If you are thinking of getting yourself a guinea pig or you already own a guinea pig and want to keep them outside your house but are unsure if they can live or not? Don’t worry even I wondered the same a few months back and here is what I found out.
Can guinea pigs be kept outside? Yes, A guinea pig can definitely live outside considering you can provide them with the right kind of shelter to live in. However, It shall also depend upon the place you live in. They can tolerate a wide range of temperature starting at 16°C(65°F) to 24°C( 75°F ).
Although they might just be fine at much higher or lower temperatures if they are provided with good housing.
If you are considering to keep your guinea pigs outside you must consider a few factors.
The first and most important factor is your guinea pig must be secured, completely out of reach of any predators like an eagle, vulture, snakes, dogs, rats and many more depending upon your area.
You would also ensure that their house temperature remains stable.
So, now you know that you have decided of keeping your guinea pigs outside you would definitely want to know more about their housing needs, how can you keep them safe outside and much more.
Don’t worry just keep reading ahead and by the end, I would ensure that you are left with no doubts in your mind.
Do guinea pigs prefer to be inside or outside?
Guinea pigs usually enjoy being in an environment with lots of movement going around. Although they do not enjoy when there are loud noises being made.
So, if your indoor environment has enough space and is less noisy then they would definitely prefer to be indoor.
Indoor housing is also much more secure and stable as compared to outdoor housing.
When they are indoor they are safe from wild predators that can harm them.
It also provides a much stable and maintained temperature as compared to outdoors.
However, if your indoor environment has lots of noises like loud T.V, Music system in high volume, etc going on a regular basis then you might want to consider keeping them outside.
Loud noises can make them anxious and give them a feeling of uneasiness.
P.S: Many people want to move their guinea pigs out because they believe that Guinea pigs smell a lot or they will make their room stink.
But actually, that might not be the case. You can keep your guinea pigs indoor without even a little bit of smell coming from them or their cages.
Can you keep guinea pigs outside throughout the year?
Yes, a guinea pig can be housed outside throughout the year. Although this might depend upon the area you live in.
If your area is prone to severe heat in summer and freezing cold in winter then you might consider keeping them indoors instead.
However, it is possible to keep them outside up to -2°C and on the higher side up to 30°C provided you have made their hutch well insulated.
During winter their hutch needs to have some cover so that cold wind and snow don’t hit it hard.
Also, During summer they need to be kept away from direct sunlight in some shady spots so that they don’t get a heat stroke.
What temperature do guinea pigs need to live in?
Guinea pigs can tolerate temperature as low as 15°C and as high as 24-25°C.
But these temperatures are really extreme for our guinea pigs. In general, they are accustomed to living in a cool environment neither extremely cold nor very hot.
If the temperature goes below that they might not make it. However with proper insulation and a well-made hutch they can survive some harsh temperature as we have discussed earlier.
We need to understand that guinea pigs in the present have been domesticated for thousands of years now and as compared to their wild species they have lost the ability to adapt to the environment outside.
It is best if you can house them in or in your garage, or maybe a greenhouse or something but living them outside in temperature beyond that without special care and arrangement can be life-threatening for them.
What is the lowest temperature for guinea pigs?
The lowest temperature when for guinea pigs to be left outside is 16°C.
If the temperature is below 16°C then you should not leave your guinea pig outside in open spaces or garden to play and exercise.
However, if you are housing them outside with properly insulated hutch they might be just fine till -2°C.
Temperature below 15°C can make them chilled and lead to various respiratory diseases in them so, it is recommended to not let them free roam outside when mercury level drops below that.
What is the highest temperature for guinea pigs?
The highest temperature guinea pigs can tolerate is 24°C, anything above that can give them a heat stroke.You must not leave your guinea pigs in direct sunlight as guinea pigs cannot control their own body temperature thus their body temperature can rise very high which can be very fatal for their health.
Things to consider while keeping your guinea pigs outside
There are some things you need to consider when housing them at such a cold temperature.
Firstly, even if they are housed outside during winter and there is extreme cold out there you will need a safe and secure environment for them to play around and exercise.
In the same way, they will need some shady area or a good run during the summer.
The second thing is to protect their enclosure from damp or rain. Many places often experience rainfall during winter which can be bad for your guinea pig.
If their enclosure is not protected from the rain it might get cold, develop mold, and may lead to the bad health of your guinea pig.
The third thing to consider shall be the cost to keep them outdoors. While indoors they can be kept at different types of cages.
Right from a C&C cage to a large size commercial cages, there are lots of options which is quite cheaper than what I find an outdoor shed or hutch can cost you.
The fourth thing to consider shall be the security of the enclosure.
The enclosure needs to be made in such a way that they can remain safe in there.
You need to make the enclosure safe from snakes, birds, cats, dogs and anything else that can harm your guinea pigs.
Also read: How to keep your guinea pigs safe from foxes & predators?
Finally, The cost of maintenance also adds up pretty quickly when we house them outside.
Since the enclosure needs more insulation thus we need to provide them lots of straw to burrow in, we need much more bedding material and the enclosure does require regular maintenance in the long run.
Here are some great tips for maintaining a good living environment for guinea pigs by RSPCA.
Can my guinea pig live outside through the winter?
Keeping your guinea pigs outside in the winter can be good for some places but is not recommended for all places around the world.
If you live in an area where the temperature falls till 0°C(32°F) to -2°C(28.5°F) then you might make it through but anything below that might be tough even with a good enclosure.
I would personally recommend keeping your guinea pigs inside even if you live in a place where winters are not that harsh.
The reason for the same being it is easier to maintain a good living condition inside the house and also it is good for your pet.
If you cannot keep them inside then you might also give a thought on moving them in some shed or old garage or greenhouse or something similar.
But if you have no other choice other than keeping them outside in their enclosure then just keep reading so that you can understand what you need to do to keep them safe and happy.
How can I keep my guinea pigs warm outside?
If you are planning to house your guinea pigs outside in the winter then you must be prepared for some extreme situations.
Here are a few things you need to take care of while housing them in chilly winters.
Make their hutch well insulated before the winters even start.
You definitely want to maintain a good stable temperature inside their hutch so that they can make through the winter.
Experts recommend moving the hutch in an area where wind, rain, or snow cannot blow in.
Also ensure you cover the hutch with some old blankets, or thick rugs or anything that can protect their hutch from cold air blowing all around.
The next thing to keep in mind shall be using good quality bedding to keep it completely dry in there.
Good quality bedding is another key component of good insulation. Some people think that wood shaving might do the trick but they are completely wrong.
Having a thick layer of newspaper topped up with good quality bedding like Megazorb, Carefresh or fleece would be a great option.
You can also add some green meadow hay which can be another great choice for bedding as well as there snacks sometimes.
Using hutch huggers and covers especially the one that can protect the hutch from rain and snow is definitely recommended as it can help in keeping the damp o molds in check.
Molds can be really bad for your guinea pigs as they can develop a fungal infection or other respiratory diseases.
Heating pads and hiding places
It is also recommended to use some heating pads such as snuggle safe or some other good well-insulated hiding places like hedgehog boxes can be a great addition.
This can really make a difference if you live in freezing cold areas.
Few more things to take care of:
Food and water
Ensure that your guinea pigs have lots of fresh, high-quality hay. Guinea pigs do need a lot more calories during winter as their body burns lots of energy in keeping them warm.
Checking on their water bottles is equally important. In places where mercury falls below the freezing point, the water might start freezing.
It is recommended to use some cover or old woolen shocks as a cover so that it can protect water from freezing.
The tip of the bottles can freeze sometimes so we need to check them at least a few times every a day.
We also need to make sure that the bottles don’t leak out and make the bedding all wet. This can be fatal for your guinea pigs.
Ensure you only use high-quality bottles that don’t leak.
Regular exercise and cleaning
Even at the peak of the winter, it is important for your guinea pigs to have someplace to run and exercise.
You must ensure they have a place where there is a stable temperature and is completely secure so they can have their time out and exercise.
If you avoid this then it might be tough for them to make through the winter.
Regular exercise will not only keep them warm but also ensure they have a healthy lifestyle as they do tend to eat more in winters.
You need to also ensure that you clean the hutch every day. Since in winters your guinea pigs will spend most of the time snuggling in their hiding spaces they might create a lot of mess.
You need to ensure that their hutch is well maintained and cleaned on a regular basis to avoid poop buildup.
Living in a dirty environment can make them sick in the long run.
Having a secured enclosure is very important especially in winters.
Wintertime often makes the predators bold as they are craving for food and the resources are scarce so they are more prone to get attracted to your guinea pigs if they have the opportunity to do so.
So, having a well-secured enclosure is yet another important aspect.
Are guinea pigs OK in the sun?
No, Guinea pigs must not be kept in direct sunlight for a long period of time. Anything above a few minutes can be harmful to them.
Guinea pigs don’t have sweat glands like other mammals. Thus they cannot control their body temperature deliberately.
So, direct sunlight can raise their body temperature very high which can be fatal for your guinea pigs.
Can guinea pigs live outside in summer?
Yes, cavies can live outside in the summer. We must provide our guinea pigs with a proper enclosure which is placed in a shady area so that guinea pigs don’t come in direct contact with the sunlight.
Guinea pigs cannot tolerate high temperature thus we need to take a few measures to keep them cool in the summer.
If you are housing them outside there are few extra things you should take care of.
How to keep guinea pigs cool in summer?
Keeping your guinea pig cool is quite easy but if you are planning to keep them outside then there are a few things you must take care of to ensure they are safe from heatstroke. So lets quickly have a look at it:
Keep them hydrated:
Keeping your guinea pigs well hydrated in summer is very important.
Guinea pigs cannot tolerate very high temperature thus providing them with cool water access all the time shall help them remain cool.
You can additionally serve vegetables and fruits like Watermelon cucumber which helps further with their hydration.
Also, ensure to keep refilling their water bottles with cool fresh water a few times a day.
Guinea pigs don’t like hot water thus replacing them with cool water is really helpful in keeping their hydration up.
Do not serve them too much cold water from the fridge though as it can be bad for their health.
Also read: How much water do guinea pigs drink?
Placing the enclosure in a shady area
The enclosure of guinea pigs must be placed in a well shady area. Placing the enclosure under direct sunlight can be bad for our guinea pig’s health.
Guinea pigs are prone to heatstroke under direct sunlight or if the temperature of their enclosure goes very high.
Placing it in a shady area also ensures that the water remains cool for long thus helps in hydration.
Placing your hutch above the ground can be a great solution. It shall insulate for the heat that radiates from the ground if it is placed directly on the ground.
Trimming the hair
If you own a long-hair guinea pig you must keep an eye on their hair length.
Giving their fur a good trim is really important for guinea pigs as it helps them in keeping their body temperature low.
It is also really easy to keep them clean when their hair length is well-trimmed.
Coming to the conclusion, can guinea pigs be kept outside? Yes, Guinea pigs can be kept outside but we need to take proper of their housing need.
If you manage to provide them with the right conditions then they can live a healthy life even outside your house.
I would definitely recommend to bring them in when the situation is extreme as it gets tough for our guinea pigs to adjust.