Pet stores often conceal the truth to people buying a guinea pig run, many simply are a waste of money. This article is for anyone making or buying one, or wondering if the guinea pig run they've already got is actually suitable. Pet stores can charge even as much as $100 / £70 or more for runs that just aren't fit for purpose in terms of health needs. This article explores why you need a certain type of run for health, how much space they need, how to make or buy a good, cheap run, and what to get for indoor and outdoor use. By the time you've read this, you will be able to save yourself money and quite possibly some heartache.

Things You Will Need

The biggest thing you need here is a little time:
To research which plants and household/garden chemicals are poisonous to your pet (some references provided)
To check either a home-made or store bought run for dangers
To check where the run is going for dangers
If you're making your own, you'll need untreated wood for the frame, mesh and tacks to hold it together, or a Cubes & Coroplast kit with cable-ties for indoor use only
For indoor use, you will also want newspaper or a bathmat, drinking water in a bowl or drip feed bottle

Step 1

Know Why You're Getting One
Modern domestic guinea pigs must have daily exercise outside their cage or house. Without it, they can easily become overweight through not burning off calories and working out muscles. Overweight guinea pigs are known to suffer disease including cardiac problems, diabetes, bladder problems, breathing problems, foot diseases, constipation, and ovarian cysts in females (1). So to guard against ill-health, make sure you're taking their minimum space requirements into account.

Step 2

What Are The Minimum Space Requirements?
You may still see standard housing or cage space requirements advised at 4 square foot of space per guinea pig. These days, some guinea pig experts state a minimum of 7.5 foot square of space for one guinea pig for their cage/house (2). Even with this large amount of space for their home, they still need the run for exercise, so it should be bigger than that minimum space of 7.5 square feet, in fact, as big as humanly possible. Bearing the size in mind you know now many store products are useless, now you need to know how to grab yourself a decent sized run without breaking the bank.

Step 3

Where Can I Get A Cost-Effective Run Big Enough?
You might save money buying a second hand run, to guard against disease transmission, thoroughly disinfect it before use using a pet-safe disinfectant. Experts at some guinea pig rescues (1) recommend Cubes and Coroplast "C C cages" - for money-wise, suitable modular housing. These are made using the grids normally used to make wire modular office or home storage, connected together with cable ties and lined with coroplast. That's the stuff used to make cheap signage, it's like plastic corrugated cardboard. The square spaces in grids must be less than 1.5 inches across or the guinea pig can become trapped and injured (or worse). Armed with this cheaper and guinea-pig-friendly solution, you need to decide if its for indoor or outdoor use.

Step 4

Can I use it outdoors?
C C packs are great indoors but not designed for outdoor use. If you want to use the run outdoors, you can only do so in mild weather - guinea pigs are not hardy creatures at all weather-wise. You can easily buy other designs but the cheapest way is undoubtedly making one yourself using a wood frame with covering mesh held on with tacks. Having sorted out where its going to go, you need some Tips & Warnings on how to install it safely - see the last section here.
So whether you buy from a pet store or make your own, you know how to make sure the size is adequate, check for dangerous designs and install it with better saftey. Your guinea pig will enjoy a bigger space plus reap the health benefits of meeting its natural biological requirements.

IMPORTANT: No information here is intended to replace a vets advice. If you have any questions or concerns about guinea pigs, please ask your vet.

1. Guinea Pig Cages [online] - site provided by Cavy Spirit {online}. Your Guinea Pig's Home.
2. Guinea Pig Cages [online] - site provided by Cavy Spirit [online]. Buy A C C Cage.
3. ASPCA [online] Animal Poison Control Centre

Tips & Warnings

For all outdoor and indoor runs, check for dangers before you put your guinea pig into it. Inspect for sharp edges, make sure "predators" (including other pets and even younger kids wanting to play!) can't get in and your guinea pig can't get out. Check chemicals used on lawns or home furnishings, keep houseplants and electrical wires out of the way, guinea pigs will chew anything, and some products and houseplants are poisonous (3).