One of the first considerations when adopting guinea pigs is where they will live. Guinea pigs are relatively big for small animals, so the space necessary for guinea pig habitats and cages reflects that.
Please remember, if you also have a dog, cat, or other predators in the house, you should diligently secure the cage against them in case they decide the guinea pig(s) are prey. You should also ensure your guinea pig cages restrict children’s access if you have them.
The Space Requirements for Guinea Pig Cages
Guinea pigs need a lot of space; unfortunately, most starter kits for guinea pigs are not built to provide the necessary square footage. A single guinea pig needs 7.5 square feet of space, while a pair needs at least 10 feet.
Unfortunately, most store-bought cages don’t even come close to meeting the minimum. That’s why many guinea pig owners opt to make their own cages once they realize how much space their herd needs.
Without proper space (and ledges do not count), you guinea pigs don’t have enough space to exercise, socialize, and designate areas of their cages for different purposes. With adequate space, you can easily see things like where they’ve established the bathroom area.
What Not to Use as a Guinea Pig Habitat
Before getting to the best options, you need to know the worst options for your guinea pigs. These should never be considered, and if you run across someone using them for guinea pigs, you should consider educating the owners.
Aquariums initially look like a good idea since they’re solid. However, most aquariums are too small for a single guinea pig, and the solid walls mean there is no air circulation carrying away the smells of the cage. That adds up to an unsuitable guinea pig habitat.
Guinea pigs are social creatures, and that includes with your family. An outdoor hutch limits how much time they spend around you. Additionally, it can pose heating and cooling problems throughout the year. If you want your guinea pigs to have outdoor time, provide it in short stints with supervision.
Options for Guinea Pig Habitats
Guinea pig habitats and cages should be placed in a temperature-stable part of your home that hangs out between 65 and 75 F. Typically, you want to put the cage somewhere in your living area rather than in a spare bedroom so you can easily interact.
Store Bought Cages
Store-bought cages are generally too small, even for one guinea pig. However, you can modify store-bought cages relatively easily. You could remove a side to join the cages for one big cage or install a large-diameter tube system if you don’t want to get too into the DIY.
C&C is short for cubes and coroplast. This type of cage is considered the best since you can make them how you like. The coroplast forms the bottom of the cage, while wire storage cube sides form the walls. You can make them in almost any shape, and if you don’t have other pets, you can leave the top uncovered safely.
Custom Metal Cages
Another option is commissioning a piece from a welding shop as the cage bottom. This choice lets you control the dimensions and shape. Then you form the cage tops and sides out of what you have around, like chicken wire. This cage type is durable and sturdy, provided you put a moisture barrier on top of the metal.
You can also create homemade guinea pig cages using guinea pig-safe materials. You can calculate the floor space by multiplying the length by the width to ensure your design matches your guinea pigs’ needs.