Should guinea pigs be kept inside or outside?
Pet guinea pigs, such as those purchased from a breeder today, are descended from wild guinea pigs, also known as the capybara, which were once found in the wild.
They dig large underground tunnels to protect themselves from predators and inclement weather, whereas domesticated guinea pigs do not have the option of doing the same thing. They do, however, have other means of surviving in the outside world.
Guinea pigs have thick coats of fur, which helps them to stay warm in freezing temperatures.
The capybara possesses exceptional hearing and smell abilities. They can sense the presence of their predator from a long distance away and can easily conceal themselves by fleeing to a safe location.
Unfortunately, pet guinea pigs are only allowed to live in a small space where they are unable to hide from potential predators. Guinea pigs can be kept outside, but only if all of the necessary safety precautions have been taken.
The safest place to keep your guinea pigs is within the confines of your residence. As soon as they enter, they will be protected from both weather fluctuations and potential predators.
Although it is possible that you will be forced to provide something for your guinea pig’s outside space, this is not always possible. However, this should only be used as a last resort.
Threats of keeping guinea pigs outside
Staying outdoors is normal for wild guinea pigs, but for pet guinea pigs staying outside raises risks. And these risks are:
- Predators: Badgers, foxes, snakes, cats, and other animals look for easy targets like guinea pigs. Some animals can even break through their cage if the cage is not sturdy enough.
- Loud sounds: Guinea pigs get shocked when they hear something which is not expected.
- Firecrackers. Thunderstorms, loud horns, these all are high pitch sounds, which raises the chances of heart attacks.
- Insects: If the cage of your guinea pig is not well maintained or your guinea pig is suffering from wet bottom then the risk of flystrike is very high. Mosquitos and flies are dangerous because diseases like myxomatosis can be spread. Maggots(flies larvae) can even feed on your guinea pig’s flesh and eat them alive.
- Bad weather: Scorching summer heat can be dangerous for guinea pigs, as it raises the risk of heat stroke. And cold temperatures of winters can be a reason for hypothermia in guinea pigs. Frequent changes in temperature can be very deadly.
- Lonely and depressed: When guinea pigs live inside, they have you with whom they spend time, but keeping them outside alone can make them bored, lonely, or even depressed.
- Toxic: When guinea pigs live outside, they get a chance to eat plants like lilies, crowfoots, or hedera, which can be toxic for them.
Luckily, guinea pigs can be kept outdoors by taking some safety measures to prevent them from these dangers.
Can I move my indoor guinea pigs outside?
Your guinea pigs are most safe and secure when they are kept inside. You can, however, keep your guinea pigs outside if this is not an option for you. Simply provide them with a suitable living environment and the necessary care.
The fact that guinea pigs are allowed to roam freely outside makes it impossible to prevent all of the dangers we discussed earlier. Most of them, however, can be avoided by exercising caution. You cannot prevent the production of loud noises such as car engines and sound crackers.
Although we cannot completely eliminate the risks, we can mitigate them with careful planning and a few safety precautions in place. As an example, you can keep them safe by building a weatherproof and secure cage and keeping them away from toxic plants like poison ivy and sage.
Loneliness and stress can be avoided by dedicating a portion of your time to them or by providing them with a companion to help them through their trials.
For guinea pigs who are used to living indoors, the transition can be difficult. Guinea pigs are vulnerable to injury if their surroundings are suddenly disrupted. Stress and anxiety are two of the most common issues people face.
In order to prevent your guinea pigs from becoming overly stressed, you should move them outside gradually whenever possible.. Moving your guinea pigs outside can be accomplished in five simple steps, which we will cover below.
How to move indoor guinea pigs outside?
If your guinea pigs are going to be outside for the first time, they will require a safe cage because it is the only thing that will protect them from potential dangers.
One of the most important characteristics of a good guinea pig cage is that it must be built with durability in mind, that it must provide a safe space for exercise, and that no predators can get through it.
Once you have completed the preparation of the cage, you can begin the process of relocating them outside. You will, however, need to wait for the appropriate weather conditions before gradually acclimatizing your guinea pigs to the outdoors.
Note these five steps to gain success in moving your guinea pigs outside with the least stress.
Table of Contents
Building a safe outdoor enclosure
A large solid cage with plenty of space for exercise will be required if your guinea pigs are going to be living outside; however, an indoor cage will not be sufficient to protect them from other potential dangers.
Typically, cages sold in pet stores with an exercise area are not appropriate because they are too small and lack solid material, making them vulnerable to being broken by a predator in a matter of seconds.
Consequently, it is recommended that you construct cages from durable materials on your own. The following are the components of a safe enclosure:
- There is one section that is completely covered with wood, which can assist your guinea pigs in hiding and protecting themselves from predators as well as bad weather.
- Durable wire mesh or similar material should be used to allow your guinea pigs to see out of their cage while also allowing for proper ventilation.
- A strong lock for the cage; however, it should not be made of wood because predators can easily break through it.
- A sloping roof is used to channel rainwater away from the house.
- Legs that can assist in lifting the cage off the ground, providing additional protection from the elements as well as predators, are included.
- A large enough space for exercise, which will primarily consist of a run, is required.
You’ll also need containers for water and food, which you can find here. In addition, provide plenty of hay for the animals to eat and burrow in.
The cage’s length and width should be at least 6ft2ft in length and width. Additional requirements include an 8ft*4ft*2ft space for exercise or jogging with a roof on top and a solid surface at the bottom.
Guinea pigs require regular physical activity. If you are unable to provide a run, you must ensure that they are taken out of the cage on a daily basis for a few hours of play and exercise.
The cage must be placed in a location where they will be able to get some shade during the hot summer months. Direct sunlight has the potential to quickly raise the temperature, which can be dangerous for our guinea pigs.
As an added precaution, if you live in an area where mosquitoes are a major problem, mosquito nets should be placed over both the cage and the exercise pen. Mosquitoes are known to transmit diseases such as myxomatosis, which is extremely dangerous.
Protection from predators
The cage and exercise space should be appropriately constructed, and they should be kept out of reach of predators at all times. Even simply keeping an eye on a predator can be extremely dangerous.
Guinea pigs become agitated even if they only glance at their predators. It can also cause heart attacks in some people. That is the reason why the cage must be predator resistant, as well as having as many safety measures in place as is reasonably possible.
- Using lights and sprinklers to trace the movements of animals will make cats, dogs, and foxes nervous.
- The difficulty of climbing long fences with flat panels can be a deterrent. Foxes, on the other hand, can mount on these, whereas dogs cannot.
- Install a wire netting around your guinea pigs’ enclosure: This will prevent foxes from digging holes and getting to your guinea pigs.
- Items that stand out: Attach some reflective items, such as CDs or reflective tapes, to the wall. Birds such as hawks will be alarmed by this.
- Caution should be exercised when using cat-proof objects, such as citrus peels and ultrasonic sound machines; however, loud sounds may be stressful for guinea pigs.
It is not possible for predators to not come in search of their prey, but that does not rule out the possibility of preventing them from doing so.
During the night, you can cover their cage with a tarpaulin. Because most wild animals are more active at night, covering your guinea pigs’ cage will reduce the visibility of predators to them, which will benefit them. As a result, if they are unable to see them, they should be fine.
Choose the right time to move them
It’s time to move them once your yard has been prepared with all of the necessary setup to keep predators away and the enclosure has been built. Time management is essential in this situation, though.
You can let your guinea pigs explore their new environment outside if the season is spring at this point. However, if it is the winter season, then you should wait for the spring season to arrive before proceeding. It is the cause of the fur coat on your guinea pigs that you need to know more about.
Guinea shed their coats twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall, depending on the species. Guinea pigs that live in open, wild environments develop a thick coat of fur to keep them warm during the winter months of the year. The thickness of the fur, on the other hand, will be determined by the weather conditions in which they were housed.
It’s possible that their fur coat will not be prepared for the cold weather if you move them outside during winter months.
To prepare them for those harsh winter months, you must wait and transition them in the spring so that their bodies can adjust and develop a thicker coat.
It’s also dangerous for them if you try to move them during the summer when the temperature is unbearably high.
To avoid this, wait until spring, when the temperature is more moderate, not too cold nor excessively hot.
The weather and living environment will be suitable for them to adjust in this manner.
Let your guinea pig be outside for short periods
Between February and March, your guinea pigs’ winter coats will be shed, revealing their white undercoats. Aside from that, they will have new fur by the middle of spring, which means they will be ready to venture outside.
Once the weather warms up, you can allow your guinea pigs to congregate outside in their designated area. Continue to do this consistently to keep your guinea pigs from suffering from shocks and depression. It is preferable to repeat this procedure in short bursts for a total of two weeks.
Every day for the first week, leave your Guinea-pigs in their exercise space for two hours to get used to their new surroundings. Given that guinea pigs are most active in the morning and evening, one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening is the ideal time for them to become familiar with their new environment.
As a precaution, stay by their side when they are outside for the first few days, as they may feel uneasy and stressed because they are unfamiliar with the environment. When you are present with your guinea pigs, they will feel much more at ease and safe.
Make sure you have all of the necessities for your guinea pigs when they are out in the yard. This includes food and water as well as treats and toys. It will ensure that they have a pleasurable experience in the outdoor environment.
When the second week comes around, increase the amount of time they spend outside with you. Increase the amount of time they spend outside by an hour at a time until they are spending 8-9 hours outside. However, at this point, you should not leave your guinea pigs outside at night.
Move your guinea pigs outside permanently
Now, when the two-week period of changing procedures is over, your guinea pigs will be well prepared to spend the rest of their lives outside, because they will have become accustomed to spending hours outside and will not hesitate to do so.
The second step in this transition is to keep them out of the house during the evening hours. Providing them with plenty of hay, bedding, and water in their cage will help them remain calm. Furthermore, because it is springtime, the weather outside will be pleasant enough.
Keep an eye on your guinea pigs before you go to sleep and in the early hours of the mornings. When they see you, they should appear happy and engaged.
Make sure your guinea pigs have plenty of water to drink and that they are fed their salads and pellets in their cage or in the exercise area.
If your guinea pigs decide to venture outside, don’t stop spending time with them. Because they are social animals, they do not like being left alone for long periods of time. It is extremely important to interact with guinea pigs.
If you are unable to spend at least two hours with your guinea pig, find another companion. A bonded pair of guinea pigs will provide them with enough social interaction to keep them happy and entertained. Guinea pigs can be difficult to bond with, but when done properly they can become partners for the rest of their natural lives.
Can guinea pigs live outside all year round?
If your guinea pigs have been gradually introduced to the outdoors, they should be able to survive there for the entire year.
But even in the absence of extreme temperatures for Guinea pigs, they can be fatal. As a result, during the extreme months of summer and winter, exercise greater caution.
If the weather in your area experiences extreme temperature fluctuations, you may need to bring them in for a month or two.
How to keep guinea pigs warm outside
Guinea pigs are able to survive in extremely cold temperatures. However, if you live in an area where winters are uncommon, you will need to keep your guinea pigs somewhere warm because they may succumb to hypothermia if they are not kept warm.
- Fill the guinea pigs’ enclosure with plenty of hay so that they can sit comfortably and completely cover themselves, allowing them to stay warm inside.
- Soft, warm fabric or blankets can be used as lining material to line the cage from the inside out.
- Make certain that you have not placed the cage in a location where snow and rain can easily enter the enclosure. Rain and blustery winds can be kept at bay by using a tarpaulin cover to cover the enclosure.
- Insert a heating pad that is safe for children inside the cage.
- For simple roofed structures, typically made of wood and metal, you can use a low-wattage electric heater; however, be careful that your guinea pigs don’t start chewing the electrical cables while they’re heating their home.
- Place a heater or lamp outside the cage rather than inside it, as this will cause the cage to become overheated, which will cause your guinea pigs to overheat.
- If your guinea pigs are sensitive to temperature changes, you should consult a professional veterinarian.
Before it gets too cold outside, bring your guinea pigs in for the night.
Acute hypothermia can be lethal for your guinea pigs in the winter, especially if their outdoor enclosure is not properly prepared for the cold winter months.
Also read: How to keep guinea pigs warm in winter
How to keep guinea pigs cool outside
Guinea pigs are particularly susceptible to heatstroke. Hyperthermia is more common in guinea pigs that are kept outside than any other disease in this species of guinea pig. By taking a few simple precautions, you can reduce your risk of injury. These are some examples:
- Make an effort to keep the cage and the exercise area together in a shady area.
- Ensure that a large tile of clay or marble is placed in a shady area so that your guinea pigs can rest on it.
- Place some frozen water bottles around their cage to keep them cool.
- Keep plenty of vegetables and water on hand by putting some ice in the cage to keep the water cool.
- If your home has a controlled environment, you might want to consider bringing them in during the hotter months of the year.
During the summer months, you should check on your guinea pigs on a more regular basis. If they show any signs of overheating, such as shortness of breath, panting, drooling, or other symptoms, take them to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
Learn more: How to keep guinea pigs cool in summer
Tips for keeping guinea pigs outside
Keep in mind that they should be kept in the shade of your lawn to avoid overheating if you want to keep your guinea pigs outside safely during the summer.
It is critical to provide them with plenty of water. Also, do not place their cage near the garage because the toxic air from your vehicles can be harmful to them if they are exposed to it.
Keep them inside during the winter because of the cold weather, but if you must leave them outside, wrap blankets around their cage or use heat pads to keep them comfortable.
Additionally, once your guinea pigs have moved outside, make that location their permanent home. For the simple reason that moving the location of their enclosure on a regular basis can be stressful for your guinea pigs.