Guinea Pig Cages – Are they better than Guinea Pig Hutches?

Before you go out to buy yourself a guinea pig you will need to sort out some sort of accommodation for your new pet. For guinea pigs, there are two main types: guinea pig hutches and guinea pig cages – But which is better?

There is no ‘right’ answer to the question that suits every owner and every guinea pig, as there are several contributing factors. However, whichever type of accommodation your guinea pig has it needs to have a minimum floor area of 7.5 square feet. It is also best that the living accommodation does not exceed 10.5 square feet as cavies have fairly poor eye sight and could be scared if they can’t see the other side of their home. This does not mean they don’t need a large exercise run: they do!

Whether your guinea pig is going to live in a cage or a hutch will also depend on where you live. If you live in a flat with no garden in a built up city, then a cage seems like the best answer, as you are likely to have no space to put a large hutch. On the other hand if you live on a farm in the countryside or a house with a garden then why not keep your cavy in a guinea pig hutch? If this is the case it is a good idea for the hutch to be inside a shed or outbuilding in some areas, as this protects against predators. Having said this, some people have a ‘guinea pig room’ in their house where they have hutches, or sometimes garden sheds with large guinea pig cages.

Many people choose to keep their pets in guinea pig cages as they are usually cheaper than a well-made hutch. However, your guinea pig cannot live outside in a cage – he or she will need to be indoors. Many owners prefer their guinea pigs to be indoors with them as the pigs are less likely to become bored, as well as the owner being able to be able to keep a closer eye on them. However, guinea pigs can not be toilet-trained as easily as house rabbits can, so should they really be kept as indoor pets?

If your guinea pig is going to be living outside then a hutch seems like the best option as many are weather-proof, sturdy and spacious. If you go for a hutch choose a strong, well-made one that will last. Always check that the hutch you are thinking of buying has adequate space for your piggy. Ideally the hutch should be able to house two guinea pigs as cavies are social animals and are happier in groups.

In some parts of South America guinea pigs can be found in the wild, often roaming through underground earthy tunnels. Such tunnels are likely to be dark, similar to the sleeping compartment of a hutch. Many owners say that hutches are better than cages as they are closer to the guinea pig’s natural habitat than a ‘plastic box’ is. Isn’t it more natural for a guinea pig to be in an outdoor habitat?

Of course, the accommodation that your guinea pig has will also depend on what type of cavy you own. Many show guinea pigs and pedigree specimens are kept in cages where they are less likely to get messy. Pedigree long-haired breeds particularly often live in cages as their hair is less likely to become tangled. A lot of people say cages keep guinea pigs cleaner although this may only be because they get cleaned out more in some cases.

If you do keep your guinea pig in a cage
in your house you are likely to need to dedicate a whole room to the guinea pig where no other pets can go – this is a good idea if you have cats or dogs. It is also a good idea to keep the guinea pig in its own room for hygiene reasons as well as it giving the cavy somewhere to play and exercise – of course the room should be checked for any health and safety hazards before the guinea pig moves in.

But does a guinea pig cage provide enough privacy for the little creature? There are many different types of cages, the most common ones being the ‘box cage’ (similar to that which a hamster could be kept in), and the ‘C&C cage’ – this is a flat-pack one that you can adjust to different sizes. C&C guinea pig cages are often open-topped and can have different rooms or compartments. With both box cages and flat-packed cages, the only way guinea pigs are likely to be able to get some privacy is to go inside a box that may have been placed in the cage, otherwise they are on show all the time and may feel vulnerable – after all in the wild they are used to the dark tunnels and hiding in the long grass of the plains. Hutches on the other hand have a solid-doored sleeping compartment where the guinea piggies can snuggle down in some hay and be away from watchful eyes.

The type of guinea pig bedding
you have for your cavy will also depend on his or her home. Bedding such as hay and grass will reflect the guinea pig’s natural habitat and is ideal for a hutch, but not for some cages. Many owners who keep their pets in cages line the cage with a soft blanket and the guinea pig sleeps on that – but, isn’t that the type of bedding that humans have? Shouldn’t we be trying to make our pet’s habitat as close as possible to the one they’d have in the wild?

Whichever type of accommodation
you get for your cavy, whether it be a guinea pig hutch or a cage, make sure that it is safe for your guinea pig with no sharp or dangerous parts to it. Avoid any hutches or cages with wire floors as guinea pigs can get their legs and feet stuck and break them which can be fatal. Safety should always be your main priority when choosing any home for a new pet.

The topic of guinea pig accommodation is an on-going debate, some say they should always be kept in hutches and others say cages are by far the best. It really does depend on the individual guinea pigs and what type of environment you live in.

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