When can Guinea Pigs go outside? Temperature, security and other care advice

Guinea Pigs, or Cavies to give them their correct name, originate from South America. They were domesticated 3,000 years ago by the Inca’s, and brought to Europe by Spanish Explorers in the 16th century to be kept as pets.

Can you keep a Guinea Pig outside? | When can a Guinea Pig go outside? | What temperature can Guinea Pigs go outside? | How to keep your guinea pigs cool in the summer | Can Guinea Pigs live outside in the cold? | Fox proofing your hutch and run | Changing Guinea Pigs from living indoors to outside 

As an extremely loveable and cute pet, it’s no surprise that they’re so popular in the UK – with over 2% of households thought to be the forever home for piggies in the UK.

Guinea Pig’s usually need a mate – although we humans are great, we’re not Guinea Pigs. You should try to provide your piggy with a friend if you can – this should be a piggy of the same gender (unless you want to have lots of baby piggy’s too)

Never keep Guinea Pigs with Rabbits, as they’ll get bullied.

Can you keep a Guinea Pig outside?

A Guinea Pig will happily live outside, as it, gives him a chance to get lots of exercise – they need around 3 – 4 hours of playing daily. If you’ve got more than one Guinea Pig, looking after them outside will also be easier, and cleaner.

They need to be able to stretch out fully, run, and stand up on their hind legs. A garden run is the ideal place to do this - Guinea Pigs love to play

When playing in his run, you should provide him with places to hide. This is because Guinea Pigs don’t like to graze in the open. Hiding places can include: tunnels, boxes and houses.

You can also try hiding his hay and other food in these places, for him to find.

You should ensure that you keep your Guinea Pig in a predator proof hutch and run, that’s in a shady area of your garden.

Guinea Pigs are vulnerable to extremes of temperature, so you should bare this in mind when finding a suitable location.

You may also like to read: Your Guinea Pig's diet

When can a Guinea Pig go outside?

Guinea Pigs can live outside all year long, however, if you choose to keep your piggy outside during the winter, you must ensure his hutch is protected from the cold, wind and rain.

If your Guinea Pig is outside during the summer, which is great for your piggy, then make sure he’s sheltered from direct sunlight, as Guinea Pig’s can quickly overheat.

What temperature can Guinea Pigs go outside?

  • Guinea Pigs like temperatures of between 18 to 23 degrees Celsius.
  • If it gets hotter than 26 degrees, your piggy could get heatstroke.
  • If it gets below 15 degrees your piggy can get chilled.

Guinea Pig’s cannot sweat, because they don’t have any eccrine sweat glands on their body.

When a Guinea Pig is cold the blood flow to the skin reduces to conserve heat. If they’re hot, the flow to the skin increases, to cool them down.

It’s up to you to make sure your piggy doesn’t get too hot.

When can baby Guinea Pigs go outside

You should wait until your piggy is about 400g in weight (approx. 6-8 weeks old). You should put your piggy out when the weather is nice and when no cold or wet weather is forecast.

The temperature should be between 15 and 25 degrees. Also the ground should be warm and dry underfoot after 5 minutes of standing on it.

Remember, your piggy is like a small child – more vulnerable than an adult, and less able to control his body temperature. So make sure the weather conditions are fine.

How to keep your Guinea Pigs cool in the summer

You should:

  • Make sure the hutch and run are in a shady part of the garden, and not exposed to any direct sunlight
  • If you have a north or east facing garden, then these areas are good for your piggy as they don't get the sun all day.
  • Make sure you refresh his water regularly. You can try putting a couple of ice cubes in the water to cool it down.
  • Don't keep your Guinea Pig in a shed or garage, as there's poor air circulation, meaning the area can get too hot.
  • You can make ice packs, and place them in the hutch, wrapped in a cloth. Your piggy can sit on these when he’s feeling hot.
  • If the weather is very hot, consider bringing your piggy indoors.
  • If your piggy's indoors, draw the curtains to help block out the heat. It'll really help to cool the room down.
  • Use a fan or air conditioning if you have it. However, make sure the draught is pointing away from your Guinea Pig as draughts aren't good or him.
  • Provide your piggy with food and fruit with a high water content, such as cucumber and fruit.
  • Place a pan filled with ice cubes near your Guinea Pig. He can move near to it to keep cool. Keep a lid on the pan though, or you may find your nosey piggy goes exploring and falls in!
  • Brush your piggy to remove excess fur. You could also trim his fur to help him feel lighter.

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Can Guinea Pigs live outside in the cold?

The RSPCA advise that temperatures below 15 degrees are too cold for Guinea Pigs, and that they should be kept indoors.

If your Guinea Pig is going to spend the winter outside ensure that his hutch is well insulated, and out of the path of high wind.

You can insulate your Guinea Pig’s hutch by covering the wire part of the hutch with a blanket and tarpaulin. You can also provide lots of hay inside the ‘housing’ area, for your guinea pig to snuggle into. The small space, combined with your piggys’ body heat, should keep him warm during our long UK winters.

Can a Guinea Pig eat grass outside?

Guinea Pig’s can eat the grass outside, as it forms an important part of their diet. However you should ensure a few things before you settle on a spot for your piggy.

  • You shouldn't feed grass cuttings to your piggy – the act of ‘cutting the grass’ can cause the grass to ferment. This can cause bloating in your piggy’s tummy. Therefore, if you’ve just cut the grass, clear the cuttings away from the spot where your piggy is playing.
  • The grass shouldn’t be wet
  • The grass should be free from dog or cat poo – as this can contain parasites
  • If there are any weeds or plants nearby, you should ensure they’re safe for Guinea Pigs to eat, just in case he decides to take a munch
  • You should avoid grass that’s likely to have been polluted with car fumes, or any other pollutants
  • You should avoid grass that’s been treated with herbicides or pesticides

Remember, although grass is great for your Piggy, hay is always best. It should still make up the majority of your Guinea Pig's diet, even if he’s being kept outside.

Can a Guinea Pig be left in a run overnight.

The simple answer to this is no. Predators such as foxes could attack your Guinea Pig. He should be secured inside his hutch at night.

How can you fox and rodent proof your Guinea Pig’s hutch and run?

To ensure your Guinea Pig is a safe as possible you should buy a sturdy hutch and run, with bolts that will lock. The lock shouldn’t be of the ‘twisting’ kind, but one that can be secured properly.  You can buy hutches and runs from Jollyes pet superstore.

The mesh should be sturdy, at least 16 gauge or less. . If you’re making your own hutch, consider putting steel mesh on the inside and outside of the door, securing with bolts and washers.

You can raise the hutch off the ground, or place on a solid base. You can also consider burying wire into the ground. These measures will help stop the fox digging under the ground to try to get at your piggy.

How to prevent Guinea Pig fly strike

Fly strike is an usually a fatal condition that can affect Guinea Pigs and Rabbits. It’s when flies lay their eggs around a Guinea Pigs anus. The eggs hatch into maggots, who eat away at the flesh. If struck, a Guinea Pig can die within hours of the maggots hatching.

To help prevent it, you should ensure that your piggy is clean and dry at all times, particularly around his anus.

You should ensure his hutch is clean and dry, and free from any poo (as much as possible). Flies are attracted to damp, smelly environments.

If your piggy is unwell then this can make them more prone to fly strike, as they are more likely to be still for longer, leading to pooing or urinating on themselves, resulting in damp fur.

If your piggy becomes infected, you should remove the visible maggots and see a vet immediately. You should never wait to see the vet.

Can Guinea Pigs live indoors?

Yes, they can. However, if you’re going to keep your Guinea Pig indoors, you should remember to:

  • Provide your Guinea Pig with a large enough hutch
  • Your Guinea Pig will need lots of exercise – between 3-4 hours day. You’ll need to provide a safe place away from other pets and dangers.
  • Locate the hutch away from draughts
  • And direct sunlight
  • Guinea Pigs have sensitive hearing, so locate your Guinea Pig away from loud noises. Eg: The television.

Changing Guinea Pigs from living indoors to outside

You should do this during the summer, when the days are warmer. That way your piggy shouldn’t get too cold.

If you’re very worried, try building up the time spent outside gradually. However, as long as his hutch is well insulated if its cold and wet, your Guinea Pig should be fine.

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