Avoid These Top 5 Guinea Pig Cage Mistakes (Do this instead!)
TOP 5 GUINEA PIG ENCLOSURE MISTAKES
What is the best type of cage for a Guinea Pig? There are many different options for setting up a suitable Guinea Pig cage. My personal favorite is the C&C cage which stands for cubes and coroplast. C&C cages are modular-style cages that are highly customizable which makes them ideal for Guinea Pigs and are fun to style and decorate.
Many new owners don’t realize how important it is to have the right cage setup. Unfortunately, I often see piggy parents make the following mistakes without even knowing the harm they may cause.
Keep reading as I share five of the most common Guinea Pig cage mistakes. Plus, I’ll give you some quick and easy tips to set up the perfect home for your little spud muffins.
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Mistake #1. Having the wrong type of cage
Not to sound dramatic, but getting the wrong type of cage for your Guinea Pig can be dangerous and potentially deadly. Cavies need solid flat surfaces, plenty of space to run around, lots of ventilation, and soft beds or cozy hides to sleep in.
Who knew just how particular Guinea Pigs can be about their home?!
Examples of bad Guinea Pig cages:
- Even with the top off, there is still only one side open which means poor air circulation.
- Poor ventilation can lead to URI (upper respiratory infection) which can be deadly if not treated by a veterinarian.
- They’re typically too small and don’t offer piggies enough room to run around.
- They’re hard to keep clean. Large aquariums can be very heavy and difficult to properly clean out.
- Rabbit Hutches often have steep ramps which are dangerous for Guinea Pigs.
- Ramps pose a falling risk if they are too high or steep.
- Most Rabbit hutches have wire flooring which is fine for a rabbits large feet, but is painful and can cause injury to a Guinea Pigs tiny feet.
- Wire flooring can lead to sore feet or painful bumblefoot infections.
- No way! These are way too small for Guinea Pigs!
- They could get stuck in the tiny tubes that hamster cages come with.
- Please never put a Guinea Pig in a hamster cage. It’s just cruel.
Plastic Tub or Storage Container
- These are way too small and do not even come close to the minimum cage size requirements for Guinea Pigs!
- Guinea Pigs can’t see out of them which is very isolating for such social creatures. They like to be able to look outside of their enclosure to see what’s going on around them. It’s true, Guinea Pigs are very nosy and social!
- They don’t provide enough air circulation which can cause breathing problems and expensive veterinary treatments.
- Poor ventilation from small plastic cages can lead to the dreaded URI (upper respiratory infection) which happens when they breathe in too much ammonia from their urine.
Vertical cage with multiple levels
- These tall multilevel cages are meant for small agile animals like sugar-gliders, ferrets, and chinchillas who can navigate steep ramps and small platforms.
- They don’t provide enough flat surface area for a Guinea Pig to run around and hide.
- The steep ramps are dangerous and pose a fall risk to piggies.
Examples of good Guinea Pig cages:
DIY C&C(cubes and coroplast)
- There are C&C kits you can buy and assemble yourself. Or, you can DIY and use these grids from Amazon along with yard sale sign material or large corrugated plastic sheets (coroplast) from your local hardware store.
- I DIY’d my piggies' cages and secured them with lots of zip ties to make sure they’re extra sturdy!
- C&C Cages are great because they're open and offer plenty of air circulation.
- This helps avoid upper respiratory infections – which Guinea Pigs are prone to.
- The grids are modular and can be configured to fit various shapes and sizes which is nice if you have a corner or odd-shaped space you need to build around.
- You can add a hinged top if you have other pets in the house or small children you’d like to keep out of the cage.
- They’re easier to clean than hutches because they’re wide open.
- They’re easy to expand upon if you add to your herd! More piggies = more space needed.
- They’re fun to customize with decorations you can hang from the side of the cage such as tassels, pom poms, garland, wooden signs, and other piggy paraphernalia. Just be sure decorations are piggy safe and out of reach of their little nibbling teeth!
- The open sides allow your piggies to see out and beg for more veggies and treats. Side note: Guinea Pigs act like they’re starving all the time, so you’ll just have to get used to the constant begging.
QUICK TIP: Check out the Guinea Pig Cages Store online for creative C&C cage setups to get some inspiration on the many ways you can customize a cage to fit your Guinea Pigs’ needs as well as your own aesthetic.
Kavee Cage C&C Kit
- The kit comes with everything you need to set up your own C&C cage!
- Assembly is still required, but the coroplast is already pre-cut and measured for easy installation once you put the grids together.
- Lots of fun colors and themes are available!
- You can add to and modify this cage as your needs and styles change.
MidWest Guinea Habitat Guinea Pig Home
- 8 square feet provides the very bare minimum recommendation of living area for one Guinea Pig.
- The 1-inch spaced bars won't allow your piggy to get its head stuck in the grids.
- Open top for easy access and cleaning
- Durable, leak-proof, washable and easily removable PVC lined canvas bottom.
- Sets up easily in minutes and folds flat for storage and travel.
- No tools or connecting pieces are required for assembly or disassembly.
- There’s a “Plus” option that includes a dividing panel with hinged lock-in-place ramps for separate play areas.
- I recommend getting two of these cages and connecting them together if you have two or three Guinea Pigs as these are the very smallest sized cages recommended for more than one Guinea Pig.
MidWest Guinea Habitat Deluxe Guinea Pig Cage
- All the benefits of the basic Midwest cage and it comes with a hinged top to keep animals and small children out of the cage.
- Again, I recommend getting two of these and connecting them together to give your Guinea Pigs plenty of floor space to run around and play!
- Side note: DO NOT use the plastic hay feeder that comes with this cage.
- Instead, put a pile of hay in the smaller side of the cage or put a small plastic pan in the cage with a big pile of hay inside to help contain the hay and encourage your piggies to use the bathroom in that area.
Mistake #2. Getting the wrong size cage
This is probably the most innocent yet harmful mistake of all because many new owners simply buy the Guinea Pig cage from the pet store thinking it’s suitable. Only to find out later that it is way too small and they need to get a larger cage. This can turn out to be a very costly mistake as well!
Unfortunately, most cages sold in stores are way too small to house a single Guinea Pig, much less two or more! You can check out my Guinea Pig Cage Size Recommendations here in this post under question #6.
The Humane Society recommends at least 7.5 square feet for one Guinea Pig, but because they do best in pairs, a minimum of 10.5 square feet is best.
QUICK TIP: Get the biggest cage you can that fits into your space, so you don’t have to spend even more money to “size up” later on. Bigger is always better when it comes to your Guinea Pigs' home!
Mistake #3. Having the wrong type of cage floor
This goes along with getting the right type of cage. Ideally, you want the cage floor to be solid, flat, and waterproof. Plastic cage liners, waterproof canvas, and coroplast (corrugated plastic) make perfect cage flooring.
Avoid these types of cage bottoms and floors for your Guinea Pigs:
- Wire flooring can be harmful to a Guinea Pigs tiny paws. The wires can dig into their feet and cause discomfort and sores.
- Floors with screens or open grids will also hurt your piggy’s paws.
- If a hutch is kept outside on the lawn then damp grass could pose a problem. The cold ground isn’t ideal for Guinea Pigs, nor is very hot humid conditions. They need a clean, dry, comfortable place to rest.
QUICK TIP: Get a large sheet of Coroplast from your local hardware store and cut it to fit the bottom of the cage. It’s cheap, waterproof, and very easy to wipe down and disinfect. I got a 4ft x 8ft sheet of coroplast from Lowes Home Improvement for under $20.
Mistake #4. Using the wrong type of bedding or substrate
What is Guinea Pig bedding?
Guinea Pig bedding is the layer that the Guinea Pig comes into contact with. It’s where they eat, sleep, and use the bathroom. It’s the layer you put over the flooring and ideally, it’s soft and absorbent.
Dangers of using the wrong type
What to use instead – fleece, paper, kind dried shavings
Now, that you know what type of bedding to use, let’s talk about how to keep it clean even with a busy schedule so you can stop feeling guilty about being a bad Guinea Pig parent with a dirty stinky cage.
Mistake #5. Not cleaning the cage often enough
Keeping their cage clean can feel like a never-ending job. When I first brought my Guinea Pigs home I was astonished at how many poo pellets they dropped in the first few hours of being home. It’s insane how much they can produce from their tiny little bodies! Needless to say, they still need a clean cage.
A dirty cage can lead to many health problems like:
- Bumblefoot (sore swollen painful feet)
- URI (upper respiratory infections)
- Urine scald (burns to their skin from sitting in their urine)
- UTIs (urinary tract infections)
- Bacterial infections that can spread to humans
Most, if not all, of these things, can all be avoided if you keep their habitat clean and tidy.
But, it can be hard to keep up with all the poop and pee. It can feel impossible to keep their cage clean every day! And you don’t want your house to stink to high heaven right?
Here are some quick cleaning tips and hacks.
- Spot clean daily. Sweep up the poops at least twice a day. I do this morning and evening as part of the Guinea Pigs' daily cleaning routine.
- Shake out the fleece into the trash once a day if you can, or at least sweep or vacuum the poop. I use this little hand vac to quickly vacuum up the poop.
- Replace the heavily soiled areas and corners with clean fleece or fresh bedding each day to keep odors down.
- Use a 1:1 mixture of water and distilled white vinegar for a safe and cheap cleaning solution. Spray down the plastic liner, canvas, or coroplast once or twice a week to help kill germs and reduce odors.
- Keep an air purifier running to help keep the dust and dander under control. It will also help keep the air in your home smelling fresh! I have two of these Levoit air filters going at all times in the Guinea Pig area and it has really helped with our allergies too!
If you can avoid these five cage mistakes right off the bat, then you’ll be off to a great start with your Guinea Pigs.
A little upfront expense will go a long way with your furry little potatoes and will end up saving you a lot of money in the long run.
So, which one of these mistakes have you made, or which one will you avoid now that you know what to do instead? Let me know in the comments below.
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