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Preparing Your Home for a Guinea Pig

Updated on September 18, 2010

Preparing for a Guinea Pig in your Home

So you've adopted a guinea pig (or two or three!), or you're thinking about adopting guinea pigs! If you haven't already, now's the time to figure out how to prepare your home so it's safe and comfortable for your guinea pigs. As you read on, you will learn the steps you should take in preparing your home or apartment for the arrival of a little bundle of squishy guinea pig joy.

Where oh Where Will My Guinea Pig Live?

Finding a cozy place for your new furry friend to call home.

If you've ever gone apartment hunting or house hunting before, you know that it can be tough to find one that feels "just right". You want somewhere that you feel safe, protected, comfortable, a place that you can call home; you don't want to be sweltering hot but you don't want to feel drafty either. Think about the qualities that you look for in a home, and apply that to your guinea pig! Just as you wouldn't want to be stuck in a small room with no windows, your guinea pig probably isn't going to enjoy living in a closet either!

Picking a good spot to house your guinea pig may take a bit more time than you anticipate. Guinea pigs have very sensitive hearing, and you'll know really quickly what sounds your guinea pig does or doesn't like when they start "grumbling" at you if you have your music or television on too loudly.

On the other hand, if they're in complete isolation away from you or any other friends or family members that may be around, they are likely to get lonely, and even depressed, believe it or not! Unhappy guinea pigs will be sedentary and tend to gain weight, and won't be as approachable as a happy, well-socialized piggie.

So it's important to find a location in your home that has a balance between peaceful quiet time, and being able to be around you - the person in your piggie's life that they're going to feel happy and comforted to see. With guinea pigs, it really is all about balance, so the following are some tips for where to prepare a comfy, balanced space for your guinea pig's home.

Guinea Pigs and High Frequency Sounds / Loud Noise

How much commotion can your piglet handle?

A place like your entryway or the middle of your living room might not work too well if you often have company over, depending on your guinea pig's personality. I have one guinea pig who adores attention and is often out of his hut, munching on hay and charming guests. The other tends to scuttle away when someone draws near, only to be coaxed out gently by a yummy carrot or pepper. So he stays a bit further out of the middle of things, whereas the other is closer to our couch and our television. Some guinea pigs tolerate noise and people better than others, but if you haven't gotten a chance to meet and get to know your guinea pig yet, it's best to have a backup plan for a more quiet and peaceful spot, in case he or she seems really stressed when placed in a more active spot.

It's good to keep your eye out for a few alternatives for where your guinea pig's cage will go.

Guinea Pigs and Room Temperature

What Goldilocks can teach us about guinea pig climate tolerance

Remember how Goldilocks felt, going throughout the three bears' house, continually testing but only finding the best option when she found a balance between two extremes? Guinea pigs are the same way.

Guinea pigs aren't as sensitive to cold temperatures like hamsters are, but their little bodies are still very sensitive, particularly to heat. If you know your house doesn't have air conditioning and the Summer days get very hot, it will be important to have a place reserved in your basement or a cooler room to keep your cavy comfy during that time. Equally importantly, when it's chillier outside, make sure that your guinea pig is away from doorways or otherwise heavy drafts. You'll know if you walk in the room and your piggie is all "puffed up" and looking angry and cold. Guinea pigs feel best at a comfortable indoor temperature of about 68 degrees. Sudden changes in temperature can make them very uncomfortable, or even sick! So be sure to keep the heat on a comfortable setting even if you know you will be gone all day so you don't come home to pigsicles.

How Big Should Your Guinea Pig Cage Be?

Cramped quarters can make for a miserable guinea pig

Just as you wouldn't want to be confined to a closet-sized living area day in and day out, guinea pigs need some space to play, to explore, to run laps around their cage or 'popcorn' when they get excited. (popcorning happens when guinea pigs get riled up and 'pop' all four feet off the floor at once! Some popcorn a lot more than others, but it's very cute and funny to see!)

The typical 'guinea pig size' cages at pet stores are not nearly competent for a happy guinea pig habitat. You may need to have one temporarily until you can get the materials or space for a larger one, but this is not an ideal situation. When I first got my guinea pigs, they spent several months of their lives in the smaller cages until I graduated college and was out on my own. I still feel bad to this day that they were holed up in small cages for so long, but hopefully they have put those days behind them and are enjoying their bigger digs now!

There are some great, inexpensive resources for building your own cage at a website called CavyCages.com. All you need are some stackable shelving kits, a sheet of coroplast (plastic sign making material. you can get this from sign shops or order online), and you've got the materials to build any of several different configurations of cages! Full information on size requirements and materials is available on that website. I highly recommend it!

There's also a message board for any specific questions you have, or if you just want to tell everyone how cute your piggie is : )

Of course, the bigger cage you build, the more room you will need to make sure you have cleared in your home to accommodate it. You don't always have to put a cage on your floor. You might find an old table you can place one on to enable some room underneath for storing your pet supplies!

Where Should Your Guinea Pig Sleep?

what will happen at bedtime?

A bedroom or home office can often be a good place for a guinea pig in an apartment setting, but something to keep in mind if you decide to keep your guinea pig in your room is the guinea pig sleeping cycle.

Guinea pigs aren't nocturnal like hamsters, but they don't sleep completely through the night and wake in the morning like people either. Their sleep cycle is known as diurnal, which is how we as humans live our lives, with our active time during the day. Guinea pigs, however, don't need as much sleep, and are frequently on an "on an hour, off an hour" schedule throughout the day where they're very active, then napping, then running around, then resting, etc. Typically they only need about 4-6 hours of sleep in an evening, so you may want to keep this in mind when housing them in your room.

If you're a light sleeper and feel that hearing the 'ting ting ting' of the water bottle or some shuffling and munching of hay, or perhaps the intermittent loud squeak will disrupt your sleep, it may be best to find another place to put them. I actually tend to take comfort in those noises now, so even though they're not in my room and I can hear them from the living room when I sleep, it makes me smile.

Back in my family's house when I had one of my guinea pigs in my room, he would wake up and run laps at 5 AM every morning, quietly squeaking and making all kinds of shuffling noise, so that was an example when it didn't work out too well!

Choosing Guinea Pig Chew Toys Wisely

While guinea pigs often won't chew on things as much as rabbits or hamsters will, you can NEVER bee too careful. Guinea pigs have teeth that continually grow like our fingernails do, and they're constantly feeling the urge to file them down on things, whether they're grating their teeth together or gnawing on their food bowl/cage bars, etc.

The corner of a door frame or a table leg can look mighty tasty sometimes! Thankfully, unless there is lead based paint coating these surfaces, generally your piggie will be okay if he or she accidentally takes a little bite out of your woodwork. However, you must watch out for things like power cords!

Prepping your living space for a guinea pig isn't a far cry from "baby-proofing". Believe me, if there's a little hole or opportunity to get out of their contained area, they'll find it! Be sure that you're ready to supervise them at all times if they're having floor time, and cover/remove any hazards like electrical cords, small choking hazards like nails, screws or beads, dangerous people food like chocolate or alcohol, or any other choking temptations like string from clothing.

For a treat and distraction, you could provide a mineral block, guinea pig safe wood block or other hard object that's safe for your guinea pig to chew.

Are you ready?

Hopefully now that you've read through these tips, you'll find a cozy home for your guinea pig! Please feel free to continue to read about guinea pig care in the other lenses in this series featured in the list below. Thanks for reading!

Other Lenses in the Guinea Pig Care 101 Series

Read the other lenses in this series and you'll be on your way to becoming a cavy expert!

Great Guinea Pig Supplies on eBay! - Why pay full price when you can bid?

eBay is such a life saver sometimes, especially if you have a bunch of guinea pigs that you need to buy in bulk for, or if you're looking for a specialty item that you just can't seem to find locally. Take a peek and see if any of these items suit your fancy!

Cavies on Amazon.com

You never know what gifts you might find for you or a guinea pig enthusiast loved one.

Have you found this resource useful? Is there something that you think is incorrect or something you're still not sure of? Please let me know! Use the form below to ask any questions or leave feedback as you see fit. Thanks so much!

Reader Comments and Questions

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Guinea Pigs r so cute:)

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I am a former Guinea Pig owner unfortunately my Guinea Pig died of unknown causes and maybe from old age. He was the best Guinea Pig ever! I am looking to get two female boars and was wondering if any female Guinea Pig owners out there had any suggestions. Also if anyone has any questions for me please ask away.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      i realt want a gp so much

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      My Guinea pig eats everything but never feed it bananas

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: they don't eat either but they do eat spinach.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      mine eats both

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      mine eats both

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Could you tell me if they eat lettuce and cabbage please

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: I think gabby

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      ???

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      can you feed your piggies dried cranberries? my family LOVES dried cranberries but we think that they might be either bad for them or too sour... also can you make a little area where they can run around but not get lost? like on the carpet? and by using little things i find around the house? like a little play area?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      i am getting one in two weeks and i am the only person who knows ANYTHING about piggies at my house! i'm scared thiat my bro who is four will give them something that they can't have but i can't put them too high up because i am afraid they will fall! also, i have many cousins and friends who come over and they will want me to take them out but i am also afraid that they will get overwhelmed or my friends will fight over them and hurt them because they often do that with other animals! what should i do????? :(

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Hi, do you know any good quality pellet foods that are cheapish, because I'm 13 and if I get a GP then I have to pay for everything for my pet and I don't get a certain amount of money a week from my mother like a lot of kids do and I want the best for my pet. Also I have to keep it outside no matter what the condition and it's winter at the moment where I live so some tips would be very helpful. Haha for the last Two days I have been researching and researching everything about GP I hope to be an expert for when my guinea pigs come and all my sister and mum hears about Is my to-be guinea pig!!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      soon im gettig one but first i need to reaserch

    • southpaw23 profile image
      Author

      southpaw23 5 years ago

      @anonymous: This is a tricky one! I've never had piggies outdoors but i do know that many do who live in mild climates (or they'll have their piggies outside during a warmer season and bring them in in the winter). Guinea pigs are sensitive to temperature, particularly hot temperatures, and can easily suffer heat stroke, but they also shouldn't be outside when it's too cold. I'm sorry I don't have direct experience with this issue, but it may be worthwhile to look into message boards or other places where people in the UK or Australia are posting, because I think in those countries it's particularly common and they would probably have some great answers for you!

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      is it okay for them to sleep in there hutch outside during the night with something covering there cage or not :L cause im allowed them but they arent allowed inside :L to live in :L and i can't let them run loose because i have a big dog :L

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: it took my first guinea pig about 6 months to adjust now i have a second one and shes takin longer every guinea pig is different!!

    • Onemargaret LM profile image

      Onemargaret LM 5 years ago

      Real cool lens!

    • southpaw23 profile image
      Author

      southpaw23 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi TE,

      Great question! I like the Oxbow Cavy Cuisine best. It's just straight-up timothy-based pellets without any fillers or hazardous choking risks (nuts, corn kernels, etc. other things that often crop up in cheaper guinea pig food bags). it also has been made with a special long-lasting and potent Vitamin C so it won't lose its vitamin C strength when sitting on the shelf or exposed to light like other brands do. Our piggies all love it, though they're piggies so they love most foods! :D If you have trouble finding it locally, it's available online in lots of different sized bags. They have really great hay, too. Gee I sound like a brand ambassador here haha. I don't work for them, promise! :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I need to know what type of bagged food is best?

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      thxx you to all your information ... :)

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      We have guinea pigs at school and this has really helped looking after them because some people (including me hade no clue)

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      youpiiiiiiiiii!that helps me a lot!!!!!!!:D.Noisette,diablo and suerly will be happy in there new home!

    • southpaw23 profile image
      Author

      southpaw23 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi Pam,

      I'd say unless it's a chew stick you've ordered from a small animal supply catalog or in a pet store, it's better safe than sorry. I'm not well educated on different types of wood, but I know they're not all safe for piggies to eat. Finding a stick in the yard might be a little bit dangerous given the uncertainty.

    • southpaw23 profile image
      Author

      southpaw23 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi Mary, Congratulations on your little piggy! Regarding your question, fresh veggies are really the only kind that piggies should have. Aside from them probably turning their noses up at prepared foods like canned or cooked veggies, I think in terms of nutritional value, fresh is the only way to go. I hope this helps!

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: This is a nice site.. I have a baby boy Guinea Pig name 'Fuzzball', he is orange and white color. Fuzzball has a $70.00 Cage & activity toys & his own bed,(spoiled).. One question, can Fuzzball have green beans from a can?.. I want to make sure he eats the right foods,(be happy ad healthy)..

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      thank you for all your help,I'm sure T- Bone is going to be very happy living here...I just got him yesterday and I love him..thanks mom!

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      there too cute not to get one ;]!!!!!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      sooooooo cute i can't wate to get one

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      i have found your site very useful. Thankyou(: but is it safe to just give them a stick to gnaw on? or is this too dangeorous?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Hi. thanks so much i wanted to get a guinnea pig.And i have learned so much from ur sitte but do u have to get to piggies????????

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Hi, thanks so much, i am hoping to adopt a guineapig and a friend for it! The lenses have been really helpful.

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      huvalbd 5 years ago

      Solid advice for things to consider before bringing guinea pigs home! I've read a few of your GP lenses and like your perspective (as I'm sure your piggies do too).

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @southpaw23: what are those vegetables that guinea pigs love?

      can you share me some of those veggies?

      im anakmindanao from philippines

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @southpaw23: what are those vegetables that guinea pigs love?

      can you share me some of those veggies?

      im anakmindanao from philippines

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      i buy a guinea pig but its too easy to feed,,,but sometimes he does not eat those veggies that i fed on him,,,,what should i do?

      help me,,,,,,,,,

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      philipbonde 6 years ago

      Preparing your home first before you are going to buy a guinea pig ..you have to remember some important things which are discussed in the article.

      guinea pig cage

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I liked this. i just got a new guinea pig but he's scared of everyone i think its because he's

      still ajusting.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I liked this. i just got a new guinea pig but he's scared of everyone i think its because he's

      still ajusting.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      @anonymous: eat milk

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      i get a pig in 3 days

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      my mom says i have to keep my room clean for 61 days and i get a guinea pig

    • southpaw23 profile image
      Author

      southpaw23 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Aw thank you, Christopher! I'm sorry it's taken me sooo very long to reply to your comment. I'm so excited for you and your new guinea pig!

      For strawberries, I'd just offer him a little piece and not too much since they're so sugary. As for romaine lettuce, you can give him a handful of torn up pieces or a couple large leaves. He'll love it! We usually give ours a baby carrot or two a day when we have carrots in the house. I hope this helps you!

    • southpaw23 profile image
      Author

      southpaw23 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Thanks so much for your comment! Yes, you're right about the wheel and ball! I always feel so upset when I see large balls meant for ferrets at pet stores with pictures of guinea pigs on the packaging. For people who don't know much about guinea pig care, they will figure there's no problem and could be fatally injuring their piggie. Leashes and wheels are the same, too.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      It is not safe to have a wheel in their cage or for them to have a ball to run around in i've learned because it can cause injuries to their feet and spines! But you did a really good job!!! thanks for the advice..

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      Hi!! Thanks for your great web site. I am 11 years old, named Christopher. I am very happy to have a beautiful white albino guinea pig, about 6 weeks old. I have had him 3 days!! I want to ask are strawberries a good fruit for my new wonderful guinea pig, called Bugsy, after the children's movie "BOLT". I wanted to know he many strawberries every day. I have romaine lettuce, and carrots. Please how many baby carrots, a day should my wonderful Bugsy, should get. How much romaine lettuce each day for one guinea pig. I want my guinea pig to be healthy and happy!! Thanks!! Your friend, Christopher in Florida

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      You put in a lot of work into this informational lens to provide valuable tips and suggestions to potential owners as well as those who already own guinea pigs as pets. **Blessed by a Squid-Angel**

    • BeaGabrielle1 profile image

      BeaGabrielle1 6 years ago

      Very informative lens! I appreciate all the information you've shared. Thanks!

    • profile image

      norrasnowwhite 6 years ago

      I WAS WODERING CAN YOU GIVE YOUR PIGGY RAISENS? CAUSE YOU CAN GIVE THEM GRAPES, WHY NOT RAISENS.

    • southpaw23 profile image
      Author

      southpaw23 6 years ago

      @deniselynn29: Hi deniselynn29! That's an excellent question. I have never had a reptile so I'm not 100% sure but I'd think if it's straight up aspen shavings with no other additives, it's probably the same exact thing, just marketed to a different customer. A surefire way to be totally sure would to just put in a quick call to your vet. Such a cute name for your guinea pig! I love it. I hope you have a wonderful time getting acquainted with her, and assuming your aspen shavings are just regular dried aspen, this is a great way to use them up!

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      deniselynn29 6 years ago

      hey, i was just wondering if it is ok to use reptile aspen bedding shavings for a guinea pig? im getting one soon and i have a bag of reptile aspen shavings from when i used to have a corn snake. i just wanted to make sure before i get her. Her name is Saffron. is there a difference between the two anyway?

    • southpaw23 profile image
      Author

      southpaw23 6 years ago

      @anonymous: so glad I could help, Ana! Let me know if you have any questions!

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      @anonymous: mmln

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      this was very helpful thank you

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      This is very helpful thankyou i am thinking about getting a guinea pig and i want to do all the research to help.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      @anonymous: thats so awesome Im getting to baby brothers on Saturday!! that's look like there mom all white poofy n with (i like to call) berth mark witch is a light tan brown a can't wait eepp!! i hope your guineas turn out good for you! :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      wow that's a lot of stuff ill have to remember because Im a light sleeper but i wan to have my guinea pigs close i think ill get use to it so ill try it out keeping all this stuff in mind :) thanks so much i you've help me a lot :)

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      @anonymous: it will give it very bad diarhea and stomach problems. Have fun with your guinea pig.=)

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      i have a guinea pig and he is so cute his name is theodore he loves music. the music makes him sleep he loves to run around the only thing is he needs more stuff to chew on. he loves blankets to curl up on and he sleeps on his side. he has a huge cage and couldent be happier.he is white and brown and orange!!! i love him !!!!!!!!!!!!!

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      what happens if u feed your guinea iceberg lettuce

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      @anonymous: I'm pretty sure it means they're happy. I've read on many articles that it means they are happy and relaxed : D

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      I'm soo excited!! I'm getting a guinea pig this friday!! i picked her out yesterday and put her on hold so i'll have time to get ready for her on friday!! she's gray and fluffy! i named her Tutu : D Thank you so much for posting this! I've never had a guinea pig before. but now i'm ready for Tutu : )

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      when the guinea pigs purr, are they scared or happy?

    • southpaw23 profile image
      Author

      southpaw23 7 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi Asia,

      Aww it sounds like you're really giving those guinea pigs a happy home! There's no reason to worry. Guinea pigs are flighty little animals! It takes time to socialize them so they're more friendly. Some guinea pigs are just more naturally shy than others, but generally they're all really shy at first. After all, they're at the bottom of the food chain so anything probably looks like a predator until they learn to trust you. I'd say just continue what you're doing, continue to hold them and talk softly to them, get them used to your touch and voice. Giving them a vegetable to take out of your hand can help, too. Ours ar 5 years old and it still takes a little time to 'corner them' to pick them up in their cages. But once they're out, they're relaxed and happy in our laps.

      Good luck with them!

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      Thanks, I've really found this information useful, as I'm really new to this. I've had my guinea pigs for about 3 weeks now, they're so cute and my 5 yr old daughter cuddles them all the time. But I get the feeling they don't like us. They're still scared, and jumpy around us. They always run away and hide from us. One of them doesn't even like to be stroked. what can I do to improve the relationship?..particularly for my daughter, it upsets her when they run away. I've got 2 girlie guinea pigs, I've had them since they were 9 weeks old from a family that looked aftered them well. They used to be kept outdoors in hutches with their extended family, but I keep them indoors now in a fairly big cage with everything a guinea pig could wish for. Am I doing something wrong??

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      that sounds so cute

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      anonymous 8 years ago

      My guinea pig is like the cutest he always popcorns and does the purr strut and twitches and he always skwaks hes adorable!