Locations of cage:
Your cage should be kept in a cool, dry place. Guinea pigs do not smell, so you don't need to worry too much about odors, as long as you clean out their cage in due time. Please do not use air fresheners around the pigs....it's not good for them!
The optimum temperature for a guinea pig is 18-24 degrees Celsius. Make sure they are not placed in direct sunlight as guinea pigs are prone to heatstroke. More importantly, there mustn't be any drafts.
Types of cages:
Pet store cages for guinea pigs are far from big enough for them in my opinion. They usually look like this (I added a second floor, a mirror and a wooden bridge to make it more interesting for the pig, but it still doesn't justify the limited space...)
very traditional but also boring
Which is why ALL piggy lovers must be introduced to.....Cubes and Coroplast cage!!
Cubes and coroplast cages: - read more on the CC CAGE page
If you are like me, who hasn?t stopped searching for ways to enhance the quality of my piggy?s life since the day I got them, then you should check out guineapigcages.com, they have awesome cage ideas constructed out of cube grids and coroplast cut to size. The best thing about these CC cages is that you can 1) make them as big as you want and 2) design them entirely up to your own liking. There are endless ideas, you can have multi levels, one level, open cage, closed cage.
When I first placed my piggies in their new 3 x 4 CC cage, they stayed in the corner, overwhelmed and not quite sure what to do with all this space!!
living the good life....
Once you have you cc cage set, you can make all kinds of additions and modifications to your cage, including making a little "bunk bed area"
And here is Snowy on top again, with Shylie underneath! (she kicked Puffy away)
Finding CC cage materials
1) you can go on the guineapigcages.com website, check out their ?store?, where Sue can help you out with your cage orders.
2) You can also try out their find materials page, this page applies to places all around the world, so wherever you are, try your area!
3) If you want to look for materials locally, try Home Depot stores like Target for DIY materials.
4) check out hardware stores, they might sell those wire fences that come in one large piece, they do not cost too much, and they can cut them to your size preference. You can tie it together with cable ties. This is the cage I made for my pigs:
I started out with one large long piece of metal, then cut it into two pieces, one piece I used as the back of the cage, the other long piece I curved into a semi circle and attached the two ends with cable ties (black lines).
cable ties look like this. They are very cheap, and can be found in hardware and stationery shops. They can be used to tie things very sturdily.
reminder: if you use cable ties to attach your cage, make sure you cut off the "tail", so that it is not jutting into the cage which can jab you piggy in the eye....
This is my girls' cage. I bought 2 large pet store cages that had doors on the side, I removed the doors and faced the two cages so that the piggies can hop from left/right cage.
Snoopy and her mom Snowy are enjoying some hay, while Shirley is exploring the cage perimeter on the right!
wood shavings as bedding is cheap. However, it is not recommended because they can irritate your pig?s respiratory system. Pine and cedar is especially harmful to your piggy?s health.
paper shavings such as CAREFRESH or BACK TO NATURE can be found in most small-pet stores. They cost more than wood shavings but are definitely safer to use for your pigs.
do NOT use cat litter. You pig is not a cat, they will sometimes eat or chew on their bedding. Cat litter might contain chemicals which are very harmful!
these are totally awesome in my opinion. This might seem unusual as bedding material to you, but once you get used to it, it is very cost efficient and the best part? Your piggies will LOVE soft snuggly fleece at the heels of their little scampering feet!!
Fleece is extremely absorbent, meaning when your piggy pee on it, it will wick urine away to quickly and it will still feel dry. Fleece easily lasts up to 2 years with hundreds of washes. That is basically free-forever bedding for you!!
I put a layer of absorbent towel at the bottom, and then top it up with around 3 or 4 layers of fleece. This should last a few days.
* Do not tumble dry fleece, they might shrink. Just air dry, they dry within a few hours. Here is a great link to more information on using fleece.
* Do not use softener when laundering fleece as it will prevent the fleece from properly whicking urine
Hay racks are very handy in keeping the hay off the ground to prevent it from getting soiled and tramped all over.
Hidies 'n' Houses
Your piggies will like to have beds and houses to lounge out in, here are some photos, you can read up more on these in the Enhancing Life page
Litter Training your pig:
I place my litter tray at the corner of my cage. My pig's don't really get the idea of it though....
Now that you have your piggy settled down at home, it knows the large walking creature is its food and water supplier and is familiar with you....you may try to litter train it. Like I said earlier, it is hard to litter train guinea pigs, but it can be done. It is important to start at a young age. First observe your pig's cage, see if it has already established a toilet area, this will usually be in a sheltered corner. Fill a litter box with absorbent shavings (do NOT use cat litter, it might have chemicals that are harmful!!) and place it in the same corner. Rub some shavings on the urine to pick up the scent, and put the urine shavings inside the litter box. Hopefully, your pig will realize that this little box is its "toilet". If you happen to be there when it pees in the litter box, give it a treat. If your pig has accidents (and it will), never scold or hit your pig!! Never!!
Guinea pigs learn best with the cause and effect method, so when it pees in the right place, give it a treat. If you succeed, it will help maintain a clean cage for a longer time. That is good news for the both of you
Cleaning the cage:
For pet store cages, there is a tray, just detach the metal fence on top, dump out all poop, dirty shavings and soiled hay/food, then wash out the entire tray in the bathroom tub. Dry, then put in fresh bedding.
If you use fleece, shake them out somewhere, then dump them in the washing machine. Do not use hot water to wash fleece, and it is best if your washing machine has one of those filter bags, because the fleece will have a lot of fur and hay husks that might clog your washing machine.
If you use CC cage, just spray the coroplast down with solution of 50 parts white vinegar 50 parts water, leave it there for a few minutes and then scrub/wipe down. The smell of vinegar is quite strong, but vinegar is natural so it is not harmful to your piggies. kathy's Kritter's website has a great detailed page on step by step cleaning CC cages under the "photo gallery", and then "guinea pig cages".
Cleaning feeding appliances:
- Empty out leftover pellets (you should give your piggy enough pellet every day, observe how much they eat so there is not much wasted at the end of the day) and wash feeding bowl clean, refill with fresh pellets everyday.
Empty out leftover water, wash inside of bottle with a bottle brush. Refill fresh cold water everyday.
To clean the inside of the metal spout of the bottles, use a cotton bud. You only need to clean this maybe once a week. When your piggy drinks water, he might have pellet debris in his mouth which might blow up the spout and get stuck to the inside of the sides. So you do have to scrub the inside to make sure bacteria does not build up in there!
A piggy for all seasons:
In the winter:
- a heater in the room to keep it warm
- a warm water bottle for your pigs to snuggle up to (changed hourly...)
- warm water for them to drink. not hot!
- plenty of hay to burrow in
- plenty of soft cozy towels to burrow in
- a cavy home to stay warm in
In the summer:
- air conditioning
- a fan (don't make it blow directly on your pig), set it on the "turning" mode so your pigs get a nice breeze. air cons and fans are also good for ventilating the cage, as the air can become quite stuffy in the summer.
Make sure that the wire/cable for the fan is OUT of reach from your pigs, you don't want them chewing it!!
- an ice water bottle placed in the cage (wrapped in a towel)
- a bathroom tile (buy a "sample" tile in renovation stores) for your pigs to lie on top to cool down
- cold/cool water for them to drink
- a piece of metal for your pig to lie on to cool off: (ceramic tiles also serve the same purpose)
Piggies in Hutches:
Housing piggies indoors has several advantages:
1) You can interact more with your pig. Piggies kept in the house are treated more like "family members"
2) you can be on the lookout for any abnormal behavior such as loss of appetite or diarrhea (serious illnesses that can kill the pigs quickly). Pigs left in hutches outdoors may be forgotten or neglected sometimes...
3) the temperature in the house remains constant. Pigs in hutches are exposed to different weather conditions, cold and hot, which they may not be able to withstand.
4) Piggies housed indoors are more friendly and tame, as they are more used to those lumbering large beings and know we are their friends. Pig in a hutch may only get interaction during feeding time which is brief, and they will consider your hand more as an "intrusion" into their hutch.
5) It is safe to house your pigs in your house. Outdoors, there may be predators, cats, even foxes, that may be smart enough to work open the hatch on the door....
If you still have to house them outdoors, please make sure that:
1) The door of the hutch is securely closed
2) The hutch has a shaded area for your pig to retreat to for shade on hot days, shelter on rainy days, and warmth on cold days
3) in the summer: Guinea pigs are prone to heat strokes, so give them plenty of water in the summer to gulp. You can also hang a wet towel on one side of the cage, the moisture on the towel will evaporate and "soak up" heat, which can create a slightly cooler area for your pig.
4) in the winter: make sure their water has not frozen during the winter! Give them LOTS of hay or towels to stay warm in.
5) Change the bedding frequently. Guinea pigs can be vulnerable to parasites during summer, they like to lay eggs in your piggy's ear/butt area. Hygiene is very important.
6) Place the hutch in a shaded area, NOT in direct sunlight.
7) Please don't neglect or forget about your friend out there, go into your garden/shed to check on him and spend time with him everyday!!
Remember to always opt for the biggest cage you can find/build for your piggy.