Guinea pigs are more active than you think. The need for exercise, but also the activity phases of the animals, have been underestimated for many years, writes the expert committee of the Veterinary Association for Animal Welfare on keeping guinea pigs. The experts are calling for a rethink: The previous frequent cage-keeping is after newer scientific knowledge not animal-friendly. These sociable little creatures need space to sprint, pop for popcorn—jumping in the air with all fours at once—and show off their many social traits.
One cage is not enough
How much space do guinea pigs need?
- A group of two to four guinea pigs needs an area of at least 2 m 2.
- An additional 0.5 m 2 should be available for each additional animal.
- A cage can be integrated as a retreat, but it should always be open. The minimum dimensions are 120 x 60 x 50 cm.
- The enclosure should be structured with retreats and sleeping caves.
Guinea pigs in the outdoor enclosure
Keeping guinea pigs outdoors is just as possible as keeping them indoors. However, the following should be noted:
- The animals should be accustomed to the outdoor climate just as slowly as to the intake of fresh food (grass).
- The enclosure must be secured against predators such as birds of prey, martens, or cats.
- It needs an area that is protected from the weather: at least 1 m 2 should always be in the shade or protected from rain.
- It is important to have a frost-free, well-insulated shelter with the option of retreat and no condensation. In winter, a red light lamp is also needed in the house for heating.
- In summer, watch out for overheating, especially on balconies/terraces: if the temperature exceeds 28 degrees, the animals should be housed somewhere else temporarily.
Keeping guinea pigs in groups is recommended
- Guinea pigs should be kept in pairs, preferably in groups.
- A sterilized/neutered male with several females or a group of females only is recommended.
- Socializing with rabbits or other small mammals is not animal-friendly.
Frequently Asked Question
Can you keep guinea pigs humanely?
Guinea pigs need their freedom
There is a simple rule of thumb that each guinea pig should have at least one square meter of space in the enclosure. Since guinea pigs should never be kept alone, an area of at least two square meters is necessary.
What is the best way to keep guinea pigs?
Guinea pigs only feel comfortable in an equipped, spacious enclosure with enough freedom of movement. In addition, they need contact with conspecifics. Because as kin animals you are not allowed to keep them alone and no matter how cute the little rodents may look, they are not cuddly toys.
What is the minimum number of guinea pigs you have to keep?
You just need to keep at least two guinea pigs and at least two rabbits in an enclosure that is large enough. However, if you decide to keep the animals together, your guinea pigs must have a place to go.
How much does a guinea pig cost per month?
Although they are “only” small animals, keeping them is not that cheap. You can count on 40-60 euros per month for two guinea pigs.
What do guinea pigs not like at all?
Onions, radishes, and chili peppers have no place in the guinea pig bowl. The rodents do not tolerate spicy food at all and legumes are also unsuitable for guinea pigs. Some beans, lentils, and peas are even poisonous.
What to do if the guinea pig stinks?
Guinea pigs don’t smell particularly bad. But there are also moments, especially due to lack of care when guinea pigs start to stink. If a guinea pig stinks, care measures are necessary. Male guinea pigs are more prone to unpleasant odors than females.
Where do guinea pigs prefer to sleep?
Guinea pig houses made of natural solid wood are best suited as sleeping houses. These should always have at least two entrances – preferably a front entrance and one or two side entrances.
Which is better guinea pigs indoors or outdoors?
Guinea pigs can be kept both indoors and outdoors. However, it is important to protect them from extreme temperatures. In hot roof apartments or outdoor enclosures without sun protection, guinea pigs often suffer from heat stroke, which often leads to death.