sleep in a traditional hutch, similar to the kind a rabbit would sleep in. Hutches tend to be made out of wood and are considerably heavier than a metal cage. They also need to be weatherproofed and have a felt roof to protect it. You will need to have a blanket or waterproof covering to keep your guinea pigs warm and dry when needed.
Cages tend to all have plastic bottoms and then either a plastic top or a wire mesh top. The plastic bottom makes them much easier to clean and the lighter weight much easier to move around.
Size – The bigger the cage you can provide for your guinea pigs the better. As guinea pigs shouldn’t live alone, chances are you will have at least 2 of them together. They need enough space to move around adequately and ideally have separate eating and sleeping areas.
For two guinea pigs, the cage should be a minimum of 7.5 square meters, but preferably closer to 10.5 square meters.
Material – Outdoor hutches must be made from weatherproof materials, in particular the roof which should have a felt covering to protect the hutch and the guinea pig from the rain and damp.
How easy is it to clean? Look for a cage or hutch that has easy access where you can change over the bedding without too much trouble. You need to be able to thoroughly clean the cage with an animal friendly disinfectant. Plastic and metal cages are usually easier to keep clean than wooden ones.
How transportable is it? As mentioned earlier on in the article, if you need to move your guinea pig cage around you need to make sure it isn’t too heavy. Many of the outdoor built hutches are heavy and often require more than one person to move them. One option that many guinea pig owners follow is to buy a separate indoor cage if you keep them outside and only bring them in during the colder months. This way you can leave the hutch where it is at all times and just move the guinea pigs into the indoor cage when required.
The Living World Deluxe Habitat is perfect for indoor use with the largest size being ideal for 2 guinea pigs. They will have plenty of space to run around and make use of the separate sleeping compartment where they can hide away.
The cage is available in 3 sizes, with the largest (XL) measuring 22.8 (W) x 46.9 (L) x 24 (H) inches. The plastic bottom base enables an easy clean and the wire frame top provides plenty of ventilation for your guinea pigs. The wire cage has a door at the side as well as a lid at the top to make access to the cage quick and easy. This is especially useful when you need to spot clean the cage and don’t want to take the guinea pigs out.
The balcony area, accessed by a small ramp, is above the sleeping hideaway. It is the ideal place to put your guinea pig’s food bowl, keeping it separate from any areas they might choose to use as a toilet.
The Living World Deluxe Habitat comes with it’s own tip-proof food bowl and water bottle to attach to the side of the cage. However, some owners have reported the water bottle leaking so you might want to invest in a different one if you also find this to be the case.MORE DETAILS ON AMAZON
The Midwest Guinea Habitat is a popular choice for indoor use with many owners. It is a very flexible cage that can be easily expanded by buying extra cages. A single cage on it’s own measures 8 square feet which is really the smallest size cage you should consider for 2 guinea pigs.
To provide your pets with more room to run around and exercise you might consider buying an extra cage which easily attaches to the side. An extra cage attached will give your guinea pigs 16 square feet of space to explore.
This is especially useful for when you want to keep more guinea pigs but might want to separate some from time to time, or put them in one area while you clean the other.
The PVC lined canvas lining that comes with the cage is well made and long lasting. It is both leak-proof and washable providing your pet with extra protection and potentially preventing infection.
The cage is really easy to set up and can be done within minutes without the need for tools.
If you prefer to keep your guinea pigs outside, this hutch from Confidence is a great choice. At 62 (L) x 24 (W) x 29.5 (H) it provides a huge amount of space to both sleep and run about. It has a double level, with a ramp connecting the two. The downstairs run is perfect for exercise whereas the upper area can be made into a cosy sleeping and eating area.
The hutch is durable and well made with a asphalt roof. The hutch has been treated with an antifungal waterproof coat to withstand many weather conditions.
There are two doors which have lockable wooden latches to secure them closed when needed. To make it easier to clean there is a pull out metal tray with wooden edges. Once you have removed the bedding from the inside simply pull this out to clean it.
It is worth considering that this hutch is significantly more bulky and heavier than other cages and would probably need two people to move it.
The hutch comes flat packed and will need to be assembled before use. It can be put together in about 1 hour with the use of an electric screwdriver.
It’s important to use the correct bedding for your guinea pigs, some products can be potentially dangerous for them.
When choosing wood shavings, it is tempting to use scented ones to mask any smells, in particular pine or cedar. However, these can be dangerous for guinea pigs and cause serious respiratory issues.
The best bedding you can use is Timothy hay. Timothy hay is less prone to mould than other hays and is perfect for guinea pigs to eat as well as sleep in. The coarse texture allows the guinea pig to gnaw down on it which helps grind their teeth down. Timothy hay is very fibrous and should form part of a guinea pigs daily diet. You might want to get a separate attachment, like a hayrack to put some of the Timothy hay in for your guinea pigs to eat.
Other bedding ideas include completely natural paper, with nothing added in. Carefresh Complete Bedding is a popular choice and also helps to reduce odour.
Guinea Pig Fleece Cage Liner
Fleece liners are a good option if you don’t want to use messy bedding, especially if your cage is indoors. Fleece liners made for guinea pig cages tend to be washable and very absorbent, meaning the urine can soak into the pad and prevent the smell from filling your home.
The Midwest Piggy Liner is made especially for the Midwest Guinea Habitat reviewed above. They measure 24″ x 48″ so they fit that exact cage. However, some owners have trimmed it down to size for smaller spaces, or bought more than one to cover a larger cage. The initial cost for a fleece liner might seem like a lot, but as they are reusable, you will save money in the long run by not having to keep buying more bedding.
Now you have your cage all set up you need to add some guinea pig accessories before it is completely ready for your pet.
Some of these items are essentials, others are nice to haves.
Water bottle – Guinea pigs need access to fresh clean water that should be changed daily. It is better to use a bottle that attached to the wire mesh at the side of the cage rather than a water bowl place on the floor. Using a bottle will prevent the water from being knocked over as well as being used as a toilet!
Check the water bottle you buy will fit your cage and isn’t one that leaks. The Choco Nose water bottle is the perfect size for guinea pigs and doesn’t drop out water. It is also really simple to attach to a cage.
Food bowls should be heavy so that the guinea pig cannot turn it over. A ceramic bowl is ideal as it is both heavy and easy to clean out. Alternatively there are some non tip bowls available that can work well but a ceramic bowl will have more longevity.
Tunnel/Shelter – guinea pigs love to have a safe place to hide out, whether that is a purpose built bed or just a tunnel. Your guinea pig will love the comfort factor that a fleece lined bed will bring. The bed should be small for maximum snuggle factor as well as machine washable! The Kaytee Super Sleeper Cuddle-E-Cup is ideal for guinea pigs and easy to clean.
You can use a tunnel as well as a bed, or instead of. Guinea pigs love having tunnels they can crawl through, or just use them to hide away! The Hagen Living Well tunnel is great as it can attach to other products in the range or just be used as a standalone.
How often to clean out the cage
If you have 1 or 2 guinea pigs you should clean out the cage or hutch at least once a week, preferably twice. If you can only clean it once a week then make sure you spot clean it during that time.
It is important to remove waste frequently or bacteria can form and leave your guinea pig at risk of infection.
What is spot cleaning?
This is just cleaning out the waste without actually changing the whole bedding and lining. You can just use a small handheld shovel (a cat litter scoop works well), or some kitchen towel to pick it up. You should remove uneaten food every day to avoid it going off. Thoroughly wash out the feeding bowls with warm soapy water and rinse well.
How to clean a guinea pig cage
When you are doing your full once or twice a week clean, you will need to remove the guinea pigs from the cage or hutch as you will be changing the lining and giving the base a good scrub.
If you are using a hutch, which you likely are outside, you must consider how mobile it is. As the weather changes you will need to move the hutch to a suitable location to ensure it is neither too hot or too cold. A hutch that is more mobile will prove much easier to move as and when you need to.
If a winter is particularly cold, especially if there is snow or a frost, it is important to ensure your guinea pigs can be moved under shelter. This would preferably be a shed or a garage.
At other times of the year you will need to have a cover to put over the hutch, especially at night or during particularly windy days.
A hutch must be placed against a sturdy fence or wall, where it has no chance of being knocked over. If necessary, secure the hutch down to the ground with pegs or another attachment.
Consider if there are likely to be any other animals who might show an interest in the guinea pigs. Cats and dogs will find the temptation of a furry animal zooming about to hard to resist. Although they shouldn’t be able to get to the guinea pig, the sight of a larger animal on the other side of the mesh might be a fright too far for most guinea pigs. Raise the hutch off the ground if necessary.
When deciding on the best place to locate your guinea pig hutch, make sure it will be out of the sun and protected from the wind.
One of the advantages of housing guinea pigs inside is you don’t need to think about the weather. However, if you have other pets such as a cat or a dog, you must keep them separate and never leave them alone together.
The same must be considered if you have young children. Don’t leave them alone with your pets, it won’t be intentional but rough handling or accidents might result in injury to your guinea pig.
Having an indoor cage might be more smelly than having it outside, but so long as you clean the cage regularly, even if it is only spot cleaning, you shouldn’t have too many unpleasant odours wafting about!
Indoor cages tend to be smaller than those built for outside use. Make sure your guinea pig has enough opportunity to exercise by creating an indoor run. On pleasant days they can also be taken for exercise in an outdoor run. If you set up an indoor run, ensure all electrical wires are covered up!
As with outdoor hutches, make sure they are not placed in direct sunlight or in a draft.
Is it easy to make you own?
You will need some carpentry skills to make your own guinea pig accommodation. An inside house should be easier to make as you only need to make it very basic. One that is going to be kept outside will need a little more security and of course be weatherproofed.
Guinea Pig Cage Ideas
If you’ve got the time, skills and inclination you can be as creative as you want when designing and building a guinea pig cage! There are plenty of ideas and inspiration online, especially over on Pinterest and DIY project portals. Such places have step by step instructions on how to make a guinea pig cage.