Learn the basics of setting up a guinea pig cage with fleece bedding.
Setting up a suitable cage for your guinea pigs is the first step to ensuring they live happy and healthy lives. If you’re new to the world of guinea pigs, it can be a little overwhelming to figure out exactly what you need and how to get set up.
We’re going to be discussing some popular cage options, proper sizing for guinea pig cages, and how to set up a guinea pig cage with fleece bedding – the right way!
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Types Of Guinea Pig Cages
When choosing a guinea pig cage, you want an option that is big enough for your pets, easy to clean, easy to interact with your piggies, and cost-effective. There are a couple of options to choose from that fit all these criteria.
Probably the most popular guinea pig cage option right now is a c&c cage. These are my personal favorite option that I use with my guinea pigs!
C&C stands for cubes and coroplast. They are made using storage shelf grids and corrugated plastic for the base.
These cages can be great because they are easily made large enough for guinea pigs, they can be made to fit just about any space, they are easy to clean, and they are easy to rearrange if your needs change. They are quite sturdy when made properly. C&C cages are also really easy to clean since the bases are plastic.
You can purchase a c&c cage pre-made from places like guineapigcagesstore.com or Kavee, or you can build your own. I made my cages by getting grids from amazon and coroplast from Home Depot.
DIY Wooden Cage
My 3 female guinea pigs live in a wood and plexiglass enclosure that my dad made just for them. This type of cage is great because it’s easy to clean, you can make it have whatever features you would like, and you can make them easily fit in with the other décor in your house. Check out this video that shows all the details and how-to for my DIY cage.
The main downside of a DIY wooden cage is that it can be pretty expensive. My cage was several hundred dollars to build. However, it is very sturdy and has survived three moves with no issues!
Pet Store Cages
Lastly, I do want to mention pet store cages. In the United States right now, there is only one cage readily available at pet stores that is the proper size for guinea pigs. This is the Midwest Guinea Pig Habitat, and it is just large enough for a pair of guinea pigs.
Other pet store cages are usually way too small for guinea pigs and can cost just as much or more than building your own c&c cage!
Now that we’ve talked about the most common cage options, let’s talk about cage sizes.
Guinea Pig Cage Sizes
A common misconception about guinea pigs is that they can live in small cages and be perfectly happy. However, if you really want your pet to live a long, happy, and healthy life, the more space you can give it the better!
Guinea pigs love having room to explore and run around, and have space to get away from their cagemates. The proper size cage you will need will depend on how many guinea pigs you have. Guinea pigs really should be kept in at least pairs in most situations, so I’m going to base the minimum cage size on that.
If you googled what size a guinea pig cage should be right now, you would probably get a result listed in c&c cage grid sizes. The minimum cage size is a 2×3 or 2×4 for a pair of guinea pigs. I personally recommend no less than a 2×4 for most pairs of guinea pigs. Bigger is better!
Here’s a handy chart that shows the proper cage recommendations for different numbers of guinea pigs.
I promise you really will see a huge difference if you give your guinea pigs the proper size cage! There’s nothing better than guinea pigs racing around their cages and popcorning all over to show you they are happy.
Setting Up a Guinea Pig Cage With Fleece
Once you have your actual cage ready to go, it’s time to set it up for your guinea pigs! You want to set up your cage before you bring your guinea pigs home so you can be sure you have everything you need.
My personal favorite bedding option is fleece (though it’s not for everyone – check out this article to learn more about using fleece!). It has a lot of benefits, but using fleece does require your cage to be spot cleaned every single day to keep the environment healthy for your guinea pigs.
Fleece is my favorite option because it is washable and reusable, it’s comfortable for your pets, and it keeps your guinea pigs clean and dry (when used properly).
However, using it is not as simple as just laying a fleece blanket down in the bottom of your cage. For fleece bedding to work how it should, you should have an absorbent layer and a fleece layer. The fleece itself also needs to be properly prepared, or “wicked.” When prepared and used properly, fleece works by allowing liquid to pass through the top layer and get soaked up by the absorbent material underneath. This keeps the surface where your piggies are living clean and dry.
There are many options for absorbent layers – towels, puppy pads, mattress protectors, mattress pads, and u-haul blankets. Pretty much anything that is very absorbent can be used underneath the fleece.
When choosing fleece, stick to the anti-bill and blizzard fleece types. These will wick well and provide a super comfy surface for your pets. A lot of the thicker Minky or plush fleeces will not wick properly.
Once you have your fleece, you need to prepare it to wick properly. To do this, run it through the washing machine a few times in hot water with a little bit of laundry detergent, white vinegar, and a tiny bit of dawn dish soap. And always use a free and clear laundry detergent for your fleece; any scents could irritate your guinea pig’s respiratory system. You don’t need to use anything extra like fabric softener or dryer sheets either, they can remove the wicking properties. Once your fleece is wicked and ready to go, you’re ready to put it in the cage!
So how exactly do you set up a cage with fleece?
Set Up Your Guinea Pig Cage With Fleece
Setting up your cage with your fleece bedding is your first step. You can either use fleece liners or fleece layers.
Fleece liners are made with two pieces of fleece sewn together with an absorbent layer as the inside middle layer. You just lay the fleece cage liner down to cover the bottom of the cage and you’re done! You can order custom cage liners from places like Etsy to be different patterns and the perfect size to fit your cage. You can even get waterproof fleece liners that have a fleece side, absorbent layer, and waterproof layer on the bottom. If you’re handy with a sewing machine, you can also make your own fleece liners. This saves a ton of money in the long run – check out the fleece liner pattern I have available!
The fleece layer method takes a tiny bit more work. First, you’d lay your absorbent layer down in the cage, making sure to cover the entire floor. Then you’d take a piece of fleece (properly prepared!) and lay it down to cover the absorbent layer.
Many guinea pig owners will use smaller fleece pads on top of the fleece to help keep a clean cage without having to change the entire cage as often. This helps you only have to change small pads in messy areas of the cage every day during spot cleaning.
Some guinea pigs may try and burrow below the fleece if you use the layers method. The best ways to combat this are to place heavier hides and accessories around the edges of the cage. You can also use binder clips to hold the fleece to the edge of your cage base if you have a really determined piggy.
Both methods function the exact same way when it comes to keeping your pet clean and dry. Choose whichever method works better for your budget and cleaning schedule!
Feeding Hay to Guinea Pigs
The next thing you want to consider is how you want to feed hay to your guinea pigs. Hay is the most important part of a guinea pig’s diet, so you want to make sure they have easy access to it at all times. There are a couple of different options here.
My personal preferences are using hay piles and hay bags. You can also use a hay rack or litter boxes to contain the hay if you don’t want a huge mess in the cage. Check out this article on the best hay racks for guinea pigs to help you decide what will work best for your piggies.
There’s no particular place in a cage that is best for hay. Over time you’ll figure out what works best for your piggies and your cleaning routine! Start by putting the hay at one end of the cage – it’ll help contain the mess a little bit but still provide easy access.
Hides and Cage Accessories
You will also want a few accessories in your cage.
First up, you need to have at least one hiding place per guinea pig that will be living in the cage. So if you have three guinea pigs you need at least three hides.
There are a ton of hides that are great for piggies. There are fleece beds and tunnels, wooden houses, fleece forests, plastic igloos, and log tunnels… even cardboard boxes make great hides. The main things to look for in a hide are that it’s made of safe materials and is large enough for a guinea pig (or two!). I really like hides with two entrances because it helps prevent any fighting over places to sleep. These rainbow tunnels are great basic hides I use with all my guinea pigs.
You’ll also need water bottles and food dishes. Whether you use a water dish or a bowl is totally up to you, both work fine for guinea pigs. I’ve tried a lot of water bottles over the years and these are my absolute favorites. You actually don’t have to have a food bowl for pellets or veggies – you could just scatter these around the cage. But if you’d prefer to use a bowl, I really like these guinea pig patterned bowls and these veggie bowls.
Last but not least, it’s great to provide some enrichment for your guinea pigs. The best way to do this is with a few toys! Guinea pigs won’t really “play” with toys, but instead, like to have chew toys to keep them busy. My guinea pigs’ favorites are willow cubes and softer wooden chews. Providing a few toys will give them something to do and help keep their teeth in good shape (though they aren’t a substitute for unlimited hay!).
You can now confidently set up your guinea pigs’ cage using fleece bedding and know you’re using it in a safe and healthy way for your piggies! Try switching up toys and hides and the layout of the cage every so often to give your piggies some variety and keep them interested in their surroundings. Over time, you’ll figure out how your piggies prefer their cage and what works best for your cleaning routine.