Housing a Guinea Pig
This is not difficult as a large variety of hutches and cages can be used. Guinea pigs can be kept outside all year round if provided with suitable protection.
Pens should be at least 30cm high and should be covered with mesh to keep cats and foxes out and provide plenty of sheltered areas so that they feel safe.
Hutches should be placed in sheltered positions where they are protected from direct sunlight and strong winds.
Temperatures between 12°C and 20°C are ideal. Anything over 27°C will generally lead to heat stroke, especially in animals that are overweight or pregnant.
Guinea pigs need cleaning out frequently as they tend to be very messy.
Guinea pigs like to live in pairs or groups but should never be kept with rabbits. Although rabbits and guinea pigs may seem to get along they are different species with different body language and different nutritional requirements. Additionally a rabbit could easily injure a guinea pig by accident, and rabbits often carry the bacteria Bordatella, which can be fatal to guinea pigs.
Guinea pigs enjoy having toys that they can chew and tunnels and huts to play through. Changing their toys around regularly and giving them new toys will always give them something new to investigate.
Guinea pigs can be kept in single sex groups of either boys or girls, as they generally do not tend to fight. Should a group of males start to become argumentative then castration will generally resolve the problem. Equally, a castrated male can be kept with one or more females.
Guinea pigs can mate from a very young age (of as little as six weeks) although this is not ideal so particular care should be taken with keeping youngsters together or when getting guinea pigs from pet shops where the youngsters may not have been correctly sexed or separated.
Bedding of some sort should be provided, although the type used is mainly down to personal preference.
- Many people use shredded paper or wood shavings along with hay, which is perfectly suitable.
- Recycled paper litters may also be used.
- Sawdust should be avoided as it is too fine and inevitably leads to health problems.