This year is the first ever Guinea Pig Awareness Week! We’re taking part by bringing you as much information as we can about how to care for your guinea pigs.
If your guinea pigs live in a hutch, it should be at least five foot long and two foot deep, with an area to exercise in, as a minimum requirement. Depending on the number of guinea pigs these dimensions may need to be increased. Some guinea pig hutches come with ramps, but most guinea pigs find ramps too difficult to use. Guinea pigs are not natural climbers and can injure themselves by falling from ramps. Putting side panels up the ramps may help, although a few guinea pigs will not navigate them at all.
The hutch or converted shed may need some insulation to keep it warm in winter and cool in the summer. Also if you attach a permanent run to the hutch which is predator safe, the guinea pigs can enjoy more freedom. They should be closed back in their hutch at night though, to keep them safe from predators.
The enclosure should be placed in an area that is quiet and peaceful and also free from drafts, chills, extreme heat, and sudden temperature changes.
Some people prefer to secure their garden so that the guinea pigs can free roam during the day, only being put safely back in their hutch/shed at night. The guinea pigs will need lots of hiding places though, so that they can get away from any predators.
If the guinea pigs live outside they will need to be checked on at least twice a day.
Indoor guinea pigs
If you decide that you want your guinea pig to live indoors with you, you will need to find an area for the guinea pig to live. Some people partition part of their room with fencing. The fencing does not need to be too tall, as guinea pigs cannot jump. You could purchase a wooden hutch. Alternatively you can buy special indoor guinea pig cages, but they tend to be on the small side. Buying one designed for rabbits might be the better option.
A litter tray should be available for the guinea pig to use, although they are harder to litter train than rabbits, and the guinea pig must have access to food and water at all times.
Guinea pigs that live indoors will still need a secure area outside, where they will be able to get vitamin D from the sun and be able to exhibit normal behaviours.
Here are some ideas for enrichment for your guinea pigs in their enclosure. We also like to make toys out of cardboard toilet roll holders containing hay and forage treats.
More information to follow throughout the week!