Making the right home for your guinea pigs
Making sure your guinea pigs have a suitable place to live is the first step to keeping your guinea pigs healthy and happy.
On this page, we'll take you through things you should do to make sure your guinea pigs' home environment meets their needs.
Indoor and outdoor space to live
In terms of their living space, your guinea pig needs:
- A secure space that's large enough for them to exercise and high enough to stand up fully on their back legs.
- Indoor accommodation that's well-ventilated, dry and away from direct heat sources (such as radiators or sunny windows) and draughts. Room temperatures of 17-20°C are ideal. Some areas of centrally heated houses may get too hot, so be careful where you put their hutch.
- A large exercise area and secure shelter where they can rest, feel safe and protected from predators and extremes of weather and temperature.
- Outdoor accommodation - if you're keeping your guinea pigs outside, their hutch should be sheltered from direct sun and direct wind. In temperatures below 15°C, you should move them indoors. They'll also need sufficient bedding throughout the whole enclosure to keep them warm.
Making your guinea pigs' house a home
Here's what you should do to make sure your guinea pigs' housing stays comfortable and interesting for them:
- Clean often - you should clean their accommodation regularly.
- Protect them from draughts and temperature extremes - guinea pigs are sensitive to temperature changes. Temperatures above 26°C can cause heatstroke; below 15°C can cause them to become chilled.
- Keep them in quiet, calm and safe areas away from dogs, cats, ferrets and other pets they may see as threats.
- Give them enough warm bedding - this should be safe to eat, such as dust-free hay. Don't use softwood products such as pine, as these can cause illness, and don't give them nesting materials that separate into thin strands, such as cotton wool or similar 'fluffy' bedding products. They pose a serious risk to their health and welfare, as they can become tangled in them and they aren't safe to eat.
- Regular exercise - ideally, give your guinea pigs free access to an exercise area with pipes and shelters to encourage exercising. They're active animals and need opportunities to run, stand fully upright on their back legs and stretch out when lying down.
- Give them tunnels and untreated wooden toys to chew - such as fruit trees or willow sticks. Avoid plastic toys as they may harm them if chewed/swallowed. Guinea pigs are intelligent and enjoy gnawing, chewing and exploring by moving to different areas through tunnels.
When you're away or on the move
If you go away, here's what you'll need to do to avoid stressing your guinea pigs:
- Get someone to look after them - you'll ideally need to find a responsible person to care for your guinea pigs in their familiar home when you're away. If you're boarding them elsewhere, keep grouped guinea pigs together and take familiar items such as toys. Guinea pigs prefer routine and can become stressed if they're around lots of noise and activity.
- Transport them comfortably - keep your guinea pigs safe and comfortable when you're transporting them. Help them feel at ease by putting familiar-smelling objects in the travel carrier and moving them with their companion(s).
Read more on creating a good home for your guinea pigs in our guide to housing and caring for your guinea pigs.