Spacious Housing and Ideal Sizes
It is important that guinea pigs have spacious housing for a number of good reasons.
- Boars require space to exercise to keep their muscles strong to help prevent abdominal prolapse of their important male parts.
- Regular exercise keeps weight under control.
- Space to run around in greatly reduces boredom and depression.
Boredom and depression is not limited to humans. Guinea pigs confined to small spaces will become bored and depressed and this is not good animal welfare. They require space and entertainment to care for their mental, emotional and physical wellbeing and they rely on us to provide it for them.
What is the ideal size?
A study by California based guinea pig rescue centre Cavy Spirit has found that an ideal measurement for housing 2 guinea pigs is a minimum of 7.5 sq.ft with a satisfactory size of 10.5 sq.ft. The same measurements apply to housing of all types, including hutches. This can be improved on by adding an outdoor space for your guinea pigs to play in.
Most hutches available from pet shops and pet suppliers are too small, however you can provide your guinea pigs permanent access to a run to enlarge the space available to them. Alternatively for a bigger hutch option, your local joiner might be available to create a custom hutch for you, or if you’re handy with wood, you can make your own.
Protecting the floor
Hutches last longer if you use the appropriate glue to permanently stick lino to the floor. Lino and lino glue is available from all good DIY stores. The lino will prevent water and urine from soaking the hutch floor and it is also very easy to wipe over while cleaning out. Obviously, remove all bedding and your pets before applying lino to the hutch and make sure the glue is completely dry before putting it all back in again.
Wire for the doors
The best wire to use on the doors is galvanised wire with smaller holes because it’s stronger than chicken wire and harder for guinea pigs to chew through. Galvanised wire is also better for hanging water bottles from as it takes a long time to lose its shape.
Hutches can be placed almost anywhere outside and at all times of the year. Please see our seasonal care guide for more information. A run attached to your hutch is great for a permanent place to play and exercise in.
I have nine hutches in my shed and each hutch is 2ft x 4ft in size. I house up to two guinea pigs in each hutch because I believe the hutches would need to be bigger to accommodate more. The first thing I did was do some drawings of what I wanted my hutches to look like. As I am worse than hopeless with wood-working, I gave these to the joiner and he created my hutch block.
As you can see from the photographs, I originally used chicken wire on the doors but this was later changed for stronger galvanised wire with rectangular holes after the chicken wire lost its shape and had holes chewed in it.
Although wire-bottomed cages are tempting because waste falls down below the wire and away from the animal, never use a wire-bottomed cage for guinea pigs because the wire surface will permanently damage feet. Guinea pigs are heavy and flat-footed creatures and require a solid surface to live on.
Most cages available from pet shops and pet suppliers are simply too small and mostly overpriced. The minimum recommended living area of 8sq.ft for 2 guinea pigs (source: CavyCages) is rarely met by shop bought cages. Although they are rarely large enough for daily habitation, shop bought cages are useful to keep for emergencies and medical quarantine purposes. I have several shop bought cages for this purpose.
Correx and Grid Cages
These cages are made with flat pack wire shelving grids and Correx card. Because this type of flat pack shelving uses square grids you can choose the size of your cage quickly and easily to create a guinea pig paradise and for a fraction of the cost. Correx and grid cages are an amazing alternative to shop bought cages and make the perfect indoor housing solution for your house guinea pigs.
- If you live in the UK you can buy Correx card from PHS Teacrate at reasonable prices
- You can buy wire shelving grids from DIY stores or eBay
How to Build a Correx and Grid Cage
For instructions on cutting Correx board to fit your custom made grid cage, please see this guide.