So, you’re thinking of getting a guinea pig, otherwise known as a cavy, or perhaps you already have one. The first consideration you should have is where and how to house your pet, taking into account that guinea pigs do need a bit of room to move around, run and play. While there are cages on the market and plenty of sites that show you how to build one, with a little creativity and a kiddie pool, you can design a spacious habitat for your guinea pig.
Things You'll Need
- Plastic kiddie pool (non-inflatable)
- Bedding material
- Water bottle
- Food bowl
- Guinea pig
The first step and, perhaps, the biggest challenge, depending on the time of year, will be procuring a hard plastic kiddie pool. Late spring and summer will be the best time to find new ones in most stores that sell seasonal items, like Walmart or Target. Another tactic can be to try searching in your area through a service like Freecycle or yard sales.
Clear a space that will fit the kiddie pool with at least a foot of clearance. If anything falls into the habitat, guinea pigs are natural chewers and will nibble on anything they can get their mouths on. Whether the pool is new or used, clean it well with a natural cleaner, so as to remove any dirt, mold or residue that can irritate your cavy’s feet. Keep in mind, the space should be free of small children or predators, who could easily get to the guinea pigs, since this is an open-air habitat.
While some guinea pigs are shy and will not want to explore past their pool habitat, some get curious and may want to break out. Build a barrier to go around the outside of the pool, either using coated-wire grids, which you can find in many stores like Target or Walmart. The grids are designed for snapping together with connectors to build temporary shelving or storage and are wonderful for use with cavies. They are chew-proof and sturdy and easily cleaned, when needed. Use the connectors to snap a ring (or hold the grids together with plastic zip ties) that will rest against the outside rim of the pool. Alternatively, you can also build a wood ring that would serve as a protective barrier.
Once the barrier is in place and the pool is clean and dry, add a sufficient amount of bedding. While some people use shavings, be careful not to use cedar, which contains oils that can be harmful to cavies. There are a wide variety of bedding options including a recycled paper-pulp-based bedding called Carefresh and even fleece and towels which are reusable and washable. Towels placed beneath the fleece will help wick urine away from the top layer. Affix water bottles and hay racks to the grids, add food bowls and your guinea pigs.