Guinea pigs, or cavies, are common pets for children and pet-loving adults. Before the new pet is brought home, consider setting up his cage. This makes the transition from the pet store to his new home smooth and easy. By placing him directly into his new cage, the guinea pig won’t have to wait around in a box until his new home is ready.
After assembling the cage, add bedding to the bottom. Avoid aromatic wood shavings, since the oils can cause upper respiratory infections in small animals. Choose pellet or soft chunks of wood pulp based bedding. Both types are absorbent, reducing wet spots and odor.
Install any shelves or ramps. Guinea pigs are not very agile, so gentle sloping inclines are preferred. Ramps allow the guinea pig to exercise within his cage. The inclines also lead to an additional level, giving the guinea pig extra floor space.
Water and Food Accessories
Attach a water bottle to the wall of the cage. Most guinea pig cages offer a wire mesh construction which can easily accommodate a water bottle. Place the bottle on the outside of the cage, allowing only the nozzle to poke into the cage area. The guinea pig will lick at the ball on the end of the nozzle to release water and drink. Water bottle attached inside the cage may get chewed and leak.
Add a hayrack to the guinea pig cage. Cavies need extra roughage in their diet for proper digestion. A hayrack can be secured to the side of the cage with twist ties or hooks. It may also sit on the floor of the cage.
Position a food bowl near the hayrack. This should be filled with dry guinea pig pellets only. Add a separate treat bowl to the guinea pig cage for special moist treats. Leaves of spinach, chunks of strawberries or wedges of oranges can be added to the treat bowl for added nutrition. Remove all moist food from the cage after a few hours. Spoiled food will grow bacteria, making the guinea pig sick.
Guinea pigs like to burrow and hide, especially when sleeping. Offer the guinea pig a hiding area in the cage. Pet stores offer wood, plastic or cardboard tubes and hiding houses for guinea pigs. Provide at least one of these items so the pet can hide and feel secure. Make sure the opening on the hiding area is large enough for the pet to comfortably enter and exit.
Place the cage in a secure area. It should be up high enough that a family dog cannot disturb the pet. Consider placing the guinea pig cage on a sturdy table or the top of a dresser. Make sure the primary care taker can easily reach into the cage to work with the food dishes, and remove the guinea pig for playtime.
After you’ve set up the cage, and placed it in a quiet and secure spot, it’s time to shop for the perfect guinea pig. Choosing from silkies to long haired varieties can be tough, but rest assured, whichever pet you choose has a safe and comfortable home waiting for him.