How to Look After a Guinea Pig

happy girl holding her guinea pig

Guinea pigs make wonderful pets but it is vital they get proper care to ensure they are happy and healthy. Below is a comprehensive guide with lots of tips on how to take care of your guinea pigs for beginners as well as for more experienced piggy owners. 

Guinea pig care guide

A good diet

Guinea pigs must have the correct diet in order to be healthy. They should always have fresh water (changed daily), a clean supply of grass hay, fresh vegetables and a quality supply of pellet food designed for guinea pigs.

bag of meadow hay for guinea pigs
Hay is the most important part of your guinea pig’s diet

Clean housing

A dirty environment will encourage all kinds of nasties from parasites to bacteria. These can seriously damage your guinea pigs health. Your guinea pigs’ housing needs daily spot cleaning and a regular full clean to ensure they avoid these problems. 

Enough space to play

Guinea pigs love to run and play so it is essential their housing is at least the minimum recommended size. They will also need a run where they can exercise more freely.

An interesting environment

Your guinea pig’s mental health is just as important as his physical wellbeing. This means that it is important he is living in an environment that isn’t boring. If he does become bored, he will show signs of stress.

Change the environment regularly with interesting things to forage, play with, and chew.

Remember that guinea pig’s love companionship and should always be housed in a pair (if male and female are together then the male should be neutered as they breed very quickly).

Daily attention

Guinea pigs are sociable creatures, though some breeds can initially seem very shy, they do like having regular interaction with their humans. Playtime and grooming are a great way to bond but also provide essential stimulation

If you adopt a guinea pig who seems to dislike being stroked or held, it could be because they were mishandled or treated roughly by a previous owner. Don’t give up. Hold your guinea pig for 5 minutes at a time and be gentle with them. They will gradually get used to being loved, and you may be surprised at the improvement in their temperament after a few weeks. 

With patience and perseverance, guinea pigs can be tamed so they feel more relaxed in your company. This can make lap time a lot more enjoyable for them.

Regular grooming

Grooming your guinea pig is an essential part of the regular care routine and gives you both an opportunity to bond. Handling your guinea pig whilst grooming keeps them used to human contact and has the benefit of making health checks and trips to the vet much easier. 

A well-kept coat will help keep your pet’s fur free from debris, tangling and excessive staining from droppings and urine. Grooming time is a great way to perform your routine health checks whilst enjoying some quality time with your guinea pig.

Weighing your guinea pig

It is a good idea to weigh your guinea pig weekly and record their weight so you can monitor weight gain or loss.  Significant weight loss or gain can mean they are sick and need to be checked over by a vet. 

If your guinea pig is overweight you may need to adapt their diet or give them more space to exercise.

Checking your guinea pig’s health

If you handle your guinea pigs on a regular basis, you will get to know what is normal behavior. This means that if they do become ill you are more likely to notice that something is wrong and hopefully get them to the vet before it gets too serious.

It is a good idea to perform a health check on your cavy each week. This isn’t difficult once you have done it a few times. In fact, it is something you can do when you take them out for a cuddle. The more you do it, the more your piggy will become used to it.

Here are the things you need to check:

Teeth

Check the color of the teeth. They should range from white to yellowish, so if they are brown they may be deficient in a particular nutrient.

Healthy guinea pig teeth

Check the length. They should be around 1 to 1.5cm long and should be straight, meeting naturally. Also check the the teeth are not chipped

Back teeth are more difficult to examine but changes in eating such as dropping food, drooling or not wanting to eat are a warning sign that there is potentially something wrong with their teeth.

Mouth & lips

Check the inside of the mouth and lips are a healthy pink and that they are free from any sores ulcers or infections. If you notice any soreness you should take your guinea pig to the vet. Too many acidic foods, especially fruits, can also aggravate any sores in the mouth.

Nails

Because a guinea pig’s nails are continuously growing, you’ll need to trim them regularly. It is best to do this every couple of weeks rather than waiting until they are too long. Nails that become long often curl making them very tricky to trim.

To clip your guinea pig’s nails, you should use a special pair of scissors or nail clippers. Because each nail has a blood supply, called the ‘quick’, trimming too close to the feet can cause the nails to bleed. 

If the nails are very long, then trimming a little each week will encourage the ‘quick’ to recede and you can get them back under control. Lastly, if you do clip too short and the nail bleeds a little then don’t panic, you can simply apply styptic powder to the cut.  If you don’t want to cut their nails yourself or find it too difficult, you can get them trimmed at the vet or at a guinea pig rescue centre.

Feet should be cleaned with a soft damp cotton pad and should be free of lumps, scabs and crusts. Dampened cotton buds are also useful for getting in between the toes.

Nose

Check your guinea pig’s nose is clean and free from any discharge. If there is discharge from the nose, it can be a sign of bacterial or fungal infection. Signs that the nose is swollen may actually indicate an inflammation of the lips such as cheilitis.

Close up of American crested guinea pig's face
Mr Jaffas

Eyes

Make sure the eyes are clear and free from any crusty build-up. It is normal to sometimes see white secretions around the eyes as this helps keep their faces clean; however, this should be milky and not forming any build-up. 

Eyes that are bulging, sunken or cloudy can all be signs or illness in your guinea pig and should be investigated by your vet. A cloudy eye is often the result of a hay poke. Check for any hay in the eye but also make a vet appointment as soon as you can.

This is how an eye may look after a hay poke

Ears

Ears should be relatively clean, free from any debris and crust. 

Parasite infections can grow rapidly in the ears so a regular inspection is essential to prevent this happening.

As part of your grooming routine you should look inside the ears and, if necessary, wipe with a damp ball of cotton wool to remove grime. 

Coat

Depending on the breed of your guinea pig their coat (hair) should be silky with a small amount of shedding being normal. 

With regular grooming you will soon become familiar with how their coat should feel. Changes to this can indicate signs of poor health, dietary problems or other general health issues. 

Check for parasites such as mites. If you think your guinea pig has mites you should take them to the vet to obtain a prescription if necessary.

Look out for any signs of excess hair shedding and dandruff. 

Examine the coat at their rear to make sure that it is clean and free of debris. Excess staining of urine or droppings can attract flies and cause ‘flystrike’, which is a very serious condition. They should be relatively dry underneath and incontinence or being overly damp may be a sign of poor health. 

Checking the cage for signs of bad health

As well as checking your guinea pig for any health issues, you should also check the cage during the daily clean for any health problems with your cavy.

Are they eating normally?

When you have had your guinea pig for a while you will become used to how much they eat on a daily basis. If you find they aren’t eating the food you are putting out for them, this could be an indication that your guinea pig is sick.

guinea pig next to a bowl of fresh green leaves
Guinea pig with some fresh green leaves

Are their droppings healthy?

Droppings should be uniformly oval and firm with a dark brown color.

Some of their droppings may be dark green in color and these are perfectly normal. Called caecal pellets, your guinea pig may eat these as they are high in essential nutrients.

Healthy guinea pig poops

Injuries

Guinea pigs can receive accidental injuries whether it’s from a fall (eg being dropped whilst being handled) or by fighting with their fellow guinea pig mates. 

These can range in severity from a simple sprain, scald or bite to a broken limb or, more seriously, internal injuries. 

If you are aware of an injury from a fall or fight, then you need to be very alert to the signs of possible danger. Check your guinea pig more frequently and be very gentle when looking for signs of injury. If you are in any doubt whatsoever, you should visit your vet for more advice.

Occasionally they will get their ears nibbled by other guinea pigs in the same housing. Little nips are nothing to worry about but if it looks any more serious, you should get professional advice from your vet.

When to go to the vet

Vets can get expensive but if you are concerned about the health of your guinea pig it is essential they are seen by a professional.

If your cavy experiences any of the following symptoms, you should contact your vet:

  • Lethargy
  • Not eating or drinking
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Sneezing
  • Crusty discharge around the eyes
  • Diarrhea
  • Limping or other signs of lameness
  • Blood in urine
  • Excessive hair loss 

If you know your pet well then the signs of poor health will be fairly obvious. Be observant and never be too cautious when it comes to getting your guinea pig checked out. You can see a list of common guinea pig health problems and diseases here.

To help pay for your guinea pig vet treatments it is a good idea to consider pet insurance when you first get your pet or as soon as you can. 

Caring for elderly guinea pigs

The average life expectancy of a guinea pig is between 4 and 8 years.

As they become older you can expect your pet to experience changes. It is normal to see changes in diet, mobility and general condition at this stage however the older they are, the more difficult it can be to fight off infections and illnesses. 

They can naturally become less mobile and certain things they once enjoyed may be more difficult, such as climbing in and out of their hutch. If you suspect arthritis, then your vet may be able to help diagnose this and prescribe pain relief and anti-inflammatory drugs. 

Using a ramp may become a problem for old guinea pigs so if you have a two tier cage, you might need to change it to just one level.

Guinea Pig Adoption

cute grey guinea pig in the outdoors

If you can adopt a guinea pig from a rescue center, you have the potential to transform that little pet’s life. With thousands of guinea pigs in rescue shelters all over the US, these small pets with the most adorable personalities are desperately in need of your help.

Before buying from a pet store, please think seriously about adopting a rescued guinea pig instead. 

But, even more importantly, before getting guinea pigs at all, do consider the commitment it takes to look after them and be sure you’re prepared to take care of them for the duration of their lives. 

Adoption vs buying from a pet shop

It’s easy to fall in love with a guinea pig when visiting the pet store but there are many reasons why you should choose a rescued guinea pig over a pet store guinea pig:

White and Grey Sheba Mini Yak guinea pig
Sparkles, our adopted Sheba Mini Yak Guinea PIg
  • If the guinea pig is in a miserably small cage in the pet store you may think that by buying him you’re helping. But the pet store will just get another to replace him and more guinea pigs will suffer exactly the same fate.
  • Guinea pigs are often mis-sexed at pet stores leading to new owners ending up with more guinea pigs than they can manage or afford.
  • Guinea pigs are bonded at rescue centers so you know they won’t fight and will be great companions.
  • There are often health issues with guinea pigs from pet stores so you may get  a guinea pig who doesn’t live very long at all or needs veterinary treatment shortly after buying them.
  • A rescue center is always there to support you. Their knowledge is far deeper than that of someone who is working in the pet store because of the experience they have in rescuing guinea pigs.

It is unfortunately too easy to buy a guinea pig from a pet store. Pet stores will get in however many guinea pigs they need to meet demand. The more people buy  them, the more guinea pigs will be needlessly bred and a great many of these will end up in the rescue centers where they are struggling to cope with the intake of guinea pigs.

If more guinea pigs are adopted from rescues, pet store demand will decrease resulting in less guinea pigs being bred and ending up neglected or in rescue shelters.

Important things you need to know before getting guinea pigs

Before buying or adopting a guinea pig, it’s really important to find out as much as you can about how to care for them as well as how much they will cost on an ongoing basis.

Brown silkie guinea pig being held and stroked
Lychee, a Silkie guinea pig

Getting a guinea pig must never be an impulse buy from your local pet store. They are very cute pets and it’s so easy to make this mistake but they are a lot of work.

Before you make the decision to adopt guinea pigs, first check out our “What you need to know before getting a guinea pig” page. This gives you a load of quick information that you may not know about guinea pigs and will help you decide whether this is the best pet for you.

How can I adopt a guinea pig from a rescue center?

First you’ll need to check if there’s a guinea pig rescue near where you live. Or you can contact your local animal shelter as they may also have guinea pigs awaiting adoption. Rescue centers all have their own ways of doing things so you’ll need to find out from the one you choose what their particular requirements are for adoption.Here are some of the common adoption requirements:

  • You’ll have to buy everything the guinea pig will need in advance of bringing  your guinea pig home.
  • Most rescue centers will only let you adopt a pair of guinea pigs and will only let you adopt a single guinea pig if you are looking for a companion for one you already own. This is because they are social animals and need a friend.
  • Your cage will need to meet their minimum cage size requirements. This will be at least  120cm x 60cm (4 x 2ft) but  in some cases they may require you  to have a 150cm x 60cm cage (5 x 2ft) and we recommend you go for the larger cage.
  • Some rescues may only adopt out guinea pigs after a home visit to make sure you have everything in place and that it is a safe environment for the guinea pigs.
  • An adoption donation is usually required.
  • Many may insist on them being kept indoors rather than in an outdoor hutch.
Ginger, chocolate and white American Crested Guinea Pig
Mr Jaffas, our adopted male American Crested Guinea Pig

Bear in mind that  rescue centers are extremely careful about where they re-home their guinea pigs. This is totally understandable when you think of the love and care they’ve given to these guinea pigs to rehabilitate them.

It would be heartbreaking for a rescue to see one of their guinea pigs in a state of neglect or unwanted yet again.

Will rescue centers have baby guinea pigs for adoption?

You don’t need to go to a pet store if you want a baby guinea pig because rescue centers will often have babies that are awaiting adoption. 

But don’t rule out adopting an adult piggy as they also need a good home. So many of these lovely pets have had years of neglect and have waited a long time to find that special forever home.

Baby Silkie guinea pig
Baby Silkie guinea pig

Can I foster a guinea pig?

Some rescue centers may require temporary foster carers for guinea pigs while they await a permanent new home. This is another option you may want to consider.

Why are there so many guinea pigs in rescue centers?

There are many reasons why guinea pigs end up in rescue centers. Here are some of the following reasons:

  • The guinea pigs were bought for a child who has lost interest in them
  • The family have moved house and are now not allowed pets or don’t have space in the new home
  • The owner can no longer afford the ongoing costs of keeping guinea pigs
  • It is too much work and too much commitment for the owner
  • The guinea pigs have been abandoned
  • The guinea pig has had babies and the owner can’t manage all the new guinea pigs.
  • The pets were given as a gift and are not wanted
  • There is a new baby in the house

There are many more reasons why guinea pig rescues are so full and it’s incredibly sad that so many of these pets have also been neglected or even dumped somewhere because they were no longer wanted. 

Female white, chocolate  and ginger abyssinian guinea pig
Baileys, our Abyssinian guinea pig

Learning to care for your new guinea pigs

There are lots of resources on our website to help you learn how to care for your newly adopted guinea pigs. We also have loads of product recommendations and, as guinea pig lovers ourselves, we only recommend those products that we know to be safe and suitable for guinea pigs. 

In fact, we make every effort to try as many of the products we recommend to ensure they are good enough for our favorite small pets.

Here are some links to products and care information that you’ll find helpful:

What Do Guinea Pigs Need?

Inquisitive white and ginger guinea pig sitting on the lawn

If you’re getting new guinea pigs, you’ll need to be prepared and buy all the essentials that a guinea pig needs before bringing them home. 

We’ve created the definitive Guinea Pig Starter Kit List which is a Shopping Guide showing you all the essential items you’ll need to buy for your new pets. These recommendations also have links to where you can buy the items.

We are very careful what we recommend because not all things that are sold for guinea pigs are safe or suitable.  We only suggest items we have either tried ourselves or ones that we know to be good for your guinea pigs.

White and ginger guinea pig peeking out of a hideout
Mr Jaffas in one of his hideouts

It’s vital you have all these items ready BEFORE bringing your guinea pigs home so you can settle them into their new environment straight away. A rescue centre will require that you have your cage set up so they know you can provide a good home for your new guinea pigs.

Guinea pigs should be housed in pairs and not on their own. You can find out more about this here….

Here is the definitive starter kit list of what you need to get for your new guinea pigs. We’ve given you a few buying options on each item you need so you can choose what suits you the best:

Cage

It’s important not to scrimp on your cage. This may be the most expensive purchase but it is one that needs to last and is your guinea pigs home. Give them the best you can afford.

Midwest Guinea Pig Habitat Cage
Midwest Guinea Pig Habitat (the minimum sized cage for guinea pigs)

Your guinea pigs will need a large cage. Housing for 2 females should be a minimum of 120cm x 60cm but a male pair will need a bigger space – ideally a minimum of 160cm x 60cm. With cages, bigger is always better so always buy as big as you can fit in your space. 

If you are adopting a guinea pig from a rescue centre, we recommend you check what their requirements are regarding housing before you buy one to ensure it matches their criteria for a successful adoption.

Bedding

You’ll need to buy bedding when you first get your guinea pigs but you’ll also need to buy it on a regular basis unless you decide to opt for the washable fleece liners. 

Fleece liners are more expensive but will save you money in the long run. They will also need regular washing and tend to need cleaning out more often.

natural paper bedding for guinea pigs
Natural paper bedding for a guinea pig cage

Disposable bedding creates more waste and you’ll have to buy it on a regular basis but doesn’t need a full clean as often. You’ll need to decide which you feel is best. You can find out more about bedding options here…

Feeding Hay

Grass hay needs to be available for your guinea pigs ALL the time. There should never be a time when there is no hay in their cage as it can result in their teeth overgrowing, a very serious condition for a guinea pig. Timothy Hay or Meadow Hay can be fed to guinea pigs.

Small Pet Select Timothy Hay for Guinea Pigs
Timothy Hay from Small Pet Select is excellent quality feeding hay

More hay options and information here…

Guinea Pig Pellets

Your new pets will need a daily portion of guinea pig pellets. These pellets are specially formulated for guinea pigs to give them the nutrition specific to a guinea pig’s dietary requirements. Don’t buy pellets that are made for rabbits or other small pets as they aren’t suitable.

American crested guinea pig eating guinea pig pellets from a bowl
Guinea pig pellets

Food Bowls

You’ll need at least 2 food bowls – one for pellets and one for fresh daily veggies. You can put all their pellets in one bowl but they won’t be big enough for a daily portion of veggies for 2 guinea pigs so make sure you buy enough for the number of piggies that you will have.

Because guinea pigs like to put their feet on the side of the bowls, you need to buy bowls that don’t tip. Either go for the heavier and more chunky ceramic bowls or a non-tip bowl. These are the bowls we recommend:

Drinking Bottle

We don’t recommend putting water in a bowl as it can get dirty very quickly and they won’t drink contaminated water. Always use a water bottle and preferably a glass one.

Some people have problems with leaky bottles or bottles that don’t seem to dispense water correctly. Tip the bottle to the size slightly if it is leaking and always tap your finger on the nozzle to ensure water is coming out before use. We advise checking daily to make sure your bottle is working correctly.

Grey and  white  guinea pig in cage next  to  a glass water bottle
Trixie Honey & Hopper Glass Water Bottle

Hay feeder

A hay rack or feeder is another useful and, in our opinion, an essential item you’ll need to buy when you first get your guinea pigs. We always recommend putting hay in a hay feeder because a guinea pig will not eat hay that has been soiled. A hay feeder keeps the hay clean.

Please DON’T BUY the metal ball hay feeders as they are dangerous and can trap a guinea pig causing potentially serious injuries.

Various hay feeders including wooden hanging hay feeder, tunnel feeder and forage ball
Wooden Hay Feeder

Hideout

This may sound like an optional extra for a guinea pig starter kit but guinea pigs need a place where they can hide and feel safe. They can become very scared if they don’t have this option in their housing. 

Ideally you’ll need to have a hidey for each guinea pig as they like their own space and can get a bit moody if another piggy is in the only hidey that is available! 

Beware of buying any wooden houses that contain glues or nails as these may not be safe. It is often better to buy something that costs a little more but is safe and lasts a lot longer. These are some of the hideouts we recommend

Guinea pig in a wooden hideout
Mr Jaffas in a wooden hideout

Boredom Breakers

This is sometimes not considered but should be an essential in your guinea pig starter kit. 

It’s important your guinea pigs have enrichment toys as they are intelligent animals and need stimulation. This can be in the form of bridges, tunnels, safe balls, things they can chew on etc.

Guinea pig with a colourful treat ball
Sunny Pig with the Haypigs Treat Ball

Pet Friendly Disinfectant Hutch Cleaner

Within the first few days of getting your guinea pigs you’ll need to clean their cage. So some safe cleaning fluid is an essential part of your starter kit. 

It isn’t safe to use a standard household cleaner for this because of the chemicals it may contain, so it is important to buy a pet-friendly disinfectant.

You can alternatively use vinegar which we prefer as it’s 100% natural. This is what we use. The vinegar often comes in large packs but you can use it for cleaning in your home too.

Care Sheets & Safe Fruit & Veg Info Packs

As a new guinea pig owner, you will be keen to make sure your pets are looked after with the best care. You may well be learning a little as you go along.

Guinea pig care sheets and checklists
Guinea Pig Care Sheets designed by Guinea Piggles

We’ve created care sheets and safe fruit & veg sheets just for you. These will be an essential part of keeping on track with all your guinea pig tasks and to help you know what is safe to feed your piggies.

The care sheet pack includes checklists and pages that you can fill in with useful information about your guinea pig, vet, medication, appointments etc. The safe fruit & veg sheets list many fruit & vegetables your guinea pigs can eat, and how often. To help you identify them, all the food is in full color!

These are available to buy online and download then you can print as many as you need as and when you need them.

You can find them here: ** BLUE PACK**  or **PINK PACK**

What’s The Best Guinea Pig Cage?

ginger and white guinea pig looking out of his cage

The best guinea pig cage, whether pre-built, DIY, or modular, will provide your small pets with a safe enclosure with plenty of space to exercise.

With so many indoor cages for sale in pet shops and online it is difficult to know which one is best. If you are unsure what to look for, this guide will help you determine what is a good guinea pig cage, and also what to avoid, to help you find the perfect indoor cage for your guinea pigs.

Recommended guinea pig cages

We are guinea pig owners and we LOVE these small pets so we will only recommend cages that we know are safe and best for a guinea pig’s wellbeing. 

All the indoor cages we recommend are large and extra large and available to buy online. Obviously the cage size you need does depend on the number of guinea pigs you have but these are some of the best indoor enclosures:

What should I look for in an indoor guinea pig cage?

There are a few things you will need to consider when buying a guinea pig cage:

Is the cage big enough for guinea pigs?

You may not realize this but guinea pigs need an extra large cage compared to many other rodent pets. Even a cage that is marked as “XL” may not always be large enough.

The smallest cage size you should be looking at is 120cm x 60cm (4ft x 2ft) or 7.5 square ft. It may sound big but a smaller cage does not offer the space a guinea pig needs. The Guinea Pig Midwest Habitat is one of the cages that meets this minimum size requirement

Although this is the minimum size recommended by the RSPCA (UK) and the Humane Society (US) we recommend you buy a larger cage if you can. Bear in mind that a rescue centre will specify you have a cage of a certain minimum size and will not allow you to adopt a pair of guinea pigs if your cage is not large enough.

You can find out more about the correct cage size for the number of guinea pigs you have here…

What is the guinea pig cage made from?

Indoor cages come in many different types of material including:

Modular wire guinea pig cages (C&C)

C&C cages are one of the most popular indoor cages with guinea pig owners. If you’re new to guinea pigs you may not have heard of these but they are basically grids and connectors that you can put together to make the cage size you require. A coroplast (flexible plastic) base can then be cut to size and inserted.

The C&C cage gives great versatility and you can expand or alter the shape and size if you get more guinea pigs or need to put it into a different space. In fact we’ve seen some awesome giant sized cages made by guinea pig owners with this modular option!

These DIY cages do take a little more work to put together and the most fiddly part is cutting the coroplast to size but it is well worth it as you will end up with a great space for your guinea pigs.

With a little imagination you could turn a C&C cage into a gorgeous luxury pad for your guinea pigs!

You can also buy a C&C Cage kit which means you don’t need to worry about working out how to cut the coroplast as it’s all done for you and you can simply and easily put it together.

Wire cages with a canvas/PVC base

Wire cages with a canvas/PVC base such as the Midwest Guinea Pig Habitat Cage are a good option. The base is removable and washable and it is also leakproof so you can put it directly on to your flooring or a solid table.

Midwest Guinea Pig Habitat Cage
Midwest Guinea Pig Habitat Cage

The Midwest Guinea Pig Habitat is the very smallest cage you should buy for 2 guinea pigs but you can extend the Midwest cages by joining two or more together which is what many guinea pig owners have done and something we would definitely recommend.

You can join two Midwests end to end to make a very long cage or you could join 3 to make a “U” shape. If you want to put the cage in the corner of a room, two Midwests in an “L” shape would work really well. You can make almost whatever shape or size you want using the Midwest Habitat cages and a little creativity!

Wooden cages with Perspex front

Indoor wooden cages with a Perspex front look great in the home as they don’t have the bars which a traditional cage does have. You can also see the guinea pigs much more easily through the Perspex. 

Our cage – it’s similar to wooden cages you can buy here…

If you are using a messy bedding such as pine shavings or paper bedding rather than fleece liners, the Perspex will keep the shavings from being kicked out onto your floor.

These cages are usually very solid and long-lasting so even though they may cost a little more, they are definitely worth the investment. These may or may not be available to buy where you live but it’s worth looking around if you like the look of them.

Plastic guinea pig cages

We don’t recommend plastic cages because most are made too small and many others are, quite frankly, ridiculously tiny as a home for these adorable small animals. 

Certain plastic cages may appear to be within the minimum recommended size if you go by the measurements given, but when you look more closely at the cage you’ll often find that the bases slope inwards which significantly reduces the space inside the housing. 

Plastic cages will sometimes have shelves added which aren’t much use for guinea pigs and take away from the interior space.

You won’t be able to extend these solid plastic cages either, so, as well as being generally too small, you won’t have the ability to make them bigger at a later stage. You’d be better off buying a different type of cage that offers better and more usable space.

Are multi-level cages good for guinea pigs?

Most of the multi level cages you can buy in the pet shops may be suitable for other rodents who like climbing but guinea pigs don’t like to climb. In fact they are usually not very keen on ramps unless they are not steep or slippery in any way.

Having said that, you can build a second tier on a C&C cage but the cage would need to be large enough that you could build a ramp with a very gentle slope.

Do bear in mind that guinea pigs who are not very mobile such as an older piggy or one that has arthritis, will certainly have difficulty using a ramp and may refuse to use one. 

Is the cage floor suitable for guinea pigs?

Some rodents may be fine with a cage that has a wire base but guinea pigs have very delicate feet. They should never be in a cage that just has wire (or grids) as a base. 

If you do put your guinea pigs directly on this type of surface (even if you have pine shavings or similar bedding covering it, they can get sore feet and it can become very painful and cause serious problems for them.

A guinea pig’s cage must always have a smooth flat base and on top of that you will need to add some bedding such as hemp beddingkiln dried pine shavingsfleece liners or another safe and absorbent type of bedding.

Is the cage safe for your guinea pigs?

There are several points to consider when it comes to the safety of your cage:

Is the wire spacing safe for guinea pigs?

If you’re getting a cage with bars or wire grids, it’s important to make sure your guinea pigs can’t escape or poke their heads through at all. There have been many horrible stories of guinea pigs getting trapped in bars or these grids and suffering awful injuries.

The C&C cage grids that you should buy must always be 9×9 squares across. Check out our information about C&C cages where we give you links to the safe grids and the other items you need to buy to build one of these modular cages.

It is worth noting that even the safe grids may not be safe for very tiny young guinea pigs so you may need to cover the grids in some way. Alternatively you could start with a cage that has smaller spacing between the bars and upgrade later.

Of course, the wooden indoor cages that have a Perspex front are ideal as there is nowhere they can escape or get stuck in one of these enclosures.

Is your guinea pig cage safe from other pets?

Many guinea pig owners have open cages (a cage without a top). Providing you don’t have other pets, and the sides of your cage are a good height (36cm / 14 inches high) this is a safe option. Guinea pigs don’t usually jump although some have been known to do this in rare circumstances, for example, if a female is in a cage next to a male guinea pig!

If you have other pets such as dogs or cats, you’ll need to make sure you buy an indoor cage that protects your guinea pigs from them. This means you’ll need a roof for your cage. 

Guinea pig in an open topped enclosure
Sunny Pig in an open topped enclosure

The Midwest Habitat comes with or without a roof. Wooden cages usually have the option of a lid and a one level C&C cage can be made with a lid too. 

We also recommend raising your cage above floor level so that it sits on a table or some kind of stand that is stable and sturdy. This can help make your guinea pigs feel safer.

Is the guinea pig cage made from safe materials?

If you’re making your own cage out of wood, it’s important to use a wood that is safe. Avoid cedar completely and if you use pine it should be kiln dried. Both these woods contain dangerous toxins in the natural oils that are found in the wood but the kiln drying process makes pine a safe wood to use.  

MDF is also dangerous because of the glues etc made in the manufacturing process of this wood product. We did actually make our own cage from MDF, but it’s completely covered by linoleum on the base and up the sides, with all edges sealed. This means there is no way the guinea pigs can chew it. So you can use this material if you make sure it is not able to be nibbled by your guinea pigs.

Is the guinea pig cage easy to clean?

You will need to clean the cage regularly so make sure you buy one that you feel is going to be easy for you to clean.

All the indoor cages we’ve recommended here are easy to wipe clean but consider how easy it is to access the cage for cleaning too. We used to have a big C&C cage in the large space under our stairs but it wasn’t ideal because it was on the floor under a sloping ceiling which made it awkward to clean out.

Since then we’ve built our own extra large cage and it sits on a very large sturdy table which makes it so much easier to clean.

If your cage has a lid, make sure you can easily remove it or raise it up so you can clean the cage as and when needed. 

If you’ve decided on a C&C cage, think about how easy your chosen configuration will be to clean before you start the build and adapt your plans if necessary.

Does the cage allow easy access to your guinea pigs?

As well as having easy access to clean, you will also want to make sure your cage offers easy access to your guinea pigs when you want to take them out. 

Guinea pigs are not the easiest pets to catch at the best of times because most of the time they will attempt to run off. So you need to make sure this doesn’t become a dreaded chore!

Side doors are not the best way to access for this purpose and it’s much easier if you can put your hand in from the top and pick your guinea pig up from there.

What size guinea pig cage should I buy?

You should now be in a better position to work out which indoor cage is best for your guinea pigs and which cage will best suit the space you have in your home. But whatever you choose to buy, remember that a large or extra large cage is essential for these small pets.

You can check out our page on the best sized cage for the number of guinea pigs you have here.

Our top guinea pig cages

These are our top recommendations for indoor cages and they are all available to buy online:

Unless you provide your guinea pigs with a really massive cage, you will also need a run for them so they get a good amount of exercise each day. Check out our recommendations for runs here….

Are pet shop cages good for guinea pigs?

You may think that by going to a pet shop you will get good advice and they will be able to tell you which cage is a suitable choice for your guinea pigs. 

Sadly, this is often not the case. Many pet shops are not as interested in the welfare of these small pets as they are in the money they make from sales. This can lead to well-meaning guinea pig owners getting the wrong type of cage without even realizing.

Even some guinea pig books that you may feel are more trustworthy will have outdated information if they are a number of years old. Of course, they would have been written with the best of intentions but these days we have better knowledge about the welfare of pets and some of this advice may be irrelevant today.

It is essential you do your own research and find out which cage is good for your guinea pigs from experts, those who have lots of experience with guinea pigs and who care for their wellbeing. 

What is the Best Bedding for Guinea Pigs?

Guinea pig having a cuddle with his owner

There are many different types of bedding to choose from for your guinea pigs’ cage with everything from traditional pine shavings to fleece liners. When deciding on which guinea pig bedding to use, you need to consider the absorbency, smell and cost but you also need to be aware of any dangers that may lurk in some small pet bedding.

Table of contents

Is your cage floor safe and ready for the bedding?

It is important to know that whatever bedding you use must be put on to a flat smooth surface. Because guinea pigs have extremely delicate feet, these pets can not be allowed to run around on a wire cage base as this will hurt them and can cause serious foot problems. 

Bedding absorbency

You will want to use a bedding that absorbs moisture well so your guinea pigs don’t end up sitting in wet patches. 

guinea pig cage  with hemp bedding
Guinea pig cage with hemp bedding

If the bedding you choose isn’t sufficiently absorbent your guinea pigs will get mucky and begin to smell and you’ll need to bathe them a lot more often. The more absorbent your guinea pig bedding is, the more hygienic your cage will be and the less likely you will be to get odors from the cage or the guinea pigs. 

Absorbent bedding will help keep your guinea pigs healthy and will help prevent them getting infections or nasty conditions that may leave them sore and uncomfortable. Check out our guinea pig bedding absorbency experiment results where we tested 6 different types of bedding.

Dusty bedding is dangerous

Another important factor you will need to consider when buying bedding for your guinea pigs is how dusty it is. Dust is extremely bad for guinea pigs who have delicate respiratory systems so you should look for bedding that is labeled “dust extracted” or “low dust”. If you use one that is dusty, it may well result in expensive vet bills if they get an upper respiratory tract infection – something that is very common in guinea pigs.

Always check the label before buying your bedding to make sure it is safe.

Types of bedding

There are several types of bedding that you can buy for a guinea pig’s cage or hutch. The most common substrates are:

Wood shavings

Wood shavings are one of the most popular types of bedding for guinea pigs. There are two types of shavings that we recommend and these are kiln dried pine shavings and aspen shavings.

Both aspen and pine shavings must be dust extracted and it is vital if you buy pine shavings that they are kiln dried. This removes the natural aromatic oils which are toxic to guinea pigs. If they aren’t marked as kiln dried, choose a different brand that clearly states that it has been through this important process.

guinea pig  cage with 2 guinea pigs, hideouts, a bridge and a mixture of pine shavings  and hemp  bedding
Guinea pig cage with a mixture of pine shavings and hemp as bedding

Wood shavings are one of the most absorbent beddings for guinea pigs and are naturally very good at controlling odors.

Find out more about pine bedding or Aspen bedding and the brands we recommend.

Hemp bedding

Made from the fibers of the hemp plant, this bedding is very popular as bedding for horses and is also a great option for guinea pigs. 

The advantage of hemp as bedding for your small pets is that it is not only a natural product but it is organically grown and very absorbent

The hemp bedding will draw any urine down into the lower layers therefore keeping the upper layer dry and hygienic for your guinea pigs.

Hemp bedding has no odor to it at all and, because of the absorbent qualities of this bedding, you will have no nasty smells from the urine either. 

Find out more about hemp bedding and the brands we recommend.

Paper bedding

Paper bedding is soft and fluffy and is also a good absorbent bedding. These brands do vary in quality and price and we always recommend you opt for the most natural and safe bedding products.  You will also need to check this type of bedding to make sure it is low dust and it should state this in the description of the product.

guinea pig on natural paper bedding
Lychee on natural paper bedding

Some of the paper bedding is colored or it may be bleached. It’s important to stay away from anything that has unnecessary additives or chemicals as they may not be good for your guinea pigs.

Some paper bedding is made from recycled printed paper or reclaimed paper (known as sludge), both of which may contain toxins.

Find out more about paper bedding and the brands we recommend.

Wood pulp bedding

Wood pulp bedding is usually a by-product of the paper-making industry and is a less commonly used substrate for guinea pigs.

A UK brand called “Megazorb” is often used for horses, particularly those with respiratory problems. This is not a bedding we particularly like, as it is more like a litter, but you can find out more about wood pulp bedding here…

Fleece bedding

Fleece bedding is a highly popular bedding choice for guinea pig owners and they are completely different to all other types of bedding.

fleece liners in a guinea pig cage
Fleece liners in a guinea pig cage

It is common for guinea pig owners to buy the specially made fleece liners which usually consist of a top layer of fleece, an absorbent middle layer and waterproof backing.

Fleece liners are washable which means that although they are more expensive to buy initially, you won’t have to keep buying bedding as with all other options.

The reason piggy parents love this washable bedding so much is that they are not only completely dust free but can be bought in many different colors, patterns and designs and they can make your guinea pig’s living quarters really beautiful!

Fleece bedding will require daily spot cleaning and generally do require changing more often than other disposable types of bedding. However, it is a cleaner type of bedding with no bits that can get kicked out of the cage and on to the floor of your room.

Find out more about fleece liners and the brands we recommend.

Best bedding for an outdoor hutch

If you are housing your guinea pigs outdoors, it is important they are kept warm enough. 

The bedding we recommend for outdoor guinea pigs are pine shavings or aspen shavings or hemp bedding. Add some soft bedding hay (not straw) to the sleeping quarters for warmth.  Adding a layer of newspaper under the bedding is especially beneficial for an outdoor hutch as it does make cleaning out much quicker.

Outdoor wooden hutch
Outdoor hutch with hemp bedding inside

We don’t recommend fleece liners for outdoor guinea pigs as the poops will sit on top of the fleece and will attract flies.

Best bedding for indoor guinea pigs

Any of the bedding recommended on this page can be used for indoor guinea pigs. The main points you’ll need to consider specific to keeping guinea pigs indoors are the odor and how much mess the chosen bedding might make in your home.

Best bedding for odor control

We found that the best guinea pig bedding types for odor control are pine shavings, hemp bedding and aspen shavings. We found fleece liners were the worst performer for odors as they began to smell much quicker than any of the other options.

Bedding that should NOT be used

There is some bedding that is not suitable for guinea pigs and they include:

  • Disposable puppy pads
  • Sawdust
  • Cat litter
  • Pine shavings that are not kiln dried
  • Cedar shavings
  • Newspaper (on its own)

Disposable puppy pads

Some piggy parents do use puppy pads, but disposable pads can be dangerous. If your guinea pigs chew on them and ingest them, they can cause serious problems, creating blockages in their digestive system. 

These should certainly never be used as a standalone bedding and we wouldn’t even advise you use them underneath a fleece just in case your guinea pig ends up gaining access to them. It just isn’t worth it, especially when there are so many other good bedding options. 

Sawdust

Sawdust, unlike wood shavings, is very fine and dusty and can cause serious illness in your guinea pigs. As piggies are prone to upper respiratory tract infections, you need to stay away from anything that is dusty to keep them healthy. 

Cat litter

Cat litter comes in many different forms but it isn’t manufactured as a bedding that pets are supposed to lie in but one that is designed for a cat to poop and pee in. Therefore, it may contain chemicals or additives for odor control that is not safe for guinea pigs, not to mention the fact that some types would be very uncomfortable as a bedding for small pets.

Pine shavings that are not kiln dried

If pine shavings are not kiln dried, the aromatic oils (phenols) will still remain in the wood and these are toxic for guinea pigs. They should always be avoided.

Cedar shavings

Cedar wood shavings are dangerous for the same reasons as non kiln dried pine shavings. However, they contain even higher levels of the dangerous aromatic oils so pose an even bigger danger. Cedar shavings must never be used in guinea pig housing.

Newspaper

Newspaper is not suitable to use as a bedding for guinea pigs because the ink contains toxins that can be harmful to your small pets. Although some people may use it underneath other types of bedding, it is really best avoided.

What is the Best Hay for Guinea Pigs?

two guinea pigs eating hay

Grass hay is the most important part of a guinea pig’s diet and should form 80% of their daily diet. The best type of grass hay for adult guinea pigs is long stem Timothy Hay and Meadow Hay and this essential food source should ALWAYS be available to your guinea pigs at ALL times.

For baby guinea pigs and nursing mother guinea pigs, the best hay is Alfalfa Hay.

Packed with fiber and vitamin C, this nutritious grass hay keeps a guinea pig’s digestive system in good order as well as keeping their teeth trim.

Table of Contents

Why is hay so important for guinea pigs?

Apart from the nutritional value, there are a couple of important reasons why hay is vital for guinea pigs. 

  • A guinea pig’s teeth are constantly growing and the hay works to wear down the teeth. If your piggies stop eating hay, their teeth will overgrow.
  • The fiber in hay is vital for the proper function of your guinea pig’s digestive system. 

If a guinea pig doesn’t have enough hay or stops eating hay it can result in serious illness.

What to look for in a good guinea pig feeding hay

Here are some things you should look for in a good feeding hay for your guinea pigs:

  • Freshness: It should have a sweet fresh smell and not be at all musty. It should have some green color to it. The green color signifies larger amounts of vitamin A and C. Guinea pigs love the greener, sweeter and leafier hay
  • No additives: Check the ingredients of the hay to make sure it has nothing added to it. 
  • Plenty of stems: Although guinea pigs often like the flowers and tops of the hay, it is the stems that really help grind down their teeth and offer the best fiber. So make sure the hay you buy has plenty of stems. If a hay specifies the “cutting”, the second cutting is the one to opt for.
  • As little dust as possible: Dust is extremely bad for guinea pigs and can cause respiratory problems so even if it’s feeding hay as opposed to bedding, you should look at using a hay that has been dust-extracted or has the minimum amount of dust.

Hay can vary in quality from season to season so reviews are not always reliable. We would recommend going for a premium brand (more expensive but more reliable when it comes to quality) or hay that comes straight from the farm where the quality may not be so reliable but it costs a lot less and should be as good or better than some of the medium priced brands.

Green and fresh quality Timothy Hay for guinea pigs
Small Pet Select Fresh Timothy Hay

It is also interesting to know that the greener, leafier softer hay is generally higher in protein, vitamin C and calcium.  Rougher, stalky and golden hay is higher in fiber and vitamin D due to sun exposure but has less nutritional value. 

Guinea pigs need lots of vitamin C in their diet as their bodies can’t produce it which is why the greener hay is preferred.

Meadow Hay vs Timothy Hay

Guinea pigs can eat meadow hay and timothy hay, but what’s the difference between these two types of hay, and which hay is best for your guinea pigs?

Meadow Hay

Meadow Hay is made from grass that is harvested from pastures. This means it can contain a variety of grasses, plants, flower heads and seed heads. It has a better range of minerals and trace elements than single grass hays.

You don’t usually get the different cuttings with Meadow Hay as there is generally just one cutting. If you’re looking for a cheap hay, Meadow Hay tends to be less costly than Timothy Hay. However, don’t just opt for the cheapest available but check that it is good quality to make sure your guinea pigs are kept healthy.

Timothy Hay

Timothy Hay is made from only Timothy grass and also known as meadow cat’s tail or common cat’s tail. It is made up of stem, leaf and seed head. The seed head is the tastiest part and guinea pigs seem to love these. The leaves contain lots of vitamins and minerals and the stalk is important for grinding down your guinea pig’s teeth and aiding digestion. 

American Timothy Hay is considered the best hay for guinea pigs and Small Pet Select supply excellent quality, US grown, Timothy Hay . ​

2nd cutting Timothy Hay nutritional values
2nd Cutting Timothy Hay Nutrition Information

If you find Timothy Hay too costly, you could buy a bag of each and mix a bit of Timothy Hay in with your Meadow Hay so your guinea pigs get the benefits of both.

Compare the different hays

HayType / SourceInfo
Small Pet Select 2nd Cut Timothy HayTimothy (US)RECOMMENDED. Excellent quality, hand selected – 15% discount code: REFER-GPIGGLEUK
Kaytee Timothy HayTimothyNon-GMO, grown without pesticides
Pacific Meadows 2nd Cut Timothy HayTimothy (Pacific NW)
Oxbow Organic Meadow HayMeadow (US)USDA Organic – grown in USA
Small Pet Select Alfalfa HayAlfalfa (Pacific NW US)For young guinea pigs under 6 months or pregnant / nursing – 15% discount code: REFER-GPIGGLEUK
Oxbow Alfalfa HayAlfalfaFor young guinea pigs under 6 months or pregnant / nursing

Does guinea pig hay have to be dust-free?

Because dust is a real danger to your guinea pig’s health, it’s important the hay has as little dust as possible. No hay will be 100% dust free but some are a lot dustier than others and should be avoided.

When shopping around for hay, some may not say it is dust extracted but may be hand sorted or hand selected.  The hand sorted hays are fine as the process of hand sorting eliminates most of the dust. 

Hay that is compressed when packaged can create more dust even if has been through the dust extraction process. Hay that comes straight from the farm which is packaged loosely can be just as good. Hand picked hay that is loosely packed is most likely to have the least dust but is generally more expensive. It is worth trying out the different hays to see which one you (or your guinea pigs) like the best.

Can I buy guinea pig hay in large quantities?

If you have a herd of guinea pigs and they go through hay like there is no tomorrow, you may want to consider buying your hay by the bale from a farm. This is not always possible, depending on where you live but it is worth having a look around to see if you can find a local farm that can offer good quality hay at a fair price as it can work out cheaper than buying smaller quantities from the store.

Do guinea pigs need a hay feeder?

Not all people like to use a hay feeder but the reason we recommend using a hay rack or hay manger is:

  • Feeding hay is likely to become contaminated with pee and poop when it’s on the cage floor. ​
  • Guinea pigs may burrow into hay that is on the cage floor and can end up with hay pokes, especially with rougher, long stem feeding hay.
Fleece guinea pig hay feeder
Guinea Pig Fleece Hay Bag Feeder

There are various types of hay feeders to choose from. Here are some good and safe options:

We strongly advise that you don’t use the metal hay balls. Although these are widely available, there have been many awful reports of guinea pigs getting injured or trapped in this type of hay feeder.

What do 1st, 2nd and 3rd cutting mean in timothy hay?

The numbers refer to when it was cut but, more importantly, the cutting will change the texture and content of the hay. The first cutting is a lot more fibrous and has more flower heads. The second cutting (the one we recommend for guinea pigs) has a good balance of fiber and flower heads whereas the third cutting is softer with more leaf and less stem.

What is alfalfa hay and is it good for guinea pigs?

Alfalfa Hay is what is known as a “legume hay” and is grown a lot in Australia and the US.

Legume forages are high in fiber, protein and calcium but are not a suitable regular food for adult guinea pigs unless they are pregnant or nursing mothers. You can feed it as a very occasional treat but it should definitely not be their main hay source.

Young guinea pigs or mother guinea pigs who are nursing their young need additional calcium in their diet, so Alfalfa Hay can be fed to these guinea pigs.

Can I use feeding hay for bedding?

You should always put feeding hay in some kind of feeder but you can sometimes use the same hay for bedding providing the hay is soft. Coarse, stalky hay can cause hay pokes (hay getting stuck in the eye) which is painful for your guinea pig and would need medical attention.

My guinea pig is not eating hay. What should I do?

If your guinea pig refuses to eat hay there is something wrong. It could be one of a number of reasons but the first port of call is your vet. A few reasons why your guinea pig may not be eating their hay are:

  • Your guinea pig could be ill
  • They may not like the hay you’ve bought
  • The hay may be moldy
  • Overgrown teeth – if this is the case they may be unable to eat the hay which can lead to serious illness and they must get to a vet as soon as possible.

How should I store the hay?

Hay should always be stored above ground level and preferably with some airflow. It can be kept in sealed plastic to stop moisture getting to it providing the hay is of good quality. However, if the hay is lower quality and hasn’t been dried properly, sealing it in plastic will cause it to go musty and moldy. This is another good reason to ensure you only buy the better hays.

If your hay comes in a cardboard box, you can keep it in the box, providing you store it indoors where it is dry. If you do store it in an outdoor shed in its cardboard box, make sure it is well sealed, so nothing can get in, and that it is not likely to get damp.

Get a discount on Small Pet Select pellet food!

Small Pet Select have a whole range of guinea pig products and have kindly given us a 15% discount code for you to use. This will be applied to your whole purchase and not just the hay. Use the code REFER-GPIGGLEUK and visit their online store here.

Guinea Pig Pellet Food – A Complete Guide for 2021

guinea pig's eating food

Dry pellet food is an important part of your guinea pig’s daily diet and these specially formulated nuggets are made to meet the unique needs of a guinea pig’s dietary and nutritional requirements.

It’s important to buy good quality pellet food for your guinea pigs as this will contribute to a healthy pet.

With many different brands selling various types of guinea pig food it’s difficult to know which one to choose and which pellets are going to be best for your guinea pigs. 

You may notice that some of the brands called them “pellets” and others call them “nuggets” but they both refer to dry guinea pig food.

Table of Contents

What is the best guinea pig food?

The best guinea pig food contains the right balance of ingredients to help your guinea pig thrive and this food will complement the rest of their diet. The pellets we recommend for your guinea pigs are:

It’s worth noting that the standard guinea pig food from Science Selective contains alfalfa as a main ingredient so although we recommend the grain-free version, we don’t recommend the standard variety for adult guinea pigs.

What is the best guinea pig food brand

Our favorite guinea pig food brand is Small Pet Select and this is because Small Pet Select pride themselves on using the very best natural ingredients.

The food they produce is well balanced and it doesn’t contain some of the unhealthy and unnecessary additives and ingredients that can be found in some other lower quality pellets.

What are the best ingredients in guinea pig food?

Timothy hay based pellets are generally the best dry food for your guinea pigs. Of course, there will be other ingredients in these nuggets to also consider. 

Vitamin C is an essential part of your guinea pig’s diet and although you should make sure your pets get plenty of this vitamin in their fresh daily veggies, it’s important their pellet food also has this essential nutrient. Vitamin C is also known as “ascorbic acid” so you may see it listed as this in the ingredients on the packet. 

Although your guinea pigs will get most of their fiber from the hay they eat, it should also be a major part of the pellet food you choose for them too. Fiber is vital to a healthy digestive system in guinea pigs.

Small Pet Select Guinea Pig Pellet Food
Small Pet Select Guinea Pig Pellet Food

What are bad ingredients in dried guinea pig food?

There are lots of dried food and muesli mixes for guinea pigs but these are generally not good for your cavies as they might contain additives and unhealthy foods that could lead to health issues for your small pet.

For example, some will contain dried fruit, seeds, nuts and added sugars and colorings, all of which are not designed for guinea pigs. These are made to look enticing so don’t be fooled by how delicious they look. 

In fact, the more healthy ones may look boring and unappealling to you but these are generally the ones that will be best for your guinea pig. It’s a good idea to always check the list of ingredients before you buy.

Selective feeding problems

One of the problems you may encounter if feeding a muesli mix or a similar dried food mix is selective feeding. Your guinea pig may eat the bits they like the most and leave the other pieces. This may mean they are missing out on some of the important nutrition that they need to be healthy and strong.

Guinea pig pellet food
Good quality pellet food for healthy guinea pigs

Alfalfa (or Lucerne)

Alfalfa (also called Lucerne) is an excellent source of calcium for young guinea pigs as well as pregnant and nursing mothers but once a young guinea pig is past 6 months old, they don’t need it and should change to a Timothy hay based pellet food

Check the ingredients on the packet and if Alfalfa or Lucerne appears first in the list, it means this is the main ingredient in the pellet food. In that case, choose another one that either doesn’t include Alfalfa or at least doesn’t have it listed as the main ingredient.

Do guinea pigs need pellets?

Guinea pigs need pellet food because it is designed to give them the balanced nutrition their bodies need to be healthy.

You could make up your own feed but buying a good quality pellet food is a lot easier than having to buy all the components you would need to provide them with a good balance of vitamins and minerals.

How many pellets do guinea pigs need each day?

Guinea pigs should have about an eighth of a cup (or 2 tablespoons) of pellets each day. The easiest way to measure this is by using an eighth measuring cup or a tablespoon rather than guessing as it is quite a small amount. 

Crested guinea pig eating pellet food from a colourful food bowl
Guinea pig eating dry pellet food from a bowl

Don’t be tempted to keep filling up the bowl when it gets empty. The most important part of your small pet’s diet is fresh hay and, if they consume too many pellets, they may not eat enough of their hay which can result in serious problems, especially with their teeth.

My guinea pig is not eating pellets – what should I do?

If your guinea pig is not eating the pellets it may be they don’t like that particular brand. Try another good quality pellet food to see if it makes any difference.

If your guinea pig is off their dry food as well as their hay and fresh food, there is clearly a problem and they should be taken to a vet as soon as possible. When a guinea pig stops eating, it can cause grave health issues very quickly so early medical attention is vital.

Can guinea pigs live on just pellets?

Your guinea pig can’t survive on pellets alone. It’s crucial you don’t feed your guinea pigs pellets and nothing else. A guinea pig that is fed solely on pellets will become ill and experience serious health problems, especially with their digestion and teeth, that may be irreversible. So it’s important they get a good balanced daily diet.

Can guinea pigs eat pellets instead of hay?

Pellet food should only be a small part of a guinea pig’s diet with hay being the largest part of their daily food intake. Hay is required to grind down their constantly growing teeth and it is essential for a healthy digestive system. 

The dry pellet food should supplement a guinea pig’s daily diet which should consist of good quality feeding hay, a cup of safe veggies and a daily portion of nuggets. 

How to introduce a new pellet food to your guinea pigs

If you want to change your guinea pig’s pellet food to another brand or type, it’s important you do this gradually to avoid any tummy troubles.

We recommend putting a little of the new food in their bowl with some of the original food. Each day, increase the amount of new food and reduce the amount of the previous food you used until you are just using the new pellets. Make sure the total amount they get is still an eighth of a cup per piggy so they don’t consume too much.

I’ve run out of pellets – what should I do?

There may be times when you run out of pellet food and for whatever reason you may be unable to buy pellets for a few days in the shops or online. Providing you feed your guinea pig unlimited hay and a good selection of healthy veggies each day until you can get the dry food, your guinea pigs will be fine. 

Try to get hold of the pellets as soon as you can as the nutrition they contain is an important part of a healthy diet for your piggies. But don’t worry in the meantime as they won’t suddenly become ill if they have to go without these for a short time.

Can guinea pigs eat rabbit food?

Guinea pig food and rabbit food is formulated for the specific pet’s dietary needs so you should not give your guinea pig any food that is designed for a rabbit.

One of the biggest differences in the diets of these two pets is that rabbits don’t need added vitamin C because their bodies make this vitamin. But vitamin C is an essential vitamin for a guinea pig so it is included in guinea pig food but not in rabbit food.

Can guinea pigs eat hamster food?

Guinea pigs can’t eat hamster food for the same reason they can’t eat rabbit food. Any food that is made for a different type of pet or rodent whether it’s a hamster, chinchilla, rat or gerbil will not be suitable for your guinea pigs as they all have different dietary requirements.

What is the best bowl for guinea pig pellet food?

Because your guinea pig needs just a small amount of pellet food, you only need a small bowl for their daily pellets. But make sure you buy one that is non-tip or the food will end up on cage floor.

The 1/4 cup STAYBowl is the perfect size for 2 portions of daily pellets. This means it is ideal if you have one or a pair of guinea pigs.

Small non-tip guinea pig food bowl filled with pellet food
A small bowl for the guinea pig pellet food

If you have more than two guinea pigs, choose a bigger bowl. We recommend the following large guinea pig food bowls which are all non-tip:

How to store guinea pig pellets

Your guinea pig’s food needs to be stored properly so it stays fresh and retains the nutrients that are so good for them. They must be kept free of any moulds or fungus.

Guinea pig pellets shouldn’t be stored in the fridge but should be kept in a dry, cool and dark place. Avoid placing them next to a radiator or in direct sunlight.

If you’re leaving them in the packet they were bought in, make sure it is completely sealed as light will reduce the vitamin C content. We recommend storing them in a sealed plastic box to retain the freshness.

Always make sure your pellets are not past the “best before” date and don’t store them for too long. It’s best to buy a smaller packet if you only have one or two guinea pigs so they stay fresh.

How much is guinea pig food?

The cost of your guinea pig food will vary depending on which brand you buy. However, we don’t recommend you go for the cheapest option as it’s very likely the quality won’t be anywhere near as good.

Remember that your guinea pigs only need a very small amount of this dry food each day so a packet of pellets does last quite a while. 

We worked out, based on each guinea pig having an eighth of a cup a day (or 2 tablespoons), that a 5lb (2.3kg) bag of Small Pet Select timothy hay based pellets contains enough dry food for almost 2 months for 2 guinea pigs. This works out at just under $10 a month which is great value for such a high quality feed.

Buy in bulk for better value

Buying your guinea pig food in bulk will always save you money. So if you have a number of guinea pigs, we recommend you buy a much larger bag, providing you can use it within 3 months so it stays fresh.

Small Pet Select sells bags up to the weight of 50lb (22.7kg) which is huge! So this is a great way to buy top quality pellet food for your guinea pigs for a reasonable price.

Guinea pig pellet foods with ingredient lists

Below is a list of several popular guinea pig foods together with their ingredients so you can compare these brands for yourself.

Small Pet Select Premium Guinea Pig Food Pellets

*RECOMMENDED BY GUINEA PIGGLES*

Timothy hay, soybean hulls, soybean meal, sodium bentonite, wheat middlings, molasses, calcium carbonate, lignin sulfonate, soybean oil, barley, salt, L-Ascorbyl-2-Monophosphate, zinc amino acid complex, manganese amino acid complex, copper amino acid complex, cobalt glucoheptonate, vitamin e supplement, choline chloride, manganese sulfate, niacin supplement, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, zinc sulfate, manganous oxide, yucca schidigera extract, zinc oxide, calcium pantothenate, folic acid, copper sulfate, vitamin b-12 supplement, vitamin A supplement, biotin, riboflavin supplement, vitamin d3 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, sodium selenite, thiamine mononitrate, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of vitamin k activity), calcium iodate, selenium yeast, yeast culture, brewers dried yeast, dried saccharomyces cerevisiae Fermentation Solubles.

  • Crude Protein: Not Less Than 14.0% 
  • Crude Fat: Not Less Than 2.0% 
  • Crude Fiber: Not Less Than 25.0% 
  • Calcium: Not Less Than 0.4% 
  • Calcium: Not More than 0.6% 
  • Phosphorous: Not Less Than .25% 
  • Salt: Not Less Than .25%
  • Salt: Not More than 0.75% 
  • Vitamin A: Not Less Than 8,650 IU/lb 
  • Vitamin D: Not Less Than 400 IU/lb 
  • Vitamin E: Not Less Than 86 IU/lb 
  • Vitamin C: Not Less Than 400 mg/lb

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Selective Naturals Grain Free Guinea Pig Food

*RECOMMENDED BY GUINEA PIGGLES*

Timothy hay, soya bean hulls, flaked peas, ground soya bean meal, ground dried locust beans, pea flour, whole brown linseeds, soya bean oil, calcium carbonate, hydrolysed yeast, Yucca extract.

Nutritional Additives per kg
Vitamin A 37500 IU, Vitamin C 1000 mg, Vitamin D3 2000 IU, Iron (E1) 50 mg, Iodine (E2) 1.5 mg, Copper (E4) 7.5 mg, Manganese (E5) 30 mg, Zinc (E6) 100 mg, Selenium (E8) 0.25 mg

  • Protein 16.0%
  • Crude fiber 20.0%
  • Fat content 4.0%
  • Inorganic matter 5.0%
  • Calcium 0.6%
  • Phosphorus 0.5%

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Science Selective Guinea Pig Food

Alfalfa meal, whole wheat, wheat feed, soybean hulls, soybean meal, flaked peas, linseed, sugar beet pulp, soybean oil, fennel seeds, monocalcium phosphate, salt, calcium carbonate, dried dandelion. May contain genetically modified soya. 

Nutritional Additives per kg
Vitamin A 23000IU/kg, Vitamin C 800mg/kg, Vitamin D? 1500IU/kg, Ferrous sulphate monohydrate 152mg/kg, Calcium iodate anhydrous 1.5mg/kg, Copper sulphate pentahydrate 20mg/kg, Manganese oxide 38mg/kg, Zinc oxide 62mg/kg, Sodium selenite 0.2mg/kg. 

  • Crude protein 16.0%
  • Crude fiber 15.0%
  • Fat content 4.0%
  • Inorganic matter 6.5%
  • Calcium 0.8%
  • Phosphorus 0.5%.

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Oxbow Essentials – Adult Guinea Pig Food

For mature guinea pigs (over 6 months)

Timothy Grass Meal, Soybean Hulls, Soybean Meal, Cane Molasses, Wheat Middlings, Sodium Bentonite, Soybean Oil, Salt, Lignin Sulfonate, L-Ascorbyl-2-Monophosphate (Vitamin C), Monocalcium Phosphate, Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Sulfate, Yeast Culture, Hydrolyzed Yeast, Zinc Proteinate, Niacin, Copper Sulfate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Manganous Oxide, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Magnesium Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Vitamin A Supplement, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Proteinate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Cobalt Carbonate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Calcium Iodate

  • Crude Protein (min) 14.00%
  • Crude Fat (min) 2.00%
  • Crude Fiber (min) 25.00%
  • Crude Fiber (max) 28.00%
  • Moisture (max) 10.00%
  • Calcium (min) 0.35%
  • Calcium (max) 0.75%
  • Phosphorus (min) 0.25%
  • Vitamin A (min) 10,000 IU/kg
  • Ascorbic Acid (Vit C.) (min) 250 mg/kg
  • Vitamin D3 (min) 900 IU/kg
  • Vitamin E (min) 190 IU/kg

Check the price of Oxbow Essentials Adult Guinea Pig Food

Oxbow Essentials Young Guinea Pig Food

For young, pregnant or nursing guinea pigs only

Alfalfa Meal, Soybean Hulls, Soybean Meal, Wheat Middlings, Soybean Oil, Salt, Lignin Sulfonate, Cane Molasses, Calcium Carbonate, L-Ascorbyl-2-Monophosphate (Vitamin C), Sodium Bentonite, Hydrolyzed Yeast, Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Yeast Culture, Zinc Sulfate, Zinc Proteinate, Niacin, Copper Sulfate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Manganous Oxide, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Magnesium Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Vitamin A Supplement, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Proteinate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Cobalt Carbonate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Calcium Iodate

  • Crude Protein (min) 18.00%
  • Crude Fat (min) 2.50%
  • Crude Fiber (min) 18.00%
  • Crude Fiber (max) 23.00%
  • Moisture (max) 10.00%
  • Calcium (min) 0.60%
  • Calcium (max) 1.10%
  • Phosphorus (min) 0.25%
  • Vitamin A (min) 10,000 IU/k
  • Vitamin D (min) 900 IU/kg
  • Vitamin E (min) 190 IU/kg
  • Ascorbic Acid (Vit. C) (min) 400 mg/kg

Check the price of Oxbow Essentials Young Guinea Pig Food

Discount on Small Pet Select Pellet Food

Small Pet Select have a whole range of guinea pig products and have kindly given us a 15% discount code for you to use. This will be applied to your whole purchase and not just the hay. Use the code REFER-GPIGGLEUK and visit their online store here.

What Do Guinea Pigs Eat? Daily Food Guide

two guinea pigs eating hay and fresh food

Guinea pigs are herbivores which means they eat a plant-based diet. Their daily diet should consist mainly of grass hay with some fresh vegetables or safely foraged weeds and guinea pig pellet food every day as well. But it’s important they are fed the right balance of food to ensure they get the nutrition they need.

Of course, guinea pigs also need constant access to fresh, clean water at all times.

Quick links

How much food should guinea pigs eat daily?

A guinea pig needs unlimited grass hay (Timothy or Meadow hay) at all times, a cup of fresh daily vegetables or safely foraged weeds and about an eighth of a cup (2 tablespoons) of guinea pig pellet food. Water should be given in a bottle fixed to the side of their cage and replaced daily.

FoodDaily Quantity
Grass HayUnlimited – there should ALWAYS be feeding hay in their cage
Guinea Pig PelletsAbout ⅛ of a cup
Fresh vegetables or foraged weeds/plants
About 1-2 cups
Fresh Tap WaterConstant supply in a feeding bottle

It’s important your guinea pigs get good quality food to ensure they receive a good balance of nutrients and it’s also vital they eat the right amounts of each food type or they can become ill. 

Guinea pigs eating hay from a log hay feeder
Guinea pigs eating hay from a log hay feeder

Too much pellet food may mean they don’t eat enough of their fresh foods and too much fresh food could result in a bad tummy for your guinea pigs.

Not only will your guinea pigs be much healthier if fed the correct foods in the right quantities but it could also save you a lot of money on vet bills later.

What fresh foods can guinea pigs eat?

In the wild, guinea pigs would forage for weeds and vegetation that are packed with vitamins and minerals. It’s important you supply a daily portion of fresh vegetables or safely foraged weeds or plants for them to eat so they get a good range of nutrients.

Abyssinian guinea pig eating fresh grass
Sunny Pig eating fresh grass

If you’re wondering if you can replace fresh food with dry pellet food, the answer is no. Fresh food is an important part of your guinea pig’s daily diet and although it’s more expense and more work to prepare, this food is a part of what keeps them healthy as it’s packed with nutrition.

Guinea pigs can eat fruit in very small amounts but green leafy vegetables are the most important part of their fresh daily food. Foraging is a great way to provide more variety in their green leaf intake and is even better than buying fresh leaves from the supermarket.

Not all vegetables and fruit are suitable for your guinea pigs so we’ve put together a safe fruit and veg list that will show you what is suitable. It will also help you to provide a good variety of different types of vegetables during the week.

You may also want to purchase our full color fruit and vegetable list that is available to buy, download and print here – you can choose from a blue design or pink design. Some of our previous buyers have said they like to download and keep it on their phones as a reference for when they go to the shop.

fruit and vegetable list pdf to buy, download and print
Safe Fruit & Veg Guide – Available to buy, download and print in blue or pink

You should feed your guinea pigs about a cup of fresh veggies or foraged weeds each day, plus a small amount of fruit occasionally or in very small quantities as a treat.

How often should I feed my guinea pigs?

A guinea pig needs to be fed every day but whether you feed them in the morning or evening can be suited to your own schedule.

But it’s worth bearing in mind that guinea pigs are creatures of habit and will get to know when it’s feeding time, so it’s a good idea to stick to a particular routine each day if you can.

Our guinea pig feeding routine is a refill of hay in the morning plus daily pellets and half their daily veggies. We feed the second half of their daily veggies in the evening at dinnertime and refill their hay if necessary.

Guinea pig kitchen area with hay, fresh water, fresh green leaves and guinea pig pellets
Feeding area with lots of hay, fresh water, fresh leaves and a bowl of pellets

Guinea pig feeding schedules

Here are some suggested daily feeding schedules for your guinea pigs – you can use whichever fits into your daily routine the best.

HayPelletsFresh Food
MorningRefillDaily portion 1/8 cup eachDaily portion 1 cup each
EveningRefill
HayPelletsFresh Food
MorningRefillDaily portion 1/8 cup each
EveningRefillDaily portion 1 cup each
HayPelletsFresh Food
MorningRefillDaily portion 1 cup each
EveningRefillDaily portion 1/8 cup each
HayPelletsFresh Food
MorningRefillDaily portion 1/8 cup eachHalf portion (1/2 cup each)
EveningRefillHalf portion (1/2 cup each)
HayPelletsFresh Food
MorningRefillHalf portion (1/2 cup each)
EveningRefillDaily portion 1/8 cup eachHalf portion (1/2 cup each)

Why is a varied diet so important for guinea pigs?

A good balanced diet that includes a large variety of vegetables, forage and fruit throughout the week is one that is most likely to keep your guinea pigs healthy.

By varying the veggies, they are getting a good range of vitamins, nutrients and minerals and they are less likely to need treatment for health problems later.

My guinea pig is not eating – what should I do?

Guinea pigs love food and will spend much of their time eating, so if your guinea pig is not interested in food, or is not eating, this is a sign that there is a serious problem. You must take them to the vet as a matter of urgency as they can deteriorate fast without food.

If a guinea pig that is not eating doesn’t get the medical help they need, more serious health issues will arise fast and be fatal for your pet.

How to introduce new food to guinea pigs

It’s important to introduce any new food to your guinea pigs gradually to avoid any tummy upsets. 

You may also find they don’t eat much of a food the first time it is introduced to them. Sometimes it can take a while for a guinea pig to become used to a new taste and texture. 

If you persist with a new vegetable or forage, giving them a little more every couple of days, you might find it becomes a firm favorite!

Switching to a new pellet food should also be done gradually over a week or two. Mix small amounts of the new food in with the existing one and each day add more of the new food and less of the old one. 

Burgess Excel Guinea  Pig Pellet Food
Burgess Excel Guinea Pig Pellet Food

What should I do with leftover food?

It’s important to remove any uneaten fruit or vegetables after an hour or so, especially if your guinea pigs are outdoors. Uneaten food, especially fruit, will attract flies which can pose an extreme danger to your pets and the food will also begin to deteriorate, especially in hot weather.

Any leftover pellets from the previous day should be replaced with a new fresh portion as the vitamin C content in pellet food diminishes as it’s exposed to light. 

Make sure you only feed them their daily portion each time to minimize any waste.

Hay that is on the floor of the cage will also need to be replaced daily as guinea pigs won’t eat contaminated hay. There will always be wastage with hay being dropped on the cage floor. This is natural and can’t be avoided. But we recommend you use a hay feeder to minimize the waste and to keep their feeding hay clean.

Why do guinea pigs eat their poop?

A guinea pig eats their poops (called caecals) because they contain important bacteria, minerals and nutrients. Re-ingesting them means they get these extra nutrients back into their system.

Guinea pigs produce two different types of poop. The one you may be familiar with is fairly hard and dry, dark brown and long in shape. It contains mainly indigestible fibers and has a low water content. These are the poops you see scattered around the cage and your guinea pig won’t eat these.

The second type of poops, which are formed from hindgut fermentation, contains more water and therefore is much softer. There are large amounts of vitamins and minerals in these poops, especially vitamin K and B vitamins. These are the poops your guinea pigs will eat.

If you see your guinea pig looking like he is cleaning his bottom, he is probably eating one of these poops as they eat these little nutrition-packed parcels straight from their bottom.

What should I do if my guinea pig has diarrhea?

If you happen to notice any diarrhea or very soft or unusually colored or shaped poops, you may be giving them too much watery or sugary food. Try cutting down on those types of food and if it doesn’t improve you should take them to the vet.

If your guinea pig’s diet hasn’t changed at all and they are getting diarrhea, we recommend taking them to the vet straight away as this could be a serious health problem.

Can guinea pigs eat dry forage mixes daily?

Dry forage mixes that don’t contain additives are great for guinea pigs but they shouldn’t replace the fresh food you feed your guinea pigs. 

Dry forage mixes can be mixed in with their pellet food or their hay as guinea pigs love to forage for tasty treats!

Here are some of the forage mixes we recommend and if you use the code REFER-GPIGGLEUK then you’ll get 15% discount on your whole order:

Can guinea pigs eat treats and snacks?

Guinea pigs don’t actually need treats and snacks but there are some you can safely give to your guinea pigs that they will enjoy. 

Treats can be useful if you are trying to tame your piggies and get them used to you, but they should not replace any other part of their daily diet.

Many of the treats sold for guinea pigs are unhealthy and not recommended because of the ingredients they use but there are some good natural treats that we recommend. You can also use the discount code REFER-GPIGGLEUK for a 15% discount on these too:

Can guinea pigs eat fresh grass?

Your guinea pig can eat fresh grass which you can either pick for them or they can eat while out in a safe run.

Abyssinian guinea pig eating fresh grass

However, there are poisonous weeds and plants that grow in lawns and grass that you need to beware of as these will make your guinea pigs ill. Buttercups, daisies and hemlock commonly grow in grass and are all very dangerous for your guinea pigs. 

Any grass they eat must also not be contaminated with pesticides, weed killer, dog or other pet excrement or urine.

If you’re picking grass from a park or hedgerow, you should always give it a good thorough wash before feeding it to your guinea pigs.

Lawnmower clippings are not suitable for guinea pigs and can cause serious illnesses so make sure you pick the grass or your guinea pigs graze on a safe lawn.

Can guinea pigs eat grass instead of hay?

It’s important that you don’t replace your guinea pig’s regular hay intake with grass. 

Although grass is a really good food for them and very healthy, they also need the coarse, rough and fibrous texture of the hay to keep their teeth in trim and for a healthy digestive system.

Best Guinea Pig Hutches: THE ULTIMATE Buying Guide

black and white guinea pig peeking out of wooden hideout

If you are housing your guinea pig in an outdoor hutch, you will need to buy a good, large solid and sturdy wooden hutch where your guinea pigs feel safe and happy. The hutch will also need to stand up to bad weather and potential predators.

In many countries, keeping guinea pigs in an outdoor hutch is not an option because of the weather. In fact, we recommend keeping your guinea pigs indoors, as it is much safer. As well as being safer, it is much easier to find suitable indoor cages than outdoor hutches.

What is the best guinea pig hutch?

We are not going to recommend any particular hutches here but give you a buying guide that tells you what to look for when shopping for a hutch. We haven’t been able to find any that are for sale in the US or Canada that we would recommend, because none offered the space we feel is enough for these small pets.

Most hutches sold for rabbits are actually not big enough for rabbits or guinea pigs and it is inhumane to keep these small pets in enclosures that don’t offer the space they need.

If you live in the UK, we have some hutch recommendations on our Guinea Piggles UK website.

What size should a guinea pig hutch be?

A guinea pig hutch should have an internal space of AT LEAST 4ft x 2ft (120cm x 60cm) for two guinea pigs. If you have just one guinea pig, you still need a hutch of this size. If you have more guinea pigs, you’ll need a much bigger hutch.

Because guinea pigs are very active pets, we strongly advise, if you have the space in your backyard, or on your patio, and can afford a larger hutch, that you but a much bigger one that gives your small pets as much space as possible. 

It is important to know that the dimensions given for a hutch usually refer to the outer dimensions and not the actual space available inside the hutch. There can be quite a big difference when you take into account the thickness of the wood, so always try to find out the interior hutch measurements.

5ft wooden outdoor guinea pig hutch
5ft Wooden Guinea Pig Hutch

A 4ft hutch won’t give your guinea pigs 4ft of floor space inside, so we no longer recommend these hutches. We recommend 5ft as the minimum length for a guinea pig hutch.

Never assume when you’re buying a “guinea pig hutch” or even a “rabbit hutch”, that it is suitable for guinea pigs. Check the size yourself to assess whether it really is big enough before you make the purchase.

What if my hutch is too small?

If your guinea pigs’ hutch is too small, it can make your guinea pig’s feel depressed and sad. Guinea pigs love to run around and this is natural behavior for them. If they can’t exercise properly, it can affect how they feel and they can become very unhappy.

A hutch that is too small can create aggression and depression amongst guinea pigs. If they are in a cramped space, they are likely to become agitated and may even end up harming each other.

If you end up in this situation, you may end up having to re-home your guinea pigs or upgrade to a larger hutch. Although a larger hutch is more expensive, it is better to buy one that is good for your guinea pigs from the outset or it will cost you more later. If you can’t afford to buy one of these hutches or the space in which to put it, you would be better to consider another pet that requires a smaller space.

Is a single story or double decker hutch best?

There are a couple of things to bear in mind when deciding on a single or double story hutch:

  • Guinea pigs like lots space on a single level
  • Older guinea pigs may find the ramp in a double hutch difficult to climb
  • Overweight guinea pigs can sometimes find a ramp difficult

A double hutch is not necessarily a bad idea, but you must take these points into consideration when deciding which housing to buy. 

If you have older guinea pigs, or if they have arthritis or something else that impedes their movement, a single hutch will be required.

How to get guinea pigs to use a ramp

Most guinea pigs will get used to using a ramp, but this is not always the case. In some circumstances, a guinea pig may not physically be able to use a ramp.

If you have new guinea pigs, check they can use the ramp before leaving them in the hutch as it can sometimes take a bit of coaxing at first.  Try putting a bit of food at the top of the ramp or make a food trail with pea flakes, pieces of lettuce, or their favorite food, to encourage them to go up or down to the next level.

Make sure you guinea pigs are confident with using the ramp both ways. It might be they’re ok with going down the ramp but need a little persuasion to go up.

Is a ramp safe for my guinea pigs?

A ramp is safe if it is not too steep and is securely locked in place with no risk of falling.

After constructing your hutch, and each time after you’ve cleaned the hutch, it’s important to make sure the ramp is always locked securely in place.

If the ramp isn’t secured correctly, the ramp may fall and hurt one of your guinea pigs. Or, if the ramp falls when your guinea pigs are in the upper level, they will be unable to get to the lower level and may even fall and hurt themselves.

Guinea pigs don’t like steep ramps so avoid buying a hutch that has a steep ramp. Your guinea pig will be a lot more confident if the ramp has a more gentle slope.

Do double decker hutches count as twice the space?

Providing each level in your hutch meets the minimum interior space requirements, a second level can count as twice the space.

For 4 guinea pigs, a double decker hutch with two floors, each with an interior measurement of 120cm x 60cm, would be acceptable, providing they are all females or 3 females with 1 neutered male. This is the very minimum and we recommend going up a size. Many rescue centers will want you to have a larger hutch so it’s worth buying a hutch that offers the guinea pigs more room.

If you had a small hutch with 60cm x 60cm on each level, this would NOT be at all suitable, as 1 or 2 guinea pigs need AT LEAST 120cm x 60cm on ONE level.

Guinea pig hutch and run combinations

A hutch and run combination is a really good idea as this makes it much easier for you and your guinea pigs when it comes to exercise time. It can also be cheaper to buy a hutch run combo rather than buying these items separately. 

Many of the hutch and run combinations that are available for sale are also too small. They don’t meet the minimum size requirements and are not big enough to house guinea pigs or give them enough space to exercise.

It’s important to bear in mind that the size we recommend for your guinea pig’s hutch is for the enclosed part and not for the run. A run would need to be a lot bigger so you might be better buying a separate run rather than a hutch/run combo. We have some recommendations on good guinea pig runs here…

What to look for in a good hutch and hutch safety

We’ve already gone into a lot of detail relating to the size of a guinea pig’s hutch but there are several other factors you should also consider when looking for the best hutch:

latch on an outdoor wooden guinea pig hutch
A typical latch on a guinea pig hutch
  • A hutch should have legs to raise it off the ground. This helps airflow and helps to prevent the wood becoming rotten.
  • A single hutch should ideally be positioned on something that raises it so it isn’t at eye level if a fox appear as this can be very frightening for a guinea pig. A solid table would be a good choice.
  • There should be a safe dark compartment for them to sleep. This can be filled with hay to make it warm and cozy on cooler days.
  • There  should be a compartment that has wire mesh to allow airflow. This should be a decent size to allow space to run. (bear in mind they will also need  a run)
  • The wire mesh should be strong and fox-proof as guinea pigs are seen by foxes as prey.
  • All doors should have locks. Depending on how easy it is to open them, it is often advisable to buy additional bolts or padlocks to secure them firmly. Foxes are clever animals and a loose bolt is not difficult for them to open.
  • Good quality build and the wood treated with a pet-friendly preservative to protect it from the weather. It’s also advisable that you treat the wood yourself each year with a water-based preservative to maintain the wood and to keep the hutch in good condition.

Constructing the flatpack hutch

Most hutches come as flatpack items with instructions on how to put them together. You will need to follow the instructions carefully and make sure your hutch is built so that it is strong and robust. If you’re not particularly keen on putting it together yourself, you can usually find someone who puts together flatpack furniture for a living and will charge you just a small fee to do this.

flatpack guinea pig hutch unboxing
Flatpack guinea pig hutch

Protecting the hutch from bad weather

It is important to protect the hutch from all types of weather as guinea pigs can become ill very quickly in the following conditions:

  • Their bedding is damp
  • They are exposed to damp weather
  • They are too cold
  • They are too hot
  • They are exposed to drafts

How to protect the hutch from rain and wind

When it rains, the guinea pig hutch will become wet inside if it is not protected. Even if the hutch is positioned so it is sheltered from the rain, it is still likely to become damp.

It is essential you have some kind of rain cover (also known as a hutch hugger) which you can use for these bad weather days. You can alternatively use tarpaulin. Once put over the hutch, the front can be rolled up or down according to the weather.

How to protect the hutch from heat and cold

A hutch will always be warmer than the outside temperature and heat stroke can easily occur if they overheat.  In hot weather, there are also likely to be flies which can be a real danger and potentially result in a potentially fatal condition called fly strike.

Cold weather is equally dangerous as it can cause pneumonia guinea pigs. Even when it is mildly cold, your guinea pigs will need some protection, as they like the same temperatures as we do.

One way to protect your guinea pigs from both heat and cold is by insulating the hutch. You can insulate the hutch by lining it with insulating wrap but you’ll need to cover this with additional safe boarding so it can’t be nibbled. To protect your guinea pigs from the cold, you could put a blanket over the hutch, but make sure there is enough airflow for them.

There are other ways you can help keep your guinea pigs cool during hot weather and warmer during the cold weather. Check out our articles on “how to keep guinea pigs cool in a heatwave” and “how to keep guinea pigs warm in winter“.

If you can’t find a suitable outdoor hutch or you decide that you’d rather keep your guinea pigs indoors, check out our best indoor cage recommendations.

What are the best toys for guinea pigs 2021?

cute short haired guinea pig

There are many toys you can buy for guinea pigs but not all of them are safe and many are not the kind of toy a guinea pig will play with or use. So we’ve put together this “Best Toys for Guinea Pigs” guide to help you buy the best and most fun boredom breakers for your small pets.

With several guinea pigs of our own, we’ve bought many toys over the past few years. Some have become firm favorites and others were completely ignored and utterly useless.  This article will help you spend your money wisely and find toys that your guinea pigs will love.

Quick links

Do guinea pigs need toys?

Some people will say that guinea pigs don’t need toys and will question whether guinea pigs even play with toys. But these pets are intelligent animals and can become bored if they don’t have enough day to day enrichment opportunities.

Guinea pigs like variety in their lives just as we do and you’ll see evidence of this when you provide them with a new toy (also known as a boredom breaker or boredom buster), providing it is suitable for their needs. 

Our guinea pigs get extremely excited when a new toy arrives in their cage and it’s incredibly rewarding to watch how much they enjoy what we have bought or made for them.

What toys do guinea pigs like best?

Foraging is a natural behavior for a guinea pig and eating is probably a guinea pig’s favorite pastime. These small furries also love to explore. 

Safe toys that involve foraging, eating and exploring can all be a good addition to your guinea pig’s cage and interaction with these toys will enrich their daily lives. 

The 4 main types of toy that your guinea pigs will like the most are:

Treat balls

Treat balls can be filled with a healthy, nutritious treat and your guinea pigs will roll it around the cage in an effort to make the treats fall out. This provides a challenge for them that they will enjoy immensely.

Abyssinian guinea pig playing with the Haypigs Treat Ball
Our guinea pig, Sunny, with the Haypigs Treat Ball

Our guinea pigs have the Haypigs treat ball which is the best quality treat ball we’ve found. As pea flakes are a favorite treat of theirs, we put a few of these inside the ball. You can also slot pieces of fresh veggies in the holes around the ball.

The Haypigs treat ball is one of our guinea pigs favorite toys and is great value as it doesn’t need replacing like many other toys do. All you’ll need to replace are the treats you put inside the ball.

The metal hay balls that are widely available in pet shops and online are NOT suitable for guinea pigs. We’ve heard awful stories of guinea pigs becoming stuck or suffering serious injuries, some fatal, from using these balls so please don’t buy these.

Chew toys

Guinea pigs love to chew and pull things apart so chew toys are a good choice providing they are made of safe and natural materials.

Some of the best chew toys for guinea pigs are available at Small Pet Select whose toys are made from a range of fibrous grasses that are suitable for guinea pigs to eat. 

These fibers are dried and twisted or woven into various shapes such as rings, spirals, sticks and balls. Fiber is an important part of a guinea pig’s diet so these edible toys also contribute to a healthy diet.

It’s important to avoid any chew toys that have some kind of artificial color or flavoring added as these aren’t good for your small pets to ingest.

Hanging toys and mobiles

A chewable hanging toy or mobile adds another dimension of fun and a challenge for your guinea pigs. 

Hanging toys in a guinea pig cage
Guinea pigs love hanging toys

It’s difficult to find good quality hanging toys as many of the ones we tried were either not made with safe enough materials or our guinea pigs were simply not interested in them. 

The toys our guinea pigs loved best were again from Small Pet Select and included those with fresh timothy hay cubes, braided natural grass fibers or mobiles that had a selection of natural woods hanging from them. 

One of our guinea pigs’ favorite hanging toys was the braid mobile which has hay cubes and braided stems from various safe plants .

Tunnels and bridges

Guinea pigs love exploring tunnels or running under bridges and there is a good variety of these toys to choose from that are safe for your guinea pigs.

Fleece tunnel

The Fleece Tunnel from The Piggie Palace on Etsy is a lovely handmade tunnel that your guinea pigs will love to run through and hide in. This works really well with fleece setups.

Haypigs Cavy Cannonball

The Haypigs range of toys and cage accessories are circus themed and their Cavy Cannonball is a fun and colorful cardboard tunnel that sits on a plastic base. 

Abyssinian guinea pig in the Haypigs Circus tunnel
Baileys in the Cavy Cannonball Tunnel

The tunnel tilts as your guinea pig runs through it making it a unique toy compared to all the other many cardboard tunnels that are available for guinea pigs.

To change things up a bit for them, you can stuff hay inside the tunnel to turn it into a forage toy.

The cardboard is safe to chew and if it needs replacing you can buy the cardboard tunnels as separate items without having to replace the plastic stand.

Forage toys

Because guinea pigs love to forage, this kind of toy has always been a popular choice with our guinea pigs.

You could simply buy a favorite forage and mix it in with their hay, add to their pellet food or hide around their cage for them to find. There are several forage toys you can buy but you need to make sure they are safe before giving them to your guinea pigs.

Fleece snuffle and forage mats

A fleece forage mat, also known as a snuffle mat, is usually handmade with lots of secret hiding places where you can hide small pieces of vegetable or favorite treats. Your guinea pig will be able to sniff out the treats and try to retrieve them from their hiding places.

We’ve found that dried forage mixes or pea flakes work really well for guinea pigs in the forage mats. 

When buying a snuffle mat, take care it doesn’t contain glues and that it’s made with safe materials.

Some good forages to try are dandelion forage and dried bell pepper forage.

Are climbing toys good for guinea pigs?

Guinea pigs like big flat spaces and their bodies aren’t made to climb in the way that some other small animals do.

Guinea pigs are able to use a ramp that has a gentle incline to get to a second level in their housing but climbing frames, ladders, bendable bridges or climbing towers are not suitable as toys for your guinea pigs and could cause a serious injury.

Can guinea pigs use exercise balls or wheels?

Guinea pigs have a delicate bone structure and are not built to move in the way necessary to use an exercise ball or wheel.

These exercise toys are extremely dangerous for guinea pigs and they should never be made to use them. If they are made to use these toys, there is a good chance they could end up with fatal injuries.

Are any exercise toys good for guinea pigs?

There is only one good “exercise toy” for your guinea pigs and that is a super large cage. The thing guinea pigs love the most is having space to run around on one level without having to climb.

There is no exercise toy that is good for guinea pigs so for the sake of their health and wellbeing you should always stick to the safe foraging and chew toys like the ones listed above.

DIY toys for guinea pigs (sticks / loo rolls / box tunnel)

There are some DIY toys you can make for your guinea pigs that they may enjoy. Here are some simple ideas for homemade guinea pig toys you might like to try:

  • The cardboard tube of a toilet roll stuffed with hay. You could also hang these in the cage for more of a challenge.
  • A cardboard box (beware of glues or staples though). Make an archway in each opposite side to turn it into a tunnel that will work as a hideout too.
  • Safe branches from apple, pear, birch, hazel or willow trees. You may be able to weave the willow branches into a toy for them too.

What Fruits, Vegetables & Herbs Can Guinea Pigs Eat?

fruit-and-veg-chart

Guinea pigs can eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and herbs with some of their most popular foods being lettuce, kale, parsley, cilantro (coriander), cucumber, carrot, sweet bell peppers, tomato and apple. Our comprehensive guinea pig food list of over 60 fruit and veg tells you how often it is safe to feed these foods to your guinea pigs.

Remember that vegetables (with a little fruit) is just a part of your guinea pig’s daily diet and they also need hay and guinea pig pellet food.

guinea pig fruit and veg sheets pdf
Safe Fruit & Veg Guide – Available to buy, download and print in blue or pink

Guinea Pig Food List

Food nameTypeHow Often?
ApplefruitOccasionally
ApricotfruitOccasionally
Arugula / Rocket Salad vegA few times a week
AsparagusvegOccasionally
BananafruitOccasionally
BasilherbCouple of times a week
Beet GreensvegOccasionally
BeetrootvegCouple of times a week
BlueberriesfruitOccasionally
Bok Choy (Pak Choi)vegA few times a week
BroccolivegOccasionally
Brussels SproutsvegOccasionally
Butternut SquashvegOccasionally
Cabbage (red/white/Savoy)vegOccasionally
CarrotsvegA few times a week
CauliflowervegOccasionally
Cauliflower leavesvegA few times a week
CeleriacvegCouple of times a week
Celery Stalks (and leaves)vegCouple of times a week
CherriesfruitOccasionally
Cilantro / CorianderherbA few times a week
Collard GreensvegCouple of times a week
Corn on the Cob / Baby CornvegCouple of times a week
CranberriesfruitOccasionally
Cress (garden cress)herbA few times a week
CucumbervegA few times a week
Dandelion Leaves (greens) & FlowersforageCouple of times a week
DillherbCouple of times a week
FennelvegOccasionally
Grapes (white/red)fruitOccasionally
Green beans (french beans)vegCouple of times a week
KalevegA few times a week
Kiwi FruitfruitOccasionally
KohlrabivegCouple of times a week
Lambs LettucevegCouple of times a week
Lettuce (Romaine/Cos/Butterhead/Red/Green LeafvegA few times a week
MangofruitOccasionally
Melon (all varieties)fruitOccasionally
MintherbCouple of times a week
NectarinefruitOccasionally
OrangesfruitOccasionally
PapayafruitOccasionally
ParsleyherbCouple of times a week
ParsnipvegOccasionally
PeachfruitOccasionally
PearfruitOccasionally
PeasvegCouple of times a week
Peppers (Sweet Bell – all colors)vegA few times a week
PineapplefruitOccasionally
PumpkinvegOccasionally
RadichiovegA few times a week
RadishvegOccasionally
RaspberriesfruitOccasionally
Rutabaga / SwedevegOccasionally
SpinachvegOccasionally
StrawberriesfruitOccasionally
Sweet PotatovegOccasionally
Swiss ChardvegA few times a week
ThymeherbCouple of times a week
TomatovegCouple of times a week
TurnipvegCouple of times a week
Turnip GreensvegCouple of times a week
WatercressvegCouple of times a week
Zucchini / CourgettevegCouple of times a week
Buy and download our full color printable safe food sheets here….

What vegetables can guinea pigs eat daily?

Guinea pigs can eat foods such as Romaine lettuce, sweet bell peppers, kale, cucumber and cilantro every day and some other green leafy vegetables too.

But it’s better to change the veggies as much as you can from day to day, so feed your guinea pig as much variety as possible rather than giving them a lot of one or two vegetables.

Mixing several vegetables in their daily fresh food portion helps your guinea pigs get a good range of vitamins rather than a lot of a select few nutrients. This will contribute to them staying strong and healthy for longer.

How much veg should guinea pigs eat daily?

About cup of vegetables is a good amount of fresh food for a daily portion for one guinea pig. This is not always easy to judge when you have lots of leaves so a little more is fine.

Guinea pigs tend to stop eating when they’ve had enough so after a few minutes, remove whatever veggies are left so it doesn’t attract flies or go bad. If you find they are leaving a lot each day, you’re probably feeding too much. If they are eating it very quickly and seem to be looking for more, give them a slightly larger portion.

You can feed them once a day or split the portion in two so they have one in the morning and one in the evening.

How much fruit can a guinea pig eat?

Fruit is high in sugar so your guinea pig’s fresh food should consist mainly of vegetables with the odd small piece of fruit now and again. We recommend a small piece of fruit about the size of one or two grapes each day at the very most, but it’s better not to feed them fruit on a daily basis.

A diet that is too high in fruit can cause diarrhea and may lead to obesity which can cause other health problems in your guinea pig.

What are the best greens for guinea pigs?

Green leafy vegetables are extremely important in a guinea pig’s diet. Some of the best greens and the ones they tend to like best are Romaine lettuce, green and red leaf lettuce, spring greens, kale, various herbs including mint, parsley, cilantro (coriander) and basil.

You can also feed your guinea pigs safe weeds and wild plants that you have foraged. Favorite forages with our guinea pigs are sow thistle and dandelion leaves and flowers.

Do guinea pigs need vitamin C?

Guinea pigs need plenty of vitamin C in their diet to keep healthy, as their bodies can’t make this vitamin by itself.

Some pet stores will tell you they need vitamin C supplements but these are usually unnecessary. Your guinea pigs should get plenty of this nutrient from their daily fresh fruit and vegetables. However, if they aren’t eating fruit and veg properly for whatever reason, it may be necessary to give a supplement.

Sweet peppers (especially yellow ones), kale, thyme, parsley and dill are all safe foods for your guinea pigs and great sources of vitamin C.

Can guinea pigs eat frozen fruit and veg?

Frozen fruits or vegetables are not suitable for guinea pigs and neither is tinned or canned food. If you can’t get fresh veggies for whatever reason, see if you can forage for safe plants or weeds. You may be surprised how many of these are growing around where you live.

Lychee eating some Shepherds Purse

Tips on feeding your guinea pigs fresh fruit and veggies

  • Feed 1-2 cups a day of fresh food (can be foraged safe weeds or vegetables and occasional fruit)
  • Don’t feed Iceberg lettuce as it has little nutritional content
  • Fruit should be given in very small quantities and not too often
  • Always wash fruit & vegetables thoroughly in case they have any pesticides etc on them
  • Introduce new foods slowly in small amounts to avoid tummy troubles
  • Persist with foods they don’t like at first as they can be fussy with new tastes
  • Always check the food you’re giving is safe for your piggies to eat
  • Vary their fresh food for a good nutritionally balanced diet

What other foods do guinea pigs eat?

Apart from fresh vegetables, guinea pigs also need unlimited amounts of grass hay at all times and a small daily portion of special guinea pig pellets. It’s important that guinea pigs are NEVER given a diet of JUST fruit and vegetables but a good balanced diet.

guinea pig eating hay from a fleece hay feeder
Hay is the most important part of a guinea pig’s diet

Check out our full color printable pdf download of fruit and vegetables that will help you on a daily basis to find the best fresh food for your guinea pigs.

Guinea Pig Care Sheets & Checklists

baby guinea pig in girl's hand

Having guinea pigs brings additional work and there are a few regular tasks you’ll need to do to make sure your piggies are well cared for. 

We’ve designed and created a printable pdf download of 12 care sheets in both pink and blue to help you (or your kids) keep on track with daily, weekly and monthly jobs as well as keeping records of their health and medical information.

Some of the routine tasks you’ll need to do on a regular basis are feeding (3 types of food), cleaning, grooming and keeping a check on their general health.

Set of Guinea Pig Care Sheets in Pink to download and print (pdf)
Guinea Pig Care Sheets in Pink

We’ve included everything you need in our set of 12 care sheets to help you keep organized with checklists, record sheets and information sheets for you to fill in. They include

  • ABOUT ME: Add you guinea pig’s name, birthday, adoption date and a photograph of them
  • SAFE FRUIT & VEG: A quick guide to some of the safe fruit and veg your guinea pigs can eat (we have a more comprehensive guide here…)
  • DAILY CHECKLIST: All the daily tasks on one sheet that you can tick off as you complete them. 
  • VET INFORMATION: Fill in your vet contact info including  phone number, address, email, website and opening hours so you can get hold of them quickly in an emergency.
  • BOARDING INFORMATION: This is the same as the vet information but for boarding so you have the information to hand when you need it..
  • SYMPTOMS OF ILLNESS: Some of the symptoms you need to look out for to make sure you get them treatment when they need it.
  • VET & BOARDING APPOINTMENTS: Keep track of any appointments you need to make for your guinea pigs
  • SHOPPING LIST: Jot down your guinea pig shopping so you never run out of food, chew toys, treats  etc.
  • HEALTH RECORD: Note any health issues and the date when this occurred.
  • MEDICATION: If they need medication,  you can note down the name of the medication and what it’s for, how much and how often to give it. You can also fill in the date and time given so you don’t forget if you’ve already done it.
  • WEIGHT CHART: Guinea pigs can lose weight fast if they’re ill so keeping a record of their weight on a regular basis could help you spot something early and prevent them getting severely ill.
  • NAIL CUTTING: Your guinea pig will need their nails cut every 2-4 weeks depending on  how fast they grow. Keep a record of each time they have them cut so they don’t get  too long.

Buy the care sheets in pink… or Buy the care sheets in blue…

For adults and kids

Adults, and especially parents, are usually extremely busy people so having record sheets and checklists can really help keep organized. As a parent of 4 children myself (now grown up.. phew!), checklists have always helped immensely with getting things done on time without being forgotten.

Perfect for keeping track of all my piggies health and well being. 

Ashley

These care sheets may be a lifesaver for busy adults/parents but also a great learning tool for kids too.

Promoting responsibility in kids

When caring for a pet, recording information and ticking off completed tasks is something that can help children feel a sense of achievement and purpose.

A reward system for younger children can work really well. Rewarding them with a star for each completed task can be a great motivator, especially if there is a bigger treat once a certain number of stars have been given.

Guinea pigs are not what you would call “starter pets” as their care is quite involved and will require lots of input from a parent or carer. However, if you have very young children, perhaps you can do the tasks together (it may mostly be you doing the work but it gets the habit in place!) and get your child to tick the boxes once a task is complete. This will teach them from a young age the importance of caring for animals and the responsibilities it brings.

What a fab idea, perfect for keeping my children organized with the care of our fur babies

Anna

Parents always need to be the ones ultimately responsible for the guinea pigs as children, even older teenagers, do sometimes get bored of certain tasks. But we hope the care sheets will help come some way to help them feel a sense of duty and responsibility towards their pets in a positive way and that it will help you as a parent in getting the jobs done in a more stress-free way!

Buy a pack of care sheets and download instantly

Our care sheets are available in pink or blue and come as an instantly downloadable pdf that you can print out at home. There are 12 care sheets in each pack and you may print them out as many times as you want for your own use.

Buy the care sheets in pink… or Buy the care sheets in blue…

C&C Cages for Guinea Pigs

four guinea pigs in a row

Quick Links

What is a C and C Cage

C&C cages are modular indoor guinea pig cages where you buy the separate components and fit them together to build your guinea pig cage. This enables you to make a cage the size that suits the number of guinea pigs you have and in a configuration that fits your space. 

This type of DIY cage is very popular in the guinea pig community as it allows for a huge variety of customizations for creative guinea pig owners.

What does C and C stand for?

“C&C” stands for Cubes and Coroplast. Cubes are the grids (or panels) that fit together with special four-way connectors. Although sold as a set of storage cubes, these cubes are multi-functional and this is what many guinea pig owners use to easily build their cage. Coroplast, also known as correx, is the plastic sheeting required that makes a base for your cage.

What do I need to make a C and C cage?

To make a C&C cage you’ll need grids, connectors and coroplast. Zip ties are also really useful to make the structure more secure and are necessary for more complex cages that include lofts or lids. 

Modular C&C cage for guinea pigs with a coroplast insert
C&C cage with coroplast insert

Which C&C grids should I buy?

It is important that you buy grids that are safe for your guinea pigs. The C&C grids you need for your guinea pig cage are the 9×9 square panels which measure about 14 inches or 35.5cm with a 1.4 inch or 3.5cm gap in each square. Grids with a smaller gap are also safe.

These grids will form the main structure of your cage.

Grids that have less squares across the grid and larger gaps can be dangerous for guinea pigs because they can get their heads stuck in the holes. Baby guinea pigs may also be able to escape from these unsafe grids too. Even with the safe grids, you should ensure, if you have baby guinea pigs, that there is no risk of them getting stuck or escaping.

C and C connectors

To join the grids together, you’ll need the four-way C&C connectors. You’ll get a number of these with the grid cubes but you may need more depending on your cage design. These are easy to connect and simply push and click into place. However, some people bypass the connectors and just use zip ties to join their grids. Using both connectors and zip ties gives a much stronger structure.

C&C Cage Connector
C&C cage connector

The grids we recommend come with a number of connectors but, depending on the cage size you require, you may need additional packs of connectors.

Coroplast sheets (or Correx)

Guinea pigs need a smooth base in their cage and should never be on a wire cage floor. Correx is a smooth plastic sheeting which is easy to cut to size and will form the base of your C&C cage.

This will form a kind of box which sits inside the cage frame and will help prevent bedding and hay spilling out of the cage. 

C and C Cage Sizes

When people talk about C&C cage sizes, they will be referred to by number of grids rather than the length and width of the cage in centimeters or inches. 

The table below will help you work out the minimum cage size you need for the number of guinea pigs you have. The more guinea pigs you have, the bigger your cage will need to be and we recommend going up a cage size to ensure your pets have plenty of room. This is because too little cage space can result in guinea pigs fighting and a larger cage will give them a much better quality of life. You can find out more about the minimum and preferred cage sizes here…

No. Guinea PigsCage in ft2Cage Size
(width x length)
Grids
1-27.5ft227″ x 41″2 x 3
2-310.8ft227″ x 56″2 x 4
3-413ft227″ x 70″2 x 5
4-516ft227″ x 85″2 x 6
Minimum Cage Size for Number of Guinea Pigs

What you need to buy for different C&C cage sizes

You can buy all the C&C cage components online and we’ve linked to the ones that are both safe and good value below. The cage plans are optional but will help assist you with the cage build and they also include measurements on how to cut the coroplast to make the base.

You can alternatively buy the full kits which come with everything you need. These C&C kits are more expensive than buying the separate materials but they are easier to put together.

2×3 C&C cage 

For a 2×3 grid C&C cage, you’ll need 10 grids and 20 connectors plus a piece of coroplast measuring 40″ x 54″.

Shopping list for 2×3 cage

2×4 C&C cage (recommended size for 2 guinea pigs)

For a 2×4 grid C&C cage, you’ll need 12 grids and 24 connectors plus a piece of coroplast measuring 40″ x 68″.

2×5 C&C cage (for 2-4 guinea pigs)

For a 2×5 grid C&C cage, you’ll need 14 grids and 28 connectors plus a piece of coroplast measuring 40″ x 83″.

2×6 C&C cage (for 2-5 guinea pigs)

For a 2×6 grid C&C cage, you’ll need 16 grids and 32 connectors plus a piece of coroplast measuring 40″ x 96″.

How to make a C&C cage step by step

Here are some step by step instructions on how to build a C&C cage for your guinea pigs. 

  • Build the sides to the desired shape and size by connecting your grid panels using the connectors top and bottom.
  • Measure the interior of your cage but leave a little space to ensure it’s not too tight a fit.
  • Add 12″ to the width and length you have measured (to allow for the sides) . This is the size you will need your coroplast to be.
  • If you have smaller coroplast sheets rather than one big sheet, you may need to use some clear packing tape to stick them together at this stage to give you the desired size.
  • Using a strong, sharp pair of scissors,  cut your coroplast taking into account the additional 6″ you need to add as mentioned above.
  • With a marker pen, draw a line on each side of the coroplast 6″ in from the edge.
  • Score the marked lines with a craft knife making sure you don’t cut all the way through.
  • On just two of the opposite sides, cut along the vertical lines which you marked and scored – this will enable you to fold the sides up into a box.
  • Secure the flaps behind the sides with clear packing tape. Make sure this is on the outside so your guinea pigs can’t chew the tape.
  • Place the coroplast box inside your cage.
  • You’ve now completed the cage and are ready to add the bedding.

How to make a hinged lid for your C&C cage

Making a lid for a one-level C&C cage is really easy. All you need is grids, connectors and lots of zip ties.

A hinged lid is ideal as it allows easy access to your guinea pigs but you want to make sure it’s made safe and secure so there is no chance of it collapsing into the cage and on to your piggies.

Watch the video below on how to make a safe hinged lid for a 2×4 C&C cage.  It’s easy to adapt for a 2×3, 2×5 or 2×6 cage simply by using more or less grids.

How to make a C&C cage loft and ramp (fits 2×4, 2×5, 2×6)

Creating a loft in your C&C cage will provide your guinea pigs with additional space which could be made into an eating or sleeping area to allow more room on the lower level for them to exercise.

We’ve put together a step by step video on how to make a 2×1 loft for any cage that is 2 grids deep and at least 4 grids long. This follows on from our previous video on how to build  a 2×4 cage which you’ll need to watch first.

Tips on making a C and C cage ramp

It’s important the cage ramp is secure and solid because you don’t want it to collapse when your guinea pig is using it. Another important factor to bear in mind is how to make the ramp so it’s easy to clean.

We recommend building the cage ramp with C&C grids and coroplast for super strength.

A guinea pig won’t be able to use a coroplast ramp unless it has some kind of covering that their feet can grip on to.

We’ve seen carpet glued to coroplast ramps in an effort to make them more usable for the guinea pigs. But this isn’t very hygienic as they will pee and poop on the ramp. The ramp cover needs to be washable.

You could make a fleece cover but it would need some thickness to it because the ramp will still be too slippery to use, unless it is extremely shallow.

A folded up towel cut into the right dimensions works really well and is easy to remove and wash too. Covering the sides of the ramp will also protect the coroplast from getting chewed as well.

It’s important that you use a large piece of towel that you can fold about 4 times. This is what gives it plenty of grip and makes it a lot easier for your guinea pigs to use.

You’ll need to make sure the towel is tucked under the fleece liner in the loft space to keep it in place. If you’re not using fleece liner you may be able to clip it to the sides of the ramp with strong bulldog clips.

What do I need to make a 2×4 C&C cage with loft and ramp

How to make a base, stand plus storage for your C&C Cage

There are  several reasons a stand is useful:

  • The piggies feel safer when raised above floor level, especially if there are other pets in the house
  • It is much easier to clean the cage when it is at a higher level
  • You can organize all your guinea pig supplies and have them on hand by storing them underneath the cage

In our video below, we show you how you can add a base and a stand which also acts as storage for all your guinea pig supplies. Our video shows a 2×4 cage but the same method works for any sized cage.

C&C cage liners

Once you’ve made your C&C cage, you’ll need to add some bedding.

Many C&C guinea pig cages are lined with fleece liners and you can buy them ready made to the exact size you need in many different designs and colors. Here are some of our favorites:

If you prefer a more traditional disposable bedding, you could use any of the following:

Do I need a top for the C&C cage?

Most C&C cages don’t have tops. This is really good as it allows for plenty of interaction with your guinea pigs than with a traditional cage which will usually have a built in lid.

However if you have other pets you’ll need to make a top to keep them safe.

Are C&C cages safe for baby guinea pigs?

If you are planning on adopting baby guinea pigs or you have a pregnant guinea pig you need to be very careful to ensure they can’t get their heads stuck between the bars as baby guinea pigs are very small.

You could make your coroplast base with much higher sides to get around this problem until they are a bit older. Once your guinea pigs are a bit bigger you could cut the sides down a bit shorter.

How to stop your guinea pig chewing the coroplast

Sometimes guinea pigs will chew on the coroplast. To prevent them from doing this you can cut some pieces of fleece to put over the edges. This also helps brighten up the coroplast and can look really funky if you use different patterns and colors!

Alternatively you can get some slide binders to cover the tops of the coroplast.

Extra large C&C cages means happy guinea pigs!

Space is really important for guinea pigs. The more space you can offer them the happier they will be. 

Making a C&C modular cage means you can build a much bigger cage than those you’ll find for sale in the pet shops. This also allows more scope for you to have more guinea pigs, which can be more work, but great fun too!