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Cage References

In books and web sites all over the internet, you will find “minimum cage size requirements” which would lead you to believe that these figures are indisputable facts or at least based on some authoritative source.

What follows is a list of sources where so-called experts have published their versions of minimum cage standards. Included is as much information as possible about the source, the background of the author, the overall intent of the book, and whether the book is distributed to pet stores. 

This list is still under construction and not in any specific order.

Cavies for Pleasure and Profit
by Edwin F. Deicke
"The greatest collection of information pertaining to Cavies ever published. An encyclopedia of valuable knowledge for the amateur as well as professional breeder of cavies." (all from the book's title page)
1944 (Fourth edition, revised. First edition published 1917) Published and copyrighted by Edwin F. Deicke, Lombard, Ill. (published his own book), 119 pgs.
While I obtained a copy of this book over the internet via eBay, I feel it is very relevant as a source. Clearly, Mr. Deicke was/is recognized as a credible authority on cavies and it is likely that many subsequent positions and standards are based on his experiences, biases, and published works.
“The first edition of this book was published in 1917, and was during the same year that the writer was instrumental with the co-operation of a number of breeders and fanciers in organizing what was then known as the United Cavy Breeders Association, and which association established definite standards for the breeders of Cavies and also appointed qualified judges to judge stock and place proper awards at the various exhibitions thruout the country. This work is now carried on in a commendable way by the American Cavy Breeders Association.” Mr. Deicke is a charter member of the ACBA.

An interesting aside, the author goes on to acknowledge his mother who cared for his cavies while he was away from home in World War I.

Chapters include (among others):
  • Cavies in the Field of Science
  • Cavies for Food
  • Cavies for Fur
  • Cavies for Fancy
  • Cavies for Pets

Single Unit Hutch for 4 females and 1 male: 42" x 20" = 5.8 square feet for 6 pigs.
Compartment Hutch for pregnant females: 21" x 18" = 2.6 square feet for one adult and babies.
Multiple hutch configurations are shown, all from a breeder's perspective.

This is a list from page 81 on Why Many Prefer Cavies (for pleasure and profit).
"Summing it up briefly, the Cavy merits consideration for the following reasons:
1.  Takes up little room.
2.  Consumes small amount of food.
3.  No undesirable odors.
4.  Easy to house.
5.  Do not scratch or bite.
6.  No undesirable noises.
7.  Easy to ship.
8.  Easy to handle.
9.  Good markets for your surplus (selling cavies to labs is promoted multiple times).
10. No large investment required.
11. Ideal for breeding experiments.
12. An interesting hobby."

The Guide to Owning a Guinea Pig 
by Graham J. Edsel

no date, T.F.H. Publications, 65 pgs (may be 1997)
A book which promotes pet store products. "You can really gain a better understanding of guinea pigs from breeding pigs as pets or for exhibition." (page 33)
Nothing about the author and no references for further reading.
“It is a fact of life that most pet animals, such as rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, mice, and guinea pigs, are kept in housing that is far too small to be regarded as adequate. This situation is of historical origin, and also reflects the fact that these pets are inexpensive, so many owners do not want to invest must cash into housing. With a little thought and imagination, you can provide excellent housing for your pet--it does not need to cost a fortune.” (page 7) Great statement! So what does the author recommend? Nothing radical. In fact, lots of photos of guinea pigs in little tub cages.
For a single guinea pig, a minimum of 24" x 15" = 2.5 square feet. (page 9)
You could improve this by adding another 12" to the length: 36" x 15" = 3.75 square feet
Better yet, add another 9" for a latrine section: 45" x 15" = 4.6 square feet
Guinea Pig A practical guide to caring for your guinea pig
by Peter Gurney

not available

1999 HarperCollins Publishers, London, Collins Family Pet Guides, 128 pgs.
Recognized by many, sometimes controversial, authority on cavies. He has trained with the Cambridge Cavy Trust, an organization in England set up to improve the husbandry and veterinary care of rodents.
No other references or recommended reading are suggested in this book. However, on the back of the book it states: "Illustrated throughout with attractive colour photographs, this is the ultimate book for all guinea pig owners." The only acknowledgment is to Vedra Stanley-Spatcher of the Cambridge Cavy Trust.
Standard pet store cages are featured in photographs.

Minimum cage size 28" x 18" = 3.5 square feet (page 41)
States that the golden rule is the bigger the better, and if you use this smallest size cage, then it is "kinder" to let them out for a run around each evening.

Guinea Pigs A Complete Pet Owner's Manual
by Katrin Behrend

1998 (English translation, original title of the book in German is Meerschweinchen) by Barron's Educational Series, Inc., 65 pgs.
Book is widely distributed in pet and pet supply stores.
A journalist and editor of books about animals, lives in Germany and Italy. Guinea pigs are one of her areas of specialization in the field of pet care.
page 63: “Questions on guinea pig maintenance can be answered by most pet store personnel . . .” (maybe in Germany)

Single guinea pig needs a floor surface area of 16" x 32" = 3.5 square feet (page 16)
Cage with a floor space of at least 16" x 25" = 2.7 square feet (page 17)? Conflicting requirements, perhaps to accommodate standard pet store cage sizes? Or just a typo or oversight? Or some subtle difference between floor surface area and cage floor space?
"The books and newsletters of the breeders associations have the best and most current information."

Guinea Pigs As a New Pet
by Stephen Nelson
1995 T.F.H. Publications, Inc., 64 pgs
No mention in the book about the author. On the back of the book: "...was prepared with the assistance of the editorial staff of TFH Publications, the world's largest publisher of pet books. The book has significant ads for pet store products. The author sounds like a breeder, much is written from the first person, and the advice on where to get a guinea pig? At your local pet store.
Overall size of a hutch, whether for one or two cavies: 36" x 15" = 3.75 square feet. (page 10)

Guinea Pigs Family Pet Series "How to Care for Them, Feed Them, and Understand Them"

by Katrin Behrend
1996 (English translation 1997, original title of the book in German is Das Meerschweinchen) by Barron's Educational Series, Inc., 127 pgs.
Book is widely distributed in pet and pet supply stores.
A journalist and editor of books about animals, lives in Germany and Italy. Guinea pigs are one of her areas of specialization in the field of pet care.
Cage floor should be at least 16" x 32" = 3.5 square feet (page 45)
Recommends a temporary cage of a laundry basket or child's bathtub if necessary to postpone the purchase of a large, expensive cage. (page 48)

Separate statement: “A roomy cage, along with daily free run in the home, is all a guinea pig needs to be content.” (page 50)

Acknowledgements to the ACBA (Breeders Association) and German guinea pig associations.

The Really Useful Guinea Pig Guide
by Myra Mahoney
1999 T.F.H. Kingdom Books, 48 pgs
Breeder for over 30 years and well-known in the British Cavy Fancy.
A hutch should be as large as you can manage, but at least 2 square feet. (page 14)
For two cavies: 6 square feet. (page 14)
References to Peter Gurney, Cambridge Cavy Trust, and Cavy Clubs
Your Guinea Pig A Kid's Guide to Raising and Showing
by Wanda L. Curran
1995 Storey Publishing, 151 pgs
Book is readily available in pet and pet supply stores.
A guinea pig breeder and 4-H leader specializing in guinea pigs for more than 6 years. Oroville, CA
Single guinea pig needs: 18" x 18" = 2.25 square feet. (page 18)
One boar with 5 sows for breeding: 30" x 36" = 7.5 square feet for 6 pigs (page 18)
Aquariums make a suitable house. (page 18)
Reasonable list of sources and recommended reading.
Internet Sources
The American Cavy Breeders Association (ACBA)
Your Pet Cavy 
Internet web site: (as of 7/2/2001)
This pamphlet has been provided by the America Cavy Breeders Association and by the following sponsors: ASSOCIATION: The American Cavy Breeders Association is a "specialty club" of the American Rabbit Breeders Association, our parent organization. The ARBA provides us with judges, a Standard of Perfection, show rules and various important record-keeping junctions. It is recommended that the serious cavy enthusiast join both the American Cavy Breeders Association and the American Rabbit Breeders Association. You may obtain information on the ARBA by writing: Secretary, American Rabbit Breeders Assoc., P.O. Box 426, Bloomington, IL 61701.
“For each cavy you must have at least two square feet of floor space.” 
ILAR Guide (Institute of Laboratory Animal Resources)
Since its passage in 1966, the Animal Welfare Act and enhancements created by the Improved Standards for Laboratory Animals Act of 1985, have had a profound impact on the lives of both animals and people. To assist institutions and researchers in caring for and using animals in ways judged to be scientifically, technically, and humanely appropriate, the ILAR Guide* was created. The Guide is a generally accepted industry standard, and a primary reference on animal care and use, and for planning and conducting animal experiments in accord with the highest scientific, humane and ethical principles.

From the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals*,
Institute of Laboratory Animal Resources, Commission on Life Sciences,
National Research Council, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. 1996.

Guinea Pigs
(a) From cage floor to cage top.
(b) Larger animals might require more space to meet the performance standards (*refer to the Guide text).
* You may view the ILAR Guide on line at . To order your copy of the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, call toll-free 1-800-624-6242 or call 202-334-3313 in the Washington metropolitan area. Fax 202-334-2451 or write to NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS, 2101 Constitution Avenue NW, Lockbox 285, Washington, D.C. 20055. You may also order electronically via Internet at .

Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals

Table 2.1 lists recommended space allocations for commonly used laboratory rodents housed in groups.
If they are housed individually or exceed the weights in the table, animals might require more space.

TABLE 2.1 Recommended Space for Commonly Used Group-Housed Laboratory Rodents 


Weight,Floor Area/Animal,Height(b),
gramsin2 (a)in (c)
Mice(less than 10)65
Up to 1585
Up to 25125
Rats(less than100)177
Up to 200237
Up to 300297
Up to 400407
Up to 500607
Hamsters(less than 60)106
Up to 80136
Up to 100166
Guinea pigs(less than 350)607

a To convert square inches to square centimeters, multiply by 6.45.
b From cage floor to cage top.
c To convert inches to centimeters, multiply by 2.54.
d Larger animals might require more space to meet the performance standards (see text).

The above chart recommends adult guinea pigs be allocated .70 sq feet each. That's 10 inches by 10 inches. Babies get a whopping 10" by 6"! So, 5 adult cavies living together would get 3.5 square feet, or 5 guinea pigs in one standard pet store cage. And 7" from floor to ceiling, including bedding. No popping allowed, not that they'd want to.