Purchasing a safe and appropriate habitat for your pet guinea pigs is one of the biggest decisions you will make for their well being. In this article, we will discuss basic cage safety, general habitat requirements, and show you some of the best options on the market for your pet guinea pigs.

General Cage Size Requirements

You will need a cage that provides at least 7.5 square feet of flat open space for 1-2 guinea pigs, with an additional 1.5 square feet of flat open running space for each additional guinea pig in the same habitat. Flat open running space means an open square or rectangular area that is uninterrupted by ramps, walls or other connections to additional areas.

There are many benefits of having an appropriately sized guinea pig cage. An appropriately sized cage will not get dirty as quickly, which will create less of an ammonia build up and keep your guinea pigs healthier. Guinea pigs in larger cages are more likely to exercise on their own, increasing their lifespan and decreasing the risk of obesity or muscular related health concerns like impaction. Guinea pigs who live in social groups are more likely to get along with their cagemates if they have ample room to interact, and also get space to themselves if they do not want to play with other guinea pigs and need some private time. Guinea pigs in large cages also tend to be less depressed, quiet pets and will be more likely to be talkative, playful and outgoing when they feel happy and healthy.

Basic Safety Requirements

There is a huge variety of guinea pig cages on the market, but it's important to realize that most cages marketed for guinea pigs are actually far too small and the dimensions should be checked against our minimum size recommendations. There are also many great plans and ideas for building your own custom made guinea pig habitat. Here we have collected some basic requirements and safety guidelines to help you make an informed decision on your guinea pig's cage.

The cage really does need to be THAT big

The minimum cage size for 1-2 guinea pigs is 7.5 square feet, and it really does need to be that large or larger to provide a healthy environment for your guinea pigs. Each additional guinea pig in the environment should add a minimum size of 1.5 square feet to the habitat size, which means the cage for 3 guinea pigs should be 9 square feet, 4 guinea pigs should have 10.5 square feet and so on. Please bear in mind that these are MINIMUM sizes and that many large groups of guinea pigs, or even pairs of guinea pigs based on their personality, may need more elbow room to cohabitate successfully.

When we talk about the minimum cage size, we're talking about flat, uninterrupted running space. Uninterrupted running space means that the space is not split by a divider that the guinea pigs need to climb or walk over, it's not connected to another section of the cage by any narrow path, and there is not a ramp to an additional level taking up a significant amount of room that prevents the guinea pigs from having a wide open race track to run in. This is extremely important in large social groups, as it will prevent a dominant guinea pig from blocking off access to part of the habitat by taking over a certain section and keeping the other guinea pigs from comfortably getting by.

This large open space plays a huge part in your guinea pig's physical and mental health. Guinea pigs in larger habitats are more likely to run and play on their own time, which encourages good muscle tone and will help reduce the chance of fecal impaction, a condition that becomes more common in sedentary guinea pigs. It will also encourage your guinea pigs to interact in a positive way together and contributes to making them happier, more interesting pets. Many people who complain of having an experience with a "boring" guinea pig actually had an experience with a depressed guinea pig in a small environment who never had room to play, and so spent their time hiding or sleeping in a single area.

The base of the cage should be a solid surface, no wire grates for poop to fall through

While it might seem like a good idea to have wire floors so that pet waste falls through and your pet doesn't live next to their poop, serious damage can occur to a guinea pig's feet if they have to stand on wire all of the time. Having their feet constantly pressed against wire can cause a painful condition called bumblefoot, where your guinea pig's feet may swell and become infected. To prevent this condition, you should look for a cage that has only solid surfaces where your guinea pig will be standing. Keep in mind that compared to the rest of the guinea pig, your guinea pig's legs and feet are very small to be carrying all of that weight and an appropriate surface will keep them much more comfortable.

The cage should be made of safe materials that can be cleaned easily

If you invest in a good quality cage, your cage will last for the entire lifetime of your pet guinea pigs and with good care can be used for many more years if you continue to keep pet guinea pigs. Look for a cage that has sturdy plastic if you are choosing a cage with a plastic pan, as you will be able to scrub or bleach the pan without worrying about it cracking. It is more ideal to look for the metal cage components to be powder coated or PVC coated, which will protect the metal from rusting. Keep in mind that PVC coated cages are susceptible to the finish wearing or cracking, but they will last much longer than a galvanized metal cage with no treatment applied. Some guinea pig cages are made with canvas or tent-like material for the base, and will likely need to have the base replaced once or twice during your guinea pig's lifetime. Home made cages made with coroplast may last for years if cleaned diligently and if the guinea pigs don't chew the edges, but expect to replace them at least once as well.

You should have easy access to all parts of your guinea pig's cage

When you are choosing a guinea pig cage, pay close attention to all of the access points such as doors and lids that open to see how they are organized. The cage doors should be suitably large for an adult to reach in and take out your pet guinea pigs without having to squeeze them through a small opening, and should be preferably large enough that you can reach in with both arms to pick up your guinea pig with two hands.. Make sure that the door closure method is secure, a good way to test this is by closing the cage door and giving several firm tugs on the bars in the center of the door. If the door pops open, your guinea pig may be able to pop open the door if they are leaning on it and fall out of the cage. Some cages offer the addition of flip top lids that open the entire top of the cage in addition to doors, which provides another easy access point. Ideally, the cage should be fairly easy to disassemble in large pieces so that you can easily clean sections.

The bar spacing must be small enough for the type of guinea pigs you plan to house

In general, guinea pig cages have 1" bar spacing that usually consists of many vertical or horizontal bars with large rectangular spacing between them. Baby guinea pigs under two months of age may be small enough to squeeze between this space, so a cage with a deeper pan that is too high for the babies to walk out of will help keep your guinea pigs securely inside until they are large enough to reach the bars and not be able to squeeze out at the same time.

Buying a "Starter Cage" versus a "Cage to Grow Into"

Even if you are starting out with baby guinea pigs, there is really no length of time that your baby guinea pigs will not appreciate the same floor space as an adult pair or group of guinea pigs. Baby guinea pigs reach adult size very quickly and are very active and playful at a young age, so a smaller size cage is not suitable housing even for a pair of babies who don't seem to take up all of the floor space. Plan to purchase or build a habitat that will be large enough for your guinea pigs as adults from the start.

Open top cages versus cages with lids

Guinea pigs typically don't climb and their jumping range is extremely limited, so it is not necessary to have a cage with a lid on it unless you have other pets in the household who need to be kept out of the guinea pig's habitat, or you have small children who need to be secured out of the habitat without adult supervision. A wall or wire fence of 12"-14" is sufficient to keep guinea pigs from climbing out of the cage in most circumstances, with the rare exception of guinea pigs who are extremely motivated to get out of the cage. A guinea pig may be extremely motivated to get out of the cage is they are terrified of a predator in the area, such as a cat or a dog harassing them in their environment, or if there are guinea pigs of the opposite gender next door that they may be able to get to.

The advantage of an open topped cage is that it is easy to interact with your guinea pigs, either when you are picking them up and petting them, or if you are feeding them, since there is nothing between you and your guinea pigs. If you have cats, dogs or other predatory pets in the household, it's important to provide a secure environment and add a lid to your cage. Care should also be taken if you have small children who should not be handling the guinea pigs unsupervised to provide a more secure cage environment as well.

Additional levels in guinea pig cages

Unlike other species of rodents, guinea pigs don't climb and need special consideration when vertical room is provided in a guinea pig cage. With the heavy body compared to the tiny legs of a guinea pig, the most important thing to consider is preventing any heights that your guinea pig can fall from. A guinea pig can seriously injure themselves in a fall from as little as one foot high, so we recommend taking precautions to protect your guinea pigs from any drops over six inches. Additional levels should be ideally built with walls that function like guard rails to keep your guinea pigs from falling over, with the ramps having similar walls to help keep the guinea pigs safely on solid ground when they transition between levels. Ramps should be long to keep the incline level to a minimum, and it's best to have some sort of texture or ridges on a solid surface to help them keep their footing when walking up a ramp so it doesn't turn into a slide.

Features to Look for in Special Situations

Depending on your situation, you may want to look for a cage with specific features that will make it easier to house and care for your guinea pigs in the long run.

Will you need to move your cage often? A commercially made cage will suit you better

If you will need to relocate your guinea pig's cage periodically, it will be simplier to move a cage that is pre-fabricated with a rigid plastic pan and a wire top than it will be to move a home made cage or a cage with a flexible bottom in most situations. You can also consider a store bought cage that comes with a stand on casters so that it can easily be rolled from one part of the house to another.

Do you want to have an open top cage only sometimes? Look for a cage with a removable lid

Maybe your guinea pigs will be in a supervised area during the day and you'd like easy access to visit with them, but you want the additional protection of an enclosed cage when other people or pets are visiting. Several cages are made with removable lids, or removable lids can be fashioned for home made cages to give you the best of both worlds.

Have an upcoming move or travel a lot? Look for a cage that is easy to disassemble

If you know you travel frequently or will have to move, it's best to look for a cage that can be disassembled easily to pack down small so it can be set back up at your new home or location. Most cages will have a fixed sized base with wire fencing that can be collapsed down to make it easier to travel with, but they will almost minimally take up the back seat of a sedan. If you travel or will need to move your cage easily, we highly recommend the Guinea Habitat line of cages which will fold down into the size of a large brief case and weigh very little.

Carpeted floors around the cage? Look for a deep cage pan

Cage pans vary in depth from about 3" to 6" deep. If you are using a loose bedding substrate as opposed to a fabric bedding, your guinea pigs will kick some of the bedding out of the cage. Having a deep cage pan will help keep more of your guinea pig's bedding inside the cage instead of on the floor around it. If you find a cage you love in every other aspect, but your guinea pigs still kick bedding out, you can cut sections of coroplast or plexiglass and secure them around the cage to help block more bedding from falling out.

Do you have senior guinea pigs? Look for a flat cage instead of one with multiple levels

If you are considering a cage with multiple levels, your aging guinea pigs may find themselves at a point in their lives where a ramp to get to the higher areas is too much for them to undertake. Most guinea pig cages can have additional levels easily removed to make them more friendly towards senior guinea pigs.

Our Favorite Guinea Pig Cages

Now that you've read all about how to choose a good guinea pig cage, where do you go next? We've put together a list of some of our favorite guinea pig cages, along with the pros and cons of each cage.

The Best Starter Guinea Pig Cages

Midwest Expandable Guinea Habitat

Midwest Expandable Guinea Habitat

The Midwest Expandable Guinea Habitat is a great starter cage for guinea pigs with a lot of versatility. By itself, the cage provides 8 square feet of flat, uninterrupted running space and can be placed next to additional units to create a larger environment. You can purchase an Optional Top to provide additonal security, or Replacement Canvas Bottoms to extend the life of your habitat if yours gets worn out. The wire fencing (and optional top) can be used together to make a portable playpen for your guinea pigs if you want to give them some outdoor playtime, or the entire cage can fold down and be packed up to fit in a generous sized beach tote when you need to move or travel. Weighing less than eight pounds and with set up time out of the box taking less than ten minutes, the Guinea Habitat is the easiest cage to get started with your new guinea pigs.

Quick Look:
Cage Width: 47"
Cage Depth: 24"
Cage Height: 14"
Base Material: Hand Washable PVC Lined Canvas
Bar Material: Coated wire
Included Accessories: None
Square Feet: 8
Suitable Housing For: 1-2 Guinea Pigs
Average Price: $35 - $50 New
Pros: Coated metal bars resist rust, quick set-up, low cost, easy to fold down for travel, replacement parts available, can be used without base as outdoor playpen (with optional lid for security)
Cons: Expansions with additional cage doesn't provide true uninterrupted running space, canvas bottom susceptible to chewing/wear if not kept clean, canvas bottom more difficult to clean than plastic, very difficult to move when assembled (floppy)

Buy Midwest Expandable Guinea Habitat on Amazon

Midwest Guinea Habitat Plus

Midwest Guinea Habiat Plus

The Midwest Guinea Habitat Plus includes all of the features of the Midwest Guinea Habitat described above, but comes with the addition of a removable lid and a cage divider with canvas ramp covers made of the same material as the base of the cage. The removable flip top lid is handy, as you can use it indoors to help prevent other pets or small children from readily gaining access to the cage, or you can use it outdoors with the fencing to provide a more predator proof outdoor run for guinea pigs while keeping them in a secure area with the base of the cage removed. The divider can be useful when you have more than one Guinea Habitat cage set up side by side, but keep in mind we feel this detracts from the idea of open, uninterrupted running space when left in a single cage. In a double wide cage, it provides a tidy place to keep hay so you can section off a "kitchen" area for your guinea pigs, or it can be used in a pinch to provide a divider between two guinea pigs who are not getting along or who need to be temporarily divided for another reason.

Quick Look:
Cage Width: 47"
Cage Depth: 24"
Cage Height: 14"
Base Material: Hand Washable PVC Lined Canvas
Bar Material: Coated wire
Included Accessories: Removable Lid, Cage Divider, Canvas Ramp Cover
Square Feet: 8
Suitable Housing For: 1-2 Guinea Pigs
Average Price: $55 - $90 New
Pros: Coated metal bars resist rust, quick set-up, low cost, easy to fold down for travel, replacement parts available, can be used without base as outdoor playpen with lid for security
Cons: Expansions with additional cage doesn't provide true uninterrupted running space, canvas bottom susceptible to chewing/wear if not kept clean, canvas bottom more difficult to clean than plastic, very difficult to move when assembled

Buy Guinea Habitat Plus on Amazon

Prevue Hendryx Extra Large Tubby Cage

Prevue Hendryx Extra Large Tubby Cage

The Prevue Hendryx Extra Large Tubby cage is a no frills cage for guinea pigs that consists of a deep plastic base and a wire top. This cage is simple and functions well, assembly takes less than ten minutes to fold the wire top together and add plastic clips to hold the top to the base. Don't expect to lift the cage by the wire top even with the plastic clips, they will keep your guinea pig from unseating the top but won't bear a lot of weight themselves. The pan is extra deep at 6-1/2" and will really help keep the bedding inside your guinea pig's cage and off of your floor. There is a matching stand available for this cage, but you might have to special order it from Prevue Hendryx as it's not readily carried online or in pet stores.

Quick Look:
Cage Width: 47-1/4"
Cage Depth: 24-1/4"
Cage Height: 21-1/2"
Base Material: Plastic
Bar Material: Powder coated non-toxic wire
Included Accessories: None
Square Feet: 7.9
Suitable Housing For: 1-2 Guinea Pigs
Average Price: $85 - $150 New
Pros: Coated metal bars resist rust, quick set-up, deep base holds in bedding
Cons: Not expandable with other cages, side clips not very secure

Buy Prevue Hendryx Extra Large Tubby Cage on Amazon

The Best Guinea Pig Cages (Commercially Made)

Super Pet My First Home Giant Rabbit Habitat

Super Pet My First Home Giant Rabbit Habitat

The Super Pet My First Home Giant Rabbit Habitat is a sturdy, well built cage that provides a much better environment for guinea pigs than rabbits. The deep plastic pan keeps bedding cleanly in place, and the generously sized front door and top door provide easy access to all of the areas of your guinea pig's cage. The optional shelf can provide a fun lookout area for your guinea pig, and the optional ramp is textured to help your guinea pigs get up and down safely between levels. The four casters this cage sit on are rather small considering the size of the cage they are supporting, but will stand up to general wear and tear in most households or can be removed to allow the cage to sit securely on a table top.

Quick Look:
Cage Width: 47"
Cage Depth: 24"
Cage Height: 24"
Pan Material: Heavy Duty Plastic
Shelf/Ramp Material: Heavy Duty Plastic
Bar Material: Chew-proof coated wire
Included Accessories: Comfort Shelf and Ramp
Square Feet: 7.8
Suitable Housing For: 1-2 Guinea Pigs
Average Price: $100 - $180
Pros: Deep plastic pan, coated bars, solid surface floors and ramps, casters for ease of moving, large top access door
Cons: Casters are small and not very heavy duty

Super Pet My First Home Giant Rabbit Habitat on Amazon

Marchioro Tommy C 120 Cage for Small Animals

Marchioro Tommy C 120 Cage for Small Animals

The Marchioro Tommy C 120 Cage for Small Animals is one of the most favored cages by guinea pig owners thanks to it's clean good looks and durability. Out of all of the commercially made guinea pig cages, you'll spend longer setting up your Marchioro cage. The wire panels are shipped flat and unattached, and will need to be secured together using plastic clips and stabilizers that will help the wire portion sit securely on the base. Two large plastic clips secure the wire top of this cage to the plastic base, but plan to lift this cage from the base if you are moving it assembled as the clips are prone to popping off the base if a lot of pressure is put on them. Marchioro cages feature doors that lock with two plastic sliding tabs that provide a more secure door than most cages, and this cage provides two large doors to give you easy access to both sides of the cage. Most of the top flips open into a large door to provide another easy access point. An optional stand with casters and a storage shelf can be purchased separately, elevating the cage and making it easier to move. This cage is not the best choice if you plan to move or travel with it, as the plastic clips are difficult to remove once they are locked into place and can break with too much repeated rough handling.

Quick Look:
Cage Width: 46-3/4"
Cage Depth: 22-3/4"
Cage Height: 19-3/4"
Pan Material: Heavy Duty Plastic
Shelf Material: Plastic
Bar Material: Wire
Included Accessories: Hay Rack, Food Bowl, Removable Shelf, Water Bottle
Square Feet: 7.4
Suitable Housing For: 1-2 Guinea Pigs
Average Price: $170 - $250
Pros: Deep plastic pan holds in bedding, included hay feeder attaches to outside, multiple access points, optional stand for elevation and mobility
Cons: Longer assembly time, plastic clips to hold cage together are not sturdiest option, cage cannot be expanded by addition of other cages.

Buy Marchioro Tommy C 120 Cage for Small Animals on Amazon

Marchioro Susan 120 Cage for Small Animals with Wheels

Marchioro Susan 120 Cage for Small Animals with Wheels

The Marchioro Susan 120 Cage for Small Animals with Wheels is very similar to the Tommy 120 Cage from Marchioro we discussed before, but it escapes one of the major pitfalls of the Tommy Cage by building the cage into a wheeled frame that doesn't require any plastic clips. The cage and frame stand three feet tall off of the ground, which will leave the cage at an accessible height for children but will have adults bending over to reach down in to the cage. While this cage only has one front door as opposed to the Tommy Model cage's two front doors, the entire lid of this cage opens up like a clamshell and will provide you with easy access to all areas of your guinea pig's cage. This cage is ideal for someone who wants a well made cage out of the box that is elevated off of the ground, but it can be a hassle to assemble and disassemble so anyone moving or traveling frequently will want to look elsewhere.

Quick Look:
Cage Width: 47-1/4"
Cage Depth: 24"
Cage Height: 35" (Including Stand)
Pan Material: Heavy Duty Plastic
Shelf Material: Plastic
Bar Material: Wire
Included Accessories: Hay Rack, Food Bowl, Removable Shelf, Water Bottle, Stand with Casters
Square Feet: 7.8
Suitable Housing For: 2 Guinea Pigs
Average Price: $250 - $350
Pros: Deep plastic pan holds in bedding, included hay feeder attaches to outside, clamshell style lid, stand for elevation and mobility
Cons: Longer assembly time, height not ideal for adults, cage cannot be expanded by addition of other cages.

Buy Marchioro Susan 120 Cage for Small Animals with Wheels on Amazon

The Best Guinea Pig Cages (Non-Commercial)

Cube and Coroplast Cage from Guineapigcagesstore.com

Cube and Coroplast Cage

The Cube and Coroplast Cage is a brilliantly designed cage that is limited only by the creativity of it's maker, you can learn how to make your own Cube and Coroplast cage online with free instructions from www.GuineaPigCages.com or you can purchase a pre-fab Cube and Coroplast cage from the original designers of this cage type at www.GuineaPigCagesStore.com. A standard cage can be made from locally sourced materials for around $40-$50, or a professionally made cage can be purchased for $55 and up depending on the options. The Cube and Coroplast cage can be made or purchased with a huge variety of options, including cages with and without lids, cages with additional levels, various shapes and configurations, and various support options. If you are building your own Cube and Coroplast cage, expect to spend 1-2 hours to build your cage. The pre-made cages available from Guineapigcagesstore.com are more expensive than buying the materials locally and building it yourself, but provide a great value compared to other commercially made cages and have some impressive unique designs that make it well worth the small additional expense.

Quick Look:
Cage Width: 30"
Cage Depth: 44" - 90"
Cage Height: 14" (Or higher with additional levels)
Pan Material: Corrugated Plastic
Shelf/Ramp Material: Corrugated Plastic
Bar Material: Coated Wire

Square Feet: 9.1 - 18.75
Suitable Housing For: 1 - 8 Guinea Pigs
Average Price: $40 - $90
Pros: Customizable for lots of different situations, inexpensive compared to comercially made cages
Cons: Can be difficult to move or disassemble, assembly time is longer than commercially made cages

Buy a Cube and Coroplast Cage from Guinea Pig Cages Store

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