Your Guinea Pigs' Home
Bigger is better! For the health and well-being of your guinea pigs, beyond the minimums, provide as large a living area as you can manage. Cubes and Coroplast (C&C) cages are an easy and inexpensive alternative to the small cages used by breeders and those sold at pet stores. Follow the minimum cage size standards of 7.5 or 10.5 square feet and you will see your own guinea pig's behavior improve significantly. Enjoy the new antics of your happier, healthier, and perkier guinea pigs in their proper environment.
*Note: Most panels (or cubes
or grids) are 14 inches square; the grid dimensions quoted
also allow for the connectors between the grids, so one panel or cube is
wider than one foot. DO NOT use grids with inner
square spaces greater than 1.5 inches. Make
sure you are using the right kind. Some brands, such as those from
K*Mart are a different size (15 inches) and will require different measurements
or overlapping some grids using cable ties rather than connectors.
Remember, measure twice, cut once.
*Also Note: Cage sizes quoted are the INNER, USABLE dimensions of the
cage. NOT the standard cage manufacturers' ploy of measuring the outer
lip of plastic from end to end to publish the cage size.
Babies, very young or very small guinea pigs, and
pregnant mothers require some temporary additional height on the
sides of the cage (it's easy to do). In addition, any wire hay
rack should be used with caution with very small guinea pigs. See the
Cage Safety page for
instructions and suggestions.
The old breeder-espoused cage standards
of 2 or 4 square feet are dead and no longer apply. The new standards
have been proven out over the years with worldwide adoption and
success. Read some of the
Testimonials here and surf through the many
internet guinea pig forums, lists and groups with unending positive
results demonstrating improved health and well-being of guinea pigs everywhere.
For further reading about 'why bigger cages' see the
Benefits section below, the
About Us page, and the
Why So Big?Pet store-sized cages are glorified litter boxes. Should any animal be forced to live in a litter box? We think not. Does 7.5 square feet sound like a lot? It's not really. It is only 30" x 36". In the grander scheme of things, it is still a very small environment for your cavy. Exercise and exploration space are very important for their long-term health and happiness. Cavies need enough room to do "full-tilt laps." Upper levels should not be counted in providing the minimum square footage. In fact, ramps used to provide access to the upper deck usually take away from downstairs exercise space and count against square footage.
Benefits of MORE SPACE
Exercise in General
The health benefit of exercise for guinea pigs is significant. Like humans, overweight guinea pigs have a higher tendency toward health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, bladder infections, respiratory problems, bumblefoot, and more.
Adult males can develop a condition called impaction -- a loss of muscle tone in the anal area, causing their droppings to get 'backed up' and require periodic cleaning by their guardians. A large cage with ample room for exercise can help keep your guinea pig toned and fit.
Adult females tend to put on weight in their belly as they get older. It's more difficult to find and diagnose ovarian cysts and other related problems in females when they are overweight.
Exercise on Their Schedule
Not yours. Even if you provide an ample amount of floor time every day, your guinea pigs need to be able to exercise and explore on their own body clocks. Guinea pig activity tends to be an hour "on" and an hour "off." Many are particularly active in the morning and evening -- not necessarily at times that are convenient for you. If they have a large enough cage, they can exercise whenever they choose.
Like people, guinea pigs get bored living in the same old small cage hour after hour, day after day, year after year with nothing much to do. It would be like 'being sent to your room' forever, only your room is the size of a walk-in closet and that becomes your life. You have to entertain yourself, eat, sleep, and 'go to the bathroom' all in that small space -- until you die. Even if you are hauled out and allowed to 'play' with some other species periodically, it's a mind-numbing, dreary existence.
Keeping the Peace
If you have two or more non-breeding or same-sex guinea pigs (as you should, since they are social animals), it helps keep them happy with each other if they have enough room to run and play and to get away from each other when they choose.
Easier to Clean
Believe it or not, a larger cage is much easier to clean and keep clean than the smaller pet store or commercial cages. You can read other people's experiences in the Testimonials and find out more about how to clean the cage on the cleaning page. And an easier to clean cage for you means you'll love your guinea pigs that much more over the years.
More Fun for You
Happy guinea pigs are more entertaining and well-adjusted guinea pigs. Healthy guinea pigs means fewer vet visits, worries, and bills. Easy-to-maintain guinea pigs means a happier relationship with your animals. You'll spend less time cleaning and more time enjoying them and your life, especially knowing they are doing so well and you are doing the right thing by them.