Guinea pigs have been a favored option for a house pet for many animal lovers today. If you are planning to own one or more as well, you need to make sure that caring and maintenance of this pet requires adequate knowledge. One of the things that you need to consider is providing an appropriate living space for your cavy (common name for guinea pigs). Read on to find out the things that you need to know to build the best cage for guinea pig.
Interesting Facts About Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs are commonly known as cavies. Cavy is the short name form the species called Cavia Porcellus. You may have thought that this animal’s name gives a hint of its origin, but it does not. First, it does not come from Guinea and it is also not a pig. It is considered part of the family, Rodentia. This species originated from the high plains of South America. The only reason why its called by its name is that this animal grunts and squeals like a pig. Sources also indicate that it was sold by British sailors in the 1600s for an old English coin known as a guinea.
Many pet lovers have considered these docile creatures as their pets for some good reasons. For one, these animals don’t cost as much as other animals kept as pets. They also require low maintenance. Guinea pets are gentle pets and are very sociable. Since they are bigger and slower than other small animals that are kept as pets, guinea pigs are usually easy to care for. With proper stimulation and care, a pet guinea pig can live for about 6 to 7 years.
Guinea pigs are social animals. They are observed to gather into groups in their natural habitat. They are also known to maintain a strict dominance ranking. This means that it will be best to keep more than one guinea pig in housing as this can make them more relaxed. Keeping them away from the family or in a secluded place can stress this little animal. However, should you opt to have more than one pigs in a cage, make sure that you don’t keep two adult males together as this can only lead to fighting for territorial domination, resource hoarding, and even the death of the weaker pig. You may consider housing two females or a male and a female together, however.
Guinea pigs are known to breed early (by starting at about 4-6 weeks), however. Unless you want to keep a lot of these guinea pigs, you need to have your pets neutered if you opt to have a male and a female in the same cage.
Guidelines in Building a Guinea Pig Cage
Not because these pets are docile and small do not mean that they can be kept in a secluded and small space. Remember that they are social animals and they are very active. Giving them ample space will make them happy pets, indeed. In general, a guinea pig needs a minimum of two square feet in its cage.
Not only should you consider the size of the cage, but you also need to make sure that every other element inside the cage will be safe for your pet. A solid flooring and a lid that allows proper air circulation will also be necessary.
With regards to the temperature inside the housing. Allow your pet to enjoy temperatures of around 65 –68 F. They also won’t live well in a space where temperatures may rise to about 80 F, so you have to make sure to keep your pet’s cage away from any source of heat or where there will be direct sunlight.
Bedding for your Guinea Pig
Your pet’s new home will not be complete without the right bedding. This will serve several purposes: a litter box, a place to nest or to burrow, and a surface where your cavy may walk on. Considering all these, you need to have a quality bedding that will be safe to your guinea pig and one that has a good odor control capability.
Cedar shavings: Cedar should be avoided at all costs. Studies have shown that cedar bedding
can cause chronic upper respiratory problems and significant liver changes. Some animals can
also be allergic to cedar and develop severe skin rashes and respiratory problems. The same
aromatic oils that cover odors and make cedar attractive to small mammal owners are what cause
Pine shavings: Pine shavings are a less aromatic softwood that is often packaged as bedding for
small mammals. Similar problems exist as to cedar. The oils that help cover the ammonia odors
also can cause problems for the small mammals housed on it.
Some of the recommended materials are as follows:
Carefresh. Carefresh is made from wood pulp fibers but since it is too short to be made into paper, it is processed to look like shredded egg cartons. It has a great odor control capability and inhibits the formation of ammonia.
Newspaper. When combined with timothy hay, the newspaper can make very cozy bedding for your pet cavy. The only problem is that timothy hay does not control odor and it also promotes the formation of molds.
Aspen shavings. Aspen shavings can also make a safe bedding. However, it does not have much odor control capability, so you will need to have your pet’s housing cleaned more frequently.
Materials that are not recommended to be used as guinea pig bedding. Pine shavings, ceddar shavings, cat litter, as well as corn cobs are not considered safe for your small pet, however. Both pine and cedar shavings have natural components that can cause serious health issues to your guinea pig. Cat litter and corn cobs are considered choking hazards, on the other hand.
Other things that are essential in providing an appropriate habitat for your pet is a water bottle as well as a food dish. Look for a water bottle that comes with a stainless steel sipper tube as a guinea pig likes to chew on the tube they drink and if you use a plastic straw, it will be easy for your pet to chew on it, worse, get choked with the charred pieces of plastic straw.
For the food dish, however, you will need one that is heavy and could withstand your pet’s possible insistence to overturn the dish.
When building the best cage for your guinea pig, there is always room for creativity. For terrain and variety, rocks, bricks, and tubes may be added to the cage. You can use various-sized stones, rocks, bricks, even tubes, to ensure the best hideaway for your pet.
Perhaps you already have a created a habitat for a guinea pig. We will appreciate it you can share your experiences in building one, in the comments section below.