Before bringing our guinea pigs home, we as owners need to research the best enclosure for our new pets.
We must know what size cage we will need and the different materials most enclosures are made of.
As a general rule, a cage for a single guinea pig must be at least 7.5′ square feet. A pair of guinea pigs must be placed in a cage at least 10.5′ square feet. Larger enclosures are always better and highly recommended to support a happy and healthy life.
We will discuss the required minimum sized cages for guinea pigs, why they are not large enough, and alternative indoor and outdoor enclosures.
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Required Minimum Cage Size For Guinea Pigs
According to the Humane Society of the United States, the required minimum size for guinea pig cages is 7.5′ sq ft for a solo piggie and 10.5′ sq ft for a pair.
If you have decided to own one or more of these adorable animals, you should know these required minimums are much too small.
For starters, the minimum size cage required for a pair of cavies is not even twice the size of the minimum size for a single pet.
Although these animals are very social and will likely spend much of their time interacting, they still need their own space.
Larger cages are always recommended for guinea pig housing.
These social animals thrive with extra floor space to run around and play with each other.
One of the most important activities owners must provide their guinea pigs with is floor time.
This is time for the animals to spend out of their enclosure free-roaming and interacting with their humans.
Guinea pigs are incredibly active animals and require plenty of space to play and explore.
A small cage and lack of floor time will inevitably lead to health issues for these emotionally sensitive animals.
Recommended Cage Size For Guinea Pigs
With the cage size standards in mind, we suggest moving up one level for each piggie you own.
For instance, if you own a solo piggie, you should get a cage measuring at least 10.5′ sq ft.
If you own two cavies, you should jump up to a 15′ sq ft cage.
Cage aquariums should never be used to house guinea pigs.
These enclosures have glass walls, preventing air circulation within the enclosure.
Cavies often suffer from respiratory issues, with pneumonia being the leading cause of death.
Your pets need to receive proper housing and circulation to reduce the risk of potentially fatal illnesses.
When picking out the home for your new pets, be sure to go for roomier cages.
The preferred cage sizes are always larger than the minimum required by law.
And if you’re considering using a dog cage for guinea pigs, see our post at the link.
Making Your Own Guinea Pig Cage
Homemade Indoor Enclosure
One of the best options when choosing a cage for your pet cavies is creating your enclosure.
There are many enclosure options if your living conditions allow you to allocate extra space to your pet’s home.
You should also ensure your pet receives extra floor time multiple times per day to make up for the small living quarters.
Many owners with extra living space choose to block off a common area of their home.
For example, if you have a large living room where you spend most of your time, you may decide to dedicate a specific corner of the room to your pets.
Even a 10.5′ sq ft cage will double in size without much effort.
Leaving the doors open and surrounding the cage with playpen walls will instantly increase your pet’s floor space.
This method allows you to alter the size of the enclosure as needed.
Many owners choose to create their enclosure using wire cubes or pieces of coroplast as walls.
Coroplast cages are made of corrugated plastic used to create many outdoor lawn signs.
They are very durable and make for a budget-friendly option when creating your guinea pig cage.
Once you’ve decided on an acceptable housing material, you will need to line the floor with guinea pig bedding.
And we have a great post on guinea pig bedding alternatives you already have around your home that’s a fun helpful read.
Larger cages make for easier maintenance since owners do not need to change the bedding as often.
Other than bedding, it is important to fill the cage with toys and plenty of hay.
Adding small ramps and extra levels to the enclosure is another great way to add enrichment and keep your pets mentally stimulated.
If you choose to create your enclosure and have other animals in your home or small children, you will also need a cover for the cage.
A wire lid is a popular choice, but it does not always work with extra-large cages.
If your enclosure is too large for a wire lid, have a small section closed off where a wire top will fit.
Check out our post on the pros and cons of covering a guinea pig cage.
It is also a good idea to keep other animals out of the guinea pig room when no one is home.
Homemade Outdoor Enclosure
If you live in an area where the weather is suitable for an outdoor enclosure, you also have the option of building a guinea pig cage in your backyard.
Outdoor cages are often built with wood framing and chicken wire walls and tops.
This provides plenty of air circulation while also protecting the animals from potential predators.
Floor time is still required for outdoor cavies.
Outdoor exercise is a fun way to interact with your pets.
Of course, you always have the option of bringing your cavies inside to socialize with your family.
A multi-story cage will add extra square feet to your enclosure without taking up more yard space.
It is also a great way to provide shelter and shade to your outdoor cavies.
Placing a ramp leading up to a top floor covered with wood walls will give your pets an area to rest and keep warm.
This wooden area will be dark and should be lined with plenty of hay.
The area under this wooden enclosure will provide shade and shelter from the rain while still having wire walls for warmer days.
An outdoor enclosure will have grass as built-in flooring and will not require conventional bedding.
However, some owners choose to place a few inches of bedding in some of the covered areas to add an extra comfort level.
Since outdoor enclosures are typically two stories, they are usually the largest types of guinea pig cages.
These housing options are easily built to be twice the size of the average enclosure.
If you own two cavies and create a base enclosure of 15′ sq ft, adding a second story will have your pets living in a castle.
If you have the yard space and live in an environment where your pets will thrive outdoors, creating one of these cages is highly recommended.
There are also companies who you may purchase pre-built cages from.
Related: Can guinea pigs use hamster cages?