Guinea pigs are one of the most interesting pets on the planet. They are extremely affectionate, cute and they love to be near humans. We have been getting lots of questions on if guinea pigs can be kept outside and in this article, we are going to discuss that.
If you, for some reason, dislike keeping animals inside your home, can you still have a guinea pig? Let’s find out!
Can guinea pigs be kept outside? Guinea pigs can be kept outside but only if provided with appropriate environmental conditions although it’s still recommended that you keep them inside. In order to keep them outside during the winter, you must have a guinea pig hutch/cage with good isolation and proper bedding. During summer the cage needs to have plenty of shade and good airflow. The main reason for this is that guinea pigs are very sensitive to extreme temperatures.
It is much easier to keep guinea pigs inside the house. If you are going to keep them outside you will have to invest a lot more into the equipment and a cage with good isolation. Naturally, this applies to people that are living in countries that have strong winter. Check to see what temperatures are appropriate for guinea pigs.
If you are living on the part of the planet that has relatively ideally temperatures during the whole year for guinea pigs, keeping them outside won’t present a problem.
One important thing to remember, if you are going to keep them outside, you will have to supervise them more often during winter and summer (during extreme temperatures).
This can turn almost into a babysitting business, naturally the time you will have to spend caring for them is directly related to the quality of the hutch and the equipment that you have installed in order to protect them from extreme temperatures.
In the following sections, we have given you in-depth information on guinea pig outside temperatures and also where and how to keep guinea pigs outside during the summer and winter. Let’s begin!
Where Can Guinea Pigs Be Kept Outside?
It really depends on the place you live in. Some countries like the USA (in some states), Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and the UK have really cold winters. In the UK, the temperature is also a bit lower with lots of rain, while in the USA it really depends on the state.
If you leave your guinea pig unprotected, it can quickly freeze to death and this can happen VERY fast! If you plan on keeping your pets outside, you need to build or buy a special cage with lots of isolation and a high-quality top/cover, to prevent rain from getting inside the cage.
But, what about summer? Well, summer in some countries is very intense. Strong heat, lots of sun, and generally dry conditions aren’t going to be good for your guinea pig. In this case, you’ll need to make a special shelter and place it somewhere where the sun is weaker and on top of that, you’ll need to constantly provide fresh water for the guinea pigs, as guinea pigs mostly drink cold water.
The best time for keeping your guinea pig outside is probably springtime, as weather conditions aren’t that extreme.
Guinea Pig Outside Cage – Hutches
If you want to keep guinea pigs outside, you will need to make or buy a special guinea pig cage. These cages are made primarily for keeping guinea pigs outside, so we call them outside guinea pig hutch or cage.
Hutches are big boxes made of wood raised up from the ground. In the front, these hutches are designed to have a mesh, which allows your guinea pig to get fresh air and sunshine.
- Upgraded to plastic tray. This rabbit cage suitable for 2-3 rabbits or 3-4 Guinea pig or like size animal.
- Overall Size: Exterior :62"(L) x 21.0"(W) x 37.0"(H) / Upper House size: 27.5"Lx18"x20.5"H / Stairsdoor size:7"Wx6"H
- Sturdy Construction & Weatherproof: Constructed by premium natural fir wood and painted with eco-friendly waterproof non-toxic varnish. The original wood is firm and natural for your beloved pet.
- Spacious Space & User-friendly Design: This 62" Guinea Pig Condo There is sliding door and ramp allows Pet to easily enter the raised housing area. There are timber ridges above the ramp to protects your Pet from slipping back. With the design of grid door you can watch your pets without disturbing.
- Removable tray & Grid Fences: There is removable bottom sliding tray for easy cleaning. High quality grid fences provide a healthy poultry lifestyle. With the pitched roof your poultry can run outside even in rainy days. The fences are vital to the ventilation of poultry, they will also protect your poultry from the outside predators.
You can also get a hutch cover, that will protect your guinea pig from the bad weather conditions, like rain or snow. Hutches can also be very big and they will provide your guinea pigs with much more space. You can have hutches as an indoor cage if you have enough space, but they are used more often as an outside cage.
In hutches, guinea pigs will be safe from other animals and predators, with solid accommodation and the mesh in front of the cage enables them a good connection with the environment.
What Temperature Is Best for Guinea Pigs?
This one is a bit debatable, as every guinea pig is sometimes drastically different. As we told earlier, any extreme weather condition is very bad for a guinea pig.
The temperature rule is that guinea pigs can go out when it’s somewhere between 18 to 23 degrees Celsius (64 to 73 degrees Fahrenheit) and if we compare guinea pigs to humans, this temperature is also a sweet spot for many of us.
If the temperature goes below 18 degrees Celsius (64 degrees Fahrenheit), your guinea pig can have serious problems. It can either freeze to death or go into a state of hypothermia and if it’s very hot outside, heatstroke can happen. In either case, the body has a response to the extreme weather conditions.
When a guinea pig is feeling hot, the blood flow to the skin increases, letting them cool down a bit. When the blood flows faster, the blood pressure is also higher, leading to heatstroke. During the cold days, the blood flow will give in to the coldness in order to conserve heat. Of course, this can lead to freezing.
How to Keep Guinea Pigs Warm Outside in the Winter: Instructions
Let’s be clear, if you live in some of the aforementioned countries, chances of keeping your guinea pig warm outside during the winter are very small. However, if you live in a country where the winter isn’t as strong, you can do the following things.
• Get a Quality Bedding
Quality bedding is always needed for your guinea pig. However, during the winter, extra care should be put. Not just that it needs to be comfortable and soft, but also very warm for your guinea pig.
That’s why you should always add more bedding and also some hay, as hay preserves heat very well. Be sure to check the bedding every once in a while to determine if it’s wet. The wet bedding should be removed immediately!
Also, if you can, try to make a guinea pig cage a bit smaller. If it’s too big, you’ll need a lot more hay and it can’t get warmer very fast.
• Implement a Hutch Cover
It’s obvious – get a hutch cover! A hutch cover is obligatory as it protects your guinea pig and the cage from rain, snow, or any other weather condition.
If rain falls all over the cage, the bedding can get soaked, making your guinea pig sleep on the wet bedding and what happens if your guinea pig sleeps on cold water? Well, it can get cold, it can start coughing, and even vomiting. This is something that you want to avoid.
The best way to do it is to try and cover the majority of the cage/hutch, but still, leave some space for the air to flow. Never leave your guinea pigs without fresh air.
• Get Another Guinea Pig
Keeping a single guinea pig outside can be the devil’s business. But, if you manage to buy another guinea pig or perhaps two more, the heat will be shared between them, allowing them to survive the winter much easier.
This can also be applied to people. When it’s hot outside, you want to be alone, and when it’s cold, you just want someone to snuggle with. That’s the case with guinea pigs, too!
If you have two or three guinea pigs, it will be much easier for them to snuggle together thus sharing the heat between each other.
• Check Their Water
If the temperature reaches below 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit), the water will usually freeze. Having in mind that you want to keep a guinea pig outside, the water will also be outside, increasing the chances for this to happen. But, what can you do to prevent this? The harder way is to constantly go outside in order to change the water. Not only that it’s harder, but it’s rather impractical.
On the other side, you can secure your water bottle within the hutch and place a hot towel around the bottle. This will prevent their water from freezing, at least for some period of time. Alternatively, you can always hide it under the hay and then place a towel.
How to Keep Guinea Pigs Cool Outside in the Summer: Instructions
Keeping your guinea pigs outside in the summer is much easier to do. Still, you’ll have to take certain precautions to avoid heatstroke.
• Provide Plenty of Water
How to survive a very hot summer? Simply drink a lot of fresh water! Water will not only keep your guinea pigs hydrated but also serve as a cooling agent.
When you give your guinea pigs some cold water during summer, it can get hot pretty fast. In this case, you’ll need to check their water often, as well as position the water away from the sun deep into the shade.
• Position the Hutch Away from the Sun
To prevent water from heating pretty quickly, hiding your hutch away in the shade is the best option. It’s important not only for water but also for your guinea pig!
As we mentioned earlier, they can easily get a heat stroke if you don’t keep them away from the sun, especially if you have more than two guinea pigs. Next time you plan on putting the hutch directly in front of your house, think about it again.
You can build something that will prevent the sun from warming up the hutch. That’s up to you and your imagination.
• Raise the Hutch Above the Ground
When the intense heat starts, the ground warms up pretty fast. If you have a lot of concrete in your yard and less grass, this heat will be significantly higher. This means that placing the hutch directly on the ground isn’t a great idea.
You can, however, place it on the table or simply create additional legs for it and raise it above. The interesting thing is that most high-quality hutches that you can buy, already have this possibility, so you don’t need to build anything.
• Trim Their Hair
Some guinea pigs have long hair. Be sure to trim their hair often in order to keep them cool. When trimming, excessive hair is eliminated, making a guinea pig cooler and less prone to heatstroke during the summer.
Guinea pigs came to our homes living outside (they were once wild animals), so yes, they can definitely live and survive outside of your house. However, a guinea pig isn’t the most enduring animal as it can easily suffer from the consequences of extreme weather conditions.
Bear in mind that you’ll need additional bedding for keeping guinea pigs outside during the winter, and in the summer, you’ll need to get them away from the sun.
If you manage to provide your guinea pig with the aforementioned conditions, it’ll be able to live a long and happy life. Still, keeping a guinea pig inside is a superior solution. Best of luck!
List of Sources
Wilber, C. G., Influence of Temperature on Performance in Guinea Pigs, American Journal of Physiology, 1957.
Wilber, C. G., Zeman, F. J., Response of the Guinea Pig Heart to Hypothermia, The Ohio Journal of Science, 1968.
Richardson, V., Management of skin conditions in guinea pigs, Veterinary Nursing Journal, 2014.
Rafael, J., Fesser, W., Nicholls, D.G., Cold adaptation in guinea pig at level of isolated brown adipocyte, American Journal of Physiology, 1986.
Hinckel, P., Schröder‐Rosenstock, K., Responses of pontine units to skin‐temperature changes in the guinea‐pig, The Journal of Physiology, 1981.
Hinckel, P., Schröder-Rosenstock, K., Central short-term cold adaptation in the guinea-pig, Pflügers Archiv, 1983.
Sobel, H., Haberfelde, G. C., Reeves, A. E., Reversibility of endocrine changes produced in guinea pigs by exposure to cold, American Journal of Physiology, 1965.
Trillmich, F., Effects of Low Temperature and Photoperiod on Reproduction in the Female Wild Guinea Pig (Cavia Aperea), Journal of Mammalogy, 2000.