Hutches are most common for keeping guinea
pigs, as they are warm, weatherproof and safe. They can be kept outdoors in the cold months although I recommend they be brought
in to a warm area during this time to prevent them from being too cold, which could eventually kill them.
There are several
shapes and sizes available to suit your own tastes. Most come with a small compartment where the pig can sleep, but I usually
provide them with a box with some hay to keep them warm and give them somewhere to hide. Prices range from around £20 to £100
depending on how much you want to spend, the more expensive the higher the quality. Guinea pigs that are kept outdoors should
also be provided with a run. This will give them the chance especially in the warmer months to graze, which is their favourite
hobby and to get out of their hutches into the open air.
I try to have all my guinea pigs out
at the same time. This will give the shed a chance to air out the smell of ammonia, which is released when the pigs urinate
and me a chance to clean them out.
There are also a wide variety of cages available for keeping your pig indoors, these
range from £30 to £100, but are clean and tidy. They are made mainly with plastic, which is easy to clean, quite strong and
warm. The base is hardened plastic and the roof may either be metal caging or plastic with a metal cage roof. The advantage
of the plastic roofed cages is that they tend to keep the smell inside rather than it making the room smell.
I would recommend
both types, as they are good quality and comfortable homes for your pigs.
The types of bedding I have used in the past
have varied from sawdust, newspaper, shredded paper, hay, wood shavings and shredded up J-cloths. Now I tend to use newspaper,
wood shavings and shredded paper.
A layer of newspaper is placed on the bottom of the hutch, then a layer of wood shavings
to soak up the urine and then shredded paper for bedding and to play in. I discovered that they like to play in the shredded
paper when I was watching them jump in and out of it one day for hours until they finally used it as bedding. Hay is a good
source of heat for the guinea pigs as well as food. The only problem being that it tends to go mouldy when mixed with the
urine and heat. This could cause the guinea pig to have an upset stomach and become very ill. So I purchased a hay rack for
it to go in and they would eat it at their leisure.
Sawdust is a product that I wouldnt recommend
especially when you can purchase it from a sawmill cheap, as the wood may have been treated with chemicals, which may poison
your pig. Also as it is so fine to the touch that it can easily get in your pigs eyes, ears, nose and lungs, this could cause
a number of problems.
The hutch/cage should be regularly cleaned out. During the cold months I tend to clean them out once a week. Here I have provided
a step by step guide on how to clean them out properly.
You will need a safe place to put the pigs in, a tub or bucket
to place the soiled bedding in, a plastic bin bag, dustpan and brush or scraper, kitchen towel cleaning products specially
made for animals. This is available from any pet shop or supermarket. Dont use general household cleaners as this may irritate
the skin or kill if ingested. Dont forget new bedding to go in the hutch.
Take the guinea pigs from the enclosure and plac them in a safe place away from where you are but not to far as you will
need to keep an eye on them.
2. Use the tub/bucket to put the soiled bedding in.
3. Use the dustpan and brush to clean
up the remaining bits on the hutch floor.
4. Once all the dirty bedding is out put it into the plastic bag and make sure
it is tied securely. Alternatively you could use the soiled bedding for a compost heap, as it will decompose very quickly.
5. Spray the cage floor with the disinfectant and leave for about 5 minutes. Wipe clean with kitchen towel.
a new layer of newspaper on the bottom.
7. Cover this with a thin layer of shavings.
8. Put in a handful of shredded
9. Clean the food bowl with hot soapy water and make sure it is rinsed properly before you put it back.
Clean the water bottle, preferably with a bottlebrush and some hot soapy water. Once again make sure that it is rinsed properly
to get rid of all the soap and try to get rid of all the green algae which may be growing on the inside of the bottle. This
could cause the guinea pig to have a stomach upset.
11. Health check the pigs before you put them back to make sure that
they are fit and healthy. You will find what to look for when carrying out a health check on the Problem page.
the pigs gently back in their home and leave them for a while to become accustomed to their new environment.
During the summer months obviously the weather can be unbearable for humans. We are able to cool ourselves down by swimming,
sunbathing or using a fan. Guinea pigs on the other hand are covered in fur and are unable to cool themselves down. Flies
are the main concern during this type of weather as they are attracted to anything that is warm, humid and smelly. This describes
a guinea pig hutch during the summer. The flies will lay their eggs in the soiled bedding and a few days later they will hatch
and infest the bedding. This is a serious problem as the maggots are able to crawl into the guinea pigs anal area and cause
serious problems. You can read more about this problem on the Problem Page. Therefore the hutch will need to be cleaned out
at least twice a week depending on how hot and humid the air is.