Good housing makes for happier more entertaining piggy pals!

Today’s blog focuses on my favourite topic, environment. I keep my guinea pigs indoors as I feel they get the maximum space 24/7 and lots of attention all year round. Guinea pigs sleep roughly four hours a day and are most active at dawn and dusk. Piggies have their own natural timetable therefore they need lots of space and enrichment to express their normal behaviours at any time of day they choose.

C&C set up

The C&C 4×4 set up for Macduff’s group

All my piggies live in some form of C&C (cubes and coroplast) set up. The metal cubes clip together with connectors which can be strengthen with reuseable zip ties. The base is made out of coroplast, which is a sign making material also known as Correx or plastic used by builders to protect flooring. It costs around £40-60 to build and cubes are often found second hand online which can save money. This makes the C&C set up much cheaper than most shop-bought cages – that aren’t normally comparable in size anyway! You can also buy C&C set ups ready-made online.

This is a really helpful website that got me on to C&C many moons ago!

Shop-bought cage

Personally I wouldn’t keep two female piggies in anything smaller than 5 x 2ft sized indoor cage (152 x 60cm). Most pet shop cages are too small, even ones intended for rabbits.  Please check measurements carefully or attach a puppy pen to increase the size if needed!

Here’s a rough guide to sizing. Of course, when using C&C it doesn’t have to be only two cubes wide, you can extend and adapt the shape as needed. Just make sure it always equals at least the minimum surface area as listed below:

No. pigsMinimum shop bought cage sizeMinimum C&C cage size in grids
1-2152 x 60cm 5ft x 2ft4 x 2 grids
3182 x 60cm 6ft x 2ft (min. size for 2 males)5 x 2 grids (min. size for 2 males)
4+213 x 60 cm 7ft x 2ft6 x 2 grids
This is a rough guide, always go as big as you can!

I filmed a quick video over a few minutes mid-clean to show how active the piggies are. They use all the space provided. You’ll notice they tend to stick to the edges of the pen when exploring as they feel safer than out in the open.

Furnishing your piggies’ pen

This is how I set up my C&C:

  • Line the plastic base with an old towel and then a fleece on top (available cheaply in supermarkets and lots of shops). You can use other bedding such as Carefresh or paper based litter. Avoid sawdust and woodshavings as this can irritate their breathing.
  • Place litter trays (ideally one per pig) and line with newspaper and hay.
  • Add a hidey hut/arch/shelf per piggy
  • Bed (also called cosies) at least one per piggy
  • Hay racks, cardboard boxes, tunnels as you prefer
  • Water bottle
  • I don’t use a food bowl and scatter feed veggies instead
Peach & Teffi’s pen: Peach is a nervous girl so they get lots of hidey holes!
Macduff in his favourite ‘pigloo’. You can get huts in all different styles; plastic, plush, wooden. A mix is good. Clearly Macduff feels very safe but is oblivious to the fact he’s very much visible!
My pigs LOVE their plush beds. Lots of people sell these online in all sorts of styles and designs. Tunnels are another favourite. A bed inside a box or other covering feels extra safe. They will need washing every week though!

Cleaning

Droppings can be swept off the fleece everyday with a dustpan and brush. Urine soaks through to the towel underneath. The towel and fleece can then be popped in the washing machine twice a week (or as needed). To avoid blocked washing machines make sure you thoroughly shake your sheets and treat yourself to a large mesh laundry bag. Empty litter trays as required – I do a ‘big clean’ once a week.

Lofts & Ramps

You can also add ramps and lofts to C&C cages but keep in mind pigs don’t always use them so they shouldn’t count towards overall minimum floor space. Ramps should have high sides, grip and be gradual incline to avoid injury.

Litter trays: I’ve found they are the best way to keep mess contained. Pigs eat and toliet at the same time but it’s not really possible to litter train them like rabbits. Medium sized cat litter trays are best.

Now your guinea pigs are enjoying their housing arrangements join me tomorrow to learn more about their behaviour.

Hannah x

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