Guinea pigs are grazing animals, and they love exploring the outdoors while eating all the delicious, fresh grass that grows in your yard.
However, before taking them outside, there are a few things worth knowing. We know that guinea pigs love to explore new territories, but how do we make them feel safe and sound? How do we secure them against predators?
Guinea pigs can live outside – IF…
You can certainly take your guinea pigs outside, but you need to consider the location and local environment before anything.
First of all, you need to find a secure, shaded area that hasn’t been treated with any chemicals or cut with a lawn mower recently. Lawn mowers make use of synthetic lubricants to function properly, and you don’t want your pigs to eat any of the grass clippings because they might contain small amounts of lubricants.
If you want your guinea pigs to live outside, here are a few basic rules to remember:
- Make sure the outdoor temperature is stable between 65 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Provide proper shelter for your guinea pigs, so they can get off the ground and stay dry in case of rain.
- Secure the enclosure properly against any predators – even if it’s just a temporary enclosure.
- Never place the enclosure under direct sunlight. The ground heats up quickly, and your guinea pigs can get a heatstroke really quick.
- Make sure the ground isn’t wet or muddy. Guinea pigs need to stay dry and clean.
- Remember to make the enclosure big enough for your guinea pigs to not ruin the lawn.
Finding the right spot for the outdoor enclosure
Before taking your guinea pigs outside, it’s important to identify the best spot for their enclosure.
We recommend a spot that meets these basic requirements:
- Shaded from the sun, for instance by trees, a fence, or a building.
- Protected from strong winds.
- Quiet and less trafficked than other parts of the garden.
- Far away from any roads where cars drive by.
- Remains visual from inside your house, so you can easily peek outside to see how they’re doing.
- Has untreated grass, not necessarily tall grass, but untreated.
- Stays relatively dry during rainy weather. Do not place the enclosure in a spot that usually gets flooded during rain.
How to protect your guinea pigs against predators
This is especially important, if you want your guinea pigs to live outside permanently. Some predators are actively hunting at night, while people are not around.
The Spruce recommends using hardware cloth and bury it 12 inches down all around the enclosure, to protect from burrowing animals. However, you also have to consider protection from above, in case hawks and other winged predators pass by.
We do recommend securing your guinea pigs inside a shed during the night though, simply because it’s much more safe in comparison with leaving them outside behind a thin layer of hardware cloth.
These are some of the basic measures we recommend in order to protect your guinea pigs against predators:
- Bury hardware cloth 12 inches down all around the enclosure to secure it against burrowing predators.
- Consider installing an electric net fencing around the enclosure to discourage racoons, foxes, and other predators to get any closer.
- Protect the enclosure from above by adding an aviary netting or similar, to keep away hawks and other winged predators.
- Consider asking a professional for help and/or advice when building the enclosure.
How to create the perfect outdoor play area for your guinea pigs
If you want your guinea pigs to live outside during the day, creating a nice outdoor play area is a great idea.
There are great outdoor hutches available online that you can purchase and set up in a few minutes, but you can also build it yourself.
The perfect outdoor play area should meet the following requirements:
- Protected from any direct sunlight.
- Have at least one large guinea pig house raised from the ground, to keep them dry in case of sudden cloudbursts.
- Protected from predators that hunt during the day, including birds and dogs. That means no open-top enclosures, unless you’re staying right next to them while they’re outside.
- Provide at least one house or shaded area inside the enclosure for each guinea pig.
- Have water, hay, and food available at all times.