Space, cleanliness and light are probably the 3 most important considerations for cavy (AKA guinea pig) housing. If you fall short in these areas your pet may suffer from stress, disease and depression.

Bigger is better! The bigger the cage is the more ventilation and exercise your cavy will get, and the healthier he will be. You will have the added advantage of having to clean the cage less often. A single cavy's cage should be at least 24" x 24" (or similar 576 square inches of floor space). Cavy pairs need at least 30" x 24" (720 square inches of floor space) and trios at least 36" x 24" (864 square inches of floor space).

Cage height of approximately 12" is good. To figure how many square inches of floor space a cage offers you need to measure the floor of the cage on the inside bottom. Measure length and width, multiply these 2 figures to get total square inches of floor space.

I prefer wire body cages with 3"-4" or so metal or plastic cage pans. Metal cages are better suited to routinely clean and disinfect than wooden cages. They are lighter weight than wooden cages or aquariums of the same size. Aquariums and most plastic tubs do NOT make good guinea pig cages! An average adult cavy weighs 2 ¼ - 2 ½ pounds, and many reach 3 pounds and more. A 10 or 20 gallon aquarium is definitely not roomy enough. High solid walls tend to isolate a cavy. He is not as well exposed to the surrounding sights, sounds and smells of his environment. This can be boring and lonely for such a social animal, and may make a cavy more "wild" and easily stressed. There is generally less ventilation in aquariums and tubs than in wire cages. This and the cavy's tendency to drink and urinate quite a bit results in increased humidity, bacterial growth and odor. A fairly shallow clear tub with the necessary square inches of floor space may be acceptable if the cavy cannot get out and predators cannot get at him.

Wire floors should never be used in a cavy cage. Their feet are not big enough or padded enough to withstand wire floors. I have seen cavies with ulcerated feet, deformed toes, and broken or missing limbs due to being housed on wire floors.

The cage must be easily cleaned. It's best if all surfaces can be disinfected and even de-bugged if necessary. The cage door should be large and practical, and the cage not much deeper than 2 feet, to make it easier to reach and pick up the cavy.

Pens made out of coroplast board and wire grid cube panels have become quite popular for cavies the last few years. With a little work and creativity you can make a large pen relatively inexpensively. Pens can be as simple or as spiffy as you care to bother with.

I do not recommend this type of housing for homes with toddlers or predatory type pets that pose a danger to the guinea pigs. While you can probably keep out the merely curious by putting a top on the pen, I don't know that it's sturdy enough to protect the cavies from a determined predator. For details on purchasing supplies and instructions for assembling the pen, check out

There are a lot of beddings available. Probably the most affordable and very effective is aspen or pine shavings. When purchasing pine bedding look for something that is kiln dried and dust screened, this will eliminate much of the irritating and unhealthy dust and oils. I believe most wood bedding is kiln dried to some extent. Pine should be very dry and soft, fluffy when uncompressed, and it should not have a strong pine scent. Large "bales" of aspen or pine are fairly cheap and can be purchased from most feed mill/farm supply stores and some pet stores.


Cedar should never be used as chemicals in the wood are dangerous to skin, respiratory system - and possibly even liver and kidneys.

Some of the recycled grain, wood or paper products are also good, though usually much more expensive. These are a good alternative if somebody in the house, human or cavy, is allergic to wood bedding. I do not like ground corncob bedding for cavies. It is hard and uncomfortable, and does not absorb well.

Bedding should be changed as often as necessary to keep the cage relatively dry and fresh. Once a week usually isn't enough with cavies. Cage sizes I've recommended should be cleaned every 4 days or so. Smaller cages than I've recommended will need cleaning more frequently. Pans should be washed and dried at least every other cleaning, the cage body should be washed at least once a month. Cavies love a newly cleaned cage.

Be very careful with cleaners and insecticides you use around your pet. I have heard Lestoil and Lysol are toxic to cavies. Dishwashing soap or a mild solution of bleach and water is a good cage cleaner. Whatever you use must be thoroughly rinsed off.

Adequate light is important to a cavy's emotional as well as physical health. Natural sunlight is best, but if your cavy is in a windowless room be sure to leave the light on to simulate daylight hours. Good lighting will help to increase your cavy's appetite, ability to handle stress and overall good condition.

Room temperatures between 65° and 79°F are most comfortable for your cavy. Good ventilation is required. Cavies must be kept out of direct sunlight and drafts. They must also be protected from any possible predators (dogs, cats, ferrets, etc.) and disease carrying pests (flies and mice).

Your cavy will appreciate some simple toys or treats to keep busy with, such as destructible cardboard tubes and boxes.

If there is a chance that your cavy could get stuck in a tube be sure to cut it lengthwise before putting it in the cage.

Add interest to a toilet paper tube by stuffing it with hay. Wadded up balls of paper can be chewed and thrown around. Cavies also love to play with paper lunch bags - roll the open end a couple times so the bag stays open better.

Hay is important to cavy nutrition, digestion and well being. It should form a large part of the cavy's diet and should always be available. Good quality grass hay (such as timothy, bluegrass, canary, orchard, brome, etc.) is best for adult cavies. Young growing cavies and pregnant or nursing sows can also have the richer alfalfa hay. Cavies will happily push around, tunnel through and lay on top of a nice mound of hay. Hay racks can be added to make the cavy work for his hay.

Quality hay can be ordered from Oxbow Hay Company in Nebraska 800-249-0366 (, American Pet Diner in Nevada 800-656-2691 (, or Kleenmama's Hayloft near Seattle, WA 253-847-3896 ( See the following list for suppliers of reasonably priced cages.

Follow these recommendations, add a huge amount of love and attention, and your cavy will truly have his Home Sweet Home.

Reasonably Priced Small Animal Cages

Even with shipping costs I think you'll get a much better cage for your money than those small high-priced crappy cages most pet stores offer. If you don't see exactly the size or style of cage in their catalog or web site - ask if they have other cages available or if they can custom make you a cage. Sometimes the bigger cages aren't listed if they are not sold as often. Be sure to ask how the cage is set up for cleaning and access to the cavy. MOST OF THE FOLLOWING PRICES ARE FROM MARCH 2001.

Bridgeport Pets Bremerton, WA
Phone: 360-373-0455 FAX: 360-373-0458
email: or
#CCE-2424 24" x 24" x 18" cage (good for single) $34.95
#CCE-3024 30" x 24" x 18" cage (good for pair) $45.95
Cages are collapsible and are shipped folded flat. Pans are thick heavy duty plastic.

DA-MAR's Equipment So. Beloit, Illinois
Phone: 800-952-8669 FAX: 815-624-2883
24" x 24" x 14" cage - assembled (good for single) $30.00
30" x 24" x 18" kit cage with top opening lid (good for pair) $32.95
30" x 24" x 18" kit cage with slide out pan (good for pair) $41.95
36" x 24" x 18" kit cage with top opening lid (good for trio) $42.95
36" x 24" x 18" kit cage with slide out pan (good for trio) $51.95
Economy J-Clip Pliers - $6.95 Deluxe J-Clip Pliers - $12.00
Kit cages need to be assembled. Clips and instructions are included, a J-Clip Pliers must be purchased. Assembly is easy.

Woody's Wabbits Knappa, Oregon
Phone: 503-458-6003
24" x 24" x 12" (good for single) $29.00-$35.00
30" x 24" x 12" (good for pair) $36.00-$43.00
Woody told me both these sizes can be shipped out assembled. He does not have a 36" x 24" size available.

Nutritional Research Associates So. Whitley, Indiana
Phone: 800-456-4931
26" x 22" x 14" cage (good for single) $26.95
24" x 24" x 18" cage (good for single) approx. $28.95
30" x 24" x 18" cage (good for pair) approx. $29.95
36" x 24" x 18" cage (good for trio) approx. $35.95

Shipping is extra for all 4 companies. Sometimes shipping on 2 cages isn't much more than shipping on one - so you might want to go in on an order together with somebody. DA-MAR's and Nutritional Research Associates can custom build cages to your own specifications if you need a certain size, height or style.
Hope this helps you find your cavies the perfect home!

The piggies included in the cage size chart were adopted from The Piggie Hutch.

This article and the logo are © 1993-2003 Vicki Palmer Nielsen - Jack Pine Guinea Pig Rescue. No copyright is asserted herein regarding the illustrations accompanying the article; copyrights, if any, of the illustrations are retained by the original holders. If you would like to reproduce anything from the website, please first e-mail Vicki for permission at :

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