Guinea pig cages are a safety necessity, even in homes without other pets. Cages, and even containers, prevent the guinea pig from getting underfoot. It also helps you maintain a sanitary environment around the house. However, sometimes the commercially available cages just don’t cut it. That’s when you start building guinea pig cages.
Why Build Your Own Guinea Pig Cages
The big reason for creating your guinea pig cages is space. A single guinea pig requires at least 7.5 square feet of space. For each added guinea pig, another 2.5 feet of space is necessary. Starter guinea pig cages lack that space.
The other reason for building your guinea pig cages is control. You know where your guinea pig is going to live. If you construct the pen, it can fit exactly in that space. That’s a massive benefit and helps your piggle fit into the family.
The trick with guinea pig pans is recognizing there are no limits. Some people construct guinea pig cages out of kid’s swimming pools, while others model their cages after rabbit hutches. Finding the right pan is what works for your needs.
At the Guinea Pig Center, metal is the pan material of choice. The material is very durable, and the guinea pigs cannot injure themselves on it. To get pans of the proper size, Guinea Pig Center supports a local welding and machine shop. The shop usually has the pan ready in a week.
In general, guinea pigs need at least enough protection that it stops them from hopping out of the cage. By nature, guinea pigs are not climbers. While two paws may leave the ground to climb the cage sides, it’s incredibly rare for all four guinea pig paws to leave the floor. With that in mind, your guinea pig’s home does not technically need a roof unless you have other animals in the house, of course.
Constructing the sides and the roof is straightforward. The Guinea Pig Center uses 1-inch by 2-inch chicken wire available at any home improvement store. Wire cutters, measuring tape, wire cage clips, pliers, and some small springs round out the materials list. You may also want an electric rotary tool, but it’s not required.
The first step is cutting the wire to shape. To do this, measure along the inside of the pan, not the outside. Remember to follow the adage of measure twice, cut once. Then, use the wire cutters or rotary tool to get the front, back, sides, and a door. This process usually works best if you cut four/five separate sections rather than bending the wire and creating stress points.
Once all the sections are cut, you can begin to attach the parts together with the long sides in the wire horizontal. Try to get both wires in the belly of the clip, and then clamp with a set of pliers. Using wire cage clips takes some practice, so don’t worry if you miss a few. The Guinea Pig Center did every third wire section, but you can do every second if you like.
The door is typically the trickiest part, assuming the cage you build has a roof that is. You will need a cutout in the “front” of the cage, and a piece of wire that is at least one section bigger than the cutout on three sides. You’ll want to attach the cutout side that is not one section bigger to the opening using the wire cage clips. Then connect one of the extension springs to the top of the cutout and use it to hold the door closed.
You should also attach the cage top to the pan using the extension springs. This action ensures the cage top cannot tip or be removed by a curious dog/cat. You will need a small hole in both ends of the pan to hold the extension spring. The spring can attach easier to the cage and then drawn to connect to the pan.
Putting It All Together
Once assembled, the wire should sit snuggly inside the pan. The extension springs should secure the two pieces together. Now your guinea pigs have a safe place to live.