One of the many fun aspects of owning a guinea pig is selecting or designing and building a cage. Few homes are designed in a way that allow the owner to let their guinea pig simply run free. They can get into a lot of mischief that way. But creating a cage that is spacious and fun is easy!
As with any animal cage, the larger the better is a good general rule. Cavies need space to walk or run around. They’ll use parts of the cage for bathroom duty and training them to use a litter box is a challenge too onerous for most guinea pig owners. About six square feet is the bare minimum for a comfortable cage for one pig. That may sound ample, but it is only 2 ft x 3 ft. Even for a small animal, that is not a huge amount of floor space.
Cages can be open at the top or closed, but if open the cage should be high enough to ensure the guinea pig can’t get out. They’re not great leapers and can’t climb, but they can get out of a low walled cage. A foot or so should be adequate in most cases, though more height may be necessary. It depends on what they have to walk up on inside the cage.
A multi-level cage will be appreciated by all guinea pigs. That gives them variety and a means of healthy exercise, by working against gravity. Be sure to add additional height to the cage to prevent escape. Any ramp that leads up to the higher level(s) should be of gentle slope and solid. Walking on even plastic coated wire is not healthy for their feet. They can develop sores.
As you expand your guinea pig family to include new members, you can expand your cages accordingly. In some cases, such as two mature males (especially in the presence of a female), it may be necessary to have more than one cage. Cavies will fight for dominance and mating privileges. In other cases, you can design your cage to simply provide more room and places to go.
Colorplast, a type of corrugated plastic, makes for good wall and floor material. Plastic-coated wire is also effective. In both cases, ensure that the guinea pig doesn’t chew on the material and ingest it. Their teeth grow throughout their lifetimes and they can get interested in the cage. Provide toys to distract them.
Metal/plastic grids are a great way to build an expandable cage for your cavy. Grids can be purchased in a range of sizes, but about 12 inches x 14 inches is a good size. Hooking them together to form a large, multi-space cage is simple. Obtain a number of cable wraps or Allen fasteners.
Cable wraps can be used to make a secure tie between the points on a grid. Just put one at every corner, pull tight and trim off any remaining tie so that the guinea pig doesn’t chew on it. To use Allen fasteners is even easier. Just snap them onto the grid where two or more pieces come together. Different types allow you to put together two pieces or four pieces. Some make it easy to snap together two to double the height, others provide a simple means of connecting two surfaces at right angles.