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How big should your guinea pig cage be?

Here’s how to choose the best sized cage for your piggy

By Emily Lewis

With a bewilderingly wide variety of cages available online and in pet shops, it can be confusing to know exactly what size of cage your guinea pigs really need. Here’s our guide to help you choose the best and kindest cage for your guinea pigs, which will offer the most space for them to zoomie and popcorn to their little hearts’ content. 

There are even some handy tips for choosing the right location for your cage and also for selecting the ideal sized outdoor run.

WHY IS THE RIGHT CAGE SIZE IMPORTANT FOR GUINEA PIGS?

Guinea pigs are ground roaming rodents and it’s important to know from the offset that they need a large floor space to explore. Cavies are much larger than hamsters and gerbils and yet they’re generally kept in cages offering not much space to explore. 

Did you know that guinea pigs can get onto their feet and run around from only a few hours old? Amazing isn’t it? But the fact is that they spend their lives on those adorable little feet.

Guinea pigs don’t climb and usually have pretty poor depth perception. That means that multi-level cages with steep ramps without protective sides aren’t ideal at all. These types of cages are typically made for mice and rats who are expert climbers. Guinea pigs may enjoy an extra level, but the ramp should be shallow and should have protective sides, to avoid nasty falls - such as the C&C loft and ramp.

What are the key benefits of a large cage?

  • Large enclosures help cavies stay healthy. Giving guinea pigs plenty of space means that they’re able to exercise and run around. This reduces the chance of them developing medical conditions such as obesity, heart disease and bumblefoot.
  • More space means less bickering! When guinea pigs have plenty of space, they’re less likely to argue and get into a confrontation. Boars (male guinea pigs) need more space per animal than sows (female guinea pigs) because they’re more prone to arguing with each other.
  • Roomier enclosures help curb boredom. Bored guinea pigs aren’t happy guinea pigs. They can start chewing bars, eating parts of their cage and annoying cage-mates if they don’t have enough space. Space provides enrichment for guinea pigs. They enjoy exploring and foraging around large spaces.
  • Happy guinea pigs also mean happy humans. We love to see our pet piggies enjoying themselves. Bigger spaces mean more zoomies and popcorns which are bound to brighten up anyone’s day. Nothing puts a smile on your face like the sight of a bouncing guinea pig!

WHERE CAN YOU BUY A GUINEA PIG CAGE?

Although your first thought may be to head to a pet shop, many high street pet shops don’t sell cages that exceed the minimum requirement for two sows (female guinea pigs). Despite being too small, pet shops often advise buyers that the cages are suitable for their needs. However, once they’ve brought the cage home, owners often realise that their guinea pigs aren’t happy in their small space and end up buying another cage. Considering pet shop cages aren’t cheap for their size, it’s best to do the research and select the correct sized cage first time around. Also, why wouldn’t you want to give your beloved piggies a better quality of life?

Not only do C&C cages meet the minimal requirements but they are also an economical choice. The largest cage available on a popular UK pet shop’s website was only the minimum recommended size for two guinea pigs and cost £100. The equivalent size for a Kavee C&C cage is a 3x2 and it costs around £50. The recommended size for two guinea pigs is actually one size bigger than the minimal size - a 4x2 C&C cage - and, at £66,  this is still much cheaper than the pet shop cage but will offer your guinea pigs considerably more space and better quality of life. Even the largest cage that Kavee sells, at £81, costs less than the small pet shop cage and that’s a 6x2 C&C cage – suitable for up to four guinea pigs. 

size guinea pig cage c and c cage cc cage kavee uk
 Image source: https://www.theguineapigforum.co.uk/threads/cage-size-guide.120795/

 You can also buy wooden hutches designed for outdoor use online. Most people find that these hutches degrade fairly quickly and may prefer to use a small shed or children’s wooden playhouse as they are larger, better insulated and last longer.

However, it’s important to be aware that The Humane Society advises against guinea pigs being housed outside. If you do opt for an outside hutch, you must ensure that it’s adequately insulated and waterproof. Guinea pigs are very sensitive to high and low temperatures. If they’re living in a cold draught, they can be more prone to catching a respiratory illness and might even develop pneumonia. It’s not just winter when they’re more at risk by living outside. Guinea pigs can also develop potentially fatal heatstroke during hot summer weather. 

THE ULTIMATE SIZE GUIDE TO GUINEA PIG CAGES

Take a look at these guidelines from the Humane Society and the RSPCA on the minimum cage sizes recommended for guinea pigs. 

Ideally, you should try to go at least one size up from these minimum sizes and choose the biggest cage that you can realistically fit in the space you have. The simple truth is that more space is best.

Number of guinea pigs

Minimum floor space

Recommended floor space

2 sows

2x3 C&C = 8 ft2

2x4 C&C = 10 ft2

3 sows

2x4 C&C = 10 ft2

2x5 C&C = 12ft2

2 boars

2x4 C&C = 10 ft2

2x5 C&C = 12ft2

1 neutered boar & 2 sows

2x4 C&C = 10 ft2

2x5 C&C = 12ft2

4 sows

2x5 C&C = 12ft2

2x6 C&C = 14 ft2

 

size chart guide for guinea pig c&c cage Kavee uk

 

Be aware that recommendations are also different for sows and boars, with boars generally needing more space because they’re more likely to fight if they have insufficient room.  

For more than four guinea pigs, the advice is to add 2ftper guinea pig. This is equal to adding an extra C&C grid on to a cage or an extra 60x30cm. One of the benefits of using a C&C cage is that if you do decide to get another guinea pig and need to extend your cage, it’s easy. Simply buy some new grids and extend the base or buy a new base. You won’t need to buy a whole new cage if you do decide to extend at some point.

It’s important to note that these recommendations only apply to one floor. Lofts and multiple levels on C&C cages don’t count toward the total floor space. That’s because guinea pigs need a flat space to run. Whilst lofts can add excitement to the cage and many guinea pigs enjoy using the ramps, by adding a loft you’re not technically adding more floor space. So, for example, a 4x2 C&C cage for two guinea pigs is considered to offer the same floor space as a 4x2 C&C cage with a loft.

If you’re looking at cages from other retailers that are measured in centimetres, it might seem a little tricky to do a direct comparison but the table below should help you with the conversions.

Number of C&C grids

Cage size in ft2

Cage size in cm

2x3

8

105x70

2x4

10

140x70

2x5

12

175x70

 

FINDING THE RIGHT SPACE TO PUT YOUR CAGE

After figuring out the right cage size for your piggies and finding a suitable supplier, there’s another important decision to be made. You need to choose the right location for your guinea pig cage.

Here’s Kavee’s guide to choosing the right spot for your indoor C&C cage.

The ideal location for a guinea pig cage is:

  • Away from loud noises – piggies have really sensitive ears so don’t put them next to a TV or stereo. Although they enjoy the company of people, they like to have a quiet space of their own; somewhere where they can go if they become scared of noise. Adding a hideout, such as a cardboard box, to your cage can create a safe space where they can retreat. 
  • Secure from other pets – guinea pigs are prey animals and can easily be attacked by cats and dogs. If you have a dog or cat, ensure that there is a secure door between them and the guinea pig cage. Sadly, we’ve heard reports from owners that even relaxed dogs have managed to get into cages and injure guinea pigs. Remember that accidents can happen in seconds. We recommend a cage with a lid and a stand as extra protection if you have a dog or cat. As an additional barrier, you could fit a baby gate on the door leading to the guinea pigs. 
  • Away from draughts or radiators – as we’ve already mentioned, guinea pigs can develop nasty illnesses if they’re placed in cold draughts. Avoid placing their cage by a window or door. Buying a cage with stand can help keep them warmer as the base doesn’t touch the ground. Avoid putting their cage too close to a radiator too as they might overheat. 
  • Not in a bedroom – guinea pigs are most active at dawn and dusk but they also potter around during the night. In fact, they’re surprisingly noisy little creatures! Unless you’re a very deep sleeper, it’s probably best to keep them elsewhere.
  • Away from wires and electrics - guinea pigs love to gnaw so don’t place their cage close to electric wiring or the results could be disastrous. This is also something to consider when letting them run around the house during floor time.

SPACE OUTSIDE THE CAGE

It’s important for guinea pigs to have other places to explore away from their main cage. Many people buy outdoor runs for their guinea pigs to spend time in during the warmer and drier months. Time outside can be very enriching for guinea pigs - they enjoy grazing and foraging on lawns and it gives them a new space to experience. As they’re likely to spend many hours in their run during the summer, the outdoor cage should follow the same size recommendations as their main cage 

As well as being spacious, runs must be safe and secure. Guinea pigs are adept little escape artists, managing to escape underneath and even over the top of runs. For that reason, a simple circle of chicken wire won’t contain them for long! Ensure the run is sturdy and can’t be lifted and a lid is very important too. Cats, foxes and birds of prey are a huge risk to guinea pigs and may target the run so it must be strong and secure enough to keep them out.

Kavee offer secure C&C runs and outdoor playpens which give guinea pigs plenty of space to safely enjoy the outside world.

Indoor exploring is also fun for guinea pigs and, trust us, they’ll love having a scamper around your home. C&C cages are easy to open up and you could even install a door grid to let your piggies out for floor time if you have a cage without a stand. Before you do this, though, it’s really important to double check that your space is guinea pig-proof. Make sure there are no dangling wires or trailing leaves from houseplants that could be dangerous for them to chew.

You will have to get used to the odd puddle of pee or little trail of poop around the house but if your piggy has easy access to the cage, they are likely to head back there for a ‘comfort break’. Another tip is to pop fleece pee pads in corners around the room as this is where they’re most likely to do their business.

Remember that floor time and outside space is a bonus and shouldn’t be considered a replacement for the space available to them in their main cage. Just because they get floor time every day doesn’t mean that their main cage should be any smaller than the recommended size.

THE KEY GUINEA PIG CAGE SIZE TAKE-AWAYS

The main message is that guinea pigs should have a cage that’s as big as you can fit in your space.

As advised by Humane Society and the RSPCA, the recommended size for two female guinea pigs (sows) is 10ftwhich is a 4x2 C&C cage or 140 x 70 cm.

The recommended size for two male guinea pigs (sows) is 12ftwhich is a 5x2 C&C cage or 175 x 70 cm. Remember that male guinea pigs (boars) need more space than sows to help reduce the risk of fighting. 

The recommended size for three female guinea pigs is 12ftwhich is a 5x2 C&C cage or 175 x 70 cm. 

There are many benefits to having plenty of space for your piggies to run around, including preventing nasty health issues such as obesity and bumblefoot. Guinea pigs who have more room for popcorning and enjoying life are less likely to bicker between themselves.

It’s important to consider where to put a cage. The cage should be safe and secure away from other pets like cats and dogs and should be away from draughts, radiators and wires.

Guinea pigs also benefit from exploring other areas indoors during floor time, and being outside in a secure outdoor run or playpen when it’s warm and dry. Remember, though, that nothing can replace the benefits of a spacious main cage.

As a basic rule: the bigger the cage the happier the guinea pig!

Check our other useful posts:

Reducing your guinea pigs’ carbon footprint  

What are C&C cages for guinea pigs? 

The ultimate guide to using fleece liners for guinea pigs 

6 ways in which C and C cages got better

Which C&C cage is right for my guinea pigs? 

What does C&C cage stand for? 

Hinged doors, lids and gates on C&C cages: how does it work? 

4 reasons to add a stand to your C&C cage 

10 ideas to decorate your C&C cage with everyday items 

Do guinea pigs need a house in their cage? 

A guide to C&C cages size 

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