Guinea pigs need as much space as you are able to give them, with our minimum requirement for adoption being 12 sq ft (on one level) for a pair of pigs. Most standard cages marketed as suitable for guinea pigs therefore are not appropriate!
One of the most cost effective ways to provide an ample amount of space for your pigs is by building a C&C cage, like these shown here.
The sides are made out of storage cube grids clipped together, and the base is made from correx/corrugated plastic used for making signs. The base can then be lined with fleece over towels which are washed as needed and re-used, cutting down on waste. The first cage above also features a lid made from grids, but as guineas aren’t great climbers this isn’t necessary unless you have cats/other animals who might be a little too interested.
You can build your own custom C&C cage – you can buy the grids from Amazon and correx base from Homebase or Wickes. Check out the how-to guide at http://www.guineapigcages.com/howtometric.htm
Other DIY Ideas
Other alternative creative ideas for piggy housing include playpens, and even Ikea desks fashioned into a suitable home! This DIY enclosure made by joining two 100x60cm Ikea Linnmon desks together, attaching a solid back and sides and a perspex front, providing just over 12 sq ft of space. This setup gives us excellent views of the piggies, and is really easy to clean out.
We generally recommend keeping guinea pigs indoors, as they are particularly sensitive to heat and cold. However, it is possible to provide well insulated and predator-proof outdoor housing, by keeping your piggies in a shed, garage or outbuilding, which you could also attach a run to. All mesh on outdoor housing must be galvanised 16 gauge (16G) mesh to be considered fox-proof. Most pet shop bought hutches are not made with this strength of mesh and so are not fox-proof unless placed inside a shed/outbuilding.
While sows can successfully be kept in larger groups, boars are best kept in pairs, and need lots of space to reduce the chances of fall-outs. You should also provide two of everything to help with this – two hay trays, two hideys, two food bowls, two bottles etc.
We recommend either of the following two brands of pellets for piggies. Muesli-type foods are not suitable as they are high in sugars and encourage selective feeding.
Unlimited hay should be available at all times. We buy meadow hay in bales from a horse feed shop (we also recommend trying farm shops) as well as bales of timothy hay from timothyhay.co.uk
Some of our favourite hay, forage & treats:
If you are new to guinea pigs, we would strongly recommend joining The Guinea Pig Forum, whose members have shared lots of great ideas for housing. Also check out our pinterest boards for more ideas!
Ideas to keep your piggos entertained!
Our favourite option for piggy bedding is fleece! We line our set-ups with a towel and then a fleece blanket over (we buy fleece blankets from Primark and Supermarkets where we often find lots cute patterns!). The idea is that the piggies’ wee wicks through the fleece and is absorbed by the towel. To make this work, when you buy new fleece you will first need to wash it a few times with washing powder/detergent and no fabric conditioner – Cali Cavy Collective have a useful guide on prepping fleece for pigs.
We sweep poops up off the fleece daily, and change out/wash the towels & fleece at least weekly. The same method applies to other fabric based bedding options (vet bed or bath mats, for example).
While piggies can’t really be litter trained, placing their hay in a litter tray lined with some newspaper and wood/paper pellet litter will help the majority of poops and pees to end up in the tray while they sit and nibble away.
If you don’t want to use towels and fleece, you can buy ready made fleece liners with an absorbent layer, just google guinea pig fleece liners to find some options!
Other bedding options include vetbed, bath mats, or paper/cardboard based substrate.