If you’re interested in Kavee’s spacious C&C cages, then chances are that you want the best for your guinea pigs (which is, of course, brilliant - here at Kavee, we’re passionate about guinea pig welfare and, in particular, guinea pig cage sizes).
With that in mind, it’s important not only to choose the largest possible cage for your guinea pigs but also to understand the importance of giving them daily time OUT of their cage.
If you’ve never heard of the phrase or concept before, don’t worry - we’re here to explain!
WHAT IS FLOOR TIME FOR GUINEA PIGS?
First things first, ‘floor time’ is the time your guinea pigs spend out of their regular environment - for this reason, it’s also known as ‘out of cage time’. Your piggy’s floor time could be spent either running around and munching grass and dandelions in your garden or exploring a safe, secure area indoors. Sadly, the importance of floor time is something that many guinea pig parents simply don’t realise which means that countless guinea pigs spend far too long in their cage.
Too much time spent in their cage can cause weight gain, sores on their feet, boredom and even depression. Well, would you like to spend all your life in just one room? Nope, thought not.
Floor time enriches your guinea pig’s life, providing exercise and mental stimulation. Quite simply, they need floor time to live a healthy, happy life.
It’s also an ideal opportunity for you to join your piggy down on the floor and enjoy some fun interaction time with them, helping strengthen your bond. Go on, you know you want to do it! (For tips on how to bond with your guinea pigs, check out '20 Best Ways to Bond with Guinea Pigs').
HOW MUCH TIME OUT OF THE CAGE DO GUINEA PIGS NEED?
This may surprise you but ideally piggies need TWO HOURS of daily floor time. It may sound a lot but think about it; in the wild in their native South America, guinea pigs have always roamed free, living in burrows in groups of 10 or more and foraging for food.
Guinea pigs are inquisitive creatures at heart - it’s obvious that they’re curious about the world around them when you see them poke their little noses up in the air to see who’s approaching their cage. Whilst domestic piggies obviously don’t need walking like a dog, they still need time to experience the world outside their cage.
As piggies are hesitant by nature, they can take a little while to adjust to new surroundings when first transferred from their cage. So they need time to muster the courage to explore their floor time area.
For this reason, they need AT LEAST an hour of time out of their cage to make the most of it and, ideally, more than that. If you can let your piggies scamper around on the floor for TWO HOURS each day then it will do them the world of good, we promise.
ORGANISING FLOOR TIME FOR YOUR GUINEA PIGS
If you’ve never previously thought about offering your piggy floor time, you’re probably wondering how on earth you can safely organise it all. After all, there are plenty of potential risks to your guinea pigs’ safety, both indoor and outdoors.
Here are our handy tips for setting up floor time sessions which are safe and fun for you and your precious piggy.
TIP #1: GUINEA PIG PROOF YOUR HOME
Before you let your mini explorer free in your home, get down to their level (ie; on the floor) and consider any potential hazards. These include open doors from which they could escape or nooks or crannies where they could become trapped.
Remove any hanging wires they could chew through and ensure that the area is all on one level with no steps they could fall. If you have larger animals such as dogs or cats, it’s safest to keep them in a separate space during floor time to avoid nasty accidents.
Remove anything - rugs, blankets, cushions etc - that would not survive having wee or poop dropped on them because, let’s face it, when a guinea pig needs to ‘go’ they don’t hold back!
TIP #2: LOCATE A SPOT FOR GUINEA PIG FLOOR TIME
When choosing your floor time spot, consider whether you can have it set up all the time or whether you’ll need to arrange it before each floor time. It makes sense to have floor time close to the cage for easy transferral of pigs, accessories and treats but if you have a better spot that works for you, such as a separate secure room, go with it.
It’s obviously important to ensure that your guinea pig can’t escape from the floor time area and keep a close eye on them at all times so they don’t go wandering without you knowing where they’ve gone.
Bear in mind that you’ll need an easily washable hard floor - carpets aren’t an ideal surface unless you fancy having them sprinkled with pee. However, your guinea pig may struggle to walk properly on a smooth surface such as lino, floorboards or tiles and that’s where our next tip comes in…
TIP #3: SET UP YOUR GUINEA PIG’S FLOOR TIME AREA
If you’re already the proud owner of one or two of our Kavee fleece liners (and, if not, why not? Check out ‘Why Guinea Pig Owners are Swapping From Wood Shavings to Fleece’), then it’s time to pat yourself on the back. You’ve just discovered another use for your fleece liner!
Lay down your fleece liner in your floor time area and bingo, you have a comfortable floor surface for your guinea pigs to run around on. If they’re already used to having a fleece liner in their cage, it will feel like a home from home for them.
Quick warning though - don’t be tempted to set up a fleece liner on top of carpet, thinking that it will protect it. As fleece liners wick away urine and other spills down into the lower layer, your carpets could still become soiled. Another idea is to use a washable splash mat to protect your flooring when your piggies are on the loose.
TIP # 4: USE A C&C CAGE WITH A STAND FOR GUINEA PIG FLOOR TIME
If you have a Kavee C&C cage with a stand (here are ‘4 Good Reasons to Add a Stand to your Guinea Pigs C&C Cage’), then you can centre your floor time around it. Remove any storage boxes from the stand and with the spaces left underneath the cage, you’ll have some exciting playrooms for your piggy to discover.
You may want to put down old towels or pee pads on the floor in each section along with some treats and toys for them to explore. You could lay a fleece along the front of the cage to extend the play area for when your guinea pig ventures out from their playrooms. Ensure that your cage is pushed right back against a wall so that your piggies can’t squeeze behind it and get trapped or injured.
TIP #5: MAKE FLOOR TIME FUN FOR YOUR GUINEA PIGS
Now it’s time to unleash your creativity. Add guinea pig tipis, wooden castles pee pads, snuggle sacks, cuddle cups and toys (our personal favourite floor time toys - guinea pig tank and van hideys to your floor time area for them to enjoy).
Don’t forget to add some hay for foraging fun and other edible treats for them to munch on - all that dashing around and exploring is sure to make them peckish! Finally, if they drink from a water bowl then feel free to add it to your set up. Obviously this will be harder to do with a water bottle, although free standing water bottles for small pets are available online. If you are using a C&C cage with a stand, you can attach your bottle to the stand where your piggies can reach it.
TIP #6: JOIN IN WITH GUINEA PIG FLOOR TIME
Now for the REALLY fun bit (for you)....get involved with floor time but keep it calm and safe. Sit or lie quietly beside your guinea pig as they wander around and watch them having fun - it’s lovely, we promise!
Try not to interfere with them too much when they’re having their out of cage time - just let them do their thing. They might even scamper over to you and try to climb on you. By joining in with floor time, you’ll reassure your piggies that you’re not a threat, ultimately strengthening your bond.
TIP #7: TAKE YOUR GUINEA PIG OUTDOORS
In warmer months, it makes sense to let your piggies explore the great outdoors - safely, of course. Kavee C&C outdoor runs and playpens are ideal for al fresco floor time. You can pop them up in your garden for playtime and then either leave them standing for next time or remove them when your piggies go back inside (animal welfare organisations advise against keeping guinea pigs outdoors at all times).
Choose a robust C&C outdoor run or playpen with a lid and your precious piggies will be more protected against predators. However, don’t be tempted to leave them alone in the garden even when they’re securely in their run. Never forget that they’re prey animals and could be harmed in an instant by a larger animal such as a cat, fox or bird of prey. If the weather is wet, very cold or extremely hot then leave outdoor time for another day. Guinea pigs are vulnerable in extreme weather conditions and can quickly develop potentially fatal ailments including heat stroke and respiratory illnesses as well as infections such as bumblefoot.
Whatever the weather, they’ll need a hidey or two for shelter. You can also add your Kavee fleece over a part of the playpen for cover. This serves the dual purpose of drying out a slightly soiled fleece liner so that it lasts longer between washes; win win! You’ll find more tips for outdoor time with your piggy in our article 'The Ultimate Guide to Taking your Guinea Pigs Outside on a Sunny Day’.
TIP #8: CONSIDER COMPLETE FREE ROAMING FOR GUINEA PIGS
So what’s free roaming? Well, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Rather than setting up a specific floor time area, you allow your piggies to roam free around your house (within reason) for floor time. Some people have guinea pigs who free roam 24/7 but this would probably be too extreme for most pig parents and would involve a lot of forward planning, piggy proofing and cleaning (bear in mind that the average guinea pig poops at least 100 times a day!)
However, there’s no reason why you can’t incorporate free roaming into your daily floor time by letting your piggies wander free around a safe, secure part of our home.
Here are some tips on how to do it:
- You may still want to set up an area with a fleece liner and toys but rather than moving your piggy back onto the area if they try to wander away, just let them go. That doesn’t mean that they have free rein of your entire home though - if you have a particular room that you can keep just for them for their free roaming time, that would be enough space for them to free roam.
- Provide hideys for when they want some quiet time.
- All the rules about suitable flooring and pet proofing still apply of course - the last thing you want is for your piggy to have an accident because you haven’t prepared your home properly.
- They will need constant access to hay along with an area for their pellets and any fresh food you choose to give them.
- Water bowls work well for free roaming (after all, guinea pigs happily drink from puddles in the wild) but if yours will only drink from a bottle then it is possible to get a free standing water bottle for them to use.
- Always have your piggy’s safety in mind - if you are allowing them to free roam you must keep an eye on them and step carefully at all times. If you have young children don’t allow them to run and jump around with your free roaming guinea pigs - accidents can so easily happen.
- For the same reason, it’s best not to allow any bigger pets such as dogs or cats to be around when your guinea pigs are free roaming.
- Check out two of our favourite guinea pig influencers, @thelavaempire and @littleadventurers on YouTube and Instagram for inspiration on free roaming set ups.
WHAT IF MY GUINEA PIG DOESN’T LIKE FLOOR TIME?
Piggies are nervous creatures - hardly unsurprising given that they’re prey animals. If your piggy doesn’t seem enamored with floor time and instead sits frozen on the floor or runs and hides in a corner, don’t worry - this is just their survival instinct kicking in.
Provide lots of cover - plenty of cosy hideys or wooden hideouts for them to chill out in - and allow enough time for them to adjust to their surroundings and venture out for a wander. As always, tasty treats are the way to your piggy’s heart - offer them a handful of parsley or some slices of carrot and they’re sure to come running.