Can Guinea Pigs Live Outside?

Are you thinking about getting a guinea pig, maybe several, and keeping them outside in a hutch but are not sure.  

This article will help you make the right decision.

Can Guinea Pigs Live Outside?

If you want your guinea pig to live outside it will have to be in conditions where the temperatures are not too low or too high.  They also need protection from predators like foxes and cats.  They are sensitive animals that cannot tolerate temperature changes.  If you plan on keeping your guinea pig outside, it will require some thought and planning.

Why Is It Not a Good Idea To Keep Your Guinea Pig Outside?

1. Temperature Sensitivity

A guinea pig is should be kept in an environment between 16-24 degrees Celsius and if it gets below 16 degrees Celsius they can get a cold and if it goes above 24 degrees Celsius, they can get a heatstroke.  Guinea pigs do not like sudden temperature changes.

2. Bonding

A guinea pig loves to cuddle with you and if they live inside it is easy to do that.  If they stay outside, they will probably not get as much cuddle time.  This can hinder the bonding process.

Dangers of Keeping a Guinea Pig Outside

1. Predators

Outside there are a lot of animals that can be a danger to your pet.  The most common ones are predator birds, foxes, and cats.  You need to protect them from these predators if you keep them outside.  The best way is a hutch with a roof.  If you let them out to have some exercise or eat some grass, you have to watch them carefully so nothing gets them or they run away.

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2. Poisonous Plants

In regards to these plants, you should not have your guinea pig around them.  They can include:

  • Deadly nightshade
  • Tulips
  • Buttercups
  • Scarlet pimpernel
  • Rhododendrons
  • Lily of the Valley

3. Weather

In addition to the temperatures, you also have to worry about bad weather like thunder and rain, which can scare your guinea pig, stress them out, and cause them to get sick.  You have to make sure when it rains, they do not get wet because they could get chilled and become sick.

guinea pig on a pumpkin e1589726627579

4. Insecticides and Weed Killer

If you take your guinea pig out of its hutch to get some exercise and nibble on some grass, you have to be careful that there are no insecticides or weed killers as these can kill them.

Keeping Your Guinea Pig Outside

1. Hutch Basics

These come in all sizes and shapes.  The hutch should have a surface floor of at least 70 by 50 centimeters with a height of 45 centimeters.  Your hutch should be bigger if you have a long-haired guinea pig or putting more than one in the hutch.

2. Summer Proofing

During the summer, the guinea pig needs to stay cool so do not put the hutch in direct sunlight but a shaded area.  You should also change the water each day plus check to make sure that they have enough water throughout the day.

3. Winter Proofing

If the temperature is extremely cold, the guinea pig should be kept inside.  With a mild year-round climate, make sure that they are not exposed to cool weather.  Make sure that there is enough bedding material.  You should change the bedding once a day if it is cool and damp.  The water bottle needs to be refreshed each day.

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guinea pig and dandelions

4. Wet Weather

Do not let your guinea pig live in a hutch that is wet or damp as they will get sick.  The hutch should have felt roofing.   The felt roofing will help to protect the hutch from damp weather.  It should have two to three layers of felt roofing.  The roofing should be low at the back, high at the front, and hang over all sides.  You can also invest in some rain covers but they can cause condensation inside of the hutch without enough ventilation.

5. Proofing Against Predators

Some predators will try to break into the hutch to get your guinea pig so you must make sure that the hutch doors are secure.  You want to make sure that they cannot be opened by predators like a fox.  You should invest in an additional padlock for night time.  Also close off the access to any open spaces at night, like a run.

You should use thick wooden panels when you make your hutch or buy one with thick panels.  They need to be thick enough so that rats cannot gnaw through them.

6. Guinea Pig Run

This is a structure that will give your guinea pig a secure place to run around getting exercise and eating grass.  You want to make sure that they cannot get out and predators cannot get in.  Some of them are also attached to the hutch and at night the guinea pig should not have access to it so they are not victims of night-time predators like foxes.  When your guinea pig is in the run, you should be monitored so nothing gets them.

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Conclusion

  • Although they can live outside, it is best if they are kept in an environment with a normal room temperature, which means that guinea pigs do best if they live inside.
  • Guinea pigs are unable to sweat except on the soles of their feet because they do not have sweat glands on their bodies.
  • Guinea pigs are social animals and need social interaction.  Living outside they are getting a lot of that because it is easy to forget about them except for feeding and watering.
  • They need to be closely monitored because they are good at hiding symptoms of illnesses.  Kept outside you may not notice that they are sick until it is too late.
  • If you are planning to let your guinea pig live outside, you should have at least two in the hutch so they do not get lonely and they can also snuggle down and keep each other warm.
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