Guinea pigs are the largest domesticated rodents and need much more space than hamsters or gerbils.
While other rodents can love to climb and live in a tall space too, guinea pigs are generally bound to the floor, and so a large floor space, as opposed to a tall area, is essential.
A guinea pig cage should be a minimum of 7.5 ft squared (27 x 41 inches) for one guinea pig, according to the RSPCA in the UK. However, as guinea pigs are highly social, people should keep a minimum of two guinea pigs together. Therefore:
- For 2 guinea pigs: 10.5 sq ft/27 x 56 inches
- 3 guinea pigs: 13 sq ft/27 x 71 inches
- 4 guinea pigs: 16 sq ft/27 x 84 inches
If you keep only males, you should always go up one size as they need more space to limit the likelihood of fighting.
Can a guinea pig cage be too big?
The answer, in short, is no! We understand the practicalities of space; however, since guinea pigs are very active and do like to explore, you really can’t go wrong with a large guinea pig cage.
Guinea pigs also love to stay on one level, and while an upstairs can be easily added if you are building your own DIY C&C cage, the lower level is the most vital to get right. Yes – it is easy to make your own guinea pig cage and have as much space as your room physically allows!
If you do have a second level, it must have a safe and secure ramp with sides.
What are the benefits of a bigger guinea pig cage?
1. Mental stimulation
Guinea pigs are intelligent animals and need an enclosure that will pique their interest and keep them busy. This means space for them to explore and space for enriching activities, such as stairs, huts, toys, see-saws, hide-outs, etc.
If your space is quite small, you’re not going to be able to provide accessories that offer so much stimulation for your guinea pigs.
2. Reflects their natural habitat
In the wild, guinea pigs have endless amounts of space with natural tunnels and hideouts, so being cramped out in one small pen isn’t going to allow them to live the life they were designed for.
3. Less fighting
While guinea pigs are social animals, every family fights when they feel overcrowded. As mentioned above, males are particularly prone to getting a bit aggravated.
It’s important that your guinea pigs have enough space for quiet time away from the other guinea pigs. With male guinea pigs, there may be a dispute of dominance, so ensuring that there is enough space to stay out of each other’s way will help prevent bickering or fights.
Ensuring that guinea pigs have plenty of space to exercise will prevent health problems down the line. It’s essential in preventing them from becoming overweight, developing heart disease or bumblefoot. Exercise is also good for their mental well-being too.
Guinea pig cage sizes explained
The RSPCA states that:
“The minimum cage size for two guinea pigs should be 120 x 60cm x 45cm”
However, they stress that “For the sake of your guinea pig’s health and happiness, consider providing as large a cage for them as possible”, and this really is the bare minimum. If you can go larger, you will definitely be giving your guinea pig a better quality of life.
A larger cage is actually easier to clean, too! A clean cage is better for their health, so is essential.
Remember, you also need to provide enough space for the extras:
- Bowl for food
- Water bottle/dispenser
- Hiding spots
- Cleaning materials
Do guinea pigs need an additional run?
As well as a housing cage, it’s really important to have a run for your guinea pigs too.
Having a run means that in the summer months, your guinea pig can enjoy the outdoor area while being secure, and it also means that when you need to clean out the housing cage, your guinea pig will have somewhere to run and play as well.
It may seem a little daunting trying to find the perfect size and place for your guinea pig, but to see your guinea pig full of joy – skipping and popcorning – makes it all worth it.
Happy guinea pig; happy owner!