Guinea pigs are domesticated tailless rodents that usually grow no more than a foot long, weighing in at about three pounds. Their small stature keeps them low to the ground, and their feet are tiny.
This appearance doesn’t give much of an indication of their physical abilities. Despite their appearance, it is quite impressive what guinea pigs can do because they can move quite well.
So, can guinea pigs climb? Yes, guinea pigs can climb, but the construction of their body doesn’t allow them to climb surfaces that have a high inclination. Unlike hamsters and mice, guinea pigs are unable to grip most surfaces. Guinea pigs do best on solid and flat surfaces but they can climb with the help of low incline ramps to higher places in the cage.
Since guinea pigs can only “hop” (not really a jump), they rely on inclines to climb. Adding low-incline ramps with steps, as well as tunnels, caves, and other hiding places make the perfect habitat for guinea pigs.
How to Help Guinea Pigs Climb to Higher Places: A Helpful Guide
You don’t have to keep your guinea pig locked in its cage. Veterinarians encourage you to let your pet roam free. Several guinea pig cages come with an attachment to create a playpen area outside of the cage.
Playpens allow your pet to explore areas outside of their home, satisfying their curiosity and indulging their sense of play.
Some owners let their pets to roam free throughout their homes. For the safety of your piggie, make sure to eliminate any hazards that could injure your pet.
Other members of the household could accidentally step on them, or other animals can attack them. You should monitor their free-range explorations to prevent harm to your guinea pig.
Limiting their movements to a particular part of your home helps you observe your pet’s activities, making sure they don’t get into something that may hurt them.
For the most part, guinea pig owners leave their pets in their cage. Your guinea pig may even prefer to remain in its home, showing no interest in a playpen or free-range exploration.
Your guinea pigs may feel safer in their cage, especially close to their cage mates. This is completely normal behavior: guinea pigs, as prey animals, usually feel safer in a confined space separate from animals or humans they may perceive as a threat.
So, what do you need in order to create the perfect living space for your piggy? If your guinea pig spends a majority of its life in its cage, it is very important for you to give your guinea pigs enough room to play and socialize.
Guinea pigs need a spacious enclosure with one or multiple levels, with about 7.5 square feet per animal. This gives them enough space to be active without becoming too cramped.
As much as guinea pigs love to play, most owners will only include a hay rack and a sleeping den, but this limits your pet’s activity. The perfect items to include in your guinea pig’s cage, in addition to their food and water sources are:
- Sleeping den with a flat top
- Ladders and ramps with stairs at a low incline
- Tunnels and caves for them to hide and play
This equipment allows your guinea pig to be as adventurous as possible. You will notice your guinea pig’s activity increase, leading to a happier and healthier guinea pig.
Guinea Pig Cages Should Have a Sleeping Den with a Flat Top
The safest way for guinea pigs to climb is at a low-incline. Since their bodies are so low to the ground, their tiny legs do not have an extensive range of movement.
Items with steeper inclines are impossible for guinea pigs to climb without injuring themselves. Keeping materials in your guinea pig’s cage with no more than a 30-degree incline is the perfect slope for them to climb safely.
Although they have trouble with higher angles, guinea pigs love to climb ramps and steps. They like to find a place higher than the ground to sit and observe their surroundings.
They even use climbing as a way to hide from their cage mates during playtime. Guinea pigs can jump up to 20 centimeters high, which is enough to climb on top of a sleeping den.
Most guinea pig cages come equipped with a detachable sleeping den with a flat top. Most sleeping caves have a small low-incline step ladder to reach the top, which helps them climb to the top. This is the best sleeping space for a guinea pig because they can jump on top and use it as a place to sit.
Low-Incline Ramps and Stairs Can Help Your Guinea Pigs Climb to Higher Places
While most guinea pig cages are only one level, some larger or custom-made models have two or more stories. Low-incline ramps, stairs, and ladders help your guinea pig explore the several spaces available to them in their cage. If you have a single-story cage with a playpen attachment, you can use ramps to help your guinea pig climb out into their play space.
Ramps with a small slope are the best way for your guinea pig to climb to higher or lower surfaces. Guinea pigs cannot grip high-incline surfaces and will avoid using them. If you have space in your cage, long, low ramps are an excellent addition to your guinea pig habitat. They will help your pet climb safely. You may even find that your guinea pig will play on them more often than anything else, competing with their cage mates for access to the ramp.
If you have a taller cage, you can create a multi-story cage by attaching untreated wooden boards above the bottom. To connect the stories, you can add shallow ramps to help your guinea pig climb between the levels. This creates more playroom for your pets, especially if you have limited space in your home and you can’t invest in a larger cage.
Many guinea pig cages come with a playpen attachment, which hooks to the sides of the cage. The pen surrounds the entrance to the enclosure, giving your guinea pig a safe place to play while you are cleaning their cage or giving them some time outside of their home. A ramp is a great way to help them climb in and out of the cage into their play area.
You can buy ramps at any pet store, but it is much easier and cheaper to make them yourself. If you design your own ramp, make sure you use natural materials that didn’t have exposure to chemicals. Most owners opt for wooden ramps, but this material can irritate the delicate pads on the bottoms of your guinea pigs feet.
Applying a soft material that guinea pigs can hold, such as a towel or a strip of carpet, will help them climb wooden ramps with ease. Before installing your new ramps, make sure that your guinea pig can fit through the ramp comfortably. Having a wide enough space for them to climb will make them feel more secure. They will be more willing to use it if they feel comfortable on the surface.
- Size: Approx. 3.94" x 15.75"(W * L). Package including: 1 x ladder. Help them form a good habit of playing in their own home. Hamster ladder easily bends to fit a variety of shapes and sizes to reach elevated areas; Encourages exploration and exercise.
- A fun toy for gnawing, swinging and climbing. Flexible bendable ladder fits most cages. Made of wooden sticks,bendable. Can be attached in different shapes. Natural wood is safe, non-toxic and full of natural smell.Very good hamster cage decoration.
- 100% natural wooden hamster toy bridge, hamster biting toys,rat chew, safe for chewing to satisfy her instinctual urges and help keep incisor teeth trimmed and healthy. Wooden bridge is recommended for bunny, snakes, lizards, guinea pig,dwarf hamsters, mice, chinchillas, rats, sugar gliders and similar-sized small pets.
- Small pet hideout twig tunnel, your furry friend will use as a warm, wooden hamster toys gives critters a sense of safety and security, cozy nest.Perfect hamster hideout for guinea pigs, ferrets and more. Suitable for chewing and climbing. A habitat for hamster, mouse and rat.
- Chew toy for guinea pig, pets can sleep under the hamster toy bridge and can safely chew the bridge. Pets love to hide and play in this large sized twig tunnel. Promote exercise and help to develop coordination and balance skills.
If you do not have enough room in your guinea pigs cage for a ramp, stairs are another option. Guinea pigs are quite good at climbing stairs, and some owners train their pets to climb the stairs in their home. When installing a staircase in your guinea pigs’ cage, make sure that each step has enough space for your pet to sit down before climbing to the next stair.
As with ramps, low-incline stairs are best. Measure the angle between the stairs to make sure that they do not measure more than 30 degrees. Also, make sure that each step is relatively close together to make climbing more comfortable for your little guinea pig. As long as your guinea pig feels comfortable using the staircase, they will use them to climb throughout their cage.
- Natural bridge for small pets.
- Makes entering and leaving the cage comfortable and safe.
- Can also be used inside the cage as a climbing frame.
- Ideal for placing in the cage.
- Dimensions: 23-1/2-inch length, 6-3/4-inch in width, 7-inch height.
Can Guinea Pigs Climb out of Cages?
The chances are that your guinea pig will prefer to live in the safety of his cage. Many owners can leave their pet’s cage open without any fear of their guinea pig climbing out.
Your pet may be curious and approach the edge of their cage if the door is open, but their short bodies and tiny legs prevent them from climbing out without a ramp or another flat solid surface to assist them.
Why Won’t My Guinea Pig Climb to Higher Surfaces?
Guinea pigs will not walk, climb, or jump on surfaces if they do not feel safe. Including ramps and stairs with enough space for them to maneuver comfortably will help your guinea pig feel more secure during climbing.
If your guinea pig still doesn’t climb, there is nothing wrong with your pet. They will find different ways to play and explore safely.
Now, we know that guinea pigs can climb but with the help of ramps and stairs. They have very sensitive bodies and tiny legs, so you need to make a safe environment for your guinea pig.
Also, most of them won’t even try to climb higher places and there is nothing wrong with this behavior. Your guinea pig just needs to feel safe and happy, so you can help them by making or buying a good cage with a lot of safe horizontal space.
Don’t opt for cages that have multiple levels, they are not designed for guinea pigs. Still, you can find some cages that have multiple levels with a climbing degree that is not that steep and because of that guinea pig can use it, but those cages are very rare.
List of Sources
Cooper, G., Schiller, L.A., Anatomy of the Guinea Pig, Harvard University Press, 1975.
Donnelly, T. M., Rodent Husbandry and Care, Purdue University, 2007.
Donnelly, T. M., Overview of Rodents, The Kenneth S. Warren Institute.
White, W. J., Balk, M. W., Lang, C. M., Use of cage space by guineapigs, 1989.
Richardson, V., Care of guinea pigs, Veterinary Nursing Journal, 2011.
Johnson, P., Guidelines for the Housing of Guinea Pigs in Scientific Institutions, Animal Research Review Panel, 2006.