Setting Up Your Guinea Pig Cage: A Complete Guide

This comprehensive guide will help you create the perfect safe, stimulating, and cozy cage for your piggies to enjoy.

Jun 12, 2024byStacey McDonald
setting up guinea pig cage complete guide

Whether you’re a first-time guinea pig owneror just looking to upgrade your existing guinea pig cage, ensuring the perfect setup can be overwhelming. While pet stores may want to sell you the perfect all-in-one cage solution, often they are not appropriate for your guinea pigs long-term. So, where do you start, and what do you actually need to create a safe and comfortable home for your furry friends?

Picking the Perfect Guinea Pig Cage

guinea pig cage
Phil Whitehouse on Flickr

Finding the best cage for your guinea pigs can be difficult. First, pet stores often sell cages that are too small or have features that are unsafe for guinea pigs and their unique behaviors. Second, you have to ensure the cage you choose is safe, comfortable, and stimulating for your piggies and realistic for you to maintain. Two of the most popular and accessible cage options are C&C Cages and Midwest Cages.

C&C Cages

C&C cages use a waterproof coroplast base, wire cube grids and connectors. These cages can easily be customized to be any size, multilevel, and raised off the ground without additional materials. C&C cages are easy to build, and all materials are readily available at most hardware or home goods stores making them a popular choice for first-time and seasoned guinea pig owners alike.

Guinea pig owners love these cages due to their customizability and Pinterest is full of inspiration for C&C cage designs and unique features. The main downside to these cages is the price. While the materials are easy to find, depending on your location, they can be quite expensive, especially when building a larger cage to house your herd.

guinea pig tunnel
Image Credit: Tambako The Jaguar on Flickr

Midwest Cages

Midwest cages are the “gold standard” of pet store cages. These cages take the general design features of a C&C cage but use different materials to create an affordable and easy starter cage for a pair of guinea pigs. Similar to C&C cages, the sides of the cage are connected to wire grids, but instead of a sturdy coroplast base, it uses a more flexible but still waterproof canvas.

The standard cage provides the minimum 8 square feet of livable space recommended for two guinea pigs. You can buy additional cages and connect them to your existing Midwest cage if you have a larger herd or want to give your piggies more exercise space. The downside to these cages is the lack of options for raising the cage off the ground for easier accessibility when cleaning or to keep your guinea pigs away from other pets.

Cage Size

Guinea pigs are highly active and social animals, and therefore, cages need to be large enough to house two or more guinea pigs and provide ample space for exercise. Exercise is essential to keeping your piggies happy and healthy and a cage that’s too small may encourage a more sedentary lifestyle.

Minimum cage size based on number of guinea pigs housed:

Number of Guinea PigsMinimum Cage Size (Sq. Ft)Preferred Cage Size (Sq. Ft)
1-27.510.5
310.513
41315.5
Additional square footage per pig23

Bedding Solutions

guinea pig bedding
Anjie Qiu on Pexels

Shavings

Wood shavings are an easily accessible and cost-effective bedding option for your guinea pig cage. Generally, you can find wood shavings available in pine and aspen at most pet stores, farm supply stores and online retailers.
While the accessibility and cost-effectiveness of shavings make them a popular choice, there are considerations when choosing shavings as bedding for your guinea pigs. They require more frequent cleaning, can be messy, and there is a potential for allergies and respiratory problems in guinea pigs and occasionally humans when using pine or cedar. It’s important to monitor your guinea pig for respiratory issues when using shavings, and if you suffer from allergies you may benefit from a more hypoallergenic bedding option.

Fleece Liners

Fleece has become a popular option for guinea pig bedding because it’s allergy-friendly, comfortable for your piggies, and reusable. While the upfront costs of fleece can be more expensive, ultimately, your fleece liners and towels should last you years.

Typically fleece bedding consists of pre-made liners with a top and bottom layer of fleece with absorbent materials such as towels inside. Alternatively, you can lay down a base layer of towels or puppy pads and a piece of fleece over top to create your own fleece bedding at a slightly more affordable price. Fleece liners can be cleaned of visible debris and washed in your washing machine on hot with vinegar and/or gentle detergent.

Food and Water Setups

guinea pig eating
Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash

Bowls

Chew-proof ceramic bowls are the standard choice for guinea pig cages as they are easy to clean, and heavy to avoid tipping when your piggies inevitably stand on or jump into their bowls when eating. These are a great choice for providing the essentials of your guinea pig’s diet such as pellets and fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid using bowls as a water source as they can be easily soiled.

Bottles

Bottles are important for dispensing water. Guinea pigs need constant access to fresh water. Bottles are the easiest option for your pigs to drink, but also to avoid their water source becoming contaminated with debris. Glass bottles are preferred over plastic. Occasionally, plastic can change the taste of the water, turning your piggies off of drinking.

Hay Racks

Guinea pigs require constant access to fresh hay. Hay serves many functions for your piggie including maintaining their teeth and supporting their digestion. While hay can be thrown into the cage without a rack, your piggies may choose to sleep or hide in piles of hay instead of eating it. Providing an additional source of hay that is kept clean, such as a rack that can be placed in the cage or hung on the side of the cage, can help ensure your pigs have plenty of hay for playing and eating.

Cage Accessories

guinea pig shelter
Photo by Tuolu Magazin on Unsplash

The most fun you’ll have when setting up your guinea pig cage is accessorizing! While some cage accessories are necessary for the well-being of your guinea pigs, this is where you can add some personality and style to their cage and tailor the space to their personalities.

Cozy Items

Guinea pigs love to be comfortable. So, providing your piggies with comfort items like cuddle cups, fleece hammocks, or stuffed toys can ensure your guinea pigs always feel comfy and safe.

guinea pig outdoor shelter
Image Credit: mrWoodo on Flickr

Shelters

Shelters and hideaways are a necessity when creating the perfect guinea pig habitat. Guinea pigs can be quite anxious and require places to hide to feel safe. Tunnels and houses made from hay or untreated wood are best as they can be used for both shelter and gnawing to maintain their teeth. It’s best to avoid plastic houses often found in pet stores as they are not safe for your guinea pig to chew on.

Toys

Guinea pigs are relatively low-maintenance pets once their basic needs are met, but a happy pig is an engaged and entertained one. While their cage mate(s) serve as necessary entertainment a lot of the time, stimulating activities can be beneficial for their well-being. Toys are a great option and can be either bought or made at home. Guinea pig toys can include wooden chews and sticks, crumpled-up paper or paper bags, and small wood or tennis balls.

Maintaining Your Piggies Home

guinea pig house
Image by Tom from Pixabay

So you have the perfect guinea pig cage setup, now what? Setting up your guinea pig cage is just the first step, it’s important to stay on top of cleaning and maintaining your guinea pigs’ home which includes regular spot cleaning, full cage changes, and regular food and water refreshes.

Stacey McDonald
byStacey McDonald

Stacey is a lifelong animal lover with a soft spot for pocket pets. She has had 10+ guinea pigs over the course of her life and has also spent years pet-sitting dogs, cats, rabbits, and the occasional fish. Stacey strongly believes in supporting animal rescues and adopting animals from shelters and can often be found scrolling the pet adoption pages of her local humane society.