Housing your Guinea Pigs
Ebay is a fantastic place for picking up excellent items for your guinea pigs and other rodents and i've used it many times myself to get a good bargain for our piggies to enjoy. However, care must be taken particularly when looking for items such as caging for your animals as sometimes items are knowingly or unknowingly sold and advertised as suitable for a particular animal when really they are way too small! This guide aims to give users a guide on what to look for when purchasing a cage, and is focused on housing for cavies in particular.
It is frustrating for me, as an avid lover of everything piggy, and I know the same applies to other guinea pig lovers out there, to see small cages, such as those suitable for housing hamsters, rats and mice advertised as being suited to guinea pigs also. Guinea Pigs require a cage much bigger than the average hamster cage, and when looking to purchase one you should be looking ideally for one which is aimed towards two or more large rabbits. There are many cages out on the market which fit into this category, but in particular larger Savic and Ferplast cages are excellent.
I emailed one particular seller on eBay as the hutch he was selling as suitable for ONE guinea pig was no bigger than a shoebox. What a sad lonely life any unfortunate guinea pig would have should its owner have bought one. The seller was extremely arrogant and insisted it WAS suitable. However, I run a rescue and know that it was not.
One of the latest things are the homemade Cube and Correx pens (C&C). These consist of grid panels to make the sides of the run and Correx sheeting (available on eBay) as a base. Correx is corrugated plastic rather like what is used to make "For Sale" boards. Some people make fantastic C&C pens for their cavies which are multi-storey. The only limit really is your imagination.
Luckily with eBay being such a big place it's easy to find fantastic indoor cages and also large hutches and runs for the garden during the summer months.
Whilst it may seem easier to just get a small "hamster cage" which comes with all the trimmings such as shelving and tubes already included for the sake of your guinea pigs- don't do it! Guinea Pigs need a lot of space, time, love and toys to keep them happy, and it is unfair, and cruel to keep them in anything so small.
Also, speaking from experience, I find it much more satisfying to know that i've designed and brought all individual equipment for my cavy cages to suit their needs and built up the "insides" of the cage myself. Of course there is the added bonus on eBay that some sellers do sell their cages with added extra's. I find that guinea pigs LOVE tubes and the easiest and cheapest way is to ask at a carpet store for the rolls out of the middle of the carpets. They are very long so you may need to take a handsaw along to chop them small enough to fit in your car!! Also, AVOID wheels! Some sellers (and even manufacturers) sell large wheels (like giant hamster running wheels) more suited to female rats but they market them as also for guinea pigs. This is highly dangerous as guinea pigs cannot use these and will only end up in excruciating pain from broken limbs. If ever you see them being sold on ebay for guinea pigs-please politely email the seller and ask that they state they are for RATS not guinea pigs! The more people we educate on this, the less injuries will occur to guinea pigs.
As well as the danger of overly small cages, aquariums are also best avoided for keeping cavies in. Not only are they difficult to manouvre to clean, but most importantly they can have serious effects on your cavies health. Because guinea pigs urinate frequently, ammonia levels inside the aquarium base, where ventilation is extremely poor because of the solid sides of the unit, build up very quickly and can cause a lot of irritation and damage to their sensitive respiratory systems. Guinea Pigs are prone to respiratory disease and problems as it is, and keeping them in a poorly ventilated environment can trigger these problems as can using dusty bedding such as sawdust. Our cavies cages have newspapers on the base of their cages and a layer of woodshavings which have had the dust extracted from them. This coupled with good housekeeping means we never have any of our animals with respiratory infections.
If you've never kept guinea pigs before, or are new to guinea pig keeping and are firstly weighing up the options, these are all things that you need to keep in mind. Ideally if you haven't done so already, purchase a book and read a little more on the subject, or check out the internet for lots of great sites and talk to other piggy enthusiasts who'll be more than happy to help and steer you in the right direction, after all, the welfare of every guinea pig is important and giving them the best life possible is a top priority. Most sellers do not realise that the hamster cages they are selling as a guinea pig cage are really too small, as they have perhaps themselves kept hamsters only in the past and presumed that the cage is suitable for guinea pigs as a "small rodent", when this is clearly not the case at all.
I hope that this short guide has been of help, and remember if you're not sure about anything, check out some of the online specialist sites for help!
Oh yes, and one last thing, please remember guinea pigs are sociable animals and need to be kept in at least pairs, it's unfair to buy one and keep it on it's own all it's life. The best combination is 2 compatible boars or 2 or more sows. Whatever you do, DO NOT mix the sexes as this will result in a litter and the world is populated with too many neglected, unloved animals already and also many who will live out their days in rescues
Please consider getting your pets from a rescue as these animals have often had an unsatisfactory start in life and would love to find a lifelong loving home. Just because they are in rescue DOES NOT mean they have problems.