Category Archives: Making a home for your guinea pig

ways to help your guinea pig settle in

10 Ways to Help Your Guinea Pig Settle In

Bringing a new guinea pig into a new home can be a tricky thing to do, if your aim is to make them feel as comfortable as possible. However, with some key actions, you can make this task a whole lot easier. Here are 10 things you can do to make your guinea pig as comfortable as possible in their new home.

10 ways to help your guinea pig settle in
1. Make their home comfortable.

Comfort is important to us all. Without it we don’t feel at home and less likely to settle in one place. It is the same for guinea pigs. They are more likely to appreciate their new home if it has things that help it to feel comfortable. So put things such as good bedding, play toys, lots of food and water (see below), hay to chew on, give them lots of space to run, make sure the temperature is comfortable for them

2. Be kind to your guinea pig.

Being kind to your guinea pig really makes them like you a whole lot more. They are more likely to settle better in their new home if their new owner is kind to them. This means spending time with your new guinea pig, giving them food when they need it, playing with it, being gentle with it and stroking it when it trusts you enough to let you do it. Picking up on one of those points, leads to number 3…

3. Speak softly to your guinea pig.

Although guinea pigs don’t understand human language, they pick up on things that humans express. They are very intuitive creatures who know the difference between a loud and angry voice and a soft and gentle voice. They respond much better when the latter is used, and using it will help gain their trust. When they are spoken to in a loud or even angry voice then they are more likely to run and hide and distrust you even more. So do try and avoid using harsh tones with them, they will greatly appreciate it.

4. Avoid picking them up.

When first entering a new home, guinea pigs are quite nervous and wary of anything which they perceive as danger. As they do not know you, you will be danger to them and they will perceive you as such. So just be sensitive to this situation and give them time to acclimatize to their new environment without facing being handled by a stranger. This part will come in due course and your relationship with them will benefit from giving them their own space. If you attempt to pick them up then they will get scared and run from you or at least try to. So with this, try and do this instead…

5. Spend time with them.

Instead of going straight for the pick up, give them time to settle in. Then after a while, spend time with them at the side of their cage or run. Let them get to know you, what you sound like, what you smell like, what your nature is like. Your relationship with them will benefit from this. All you need is some patience in how you approach the situation. In time you can start to do things like this…

6. Let them eat food from your hand.

Eating food out of your hand is a great way for a guinea pig to get to know their new owner. It takes time for them to trust you enough to eat food from your hand, but when they do it is a great sign that you are definitely heading in the right direction in gaining their trust. Just take some food in your hand and lower it into their cage. Don’t say anything, just hold it here and wait for them to inquire. Just be aware that they may nibble your hand a little as it will smell like food. If they nibble a little too hard, then get it out of there.

7. Make sure they have somewhere to hide.

Guinea pigs are naturally wary animals. The reason they have lasted so long is that they are very good at escaping danger and so always need somewhere to hide. When they first arrive with you, they will be scared and so will need somewhere they feel safe to retreat to. A good hidey home will suffice for this, you can even make one out of a cardboard box such as a shoe box. Fill with it with comfortable bedding and put an entry and exit point on it. They will greatly appreciate it.

8. Make sure they have good food available.

Guinea pigs are voracious eaters. They will eat all day if you let them and so always need food available to them to eat, whether it be guinea pig pellets, muesli, some veggies or fruit or a plentiful supply of hay. They need hay as they always need to be chewing on something and they hay is very good for grinding their teeth on and keeping them at a good length. If they don’t chew, their teeth grow too long and get painful for them. So a good supply of hay is one of the main things that a guinea pig needs to make them feel comfortable.

9. Make sure they have enough water.

Guinea pigs need water just like we do. We need it to quench our thirst and so do piggies. If they don’t have water available, guinea pigs will fall ill eventually. In order to do this, giving your guinea pig an unlimited supply of water to drink from is essential to help a guinea pig feel comfortable. By having water available they can choose when to drink it instead of having an allotted time to receive it. Having a water available which is constantly topped up with water is the best method of giving them water. They can drink it when ever they need it, but without the risk of anything contaminating the water. The water is well protected, much better than if left in a water bowl.

10. Be patient with your guinea pig.

Patience is key when looking after any pet. It can be hard to anticipate a pet’s actions or to wait for them to do what you want them to do. Any behavior change in pets needs patience along with understanding and love. With enough time spent with them, with encouraging words, going at their pace and not rushing them into doing something they don’t want to do like being grabbed at an early stage, you can build trust with your guinea pig and help them feel comfortable in their new home for the long term.

can guinea pigs be kept outside

Can guinea pigs be kept outside?

Although it is always desirable to keep your guinea pig’s inside, sometimes this is not always an option for many owners. This may be because of space or because other family members object.

Can guinea pigs be kept outside?

Yes, they can be kept outside, as long as the environment is right. Guinea pigs enjoy temperatures between 10 degrees centigrade and 20 degrees centigrade.

If it gets any hotter in temperature then they start to get uncomfortable and will seek refuge. They cannot take direct sunlight and will overheat due to their thick coats.

If it gets cold below 10 degrees centigrade, they also don’t like it too much because of the cold.

Beware of frost and snow as well. If these conditions occur, guinea pigs must be put in a shelter or out the house to keep them out of the snow or frost.

If they are kept outside there needs to be a waterproof and flood proof shelter where they can retreat to if it rains.

It also needs to be predator proof so interested predators cannot get into the cage or enclosure to attack the guinea pig. Predators can include, cats, snakes, birds of prey, foxes, and coyotes. It will vary depending on where you live as to what their predators will be.


Are Guinea Pigs Territorial?

Guinea pigs are known to be very social animals but also have a tendency not to be too happy when a new guinea pig comes into its home.

So are guinea pigs territorial at all?

Because they are social animals it is natural for them to share their home together and will happily live in the same place as other piggies sharing sleeping quarters, food and water with each other. In fact, they would much rather do that than be on their own.

However, if they have been on their own for some time then there may be some issues with another guinea pig coming onto its territory as it just isn’t used to having another piggie around. With this situation the other guinea pig needs to be brought in gradually and eased in until you are certain that both guinea pigs get on with each other.

Other times you may see them being territorial is when they discover a new area where they haven’t been before and then they may look to claim the area as their own and tell the others to go away but chattering at them.

So they are territorial in some things, but compared to other animals it is not very significant and will on the whole, share their environment with other piggies quite happily.

cover my guinea pig cage

Should I cover my guinea pig cage at night?

When thinking about whether I should cover my guinea pig cage there are some factors to consider.

We know it can get pretty cold during the night time and you happen to keep your guinea pigs outside should a cover be applied to the cage at all to keep them warmer?

Should I cover my guinea pig cage at night?

It really depends on how cold it is.

If it is below 5 degrees celcius or 41 degrees farenheit, then they really should be inside.

But the next best thing would be a cover over the cage/hutch to keep them warmer.

However, the cover shouldn’t be kept on the cage during the day time as the cage will need fresh air in to give it chance to air.

Guinea pigs also need a chance to run around and so will nee access to their run.

If is is a little warmer then a cover isn’t so necessary.
Just make sure there is plenty of hay in their cage and they will be fine.

is my guinea pig's cage too small

Is My Guinea Pig’s Cage Too Small?

A mistake that a lot of piggie owners make, especially those new to owning guinea pigs, is having a cage that is too small for them.

It is easy to get a cage from a pet store or get it second hand and think it is sufficient for a guinea pig will be happy enough in the cage.

image flickr

However, the truth is that the cage needs to be big enough for them to run around in and exercise.

The minimum size for keeping one guinea pig is 7.5 square metres.

This is really important as they get bored very easily and their quality of life will deteriorate. Often in pet stores, you will see cages or hutches that are just far too small for them (like the one above) and being in a small cage makes for a miserable life for a piggie.

So as to work out whether your guinea pig has enough or will have enough space in their cage or hutch, here are some things to consider.

1. Firstly, when getting a cage always think about whether they will have sufficient space to run around in. Do you have sufficient space in your home to make this available?

2. Standard guinea pig cages are almost always too small for your piggies. Why not be creative and try and expand the area around them so they can exercise in, especially if you have more than two piggies. You could also use a good wooden box. The piggies don’t care. If your cages are outside this can be done by combining two cages around a pen which can be used to give the guinea pigs space to run around. If its inside then, make a space and create a tray like space for them to run around on.

3. Why not build your own with a C&C cage. These are the best on the market for good sized guinea pig cages. These are different form cages you might find in a pet store and are such that you can construct with the guinea pig’s happiness and well being in mind. Check out their site for more details and some great ideas for alternative cages.

4. Here are some good measurements to go by;

If you have two guinea pigs the minimum size should be 7.5 square metres.

If you have three guinea pigs the minimum size should be 10 square metres.

If you have four or more guinea pigs the minimum size should be 13 square metres.

These are generally thought to be the measurements that most piggie owners use to ensure that their piggie cages are the appropriate size for their guinea pigs.

So if you are pondering the question ‘is my guinea pig cage too small?’ then use those guidelines and you’ll get the answer.

There are some great ideas out there for building great cages for your piggies with a good amount of space, here is one idea;

how often should I clean my guinea pigs cage

How Often Should I Clean My Guinea Pigs Cage?

Cleaning out a piggies cage is probably the worst thing about owning guinea pigs but one of the most necessary.

The times I go to clean out my piggies cage and it is the last thing I want to do and I think of a hours and other things that I’d rather do.

image wikipedia

However in terms of looking after them well it is vital that I do this, so this spurs me on to do it.

You may notice that guinea pigs tend to poop and pee a lot.

When I first stopped using shavings in my guinea pigs cage, after realising the health problems they cause them, I was shocked at how sodden the newspaper would get after a few days.

At first I thought this might just be a leak in the hutch roof of something, but I realised that actually they do pee an awful lot.

I knew they pooped a great deal but pee tends to be absorbed by shavings.

This meant that cleaning out the cage became more imperative and by cleaning out the cage I mean cleaning out the hay, newspaper and poop and replacing it with fresh material.

Another factor was that the more piggies I had the more frequently I needed to clean it out. At present we have four guinea pigs and they need cleaning out thoroughly ever two days to keep their cage in a good state.

However when we only had one guinea pig we used to clean them out weekly. But as we have added more, cleaning the cage has had to become more frequent and so we have had to clean it out more often.

So we basically decreased the amount of days between cleaning out the cage and the way that we gauged it is that;

One guinea pig needed cleaning out weekly.
Two Guinea pigs needed cleaning out every four days.
Four guinea pigs need cleaning out every two days.

Any more than four guinea pigs and I would do it once a day as there is just too much poop and pee in the cage for my liking.

By doing this frequently, it keeps the cage nice and fresh for them and when they have fresh hay and newspaper laid down for them, I always find that our piggies really appreciate it which is why I try and do it every other day for them.

The cost has gone up because we now have four guinea pigs, but to be honest meadow hay is really cheap and I really don’t mind buying lots of it for our piggies. They really enjoy sitting on it and eating it.

I will still give it a deep clean once a month with disinfectant which involves taking them out of the cage and cleaning it out thoroughly.

This is the method which works well for us. You may find a method that works for you and your guinea pigs, but this is a tried and tested method which works well and you are welcome to try it.

guinea pig care

Can Guinea Pigs Climb Walls?

Guinea pigs are known for many things, running quickly, squeaking loudly, eating a lot to name but a few things, but can guinea pigs climb walls at all?

The thing with piggies is that one of the things that they can’t do is climb very well especially shear face walls.

If you’ve ever seen a guinea pig try and climb something. They need their hind legs to push them up and get a grip of of the thing they’re trying to climb.

They just aren’t built to do this like animals such as squirrels, rats and others.

So the good news is that if you have a wall around the cage or a wall at home and you let your guinea pigs run around, they won’t be able to clamber up the wall face at all. This includes types of surface with something to grip

If they try, they just can’t get a grip of the surface and so tend to give up. If the surface is at an angle of say 45 degrees then they might manage that but not a wall of 90 degrees.

This is why a lot of guinea pig cages have shallow walls around the without a roof on as they just can’t get out if them.

So if you are wondering if your guinea pig could scale a wall that is bigger than them, then fear not, they are not climbers at all.

can guinea pigs share a cage

10 things that make guinea pigs happy

Guinea pigs are the most fantastic pets and because of this it is natural that you may want to find some things that really make them happy and improve their quality of life.

So here are 10 things that make guinea pigs happy.

1. Lots of hay

Guinea pigs love hay.

In fact, the greener the hay the better is. Timothy hay is the best for them, but meadow happy is a close second.

The more you put in the better and They love to play in it and hide.

My guinea pigs go buts when I do a hay replenishment and so I try and do it often. They also become hay connessuers and turn their noses up when I put I bad hay which is too yellow. But even then, if there is a lot of it in their cage they still enjoy it.

2. Being held

Guinea pigs love to be held.

They really enjoy the comfort of soft hands and being stroked properly, doing this often will increase the trust that you have between you and they will enjoy it and respond with affectionate squeaks and purrs.

Just make sure you put a towel on your lap if out intend to hold them for more than 10 mins as they are likely to pee or poop on you.

3. Giving them toys to play with

Guinea pigs love to play around and so by putting things for them to do in their cages they will enjoy them.

They especially love things to climb on, hide in or chew on. So lots of tunnels, shoeboxes, empty cardboard tubes and things like that always go down well with them.

You can also purchase toys from pet stores and online, but to be honest the free stuff is just as good.

4. Giving them companions

Guinea pigs are not meant to live alone and get very lonely if they are by themselves.

They are social animals and enjoy the company of others, so do consider getting a companion guinea pig if you just have the one on its own.

We started off with one male and then added another male within a few months and have recently added another two and they get on great and are always squeaking away, chasing each other around and they genuinely seem to enjoy each other’s company.

This is especially vital if you are not around during the day time and can’t give them the company they need

5. Giving them space to run around

Being cramped in a space is not fun for anyone and this is true with guinea pigs.

They love to run around and their quality of life is enhanced by having somewhere where they can exercise. This can either be outside in a run or inside on your home floor. They do really enjoy the experience.

Do be careful if you let them out in your home, for things they may chew on though and for poops left in innocuous places.

6. Giving them treats

Just like us, guinea pigs love teats.

Only their treats are more like veggies and really nice Timothy hay. Giving them treats such as bell peppers or carrots goes down so well. Or you could try putting together a mixed veggie bowl of tasty treats.

The great thing about these is that it grows their affinity with you and they’ll pretty much be ecstatic about it. For instance, my piggies go nuts whenever I put down bell peppers for them.

7. Cleaning out their cage

I find that my piggies always tend to appreciate it when they have a cleaner cage to live in.

Fresh hay and newspaper goes down well with them rather than walking amongst their own pee and poop.

8. Keeping them in a good temperature

Guinea pigs do not like freezing temperatures or really hot weather.

Keeping them in an environment between 10 degrees Celsius and 25 degrees Celsius is comfortable for them. Their quality of life goes up when the temperature is suitable for them.

9. Keeping them away from the elements

Guinea pigs do not like the rain, snow or hail so have a place where you can keep them if this happens.

Just like us they are not great fans of getting wet and do prefer dry environments so it is not good to leave them outside when it gets wet or snowy.

10. Avoiding the sun

Guinea pigs do not like direct sunlight either.

They much prefer the shade and will retreat their if they are exposed to direct sunlight. So always provide a shelter or shade for them when they are outside.

Whenever my piggies to outside they look for the shaded parts of the run rather than those that are in the sun and even if there is no shelter they will look to make their own.

So do take care when you put your piggies out in the summer and give them plenty of shelter, they will really appreciate it.

can guinea pigs share a cage

Can Guinea Pigs Share A Cage?

Guinea pigs are very popular pets.

They are beloved all across the world for their cuteness, their geniality, their amenability and can become very tame the more you get to know them and the more they get to know you.

It can be hard to know whether you should have one guinea pig or two or even more when you first get a guinea pig.

Many people just have one guinea pig especially if they are first time owners, but many owners may choose to have more.

So if you happen to have a guinea pig on its own or have acquired multiple guinea pigs, can guinea pigs share a cage?

Can guinea pigs share a cage?

It’s absolutely fine for guinea pigs to share a cage, in fact, they will much prefer sharing a cage than living on their own.

Guinea pigs are social animals and so are not at their best when they live on their own.

When they live with other guinea pigs, they much prefer it and so even if its just another guinea pig they share with, it is much more preferable to being left on their own.

They enjoy the stimulation of being with other guinea pigs. Guinea pigs talk to each other, they help each other, they keep each other company even if they aren’t talking to one another.

They much prefer living with other guinea pigs than being on their own.

Males and females

Just make sure that males share with males and females share with females unless of course they are neutered.

Putting male and females together is a recipe for more guinea pigs than you can handle and a situation that could be detrimental to bother guinea pigs.

Cage and hutch size

Also, make sure that the cage is large enough that they have enough space to walk around in and have their own space.

The cage or hutch needs to be as big as possible for your guinea pigs to roam around in. They enjoy running around to exercise themselves.

The bigger the hutch or cage, the better it is for them.

There are different types of hutch or cage such as wooden cages, metal cages, or even very nice c&c cages which can be constructed to the owner’s specific needs.

So yes, they can share a cage and it is for the best of each guinea pig that they do share one.

should guinea pigs be kept inside or outside

Should Guinea Pigs Be Kept Inside or Outside?

When guinea pigs are kept by an owner in the UK and other western countries, they are left outside in their hutches.

This is because often people don’t like them inside the home or just don’t have room for them. But is this right?

image flickr johan larsson

Well the answer to the question is it depends what the temperature is outside.

What temperatures do guinea pigs enjoy the most?

If the temperature goes below 15 degrees Celsius it’s time to bring them inside. If it goes below 10 degrees Celsius, then they should definitely be inside. Similarly, if the temperature goes above 25 degrees Celsius then it’s time time to think about bringing them inside. However they can deal with the hot better than the cold in my experience and will always seek out cool, and shaded areas.

Guinea pigs are creatures who like dry environments with a cool temperature.

They are very hardy creatures who can handle what comes there way as they have very good survival instincts.

They can survive most environments, but do like extreme colds or hot weather. With this in mind a A stable temperature is much better for guinea pigs that a nice cool temperature is much more preferable to them.

Depending on where you live this can mean that you have the right temperature that enables them to live outside most of the time, or in fact you may have to have them permanently inside as it would just be cruel to keep them outside shivering their little paws off.

So do consider whether the home you have for them is in the right place for them before you set up  a place for them there.

It certainly took us a while to get this right.

An ideal guinea pig home set up

So the ideal situation is to have a place inside a home or an outhouse that is large enough for a pen/cage that they will enjoy living in.

But also if you have the facilities to do this, when the temperature is right that they can live outside as well in a pen/cage that protects them when it gets wet.

They do love to explore so giving them the variety is great for them

Keep guinea pigs out of the rain

Guinea pigs should never live in damp or wet conditions as they can be exposed to fungal conditions and the damp is bad for their insides. If they are exposed to damp and wet conditions, guinea pigs can develop fungai on their feet which can be very painful for them. So if you are having a lot of rain it is also not good for them to be outside as well