If you’re getting guinea pigs, one of the most important points you’ll need to consider is how and where to house them. One of the biggest decisions is whether you’ll keep them inside or outside. But you’ll also need to find suitable accommodation for your guinea pigs which meets their needs.
A guinea pig’s health and safety must be a priority when deciding where and how to house these small, adorable pets.
Guinea pigs can live outside but only if the environment is safe for them. There are many things to think about before choosing to house your guinea pigs outside including the weather, predators and other dangers, their health and care, cleaning and expense.
Your country or location may not be somewhere that allows for your guinea pigs to be safely housed outside whether it is because of the extreme weather, predators or other factors.
If you do choose to house your guinea pigs outdoors, you may need to have a backup indoor housing option for the occasions when there is more extreme weather.
Depending on the country and type of area you live in, there could be a number of potential predators that may harm outdoor guinea pigs.
Foxes, snakes and rats are common animals that pose a risk. It’s important the hutch you buy is really solid, with fox-proof wire, and that the housing is kept in good condition, with no wood rot or holes.
Flies are also a risk to outdoor guinea pigs as they can cause a nasty condition called flystrike which is often deadly. Keeping the cage clean will help reduce the risk of flystrike but you can also buy fly screens that fit over a hutch.
Other points to consider before choosing to house your guinea pigs outdoors are:
A large hutch is the most common choice when it comes to outdoor housing for guinea pigs. But there are several other options you may like to consider too.
Some guinea pig owners have set up whole sheds or outbuildings for their small pets with some amazing setups. These are great providing they are safe and secure and that the guinea pigs are well cared for.
Another idea for your guinea pig’s outdoor housing is a wooden Wendy house or playhouse. These attractive houses don’t usually take up as much room as a shed but can offer more space than most hutches as well as giving plenty of natural light.
Outbuildings including a shed, garage, a stone built or brick built structure may all be used for guinea pigs but ONLY if they meet the following requirements:
A guinea pig should NEVER be housed in a greenhouse or glasshouse as these types of buildings are much too hot for them.
A guinea pig’s outdoor hutch should be positioned away from draughts, out of direct sunlight and in as sheltered a position as possible.
It’s a good idea to raise the hutch off ground level. This gives them added safety from predators, and also helps prevent the wood on the base of the hutch from getting soaked in wet weather, which could lead to it rotting.
We believe guinea pigs are better if they are housed indoors as there are less dangers, you can interact with them more, and the temperature is less likely to change so much in the extreme.
However, you will need to make sure this is a suitable option for you and your whole family too. Here are some things to be mindful of:
Although many dogs and cats get on well with guinea pigs, this is not always the case.
Because guinea pigs are prey animals, a dog that shows threatening behavior towards a caged guinea pig could be very stressful for them. Even a very excited or a noisy dog next to their cage could be quite a scary thing for such a small and vulnerable pet.
A cage that is raised off the floor can help your guinea pigs feel safer. But if you think your dog or another pet is likely to cause undue stress to your guinea pigs, housing them outside may be a better option if you can provide them with a safe outdoor environment.
You will also need a run (preferably outdoors in good weather) so they have a larger space to exercise. We recommend 6ft runs if you can find these, as these provide a good large space for these active pets to exercise.
Not everyone has this sort of space available in their home. And choosing a smaller cage due to lack of space shouldn’t be an option because this will compromise the welfare of your guinea pigs. They may end up fighting or they can become extremely depressed if they don’t have enough space.
Before you decide to house your guinea pigs indoors, you should check if any member of your family has an allergy to the following:
Other things to consider when deciding whether to house your guinea pigs indoors are:
An indoor cage should not be in direct sunlight and preferably be raised off the floor. Simple IKEA tables are great for this. We recommend the “Lack” table as it is relatively cheap.
Guinea pigs will chew through electrical cables and wires so make sure there are none of these within nibbling reach of them.
Conservatories can become very hot so it’s not a good idea to put the guinea pig cage in a conservatory or a sun room.
Housing your guinea pigs in a room where you get to see them often is ideal because you will interact with them and enjoy them more than if they are in a room that is seldom visited.
A guinea pig needs a lot of space and at least 120cm x 60cm (4ft x 2ft) for a pair although we recommend getting a 150cm x 60cm (5ft x 2ft) cage if you have the space. You can find out more about cage sizes for the number of guinea pigs on our “What size cage does a guinea pig need?” page.
The type of housing you choose will depend largely on whether your guinea pigs are going to be indoors our outdoors.
An outdoor guinea pig will need a strong wooden hutch whereas indoor guinea pigs can have a cage. An indoor cage can even have an open top providing you don’t have other pets in your home. This is a great option as it allows for more interaction with your guinea pigs and makes it easier to tame them.
You may want to check out the following housing options:
Once you’ve decided whether you’re going to get an indoor cage or outdoor hutch, there are some cage accessories you’ll need to buy. We’ve put together a starter kit list with some recommendations on what to buy for your guinea pigs but here are some of the very basics:
It is helpful to know what temperatures are too cold or too hot for guinea pigs so you can make sure your small pets don’t suffer the horrible symptoms from temperatures that are not suited to them.
In fact, guinea pigs like similar temperatures to us.The RSPCA in the UK recommends an ideal room or hutch temperature of 17-20°C (62-68°F) for guinea pigs and the Humane Society of the United States recommend a slightly broader temperature range of 65-75°F (18-24°C).
Despite the fact that they have a full coat of hair, guinea pigs will get cold if they are in temperatures that are too low. This is why we recommend keeping them indoors as you can more easily control the temperature in your home.
If the room or hutch temperature is below 15°C (59°F), guinea pigs can become cold. If it is too cold, it is important to look at ways you can keep your guinea pigs warm to keep them comfortable and prevent them from becoming ill.
But if the weather becomes very cold and a safe hutch temperature can’t be maintained, your guinea pigs will need to be brought indoors.
If the temperature in your guinea pig’s hutch goes above 26°C (79°F), they can get heatstroke. This condition is incredibly dangerous and often fatal, so you’ll need to look at ways to keep your guinea pigs cool.
If the weather is extremely hot and there is nothing you can do to bring the hutch temperature down, you will need to bring them indoors where it is cooler and safer for them.
It may be worth putting a safe thermometer in an outdoor hutch so you can monitor the temperature. This is because, on a hot day, an outdoor hutch may be considerably hotter than the air temperature outside the hutch.
Guinea pigs should never be housed with a rabbit, hamster, rat or any other kind of pet.
Although it may seem like your rabbit gets along fine with your guinea pigs, there are some real dangers and good reasons not to house them together:
We always recommend you keep a pair of guinea pigs rather than a singleton as they are social animals and they need a companion of their own kind.