Revealed: Can Your Guinea Pig Thrive in the Great Outdoors?

If you live in a mild climate or have someone in the house with allergies, you may be thinking about keeping your guinea pigs outside. Unlike the protected indoor environment, there are many variables to consider. With careful planning and the proper setup, living outdoors can offer a more natural environment for guinea pigs.

Guinea pigs can live in a well-insulated outside hutch if the ambient temperature is comfortable. An enclosed wire run can provide a spacious outdoor area. The hutch should be raised off the ground so the base remains dry in wet weather. The entire setup must be predator and escape-proof.

Piggies can thrive living outdoors in a suitable climate and the correct setup. However, there is much more to think about than just setting up a hutch and adding cute piggies to your backyard. Let’s get started.

Can I Keep My Guinea Pig Outdoors?

The most important factor when deciding if you can house your piggies outside is the climate where you live. Cavies are extremely temperature sensitive and do best in a stable temperature range between 65 and 75F.

Although the first thing that springs to mind is cold, hot summers can be equally deadly. High temperatures or too much direct sunlight can quickly result in heatstroke for the small animals.

Keeping a single piggy alone in an outside hutch would be unfair. Cavies are social animals and should always be kept in pairs or small groups. Being outdoors means there is also likely to be less regular interaction with their human, so a piggy-pal for an outside cavy is essential.

The Pros and Cons Of Housing Guinea Pigs Outside

One of the biggest dangers of keeping guinea pigs outside is that since they are removed from the central family hub of activity, it can result in an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ situation. Cavies need attention on a daily basis, whether they are housed inside or out.

Even though they may have access to grass, good quality hay must still be the basis of their diet. Outdoor guinea pigs have all the same care requirements of their indoor relations, plus a few more.

Pros Of Keeping Guinea Pigs Outside

Cons Of Keeping Guinea Pigs Outside

A more natural and stimulating environment

Risk of predators and pests

More peaceful as away from indoor house sounds

You can’t spend as much time with your pet

Helpful if anyone in the family suffers from allergies

They could overheat, become damp, or get too cold

They will have more time to graze outside

Risk of pesticides or consuming toxic plants

More space may be available so runs can be bigger

It can be harder to notice health issues immediately

In addition to always being vigilant about the temperature, extra measures for outdoor piggies relate to:

  • The type of hutch
  • Moisture control
  • Security

Let’s take a closer look at each so you can keep your outside piggies comfortable and safe.

Outdoor Guinea Pigs Need A Weatherproof Hutch

The hutch design and position are critical aspects when planning an outdoor setup. The shelter doesn’t need to be a tailor-made piggy hutch. Some cavy owners use a garden shed or unused garage as the sheltered area for their cavies.

The hutch serves as an outdoor piggy’s home base. It should be well insulated to stay warm and dry and contain plenty of fresh hay, clean water, and thick, soft bedding. The opening should be positioned away from cold draughts.

Some guinea pig hutch designs are portable. This allows it to be moved around according to the seasons and temperature. It also makes it possible to regularly place the run on new, fresh patches of grass.

The best part of keeping guinea pigs outside is that the hutch can incorporate a spacious run. Since there is more space outside, this is one part of living outside that cavies will really appreciate.

Outside hutches must be raised off the ground. In the event of heavy rain, the shelter must remain completely dry inside.

Before housing your piggies outside, ensure the hutch is accessible and easy for you to clean. Accommodating cavies outdoors does not mean that their hutch will require less cleaning. Unhygienic conditions will quickly lead to discomfort and illness.

Moisture Can Cause Health Issues

Cavies are adorable, but they don’t have long legs like horses. If the grass outside is wet, their underbellies can quickly become damp, cold, and muddy.

Outside cavies will need a spacious, sheltered backup area where they can move about safely and stay dry in times of heavy rain or snow. In the case of an outside shed, playhouse, or garage, you can just keep them inside. An alternative backup space must be available if you only have a small hutch that leads to an outside run.

Cavies Kept Outside Need Tight Security

Although we love our adorable cavies, so do hawks, foxes, rats, cats, coyotes, raccoons, and even snakes. Security of piggies kept outside needs to be top-notch, Alcatraz-style. There must be no way for unwanted critters to get in, and the setup must also be absolutely escape-proof for the piggies.

It is not only the hutch that should be impregnable. The run must be enclosed at the top to deter overhead threats. Pay special attention to the sides and bottom to ensure unwelcome visitors can’t burrow in from below.

Unfortunately, it is not only large, scary animals that can harm outside piggies. During summer, guinea pigs can be affected by a terrible condition called flystrike. Flies lay eggs in dirty or damp patches of fur, especially around their bottoms, which results in maggots feeding in the area.

Hygiene must be a top priority to avoid flystrike, and animals should be inspected daily. Once fly maggots hatch, the condition is deadly within a few hours.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Grass Outside?

Grass can be an important part of an outside piggy’s diet, and they usually enjoy being able to forage on their own. But that does not mean that the grass on all lawns is safe for them.

Before you set up the outside run for your herd, make sure of the following:

  • The grass is free of pesticides or harmful lawn fertilizers.
  • There are no noxious weeds or plants that are harmful to pets in the area.
  • They have shade and shelter in case they are frightened or get too hot. Provide plenty of tunnels and boxes where they can hide.
  • The grass should not be wet.
  • The grass should be free of contaminants like dog or cat poop that could contain parasites.

Conclusion

Keeping guinea pigs outside should be done mindfully and with the animal’s best interests in mind. With the correct setup, piggies can thrive outdoors, but they need the same daily care, maintenance, and attention as inside pets. Temperature and security should be top priorities for outside cavies. There must always be an inside backup space available for periods when piggies cannot stay outdoors.