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A guinea pig -- or cavy -- will run and jump in his cage, expressing a naturally playful personality. Industry standards dictate a minimum cage size that doesn't offer him much space, so opt for a larger cage when possible. Choose the right cage size based on the number of cavies you own.
The minimum recommended cage size for a solo guinea pig is 2 square feet, or 1 foot by 2 feet. For two cavies, choose a minimum of 20 inches by 20 inches. For three, find a cage that is 4 square feet, or 2 feet in both length and width. Because guinea pigs aren't known for their climbing abilities, height is less important than it would be for other small rodents. Leave space for an in-cage water dish or a water bottle that clips to the cage side.
If space allows, choose cages larger than the minimum size. The Humane Society of the United States suggests a cage that is 30 inches by 36 inches for one cavy, 30 inches by 50 inches for two cavies, 30 inches by 62 inches for three cavies, and 30 inches by 76 inches for four cavies. Consider purchasing ramps or platforms to create different levels within the cage and enrich your cavy's environment. Place the cage in a family room or other interior area, away from drafty windows and heat sources; cavies can overheat and catch chill.
Benefits of Larger Cages
Without proper stimulation, guinea pigs get bored. By offering a larger cage, you enable your pal to move around more while you're not home and space to provide entertainment in the form of toys. Guinea pigs kept in smaller cages may be more susceptible to health problems such as the footpad infection bumblefoot, anal impaction or diabetes. Plus, these cavies are social. They do best when housed together in groups but become stressed in overcrowded environments where they lack adequate personal space.
Avoid wire mesh cages, as these can damage delicate cavy feet, causing broken toes and foot sores. Look for a cage with a solid bottom floor, such as a glass aquarium-style cage or a cage made from hard plastic. Line the cage floor with 2 to 3 inches of shredded paper. This serves as bedding and also absorbs animal waste. Avoid using cedar or pine shavings, which contain chemicals.
- The Humane Society of the United States: Guinea Pig Housing
- "The Guinea Pig Handbook"; Sharon Lynn Vanderlip
- Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images