Posted on March 5, 2021 by Monique Hanford
The best guinea pig runs and playpens will offer plenty of space for your guinea pigs to exercise and run around. These enclosures must also be secure, providing a safe environment for your small pets to play.
Most indoor guinea pig playpens are not big enough as a run, but there are pens you can buy which you can extend by joining together. Two of the Small Pets Playpens make a really good sized play area for your guinea pigs.
You can also adapt the shape of these pens to fit the space you have in your home. They can be made into a large square, long rectangle or a more circular shape.
This pen doesn’t have a top, so you’ll need to make sure your guinea pigs are safe from other pets while they’re in the enclosure.
These paneled pens are also a little flimsier than the more solid wooden outdoor runs, but they’re quick and easy to put together and are fine for indoors. If you want to make them a little sturdier, you could put a couple of hideouts in the corners which will give more stability.
Alternatively you could use C&C grids to make an indoor run. These make a really good sturdy indoor pen. But they are more fiddly to put up than the ones recommended above as you’ll need to fit all the connectors each time you put it up, unless you’re going to have the pen set up on a permanent basis in your home.
But these folding pens don’t usually offer any more space than your guinea pigs should have in their regular housing, and neither can they be extended to make a larger play area, so there is no benefit in using a pop up pen as a run.
We always recommend a run for guinea pigs, but there are some instances where it is not absolutely essential for a guinea pig to have an additional run or playpen:
However, guinea pigs still benefit from spending time outdoors even if they do have plenty of space in their everyday environment, so we do recommend giving them some run time in the fresh air if the weather is good.
Giving your guinea pigs the opportunity to have fresh air and natural light is always going to beat exercising indoors but this isn’t always possible if the weather is very hot, too cold or if it is raining.
Having some run time outdoors gives your guinea pigs the opportunity to get some extra Vitamin D from the sunlight which is beneficial to them as it helps maintain healthy bones and teeth.
We recommend having a run that offers your guinea pigs at least 15 square ft of play area. So a run measuring 5x3ft would be a big enough play area for your guinea pigs.
However, if you have enough room in your outdoor area, try and provide them with a larger run because that extra space will be even better for them.
Guinea pigs should NEVER be left in an outdoor run overnight or after dark. They will become scared and are more vulnerable to predators such as foxes that are more likely to venture out at night time.
An outdoor run should always have a top unless you are out with your guinea pigs and watching them the whole time.
A run will have sides that are high enough that your guinea pig can’t escape. They rarely jump anyway, but predators such as a cat, dog, fox, rat, or even a bird such as a hawk or a gull will be able to get at them if there is no roof.
Even if you don’t think there are any potential predators around, it is never worth the risk to leave it open.
A run is no substitute for an outdoor hutch because it is not safe enough and offers little protection from weather and predators. A run is a very exposed enclosure whereas a hutch is much more enclosed, solid, safe and cozy for a guinea pig.
You can buy hutch and run combinations that allow your guinea pig the freedom to exercise in the larger run area as and when they want to. However, most of the combos available don’t offer enough space in the hutch area and the ramp is often too steep for guinea pigs to use so you need to be extremely careful when choosing one of these.
Hutch and run combinations should also have a door that can be closed during the night for their safety.
It’s important your guinea pigs have shade and that they don’t become too hot or too cold. Part of the run should be covered in case of rain and to protect them from the sun. You can either buy one that has a covered area, buy a cover for your run or cover part of it with some kind of material to provide shade.
Make sure there is no poisonous vegetation growing within nibbling reach and always place the run on a level surface to ensure there are no gaps through which they might escape.
Guinea pigs can be outside all day, during daylight hours, in a run, providing they are safe and the weather is suitable.
The best way to protect the floor in your home is by placing a large sheet of tarpaulin under the run. You can then put fleece over the tarpaulin which gives a good soft surface for your guinea pigs to run around on. If you have fleece liners, this would also be a really good option too.
We’ve designed some helpful care sheets including checklists and record sheets that will help you keep organised and up to date with the care of your guinea pigs…Find out more...