Creating a really nice environment for guinea pigs to live in is essential, after all these lovely creatures are going to be spending quite a lot of time in their cages. If you are just about to get a cavy, you need to seriously think of getting the largest cage your budget will stretch to so your new pet can set up home in it and have plenty of room to move around.
Guinea pigs that live in great environments are happier and healthier characters and this means they are more likely to live that much longer. Having loads of room to do what guinea pigs love doing best means your pet will be fitter and more in shape especially if there are lots of safe and useful toys for them to play with!
Your new pet might be on the dinky side when you first get them, but they will very quickly start to grow if you feed them a well-balanced and nourishing diet that has plenty fibre in it. Cavies are a bit prone to putting on weight which means keeping an eye on how much you are feeding them. The amount of food you give them has to correspond to the amount of exercise they get. The larger the cage, the more running around your pet will do which means there's far less chance of them becoming obese.
If you buy the right size cage for an adult guinea pig from the word go it will last them a lifetime. With this said, you need to adjust the size if you are planning to keep more than one piggy in a single cage. The more piggies you have, the bigger the cage needs to be.
If you can afford a cage that measures 7.5 sq ft, this is the ideal size for a single cavy to live in! Having two piggies means investing in a cage that measures 10.5 sq ft in size because this allows both of your pets to establish their “own territories” within the cage. This is especially important if you have just purchased or adopted two male piggies.
On the hand, if you have two females, then establishing territories is not such a problem because they are a lot less territorial by nature so they are far less likely to fight with one another. With this said, the larger the cage the better because your girls will be a lot happier and therefore much healthier the more space they have to run around in.
There's a huge choice of bedding for guinea pigs on the market, but there are some which are really harmful to cavies which includes the following:
Pine shavings – poisonous to guinea pigs
Cedar shavings – poisonous to guinea pigs
Both of these can also cause your pet to suffer from serious respiratory disorders that would need to be treated by a vet. These shavings may smell nice to humans, but they are incredibly damaging to a piggy's health and well-being.
Another form of bedding which is best avoided is straw because not only will it not absorb any urine or droppings, it will soon start to smell pretty bad and this is a good indication that your pet is living in dirty conditions which could ultimately affect their overall health.
The best bedding to use for piggies is Timothy hay and although some will get a bit soiled if it's left on the cage floor, as long as you clean out the cage frequently and provide your pet with a hay rack filled with fresh hay with a few pellets mixed in with it, you may find your pet prefers to help themselves to the hay in the rack rather than nibble at the hay used for bedding.
The bigger the cage, the more toys and accessories you can place in it being careful not to go overboard! The most important accessories being good quality water bottles which need to be washed and refilled with fresh water at least once a day.
Toys need to be made to last, in short you should not be tempted to buy cheap toys for your piggy because they might injure themselves on them. Always invest in known brands that you know are well put together using good quality materials.
Chewy toys need to be included in your pet's collection because as everyone knows, a guinea pig's front teeth continually grow which means your pet needs to wear them down by gnawing on things and chewy toys are ideal for this just reason!
Avoid any cages that have wire flooring incorporated in their design because walking on mesh will hurt your pet's little feet. Most really good quality cages that boast great designs have plastic bottom trays you can pull out which makes cleaning out your pet's environment a real doddle.
The other thing that's worth noting is that the larger the cage door, the better because it makes it so much easier to reach in and gently coax your piggy out of their cage. It also allows you to get to your pet quickly in case there's an emergency and they need rescuing.