One of the best parts of having a small pet is creating their living space.
We all want our little critters to have a safe and happy habitat to live in.
One choice is to convert a dog crate into a multi-level cage with a platform and non-slip ramp, but is this the best choice?
While using a dog crate for your guinea pig is tempting, it is not the safest or healthiest option. Guinea pigs can squeeze through any space their heads can fit, so dog crates with large holes between the bars are not appropriate for these pets.
Guinea pigs need more floor space than most dog crates provide, and dog crates are harder to keep litter inside and keep the surrounding area clean.
Using a dog crate can leave large enough holes for another animal, such as a cat, to get their claws in and make the guinea pig nervous or injure them.
Even though a dog crate doesn’t make a suitable long-term guinea pig house, it is a great temporary cage while you clean your guinea pig’s regular cage or enclosure.
Find out more about the best choices for a guinea pig habitat.
Table of Contents
Guinea Pig Habitat Requirements
Keeping Your Cage Safe
Your pet’s enclosure should have walls at least 12″ inches high and not be accessible to another pet, such as a cat or dog, which might harm them.
Your guinea pig house does not have to have a roof or lid as long as there are no other animals who can get in and harm your pet.
Whether for giving food, cage cleaning, or playtime, you need convenient access to every corner of your pet’s living space.
Further reading: Why should guinea pig walls be at least 12″ inches tall?
A guinea pig cage needs 2-3″ inches of bedding, which a dog crate cannot accommodate.
Your guinea pig will kick the litter around everywhere and make an enormous mess if it is in a dog crate.
A guinea pig house needs to be cleaned and the disposable bedding replaced at least once a week, making sure your guinea pig enclosure is easy to access.
Daily spot cleaning and drying up damp spots is also a good idea.
Bedding products should be paper or straw, not cedar or pine shavings, as these produce fumes harmful to your pet’s respiratory system.
Remember that your guinea pigs have minimum space requirements for their habitat.
This does not include a platform or a ramp since guinea pigs are not jumping and climbing animals.
In fact, if they get too high, they may fall and break a leg.
Broken guinea pig legs can sometimes result in death; read more details in our article at the link.
According to the Humane Society, you need 7.5′ square feet of space (or about 30″ x 36″ inches) for a single guinea pig.
An XL dog crate measures 48″ x 30″ inches but risks having your pet escape between the bars or another pet harm them.
As guinea pigs are social animals, you want two, which need 7.5′ square feet of space minimum, but 10.5′ square feet is better.
The more floor space your piggies have in their habitat, the happier and healthier they will be.
A common guinea pig enclosure also needs to have room for separate spaces for nesting, a food bowl and water bottle, a bathroom area, and a hiding spot.
Guinea pigs need daily access to their food and water bottle.
Guinea pigs also need constant access to their hiding spot, or they will get nervous.
The benefits of having larger enclosures are:
- They’re more sanitary; your pet can separate his bathroom spot from the rest of the cage and not contaminate his food or resting area.
- You won’t have to clean the cage as often because there will be extra litter to absorb waste.
- Multiple guinea pigs will get along better because they have ample living space.
- Your pet will be healthier because it gets more exercise.
Location of Your Pet’s Enclosure
Another thing to consider is the location of your pet’s enclosure.
You want your piggy to be in a spot safe from other pets or young children and be out of high-traffic areas.
Do not keep your guinea pig cage where you prepare food, such as in the kitchen.
Guinea pigs also need moderate temperatures.
They are vulnerable to cold, so they need to be in a part of the house with heat.
Guinea pigs cannot sweat, so heat stroke is possible if you leave them in a sunny spot or over a heat vent in your house.
Do not keep guinea pigs outside in a hutch, as this keeps them from interacting with their humans and exposes them to harmful weather and predators.
What Can I Use Instead of a Guinea Pig Cage?
Many pet owners use Coroplast and Cubes (C&C) panel grids fitted together to make a cage frame that is preferable to a pet store cage.
A Coroplast grid cube cage frame makes a versatile and easy-to-clean house for your pet.
Coroplast is corrugated plastic with a smooth surface and is very durable.
Expand your guinea pig’s abode with Coroplast and Cube panels and make an animal playpen, elevated, or hideaway houses.
Coroplast and Cube enclosures do not come with a roof but feel free to make one.
PawHut makes a wide variety of small animal cages and hutches.
Some people use a bunny cage for their guinea pigs.
Do not buy a wooden hutch for hygiene reasons; they do not have adequate ventilation, and the wood may get wet and promote bacterial growth and mildew, which leads to unsanitary conditions.
Even if they have a waterproof roof, outdoor hutches are not good.
There are many guinea pig cage alternatives, such as bookshelf guinea pig cages.
Can Guinea Pigs Live Without Cages?
Guinea pigs can live indoors without cages, but they need plenty of space.
Dedicate an entire room in your house or block off part of a room; your piggies will love it!
Cleaning up after your piggy is important, or it will lead to unsanitary conditions.
Make sure no other pets have access to the guinea pigs’ room.
In a temperate climate, Guinea pigs can live outdoors without cages in an enclosure that prevents digging but must have a shelter with a weather-resistant roof and walls and protection from predators.
Is a Wooden Cage Good for Guinea Pigs?
Wooden cages, such as a hutch like PawHut sells, are not good for guinea pigs because the guinea pig may chew on them and escape.
The wood will also get wet from urine, promoting bacterial growth and leading to unsanitary conditions.