Guinea Pigs are some of the largest rodents that we keep as pets. But it’s pretty common to see these creatures shoved into cages that are far too small. Often, guinea pig cages are a similar size as gerbil or hamster cages. But guinea pigs need far more space to be healthy and happy.
When you’re trying to find the perfect cage for your guinea pig, there’s a lot to consider. But the overall size of the enclosure is probably the single most important factor. If your cage isn’t big enough, your guinea pigs’ health could suffer.
If you’re having a hard time figuring out just what size enclosure your guinea pig needs, don’t worry. We’ve put together a step-by-step guide that will lay out exactly what you need to do to ensure that you get a properly sized cage for your rodents.
How Big Are Guinea Pigs?
Compared to other rodents that are commonly kept as pets, guinea pigs are massive. Take a gerbil for example. These little guys top out at eight inches long and weigh a mere two ounces. Pretty small. But guinea pigs can be twice as long; 16 inches not including the tail. That’s nothing compared to the weight difference though. A fully-grown guinea pig can weigh a whopping 2.6 pounds, which is more than 15 times as heavy as an adult gerbil.
Naturally, it makes no sense to stick a big old guinea pig in a comparatively tiny gerbil cage. Unfortunately, most of the cages that are sold for guinea pigs are about the same size as little gerbil enclosures.
Space Needs for Guinea Pigs
Now that we know exactly how big guinea pigs can get, let’s figure out how much space you need per pig. Remember, these are minimums. More is always better when it comes to providing space for your Guinea Pig.
A single guinea pig requires a minimum of 7.5 square feet of space to live. This means that you’re looking for a cage that’s about 36 inches long and at least 30 inches wide. You might try the MidWest Guinea Habitat Guinea Pig Home with 8 square feet of space, or something else that’s similarly sized.
For two guinea pigs, you’ll need to up the space. Now, you’re looking for an enclosure offering about 10 square feet of space or more. Look for something that’s close to four feet long and at least 30 inches wide. Something like the Ferplast Krolik 160 Guinea Pig Cage is a great fit that provides nearly 10.5 square feet of living space for your guinea pigs.
If you’re housing three guinea pigs, you’ll be looking for a cage that provides 13 or more square feet of living space, which equates to a cage that’s 5 feet long at the same 30 inches wide.
Got four guinea pigs to house? Keep going up in size. If we stick with the same 30-inch width, you’re looking for a cage that’s about 6 feet long.
Benefits of Providing Ample Space
Providing sufficient space for your guinea pig can have many positive benefits. Health benefits abound, for instance. A larger living area means more room to exercise. This decreases the likelihood of health concerns like diabetes, bumblefoot, or heart disease. It also means that your pets can do their exercise on their own time, so you won’t have to set aside time to exercise them.
You’ll also have a much easier time keeping a large space clean. The waste won’t buildup as much and you’ll be able to easily spot clean. Plus, your pigs will separate their bathroom area from the rest of the cage, making it easy to only remove the affected substrate.
Another benefit is that your guinea pigs’ natural personalities will be more exposed since they have more room to express their natural behaviors.
5 Steps for Choosing the Right Size Guinea Pig Cage
Now that we’ve covered a lot of the basics, let’s take that information and use it to find the perfect sized cage for your guinea pigs. Follow each of these steps, and by the end, you’ll have picked out an ideal enclosure for your pet pigs.
Step 1: Count Your Residents and Calculate
The very first step is to count up how many guinea pigs will be sharing an enclosure. A single pig needs just 7.5 square feet of space, but since each additional guinea pig requires more space, we need to know exactly how many rodents will be living in this cage. Once you have a headcount, refer to the section above that covers space needs to figure out precisely how much space your guinea pigs will require.
Step 2: Plan for the Future
Once you have a count of the total residents that will be inhabiting your new cage, think about the future. Is it possible that you might add more guinea pigs in the future? If so, it’s best to account for them now and purchase a cage that will be large enough to suit them when you do get them. Remember, you really can’t give your guinea pigs too much space. Even if you never get those additional guinea pigs, the ones you have will be more than thankful for the extra space!
Step 3: Determine a Location
Before you even start looking at cages, you need to pick out a place to put one. This will give you some space restrictions to work with. If you skip this step, you might end up with a cage that’s plenty big enough for your guinea pigs, but nowhere appropriate to put it!
By figuring out where you’ll put the cage, you can determine what kind of dimensions you’re working with. Let’s say you have two guinea pigs and you want to provide a 12 square foot cage for them. Well, that cage could be two feet wide and six feet long or it could be three feet wide and four feet long. While both of these would be adequate for your guinea pigs, they have drastically different footprints. A space that will accommodate one of these cages likely wouldn’t fit the other in its place.
So, first, you need to figure out where the cage is going. Measure this area so that you know the absolute largest outer dimensions your cage can be. While doing so, make sure that this area has enough space to fit a cage that’s large enough for your guinea pigs since you already know how much space they’ll need.
Step 4: Start Checking Out Your Options
At this point, a lot of the groundwork is done. Now, it’s time to start seeing what’s available. Check out places like your local pet store, Chewy, or Amazon. You’re likely to find a wide range of different cages in the size you need. During this step, you should make a list of the cages that are appropriately sized.
Step 5: Pick a Cage!
Now that you’ve got a list of cages that are the right size for your guinea pigs, it’s time to narrow down the choices and pick a single one to purchase. Make sure that it fits your guinea pigs and the space you measured. Then, compare your options on things like price, how many rooms they have, what they’re made of, and what other users thought of them.
There are plenty of guinea pig cages on the market. But that doesn’t mean they’re all a good fit for your guinea pig! These are some of the biggest rodents that we keep as pets and they need substantial space to be healthy. Follow the steps we’ve outlined in this article and you should have an easy time picking out a cage that provides ample space for all of your guinea pigs.
Featured Image: Mateusz Sienkiewicz, shutterstock