Three Cage Design Issues That May Cause Your Guinea Pig Harm

Your guinea pig is going to spend most of his time in his cage, so if that cage is not designed appropriately, you could end up with an unhappy – and ultimately unhealthy – pet. Here's a look at three common cage design mistakes that even the most well-meaning guinea pig owners sometimes make. Avoid these pitfalls, and you'll have a healthier, happier piggy.

Mistake #1: Not choosing a large enough cage.

Just because a cage is sold as a guinea pig cage does not mean it's really large enough for your pet. Guinea pigs need space not only to run and play, but also to be able to designate their cage into zones. They prefer to designate an area for eating, another area for sleeping, and another for waste. If a cage is too small, they won't run enough; this can lead to obesity. They may also end up sleeping in their urine, and the wet coat this causes can perpetuate infections and other illnesses. The Humane Society recommends cages that measure at least 30 by 36 inches for single guinea pigs.

Mistake #2: Failing to provide entertainment.

Your guinea pig needs more than an empty cage and a food bowl. Without a source of entertainment, he will grow bored and stressed, and just as stress perpetuates illness in humans, it can lead to illness in guinea pigs. Some great entertainment toys to include in your piggy's cage include:

  • Chew sticks made from wood
  • A plastic igloo or hut to hide in
  • A tunnel made from a piece of PVC pipe

Mistake #3: Not hanging the water bottle high enough.

If you hang the water bottle too low, your guinea pig may end up pressing his body against it when he moves about the cage or lounges around. This can lead the bottle to slowly leak, making the cage wet. And as previously mentioned, getting wet often is not good for your guinea pig. Make sure you hang the bottle so that the bottom sits higher than your guinea pig's back. Don't worry – he'll perch on his hind legs a little to reach it when he needs a drink. Also avoid giving guinea pigs water in bowls; they tend to spill it, making their cage wet.

Good guinea pig health starts with a great cage. To learn more about good cage design and your guinea pig's needs, talk with your small animal veterinarian, like