If you’re new to guinea pigs you may not realise how big their cage needs to be. Guinea pigs need a lot of space because it’s important they can run around and exercise on a regular basis.
In fact, guinea pigs are one of the largest rodents kept as pets and are active for about 20 hours a day, sleeping only in short bursts. A cage that is too small won’t allow these small pets enough room for them to move around in a way that is natural and necessary for their wellbeing and health.
Although you will see small cages in pet shops and online being sold as suitable for guinea pigs, many of these are nowhere near big enough. In fact, it is very likely you will be unable to find a cage that is the recommended size in the pet shops. We will cover this issue and give you links to cages that are suitable which can be purchased online.
Recommended cage sizes
Pet welfare organisations around the world may have different recommendations on cage size but the RSPCA in the UK and the Humane Society of the United States both recommend 7.5 square feet or 0.7 square metres as the MINIMUM size for 2 guinea pigs.
This would equate to a 120cm x 60cm (or 4ft x 2ft) which is the size of the Midwest Habitat Cage.
Bear in mind that this is the very smallest cage size a guinea pig should ever be housed in and a bigger cage is always recommended.
In fact, many rescue centres will require that you house your guinea pigs in a larger cage than this. So if you are getting your new guinea pigs from a rescue, check what their cage size requirements are before you go out and buy the cage.
A much better size for two guinea pigs would be a 2x4 grid C&C cage. This is a modular cage which means you can buy the grids and connectors separately to make the exact size you want. You can also buy the C&C cage as a complete package with all the components you need for a specific size but they tend to be a little more expensive when purchased in this way.
If you like the idea of a more attractive housing solution without bars, you may want to consider the Wooden World Cage with Perspex front which comes in the minimum size of 120cm x 60cm but is also available in 2 larger sizes with the option of a stand too. Although the smallest version meets minimum requirements, we recommend the 150cm x 60cm cage or the next size up.
We go into more detail on how big your cage size should be for the number of guinea pigs later in this article with some recommendations on specific cages.
Do male guinea pigs need more space?
Male guinea pigs are more prone to fighting than females if they don’t have enough space. Because of this we have always recommended going up to the next cage size for males that are housed together.
However one of our local rescues mentioned that it seemed unfair on female guinea pigs to recommend a larger size just for males simply because males don’t get along in a smaller space. We completely agree with this and wherever possible, we recommend you go up a cage size whether you have male or female guinea pigs.
Can guinea pigs have multi-level cages for more space?
Guinea pigs can have a second level but there are a couple of points to consider before choosing this option.
Guinea pigs don’t like steep ramps
Not all guinea pigs are good with ramps. They can be reluctant to use them and generally prefer to be on one level.
An older guinea pig may struggle with a ramp, especially if they have arthritis and even younger guinea pigs may need some coaxing to get them to use the ramp.
However, for guinea pigs who don’t have mobility problems, it is usually just a case of getting them used to the ramp and they may have no problems at all once they’ve used it a few times.
Bear in mind that if you have a small lower level to your cage, you won’t be able to make the ramp shallow enough for them to be confident in using it.
Guinea pigs need lots of space on a single level
The minimum cage size requirements that we specify here are what is required for one level and any upper levels don’t count in this. This is because they need to be able to run around in a large space. An extra large one level cage is much better than a smaller one that is split into 2 levels.
We’re not saying not to use two tier cages as they can work really well with a suitable ramp providing they have the required space on the lower tier. But if you’re considering adding an upper level, it’s important to bear these points in mind.
An upper level is a great place to put hideys and to use as the kitchen area where they eat. This will mean more usable space to run around in the lower level. But you’ll also need to make sure they have places to hide in the lower level too so they feel safe.
Cage size for 1-2 guinea pigs
We always recommend housing a pair of guinea pigs together as they can become very lonely and sad on their own. But even if you have just one guinea pig, the recommended cage size is the same as for two guinea pigs. The housing should be at least 7.5 square ft (0.7 square metres) but 10.5 square ft (1 square metre) is a much better size.
This means you should be looking at a minimum cage size of 4ft x 2ft (122cm x 61cm) with a recommended size of approx 5ft x 2ft (152cm x 61cm).
- The Midwest Habitat (4ft x 2ft or 8 square ft) meets the minimum cage size requirements
- Wooden World Handmade Wood Cage with Perspex Front 120cm x60cm (4ft x 2ft or 8 square feet) also meets minimum cage size requirements
- A 2x3 grid C&C cage (3.5ft x 2.5ft or 8.6 square ft) offers a little more overall space than the Midwest but although it is wider than the Midwest, it is not as long.
- Wooden World Handmade Wood Cage with Perspex Front 150cm x60cm (nearly 5ft x 2ft or 9.7 square feet) is a better size than both the cages above
- The 2x4 grid C&C (4.8ft x 2.4ft or 11.5 square ft) exceeds the recommended size and would be a great cage for 1-2 guinea pigs.
If you can provide your pair of guinea pigs with an even larger cage, that would be even better.
Cage size for 3 guinea pigs
If you have 3 guinea pigs, the minimum cage size you will need is 10.5 square ft (1 square metre). But a better size would be a cage measuring 13 square ft (1.2 square metres). This gives them a much bigger space.
To give you an idea of how much space this might take up, a cage that is 5ft x 2ft (152cm x 60cm) would be just under the minimum requirements and a 6ft x 2ft cage (183cm x 60cm) would be a good size.
- A 2x4 grid C&C cage exceeds the minimum requirements (4.8 x 2.4ft or 11.5 square ft).
- Wooden World Handmade Wood Cage with Perspex Front 180cm x60cm (nearly 6ft x 2ft or 11.6 square feet) is about the same size as the 2x4 grid C&C but longer which is great as it allows them to run a good length of the cage.
- A 3x3 grid C&C Cage is a good space but square rather than long (3.6ft x 3.6ft or 13 square ft)
- A 2x5 grid C&C Cage is an even better space (6ft x 2.4ft or 14.4 square ft)
Cage size for 4 guinea pigs
To meet the minimum cage size requirements for 4 guinea pigs you will need to house them in one that is at least 13 square ft (1.2 square metres) but it would be better if you could provide them a larger space with a cage that is 16 square ft (1.5 square metres).
- A 3x3 grid square C&C cage meets the minimum requirements but it doesn’t give them a good length to run (3.6ft x 3.6ft or 13 square ft)
- A 2x5 grid C&C cage is a good size for 4 guinea pigs (6ft x 2.4ft or 14.4 square ft)
- 2 Midwest Habitat cages joined end to end gives 4 guinea pigs a good space (better if you open it out so there is no division between the two cages (8ft x 2ft or 15.5 square ft)
- A 2x6 grid C&C cage gives them a great space (7.1ft x 2.4ft or 17 square ft)
Cage size for 5 guinea pigs
5 guinea pigs will need at least 16 square ft of cage (1.5 square metres). However, if you have the space in your home, a cage that is 18.5 square ft (1.7 square metres) would give them better living accommodation.
- A 2x6 grid C&C cage gives them a good space and exceeds the minimum (7.1ft x 2.4ft or 17 square ft)
- A 3x4 grid C&C cage is also a good sized cage (3.6ft x 4.8ft or 17.3 square ft).
- A 4x4 grid square shaped C&C cage is well above the preferred size with 4.8ft x 4.8ft or 22.9 square ft
Cage size for 6 guinea pigs
If you have a larger herd of 6 guinea pigs, you’ll need 18.5 square ft as a minimum (1.7 square metres). This is a very large cage to have in your home but if you can manage a bigger one measuring 21 square ft (2 square metres) that is even better.
A 4x4 grid square C&C cage is almost 5ft x 5ft or 22.9 square ft and offers a great space for 6 guinea pigs.
Can I expand my cage?
If you have a Midwest Habitat cage, you can expand it by purchasing an additional cage or cages and joining them together. You can either have ramps between them (the side doors double up as ramps) or adjust them so that the cage is one big space.
C&C Cages are also very easy to expand. Simply buy additional grids and connectors and coroplast in the relevant size to make your cage bigger.
Issues you may have with a cage that is too small
If you have your guinea pigs housed in a cage that is too small you may encounter the following problems:
A small cage can cause depression in guinea pigs
Your guinea pig may become depressed and inactive. They are very active pets and they need space to not just move but to run around and play. If they are unable to do this they will not enjoy their lives but will simply exist in a very sad state.
If you have a guinea pig that just sits in a hidey or in the corner most of the time, there could be a number of reasons for this. One reason could be loneliness if it’s a single guinea pig but it may also be down to the fact that your cage is too small.
Small cages get dirty quickly
Because there is limited space in a small cage, it will become dirty much quicker. This means you’ll either have to clean it out much more often or the cage will smell bad. A dirty cage is unhygienic for your guinea pigs and they may end up sitting in wet or soiled bedding which will get into their hair. This can cause sores and will also attract flies which pose a risk of a very dangerous condition called fly strike.
Guinea pigs may fight if they lack space
When guinea pigs are housed in a cage that is too small, there is more chance they might become aggressive with their cage mates. This can result in serious injuries and even death in some circumstances.
A big cage is always best
So it’s important to make sure your cage is the right size for the number of guinea pigs you have. Bigger is always better and if you have a cage that you now realise is too small, look at either expanding it or buying a new one that gives your guinea pigs the space they need to lead happy and healthy lives.
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