Let’s face it, regular guinea pig cages that you find in pet stores oftentimes just look bland, cramped and still cost a lot of money.
If you are into DIY projects or just really want to provide your guinea pigs with a better alternative, why not build your own cage to make them happier and healthier?
Below you will find everything you need on constructing and designing your own DIY guinea pig cage with exact sizes, materials, and what should be placed into it.
Can You Make Your Own Guinea Pig Cage?
Building your own guinea pig cage is the perfect way to provide your pets with a cage that is tailored to their needs.
While nearly any pet store has a supply of various cages, they often come with drawbacks. At a first glance, most of the options are not very pleasing to the eye and mostly consist of plastic and wire.
With you self-designed cage, you can choose any guinea pig proof material you want from linoleum to wood, wires or plexiglass.
Cleaning will be much easier for an open space with easy to wipe materials. No more disassembling or struggling to get into the last corner.
Store bought cages can also be super expensive even in smaller sizes. You can easily pay $100-150 for an adequately sized cage.
When working on a DIY project you have the freedom to decide exactly how much you want to spend, what materials to use, and how big you want it to make.
How Big of a Cage Does a Guinea Pig Need?
When looking for various guinea pig cage options, you may have noticed that some of them are only a bit larger than regular hamster cages.
Some owners even stuff their guinea pig in a bin cage that is way too small for them. Compared to hamsters, guinea pigs are much more active and need a large open space and graze freely.
Guinea pigs also should share their cage with a companion to make them happier and less likely to become depressed.
The humane society states the following regarding guinea pig cage sizes:
One guinea pig: 7.5 square feet cage (minimum), but more is better; generally 30″ x 36″ is a good size.
Two guinea pigs: 7.5 square feet (minimum), but 10.5 square feet is preferred; generally 30″ x 50″ is a good size.
Three guinea pigs: 10.5 square feet (minimum), but 13 square feet is preferred; generally 30″ x 62″ is a good size.
Four guinea pigs: 13 square feet (minimum), but more is better; generally 30″ x 76″ is a good size.Humane Society of the United States
7.5 to 10.5 square feet is not even a single square meter which is a lot less than what we would recommend. But even this size will single out a lot of the cage options you will find in pet stores.
Keep in mind that when it comes to guinea pigs bigger is always better and rectangular-shaped cages work best for them.
If you have the space for it try providing your pets with a large open area in your living room or outside (in mild climates) where they can run around, explore and nibble all day long.
If you cannot spare a few square feet more, think about building several levels (much like a hamster cage design) with dedicated sleeping, play, and eating levels, although you should keep most of their space o one level.
Cages that are open at the top should have a height of about 25-30 cm to keep the cavies from getting outside while leaving the possibility for them to look out of the cage.
Guinea Pig Cage Ideas
Before going into all the different cages you could build let’s talk about some preparations that you will need to do.
Choosing the materials and measurements will help decide on a floorpan later on and will make it much easier to envision the finished product.
Before starting any DIY cage project, map out the area that you would like to reserve for the guinea pigs. You can do this by using towels (for the width), books (for the height), or any other larger object.
The next step will be to decide on a shape. Rectangular shapes are the easiest to build especially with a plexiglass front but you can also choose an L-shaped layout.
Square cages are not very space-efficient and don’t look very attractive in the room. If you decide on building the cage for your guinea pigs outside, don’t forget to use this abundant space for more sophisticated designs.
Let’s start with what should be underneath your cage. If you have carpet flooring you could place a towel underneath the cage to prevent damage.
Putting foam pads underneath the cage legs will make it much easier to move it around without scratches on hardwood flooring.
As a base layer, you can use anything that is sturdy enough to hold bedding and piglets like wood or OSB. If you do not want to layer or wax the wood with anything use coroplast which is waterproof.
OSB has to be hidden within your cage design to prevent your guinea pigs from chewing on it. And it also doesn’t look that appealing.
Next, you will need some type of lining whether that’s pond liners or linoleum. This will protect the bottom material from liquids dripping through the bedding.
If fleece is your desired bedding material, you can simply put some puppy training pads underneath the fleece to make it leakage proof.
For the sides of your cage, you could either go for a mixture of wood or timber and plexiglass/acrylic glass or wood and wiring. As an alternative to the wood, you can also go for pegboard.
A few extra lumbers can be used to frame the glass and give the cage an overall more sturdy structure. Use more if you want to be able to stand in the cage when cleaning it.
All the supplies I have mentioned above can be bought at your local hardware store for pretty cheap. Some even cut out the pieces you need for free which I would definitely recommend as it safes a lot of time.
To keep the cost even lower, look around your house for old wood, cardboards, furniture or anything that you don’t need anymore.
With a little bit of creativity, you can even build a cage out of an upside-down rectangular table. You can find very affordable ones at IKEA or on the internet.
DIY Guinea Pig Cage Ideas
Now that you have hopefully decided on what materials you would like to use and what shape the cage should have, it’s time to get inspired!
Below you will find 8 different cage designs of varying difficulties and shapes. You will find inspiration for outdoors or indoors cages with one level or multiple levels.
The Simple Cage
This is the perfect example for a simple, one level, rectangle cage. The sides are build from wood with lumbers in between to frame the little windows.
Instead of wire you could also use plexiglass or acrylic glass, if you don’t like the look of it. You can also make it either elevated (like in the picture) or on the ground.
The Storage Cage
If you want your guinea pig cage to be elevated, why not use the space at the bottom to store all your pet’s necessities?
Again, wire and wood can be customised. You can also paint them in any color you like. Make sure to use children’s or pet approved paint so there are no harsh chemicals in it.
The Corner Cage
Corner cages safe a lot of space and be set against any wall. Make sure to round up the edges similar to the above picture to be able to put toys or houses inside the cage.
This cage would be a little bit too small but can be used if you have running space for them.
Two Story Cage
A beautiful, large cage that is perfect for two guinea pigs. Guinea pigs can be territorial and if the space is too small, they can get into nasty fights.
Placing the cage on tall legs will keep the cavies safe from dogs or other animals in the house.
The Outside Hutch
If you want to build your own guinea pig cage, why not build them a whole house instead? This can be placed inside or outside depending on the construction.
Outdoor cages need weatherproof wood and should be elevated off the ground to keep moisture away from the guinea pigs.
While most indoor cages can be built without a top, outside you will need something sturdy that withstands wind and rain.
Constructing your guinea pigs an exercise pen that is connected to their cage or separately placed is the best solution to provide your guinea pigs with enough physical exercise.
This space can be changed frequently to accommodate the pets with different toys, textures, and foods.
The C&C Cage
The C&C cage is probably the easiest and cheapest option you can build. The two Cs stand for cube storage grids and coroplast which are essentially the only building materials you will need for this.
Depending on how large you want your C&C cage to be, you will need 1 or two packs of storage cubes. The grid pieces will be connected using zip ties and the cage is finished.
The Advanced C&C Cage
C&C cages don’t have to look that simple. With a nice L-shape design and two levels, they can look really sophisticated. Make it three levels you will have enough storage for several guinea pigs.
Building a DIY Guinea Pig Cage
If you want to keep it super simply or if you know you will change the layout, design or size frequently in the future, going with the C&C cage is a great option.
You can find a step by step guide by clicking here.
The following instructions are for a simple plexiglass, wooden, rectangular cage. You will need:
- OSB or any other base material
- Pond liner, linoleum or nontoxic vinyl
- Plexiglass or
- Saw (if you don’t get it cut at a craft store)
- Wood staples
- Cut the base material into your wished size (for this example we will use 10×4 feet)
- Cut the liner slightly larger than the bottom to cover it completely. Use wood staples to secure it.
- If you use the same measurements as I do, you will also need one 10 feet plank for the back and two 4 feet planks for the sides. All the planks will be 0.9 feet in height.
- Using the drill, drill your attachment holes, and assemble the pieces.
- Take four similar-sized plexiglass sheets and lay them alongside the front (leave a small space in the middle).
- Cut out six lumbers that are a little bit higher than the plexiglass and use them as frames.
- Beneath the plexiglass, you will lay one lumber that is a bit shorter than the base so it fits perfectly between the two sides.
- Screw the long lumber on top of the base layer and assemble the six short lumbers vertically on it.
- Between the lumbers you will glue on the plexiglass. The middle part that you have left empty can be filled with a small guinea pig door.
- After everything has dried, you can lay fleece or any other bedding inside and start decorating it.
As a visual guide, you can watch the video below. This cage will only have one level.
How Do I Keep My Guinea Pig Entertained in His Cage?
Now that you have filled your guinea pig cage with hide houses, water bottles, food bowls, etc. you will probably start wandering what your guinea pig could spend his time with.
Boredom is one of the top concerns when it comes to pets so you will want to have something that keeps them mentally stimulated for a long time.
There are a lot of guinea pig toys in pet stores or online that satisfy their chewing needs while keeping them occupied. Make sure to get a couple of those and switch them out once in a while.
Hide treats in harder to reach areas to encourage them to really work for their food. You can hang pieces from the edges of the cage or hide them in socks or wood pieces.
Appletree wood is great for their teeth and safe for them to chew on. Crumble up a paper and hide some hay or other snacks in it.
For some physical exercise, you can put a per roll or small ball into the cage as they love playing with it. Keep in mind that outdoors time is really enriching for them.
If possible, let them outside of the cage for 3-4 hours a day for some fun play time. Guinea pigs are prone to overweight if they don’t exercise enough.
An exercise pen or outside area that can be supervised is sufficient. To encourage them to run, attach a crunchy snack for them at the end of a rope and keep it in front of them. You will be surprised how fast they can be!