Our minimum sized accommodation requirements for guinea pigs are:
2 Guinea pigs - 6ft x 2ft
3 Guinea pigs - 7ft x 2ft
4+ Guinea pigs - please email us at email@example.com
Runs for the grass outside - 6ft x 4ft
These are the very minimum recommendations, BIGGER is always BETTER.
Guinea pigs only sleep for a few hours each day spread out in 'naps' therefore they are awake just as much at night as during the day. Due to this, even just overnight, its important to give them the same amount as space as the daytime, therefore if you shut them in a smaller space at night, you are denying them the opportunity to express fundamental behaviours like :-
Popcorning Zoomies Hiding Foraging/Grazing Lying fully stretched out
It can be difficult to buy purpose-built accommodation measuring these dimensions but there’s no reason why you can’t build your own!
Guinea pigs are a prey species and need to be able to hide from things that scare them. They need to hide in secure places, away from sights and smells of predators (e.g. foxes/cats/dogs/ferrets/birds of prey). Making sure that your accommodation is escape-proof as well as fox-proof is essential!
Many people are now looking at alternative accommodation to hutches as they can be difficult to buy that meets the minimum size and build to ensure that animal welfare standards are met. Not only is size an issue but also weatherproofing. Most hutches found online or in pet shops are made out of thin and weak materials that do not stand the test of time or our cold, wet British weather.
Shelter and run :-
A hutch is NEVER enough! A run should always be permanently attached to the sleeping quarters/internal shelter with 24/7 access.
The minimum for internal shelters is 6ft x 2ft for a pair and this is the size of the enclosed area where weather cannot get in, most hutches found online unfortunately have most of the shelter exposed to the UK weather via wire mesh and therefore not suitable. Please note we do not rehome to hutches outside that are not placed in a larger area like an outbuilding/ shed etc.
Converted shed/Wendy house and run :-
Converting a shed, Wendy house or summerhouse into the perfect guinea pig paradise is getting more and more popular, as some people may already have one they can convert or they can be bought 2nd hand or even new for a similar price or even cheaper then hutches. Not only do sheds or Wendy houses offer more room for your furry friends but they are also easy to insulate for the colder weather and last much longer than a hutch; as well as giving the owners the option to go inside making it easier to clean and interact with the guinea pigs. Runs can be easily attached to the side of a shed with access via a hole or tunnel. For more information on how to covert a shed/wendyhouse please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Below are some examples of ideal outdoor guinea pigs housing.
Indoor cages come in many different sizes, and whilst you can dedicate a whole spare room to guinea pigs, some people may not have that option, and that's where C&C caging is a great option. I have put some links below on options of C&C caging to buy; which can come with a fitted base for easy clean-up, or just the C&C panals which gives you more flexibility on the shaping your cage to fit a certain area or size you want.
The flooring of your cage should be easy to clean up, like lino or plastic, with a nonslip washable fleece bedding. Other bedding that is guinea pig safe is carefresh or other paper based bedding that can be found at most pet-shops. Sawdust/ wood shavings should be avoided as it can cause respiratory issues due to the dust.
Examples of C&C caging that can be bought :-
Guinea pigs love to snuffle around and forage for food, and will spend most of their time doing this, so rather than using a bowl for their nuggets or fresh food, try hiding the food around the enclosure, in tunnels and other places to get their noses working. This will encourage them to forage for their food and prevent boredom and obesity. You can also try;
Guinea pigs are prey animals and don't like open spaces or areas that they cant quickly dip under cover, so to ensure they feel safe in their home, make sure you provide lots of hiding places. You can provide cheap hiding places by using tunnels, stools and cardboard boxes.
Guinea pigs are highly social animals and need to have the companionship in the form of another guinea pig; in the wild they live in groups of 8 plus individuals. No matter how much time we spend with them, nothing matches the company of another guinea pig. Not only does company prevent them from being lonely, it always makes them feel safer as there are more eyes looking out for danger.
of their diet should made up of good quality nuggets (like Excel or Science select), only giving them about 20g a day. Each nugget or pellet contains the same nutrients and helps provide a balanced diet.
Fresh greens :-
When feeding your animals any new foods, please check the list or research online to see if it is safe to feed your furry friends. All plants and vegetables should be washed before being given. The best food you can give is leafy greens like kale, some spinach, cavolo Nero and also some herbs like mint, basil and coriander! The occasional vegetable like broccoli adds a bit of vitamin C which is very important from their health. You don't have to always buy food from the supermarket, try growing some plants in your garden or have a forage around as well!
They must have access to plenty of fresh water at all times. You can provide water either from a water bottle and / or a water bowl. Water bowls are a more natural way for them to drink but they can get spilled easily so providing both is recommended. Please ensure you refresh their water daily and, if using water bottles, you give them a good clean at least once a week with a bottle brush to ensure algae doesn't grow.
Guinea pigs are sociable animals and we always advise that they need to be homed with other guinea pigs. As a first-time guinea pig owner, we would always recommend that you should adopt two already bonded piggies. If you have found yourself with a single piggy then please take a look at our bonding tips below. All male guinea pigs in a home must be neutered before adoption of any guinea pigs from us.
Preparation is key!
First you should find the right friend for your guinea pig. A male / female pairing (or single male to a group of females with the male neutered of course) tends to work best.
You must ensure that both in good health and that a number of weeks (6-8 is recommended) has passed after neutering any male pigs. Not only can unneutered male and female able to mate, but neutered guinea pigs are less likely to fight.
Give your pigs lots of space! Remember you are suddenly asking your guinea pigs to share their space with a stranger so they need plenty of personal space and places to hide. Make sure you provide extra toys and tunnels as you don’t want your pets feeling that they have to fight for resources.
Recommended bonding techniques:-
Remember you must always keep a close eye on both or all pigs during the bonding process in case any fights break out or ill health occurs.
Good signs to look out for when bonding are:-
Once they are showing signs of being friends you can move on to putting them together in the home they will share. Again, you must keep a close watch over them and although you may see more chasing behaviour, this should not escalate into fighting-if it does, separate them immediately and go back a step in the process. Like with the mutual space, take it slowly, and only have them in their home together for a brief time to begin with, slowly increasing it as you go.
Once they are happily lying together and grooming one another you can consider your piggies successfully bonded. Once they are bonded, they MUST stay together at all times; even if one has to go the vet then their pal should go with them.
The above process can take a long time but don’t be tempted by suggested techniques to bond quickly or using fear or stress to bond. You may have read online about “speed dating” which is made to sound cute and fun but introducing without a period of prior familiarisation can be extremely problematic.
Guinea pigs are sensitive animals, prone to stress which can quickly make them ill. Being transported to a strange place, being placed into an alien environment and being given no time to adjust is extremely stressful. This can lead to aggression, risking injury and, even if they do appear to be getting along, you aren’t getting a true picture of whether they are compatible -what you are seeing is tolerance as a means of trying to handle their stress.
There are also techniques which use fear to force guinea pigs into bonding as self-preservation. This is known as “stress bonding” and it involves putting them into a small confined space where they cannot escape one another and exposing them to a frightening experience such a taking them on a rough car journey, running a vacuum cleaner next to them or placing the carrier on top of a spinning washing machine.
These techniques are incredibly harmful and do not encourage true friendship between pigs, rather it creates a learned helplessness where they become shut-down through fear. Also guinea pigs that have been put through stressful bonding techniques in the past are far more likely to struggle to bond with other animals in the future.
Avoid anyone who claims they can wave a magic wand and guarantee your piggies can be bonded within a specific and short timescale (often people will say ‘within two weeks’). Bonding done properly can take a great deal of time and patience, but the rewards at the end are happy, healthy pets who enjoy the company of their friends.