The 4 Types of Guinea Pig Cages
Looking for the most suitable housing for Guinea pigs can be stressful and confusing because of the different opinions and preferences among cavy parents and experts.
Due to their natural social and active characteristics, the cage standards set by the Humane Society of the United States require every owner to provide a spacious and comfortable home for their pets.
However, the more cavies you have, the bigger the cage you should get.
To help you decide, we’ll be going through the 4 different types of Guinea pig cages, the right measurements, and all the relevant information you need to know.
Location: Indoor or Outdoor Cages?
First off, before buying or building a cage for your Guinea pigs, you need to consider where you are going to keep them in your house. Whatever option you choose, make sure to check the standards of the living conditions for Guinea pigs while ensuring and maintaining a comfortable home for you and your family together with your cavies.
If you want to keep your cavies outdoors, choose an area in your backyard or garden that can be ideal for their comfort and shelter. It is also crucial to remember not to put their cages on direct sunlight and areas that will expose them to the wind and rain and other elements and predators such as feral cats, raccoons, opossums, and raptors.
Outdoor cages can be an ideal option if you have a large, open backyard where you always hang out with friends and family. As long as you have high fences built, especially if there are trees in and around the yard, Guinea pigs should be safe and protected well enough.
Keeping them indoors, on the other hand, can be more beneficial for your furry little friends. Being social creatures that they are, they want to feel that they’re always involved with you or your family’s activities. However, just because you kept them indoors doesn’t mean they’re safe from other predators, especially if you have a cat.
As a pet parent, you should be aware that Guinea pigs are prey animals by nature. Cats, on the other hand, are natural born predators – whether they are domesticated or feral. When keeping both pets, it is best that you ensure that your cats learn to live with your Guinea pigs to avoid any untoward incidents.
Types of Cages
1. Glass Aquariums
Aquariums have been one of the primary choices among small pet owners for a long time. Although, they may be ideal for hamsters and other smaller rodents, the same cannot be applied when it comes to Guinea pigs. Yes, aquariums can be inexpensive and readily available but buying one for your cavies might not be the best choice.
One look at aquariums, you might initially think that it can provide a secure and safe place for your pet because of its solid build (unless it falls off the ground) and enclosed feature. These advantages that you may see as acceptable can be the same factors that prove to be a challenge for you and your pets.
One of their disadvantages is the size. Since Guinea pigs can grow up to 20 – 30 cm (8 – 12 inches) – much bigger than the size of a mature hamster, they will require bigger and more spacious living areas.
You may be able to see a 20 to 30-gallon aquarium at your local pet store and it may be enough for a fully grown Syrian hamster. But it’s far from being enough for a mature Guinea pig. Unless you have space for a 50-75 gallon aquarium in your house, then you’re better off from getting one for your cavies.
2. Multi-level Cages
As mentioned, Guinea pigs are very active and social creatures. Because of this, they will require comfortable, open spaces where they can wander and play around with their cage mates. Multi-level cages offer this kind of living environment and it can save you a lot of space if you think about keeping them indoors.
However, some Guinea pigs might not enjoy the idea of climbing up levels in their living environments.
Although some small pet animals don’t mind the idea of climbing, Guinea pigs tend to be more comfortable on large, flat surfaces. Cavies can be afraid of heights and they can be frightened of climbing even on low ramps especially when you put them in this type of cage for the first time.
Make sure to watch and carefully observe your pets in their multi-level cages. Some owners help their Guinea pigs by gently putting them on higher levels to make them feel comfortable and well adapted. Once they get acclimated to the idea of climbing and going in and out of tunnels to go up and down to each level of their cages, they will think of this as a form of entertainment which in turn can be a great thing for them.
3. C&C Cages
Perhaps the best Guinea Pig housing option out there today, Cubes and Coroplast cages, or C&C for short, have been the preferred choice of most Guinea pig owners and enthusiast. The idea of these cages is that cavy parents can customize the housing design the way they see fit. They are well-known for their numerous benefits such as being easy to clean, easy to assemble, and aesthetically appealing that you will surely love.
When you decide to go for the C&C cage, you should consider the requirements and the generally accepted standards to be able to maximize the benefits of having one. Since C&C cages come in typical large sizes, they are suitable if you have two or more piggies.
There are a lot of advantages to C&C cages. However, you need to look at some of the drawbacks that come with them. One problem you might face with C&C cages is that they require a substantial amount of space where they will be put up.
This will be particularly complicated if you’re mindful about managing the space at your home where you might face troubles when it comes to where to put the cage.
Sure, these cages may provide a large and comfortable living area for your cavies, but they will also cost a significant amount of space for your home. And because of this, coupled with the fact that they are composed of different parts put together, moving them can be challenging so make sure you build them only to where you decide to keep them stationary for a long time.
Lastly, building C&C cages can be a little expensive compared to buying the traditional pet store cages and making other homemade hutches. Also, corrugated plastic may be hard to find.
4. Wooden Hutches
If you are looking into bringing your cavies a little “closer” to nature, then you need to have a sturdy and durable housing that will protect them from the harsh elements of the outside world. Wooden hutches are a great option if you’re looking for a project that you can do by yourself or buy at a reasonable price.
Many people are against the idea of keeping Guinea pigs outside. If you’re living in places where the temperature gets unpredictable or if there are a lot of wild, predatory animals near you, it can be dangerous for your cavies. However, keeping them outside brings advantages as well.
One of these and probably one of the most important advantages of all is sanitation. Since cleaning their cages requires you to remove some nasty stuff like their poops and some food leftovers, having an outdoor hutch can help you clean the cage efficiently and conveniently.
Also, keeping Guinea pigs outside can make a more comfortable environment for frequent visitors, friends or any family members who may have developed allergies from animal hair or fur.
The first thing that you should inspect and consider when buying a cage is the material. Guinea pigs like to chew and they don’t discriminate different materials. Because of this, they may end up getting injured or poisoned by munching on or unintentionally ingesting harmful and toxic materials.
Always go for safe and durable materials when shopping for cages or when buying materials when you decide to build one.
- General Measurement Requirement
For one cavy, the minimum recommended size should be at least 7.5 square feet. That should be a cage with the dimension of 30” x 36”. If you have two or more Guinea pigs, you should get a bigger size of at least 9 – 11 square feet or add 2 to 4 square feet per additional cavy. A cage with the dimension of 30” x 76” is generally the acceptable size for three to four Guinea pigs.
When thinking about the size of the cage, it is important to remember that bigger is always better.
For outdoor (or indoor) hutches, the wood materials you should be looking for are fruitwood, lumber, willow, and vines. These wood materials are proven to be excellent for small pet animals. So much so that they are the chosen materials for chew toys, beddings, and other pre-made cages.
On the other hand, avoid cedar, pinewood, and sawdust as these materials can cause irritation, respiratory problems, and other potential illness to your cavies.
- C&C cages
When building a C&C cage, you should be looking for the following materials as the fundamental requirements:
- Coroplast sheet. The corrugated plastic is a material commonly used for signs. It has a texture and appearance similar to cardboard but is more durable and waterproof.
- A box of coated wire grid cubes. You can find this material at any Walmart or Target and also online. Make sure that each cube grid square has nine holes.
- Other DIY project tools. Box cutter, scissors, pen or pencil, measuring tape, and lots of zip ties.
- Bedding and Nesting Materials
There are a lot of choices when it comes to Guinea pig bedding and nesting materials, and each has their pros and cons. When choosing the right one, make sure to do your research and make sure to get the one with fewer risks.
Among all the other choices, fleece stands out for its versatility and overall usefulness. Although you may have to wash it regularly, it’s easy to clean, comfortable, and cheaper as you can reuse a sheet over and over again – provided that you maintain it when needed.
Other options include wood shavings, scented paper shedding, cloth bedding, and padding.
- Toys and Equipment
One way to ensure that they enjoy their stay in their cages is providing them with toys and equipment. Since Guinea pigs are very active creatures, providing them with toys will keep their minds and bodies stimulated and entertained. Small balls, tunnel tubes, low ramps, and chew toys are excellent choices you can provide for your cavies.
Along with toys for entertainment, you should also consider adding features like water tubes and food trays that are easy to install and access for stress-free cleaning and maintenance.
- Other requirements
As previously mentioned, check the material of the cage and its durability. As much as possible, spend the time to research and look for weatherproof, waterproof, and high-quality plastic and wood. When deciding which option is better, go for DIY cages as you can check and make sure that you build sturdy and safe cages for your little furry friends.
Also, it is vital that you keep the cage off the floor so you can socialize with them and you will appear less scary to your pets. Raising it from the ground will give you easy access when cleaning their cages as well.