One of the most important things that you can do to ensure your guinea pig's health and happiness is to make sure your cavy has a nice clean home to live in, and that he has plenty of room to run around!
It isn't difficult to please and house your pet cavy. They will be very content in one of the wide variety of guinea pig cages that you can find at your neighborhood pet store. They don't require much to be happy in their home but they do have a few simple requirements: a secure cage so they can't escape or another family pet can't get in, a solid floor, the right kind of bedding material, a hideaway for privacy, and protection from extreme heat and cold.
As you will learn, or may have read in some of my other articles, cavies are very social creatures. They enjoy, and actually need, the company of other guinea pigs. If you are reluctant to keep two guinea pigs then you will need to plan on spending plenty of time with your pet to keep him from getting lonely and bored. If they get lonely or bored they will get depressed and may develop behavioral problems like chewing on itself. If you think you might be willing to raise two cavies then be sure to include that in your plans to choose and appropriate cage.
Size Does Matter
Where your cavy is concerned, the bigger the cage the better. Your pets need lots of room to romp around and get exercise, and the more exercise a cavy gets, the happier he's going to be. Your cage also need to be large enough to accommodate space for their hideaways, their toys, their food bowl, and their drinking bottle.
Minimum cage size guidelines are as follows: between seven and eight square feet for a single cavy; between ten and eleven square feet when you've got two cavies; for each additional cavy in your cage you should have between two and three additional square feet of living space. This amount of room will give your cavies plenty of space for romping. Without adequate exercise your furry friend will get fat, and overweight cavies are more likely to develop health problems.
Given enough space your cavies will be very playful, running laps around the cage chasing each other, leaping and hopping!
Guinea pig cages should not be a glass enclosure of any kind, as in a fish tank. These type of glass enclosures don't provide adequate ventilation or fresh air, two things your cavy needs. More ventilation also means that the cage will stay dryer, and this is a healthier environment for your pet. Cavies can tolerate the cold better than they can tolerate heat, and a well ventilated cage will allow heat to dissipate easier. But you should be careful not to locate the cavy cage in an area that is exposed to cold drafts. Cavies are susceptible to respiratory problems, and if exposed to cold, drafty, and damp conditions they can quickly develop pneumonia and die. Lastly, avoid guinea pig cages with wire bottoms because your pet can get their toes and feet caught in the wire mesh.
A little hideaway house of some kind is an essential element of your guinea pig's home. Occasionally guinea pigs need somewhere to hide out and enjoy a little "alone time". Something as simple as a section of plastic pipe will do the job more than adequately. Have a little fun putting together this hiding place - your cavyis going to be happy!
It's important to select the proper bedding material for your cavy cages. There are many type of bedding material available at pet stores. Make sure that you only buy products that are labeled as being bedding material for caged animals, otherwise you may be getting something that looks similar, but may actually be harmful to your pet. I've found that the best bedding material is a combination of shredded paper product and chopped hay. You should line the floor of your cavy cage with paper, and then place in a layer of the combined bedding materials. The paper will absorb urine and the hay will stay dry, and give your cavy something to nibble on!
Your pet cavy is going to spend almost his entire life in the cage you provide for him or her. Make sure that you consider all of the elements that constitute a proper cage for a cavy, and incorporate them into your cavy's home. Keep the cage clean and dry, and you will have a very happy little piggy!