Guinea pigs can happily live indoors or outdoors. The trick to indoor housing is adapting their environment for the great outdoors. If you’re housing your guinea pigs outdoors, you'll need to put lots of thought into making sure they're safe and protected from predators and extreme weather. In this section, we’ll cover:
Setting up your outdoor guinea pigs' home ● outdoor grazing
● outdoor guinea pig runs ● outdoor guinea pig essentials ●
Setting up an ideal home for your outdoor guinea pigs
As prey animals who are vulnerable to both predators and extremes of weather, there are quite a few things on your guinea pigs’ ideal outdoor home wish list that you’ll need to fulfil so your piggies feel safe, secure and happy. Blue Cross sets out some of the things you need to consider:
- Guinea pigs are vulnerable to all extremes of weather – both very cold and very hot climates can be dangerous.
- Keeping guinea pigs outside means they may encounter predators such as foxes, so their housing must be secure with good quality wire and bolts.
- Certain garden chemicals, such as pesticides, can be poisonous, so you need to ensure your guinea pigs are kept way from areas that could contain these chemicals.
- Some common garden plants – such as poppies, tulips and daffodils – are toxic to guinea pigs and other pets. If in doubt, keep your guinea pigs away from flower beds so they can’t nibble anything that might harm them.
To enable your guinea pigs to do all the things that come naturally, while staying safe, your outdoor set up will require:
All guinea pigs enjoy outdoor grazing
Whether your guinea pigs are housed inside or outside, they need the opportunity to run around and explore. Guinea pigs also need to graze regularly – ideally for between four to six hours a day, weather permitting.
- If your guinea pigs live inside and you have a garden, then they can still go outside in a safe, secure run, on warm days and when supervised.
- If the run isn’t connected to their housing, make sure they have a shelter they can access easily. With their short, little legs, guinea pigs are low to the ground so will become damp and cold on grass that’s wet.
- A great way to give your guinea pigs outdoor freedom while ensuring they are safe is by adding a Runaround connection kit to their hutch. Your piggies will love being able to have a really good long run in one stretch, while also being able to hide and peep out.
All guinea pigs deserve a safe, secure run
Woodgreen advises that guinea pigs who are confined to a hutch for long periods of time are more likely to suffer health conditions and potentially fight with their companions. However, their garden run needs to be secure, have a lid and be well-built to prevent predators and young children trying to climb in when you’re not able to supervise.
Woodgreen has these useful guinea pig run DOs and DON’Ts:
- Use small gauge, strong welded mesh. The mesh should be nailed or heavy-duty stapled on to prevent your guinea pigs from forcing the mesh from the framework.
- Make run lids that are strong enough to withhold a predator or windblown items landing on them. Ideally, make the roof in three sections with a supporting beam to aid the strength and prevent dipping in the middle.
- Use secure bolts placed on the doors, not swivel latches. Predators and young children can easily open swivel latches or flimsy bolts.
- Provide your guinea pigs with at least three hiding areas or tunnels within their run. They don’t feel safe grazing in open spaces and will often hide in one corner or under the only shelter if they don’t have several options to move between.
- Use metal folding runs and A-frames as these are not suitable for guinea pigs. Metal runs don’t often have a secure lid and are flimsy against predators and weather. A-frames often only have one door so rounding up the guinea pigs can be very tricky – and they’re rarely available in the required minimum size.
- Use chicken wire as it’s not suitable for animal housing. It’s too weak and easy for your piggies to damage and escape from.
- Use cable ties tying run panels together as they won’t be secure. The hutch or run must be secured with suitable wood or screws.
- Use plastic children’s playhouses as they are not suitable for guinea pig housing.
- Use chicken coops or plastic pods as they are not suitable for guinea pigs – the housing area is often very small and can become damp and mouldy. They also provide very limited space if the run area is too wet.
Wooden Wendy Houses or garden sheds make an ideal home for your outdoor guinea pigs as you can provide separate sleeping areas, exercise areas, a toilet area – and have lots of space to add plenty of enrichment items too.
Did you know?
Essentials for creating the perfect outdoor
set-up for your guinea pigs
- A gnaw-proof ceramic bowl
- Water bottles or bowls
- Nest boxes, tunnels and hiding places, such as a Runaround connection kit
- Guinea pig toys, hay bars, foraging mixes to sprinkle about for your piggies to find on their explorations, and a variety of enrichment items such as cardboard and willow tunnels, treat balls, hidey huts, hay and twig mobiles, willow balls, willow sticks, seagrass mats, and loofah rolls
- Hay racks
- Cosy and absorbent dust-free paper bedding
- Lots and lots of tasty fresh meadow hay to tunnel in and munch on
- Nutritious grass-based guinea pig nuggets
- Guinea-pig safe cleaning products
Did you know?