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Choosing the right cage...

Size guide 120cm X 70cm

The size of a cage is very important when it comes to any animal, no less guinea pigs. The cage is where a guinea will realistically spend most of its time, so it is vital to choose the right one (see below for more on that). The very minimum recommended size for two piggies (piggies should always live in pairs) is 120cm X 70cm. This is the bare minimum! For sows, this is usually safe. For boars, it is really a game of chance - they like to have their own territories, and with a small space this can be difficult and result in fights.

The cage should be a piggy's base, so to speak. It shouldn't be where they spend ALL of their time - they also need to get out and about - for example in a piggy safe room, or in a run indoors or outdoors. Its a place for them to spend the night safely, to have their food, hay, water and to poop and pee. Imagine living in one room for your whole life - that's no fun!

There is a misconception that guinea pigs can live in a small space. Wrong!

Would you keep a dog in a tiny crate? A horse in a tiny stable? A tiger in a tiny enclosure at the zoo? Of course not! There would be outrage, and calls for the RSPCA.

But when it comes to rabbits and guinea pigs, tiny cages are seen as the norm. Hutches where they can barely run, can't have space away from each other, can't play. Pet shops happily sell these as suitable and don't think to actually consider whether they are big enough? Of course customers and new pet owners trust the pet stores and take their advice, meaning they are dealt an unfair hand and the pigs get a bum deal.

Indoors or outdoors?

Merrypigs prefers indoors

  • More regular interaction - pigs generally become tamer, quicker

  • A more constant environment - humidity, temperature etc

  • The pigs are more part of the family

  • Usually illness or injury is spotted more quickly

  • Safer from predators

  • Easier to feed/water/clean out

But outdoors is ok too

  • Remember to bring them indoors over winter!

  • Easier access to grass and exercise

  • Easier to provide larger accommodation if your indoor space is limited

  • They get to naturally graze on fresh grass if they have a run attached

  • Gets you outdoors and into the fresh air

 
 

Recommended

C&C cage

These consist of metal grids which fit together with clips. You can make virtually any shape , add lids and lofts or even storage underneath! Most C&C cages come with correx (a thin, waterproof plastic) to go on the bottom or you can buy Proplex from Wickes. They don't have to be C&C brand! Any 'modular storage cubes' will work, for example from Ikea.

Ensure the grids you choose have 9x9 holes (8x8 holes are larger and piggy heads can get stuck)

Plaza 160

Ferplast make lots of indoor cages in lots of sizes.This 160cm cage is great for 2 pigs, allowing plenty of space. It's easy to clean and the top folds down flat for easy storage. If you're a bit shorter on space, they also make a 120cm size which is a great starter cage.

Midwest

This cage just meets minimum requirements for a pair - BUT it can be attached to another for a really easy big space! No clips are needed and the canvas bottom is leak-proof. The whole thing folds flat for storage!

Hutch combo

Hutch and run combos provide extra space for outdoor pigs in a safe way. As long as that top level is more than 120cm X 70cm, the run underneath can be any size you like! If the ramp is too steep the bottom can be raised with a brick or platform. It's best if you can shut the run off during extreme weather and remember to move it about regularly so it doesn't get muddy underneath.

Single storey

A good, solid single tier hutch is always a good bet. This one is 6 foot long. A sloping roof keeps rain moving and stops it settling into puddles on the top. Big doors for easy access and legs keep the hutch up and away from frosts.

Shed etc

Shed, wendy-house, summer house... as long as it is secure and has windows, it could work! Move a hutch inside and leave it open during the day for extra space. Have no hutch inside and instead use various different hideys. Or build in bespoke levels and areas if you are handy with a hammer! Make sure you can safely leave a door open if it is warm (stable door/mesh across the bottom half) and keep it out of the sun.

Coop style

The only sheltered area of this hutch style doesn't meet the minimum RSPCA size requirements. Unless the sheltered area is above 120cm by 70cm its not big enough for two piggies to share in bad weather or at night. But it is suitable for single pigs if the ramp can be modified to be less steep, and safer!

Plastic

Plastic hutches, although easier to clean, become ovens in hot weather or direct sunlight. This style also has wire underfoot in the run which is great for preventing escape or predator access, but can make piggy feet sore or trapped.

DOUBLE100

Extra levels don't count in the total - each pair needs at least 1.2m of UNINTERRUPTED floor space. The hole around the ramp is not very secure, and the ramp itself is too steep. Alternatively, the Double 120 with a modfied ramp is suitable.

Zoozone

The plastic top of this cage styles make for poor ventilation.

'Oliver' wire

Advertised as a guinea pig cage, this couldn't be more inappropriate. Multiple (unsecured) levels, wire floor for trapped and sore feet, small surface area... this kind of cage is NEVER suitable for guinea pigs!

Triangle run

A bit or a trick, sorry! This is perfectly suitable as a run in the garden. But, due to the floor touching the ground (wood gets wet and rots on the floor quickly) and the sleeping area being small, it's not suitable for a permanent enclosure.

Unsuitable cages

 
 

Hot and cold weather

Hot weather

  • Cover bottles with a sock to prevent algae growth

  • Move hutches out of the sun

  • Provide ice pods or pop bottles, 3/4 full of water, frozen and wrapped in towel

  • Change bedding regularly and be aware of flystrike,

  • Learn the signs of heatstroke - panting, drooling, lethargy, collapse - and apply a cool (not cold) damp towel - VET!

Cold weather

  • Wrap bubble wrap or socks over bottles to help prevent freezing.

  • Invest in heat pods which usually stay warm for about 10 hours.

  • Remove wet bedding regularly.

  • Add extra hay or fleecy items for warmth

  • Bring them indoors (all Merrypigs adopters MUST do this)

  • Invest in a hutch cover

 

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