Be sure the cage is the right size.,
Get the right bedding.,
Put in the right accessories.,
Place a ceramic food bowl in the cage.,
Put in a water bowl or bottle.,
Set up a separate cage for the new guinea pig.,
Switch the new member to community items.,
Get the new guinea pig used to the other guinea pigs’ scent.,
Place the new guinea pig in the community cage.
The cage needs to be large enough to handle the animals and equipment. This includes the guinea pigs, hideaways, food bowls, water bottles or bowls, bedding, treats, and any extra items for the pigs to play with. This also includes accounting for the right dimensions for the cage to fit in the room or on the platform you plan on setting up with.Have a tape measure and ways to mark off measurements such as tape or a sharpie handy.
Measure height, width, and depth. Double check all your measurements.
For a single pig, a cage should be at minimum 24 inches long by 12 inches deep by 12 inches wide or around 7.5 square feet. More space would be better such as cages 30 inches wide by 36 inches long varying on depth.
For multiple pigs you need larger dimensions. Larger cages are more expensive. Cages can range from in the $50 range to as high as several hundreds of dollars for more elaborate multi-level dwellings.
Two guinea pigs need at least a 30” x 50” cage (10.5 square feet).
Three guinea pigs need at least a 30” x 62” cage (13 square feet).
Four guinea pigs need at least a 30” x 76” cage (16 square feet).;
, This is a choice you want to consider early on. This bedding as to be soft enough to not injure the guinea pigs’ feet, but absorb the waste of multiple animals.Use aspen, pine, or recycled paper for the bedding material. Most of this is sold prepackaged in pet stores, department store pet aisles, and some supermarkets.
Layer approximately 4” – 5” of bedding on the floor of the cage.
Plan on cleaning the bedding of the guinea pigs’ waste, leftover treats, food, and other items on the spot at least once a week. But change out the shavings completely once a month.
With multiple pigs you might want to step up your cleaning efforts and do spot cleanings more often.
, Guinea pigs need a variety of items in the cage including their food bowls, water, hideaways, and a few extras that are optional but help with their well-being.Hideaways or hide houses are important as guinea pigs like to have a place they feel they can be safe and quiet. There are usually wood varieties, edible ones, and plastic ones.
Get a hideaway that is easy to clean, the guinea pig(s) won’t easily toss aside when they run, and is safe for them to chew.
The edible hideaways have the added benefit of giving the guinea pigs more safe chewing material for the health of their teeth. These hideaways are usually covered in vegetable-based dyes.
Some hideaways are large enough for multiple pigs, but put in two or three if you have the cage room and need to offer the shelter for more than one guinea pig. These hideaways are usually inexpensive.
, It should be wide and shallow. This will prevent the guinea pigs from tipping it.For two or three guinea pigs a single bowl should be enough as each pig needs about 1/8th of a cup of guinea pig pellet food per day.
Check the food bowl periodically for shavings and other objects scattered in by the guinea pigs that need to be cleaned out.
, Water is a choice usually between a ceramic bowl and a water bottle clipped to the side.The water bottle is a bit cleaner as the guinea pigs cannot accidentally scatter cage material into the water like they could with the bowl. However, the bottle tends to drip and get wet whatever part of the cage is under it including any bedding. Also, guinea pigs tend to pull at the bottle and can bang it against the cage sides making quite a lot of noise.
If you opt for the water in a ceramic bowl option you will need to spot check it for cleanliness more often.
If you opt for the water bottle try a plastic or glass version (plastic is more common) in a 32 ounce size. Make sure it has an angled stainless steel tube with a ball bearing to plug up the spout.
For the water bowl or bottle you should change the water once a day and clean the container.
, This can be the usual timothy hay easily found in most pet stores and some department stores and supermarkets. But as you add more guinea pigs this will become more crucial for their well being.You can leave as much as you want either in a pile on the bedding or on a “rack” accessory that can be added to the cage.
Hay normally helps with digestion and dental health of guinea pigs. Sometimes the hay can be too hard or coarse. If you notice your guinea pigs getting cut by the timothy hay stems you can opt for softer varieties like alfalfa. Consult a veterinarian if you are unsure.
Replace the hay daily.
, Once you have the community cage set up with the guinea pigs you already own you will need to keep the new member separate to make sure they are safe to add.Follow the steps in the earlier method for setting up a cage for a single guinea pig.
Keep the new guinea pig in the separate cage for approximately two weeks.
Make sure the new guinea pig eats, drinks, and otherwise behaves normally. There should be no signs of poor appetite, lethargy, or visible injury.
Have your veterinarian check the new guinea pig to ensure it won’t carry any diseases into the community cage.
, The new guinea pig may be used to the food, treats, chew toys, and similar items from the store instead of what you have in the community cage.Use the same bedding, food, water delivery method, and hideaways from the community cage in the new member’s quarantine cage to get them used to it.
Consider draping the quarantine cage with a light cloth to give the new guinea pig extra privacy with which to get used to the community cage items.
Every 10-15 minutes you can try to get the new guinea pig used to your handling.
, One way to do this is at play time.Guinea pigs are social animals normally, and like to be in each other’s company.
Set up a safe penned off room free of cords or other hazards to let the new guinea pig meet the others.
Never let the guinea pigs roam unsupervised outside their cage.
Don’t let un-neutered males play with females.
Generally, it’s best to have guinea pigs of the same gender stay together.
, Watch this stage closely for signs of fighting or rejection.Observe the behavior of the guinea pigs to see if there is any trouble with them eating, drinking, and otherwise acting normally once the new member is added.
If you step away and come back to notice any injury to one then there may have been fighting. Consult your veterinarian in this case.
Watch for signs that the new guinea pig is not eating, staying in one of the hideaways too much, dragging its body, or making complaining noises during ordinary functions like urination. See your veterinarian if any of these behaviors occur.
Otherwise, if there is difficulty, you can simply try taking the newer guinea pig out and re-introducing it more gradually again. Allow the guinea pigs more attempts to learn the other’s scent following the playtime steps from earlier.
Once all of the community guinea pigs are eating, active, and alert you should consider the introduction successful.