Considering adding a pair of guinea pigs to your home? You may be wondering what supplies you’ll need to start. In this article, I’ll cover all the essentials you’ll need to keep guinea pigs. I’ll also include some optional items that you may want to add to your startup list. I have links to all the items that I use and love with my own guinea pigs. You can check out the quick checklist below. More details on each item can be found as you scroll down the page.
Essential Supply List for All Guinea Pig Owners
Cage – At least 8 sq ft (Midwest and C&C Cages are popular choices!)
Hiding Places – At least 1 per guinea pig – Wooden houses are a common choice
Food bowl – sturdy and non tip
Nail clippers for keeping nails properly trimmed
High quality pellet food formulated for guinea pigs
Vegetables – especially those high in Vitamin C, such as bell peppers
Optional (But Recommended) Supply List
Hay Feeder for keeping hay off the ground
Kitchen Scale for weighing
Pet carrier – for transporting to vet or anywhere else
Vitamin C Tabs – Adds extra Vitamin C to your guinea pig’s diet
Litter box – helps keep rest of cage clean
Exercise pen for floor time
Waterproof floor mat to protect floors and carpets from pee
Mini broom and dustpan for quick cleanups
Pet safe cage cleaning disinfectant for cage cleaning
That was my complete guinea pig supply list in a nutshell. Below I’ll discuss each item in the lists above and give more details on what to look for, and why. Many of the items in the second list are incredibly handy to have around, but they are not necessarily needed right from the start. It’s best to start out with all the essential items, and then spread the rest out over time to make it easier on your budget.
Choosing a Cage for Your Guinea Pig
When choosing a cage, look for one at least 8 sqft at minimum, and ideally 10 sqft or more for 2 guinea pigs. Avoid high multi level cages, as guinea pigs cannot climb and won’t use most of the cage. If they do attempt to go up, they can also injure themselves if they fall or jump down. Most regular pet store cages are simply too small for guinea pigs.
A Midwest cage hits the recommended minimum size for 2 guinea pigs. You can also attach multiple Midwest cages to make an even larger cage. C&C (cubes and coroplast) cages are very popular too. Many people make their own by purchasing packs of wire grids and sheets of coroplast.
C&C cages are fun because you can make them in any size or shape that you want. You can also build them up higher, with storage underneath for all your guinea pigs’ supplies. If you don’t want to make your own, you can also purchase pre-cut C&C cage kits from shops on Etsy or guineapigcages.com.
Hiding houses come in different materials and sizes. Wooden houses are popular choices as they are sturdy and safe to chew. Plastic domes are good too, as long your guinea pig doesn’t develop a habit of chewing them. Also try to choose plastic houses that are not see through so your guinea pigs feel safer. Fleece huts are greatly loved by guinea pigs, but they tend to be more expensive and need to be washed regularly.
Purchase at least 1 hidey hut per guinea pig. Guinea pigs don’t always enjoy sharing the same space and may fight over 1 house. I like to pick one larger hidey and 1 smaller one so they have space to cuddle together if they want to. Ideally, it’s best to have 1 house per pig, plus one additional. So for example, 3 hiding places for 2 guinea pigs. This ensures that everyone has plenty of choices of where they want to sleep.
Water Bottle or Bowl
Water bottles are also a necessity for guinea pigs. It’s best to have multiple water bottles for multiple guinea pigs to ensure everyone has constant access to fresh water. Choose a water bottle that lets water flow easily when you touch the tip with your finger. You don’t want to make your guinea pigs work too hard for their water. I personally like the 16oz plastic living world water bottles.
You can also use a wide, sturdy bowl for your guinea pig’s water supply. This makes it easier for them to get water and it also more accurately mimics what they would do in the wild. However, guinea pigs can be messy and they will often get this mess in their water bowl. It’s important to check the bowl a few times a day and replace the water as needed.
You’ll also need to make sure your guinea pigs know how to drink from a bowl at the beginning. They may not understand how to drink from it at first. If this is the case, you may need to teach them how to drink from the bowl so they don’t get dehydrated.
Food bowls are a definite necessity. Choose a bowl that is sturdy and hard for guinea pigs to tip. These sturdy ceramic bowls are a good choice. Ergonomic slanted bowls are best for senior piggies, but they may collect more poop and bedding because they are lower to the ground. Staybowls are another good brand. Guinea pigs will often stand on the edge of their bowl while they eat, so you’ll want something non tip to avoid wasting a bunch of spilled food.
Nail clippers are cheap and essential to have for guinea pigs. Guinea pigs should have their nails clipped every month or so to keep them from getting long and uncomfortable to walk on. Small scissor style clippers are frequently sold for small animals. I find this style easiest to use for tiny guinea pig nails.
Bedding is usually an ongoing cost. However, you can buy fleece liners upfront and greatly reduce your bedding cost on a monthly basis. Fleece liners are not cheap, but they are washable and last a long time. Disposable bedding can get very expensive, as guinea pigs require such large cages.
Many people use fleece liners, and then purchase smaller pads or cheap chenille bath mats to put under hidey houses and other areas where guinea pigs tend to pee a lot. These smaller mats can be easily switched out throughout the week. This also helps to prolong the time that your fleece liners can go between washings.
I use fleece liners for the majority of the cage, then have a litter box with disposable bedding to contain most of the mess. You can learn more about litter training here.
Any kind of aspen shavings are safe for guinea pigs. You can use pine shavings, but they must be kiln dried. Pine shavings that have not been kiln dried contain toxic phenols that can cause respiratory infections. Cedar shavings are unsafe for guinea pigs, whether they are kiln dried or not.
High Quality Pellet Food
When choosing pellet food, select one that is specifically formulated for guinea pigs. Guinea pigs require extra Vitamin C and other minerals that they cannot get in rabbit, hamster, or other types of food.
Choose a food without nuts, seeds, and colored pieces. These are unhealthy and pose a choking risk.
It’s best to pick a food with regular, uniform looking pellets. Oxbow is one of the best pellet brands. This is also what I’ve been feeding my piggies for more than 10 years now, and everyone has always been very healthy.
High Quality Grass Hay
Grass hay makes up the majority of a guinea pig’s diet, so it’s important to choose high quality hay. Choose hay that looks green and smells sweet and fresh. Timothy and orchard hay are two of the best types of hay for guinea pigs. Hay should be provided in unlimited amounts for your guinea pigs to forage through.
Vegetables are a necessary weekly expense for guinea pigs. Vegetables are a small part of their diet, but they provide nutrients that are harder to get from pellets and hay alone. It’s especially important to choose vegetables high in Vitamin C. These include bell peppers, kale, and cilantro.
Miscellaneous Grooming Supplies
Depending on the type of guinea pig you have, you may need some additional grooming supplies.
Long haired guinea pigs will need a small brush or comb to keep their hair free of tangles and dirt. You may also need some scissors to keep their hair trimmed to an appropriate length.
Hay racks are not necessary, but they can be useful to keep hay from being soiled too quickly. However, it’s also perfectly fine to provide hay in piles on the floor, in a litter pan, or a hay box instead.
If you do choose a hay rack, select one that is safe, low to the ground, and has big slots for the guinea pigs to pull hay out. You don’t want your guinea pigs to have to work too hard to get their hay, because hay is such an important part of their daily diet.
Avoid wire hay balls, as guinea pigs can get their head stuck in them and seriously injure themselves. Canvas or fleece hay bags are a good choice, as long as they have large holes for the guinea pigs to access hay. Wooden hay racks can be a good choice too.
However, you need to watch your guinea pigs closely to make sure they can’t fit their heads through wooden slats. If you have baby guinea pigs, you may want to temporarily remove hay racks and replace them once your babies grow a bit more.
A digital kitchen scale is a good thing to have for your guinea pigs. It’s a good idea to weigh your guinea pigs weekly throughout their lives. Being a prey animal, guinea pigs can hide their illnesses well. They can also go downhill quickly once they get sick.
Weight loss is often one of the earliest signs of most health conditions. Weighing your guinea pig regularly can help you catch sicknesses early, and may even save your guinea pig’s life.
It’s a good idea to choose a scale with a wide surface area that your guinea pig can stand on easily. I also like to pick one that measures in grams, pounds and ounces so I can weigh the guinea pigs in different measurements. A tare feature is also handy so you can place your guinea pig in a bowl or basket on the scale without having to manually subtract the weight of the bowl.
A small pet carrier is useful if you ever have to take your guinea pig to the vet. Sometimes emergencies can crop up suddenly at unexpected times, and you’ll need some kind of carrier to bring your guinea pig to the clinic.
I also like to use carriers to transport guinea pigs outside to graze on the grass. They are also helpful for getting guinea pigs out of their cages without needing to catch them. I taught my guys to go into the carrier by simply putting some veggies in the back each time. Eventually they will just go in every time they see the carrier because it predicts fun and floor time!
My favorite carriers to use are soft sided cat sized carriers. You can find smaller carriers made for little animals, but these are usually a tight fit if you ever want to use them for two guinea pigs at the same time.
Vitamin C Tabs
Guinea pigs cannot manufacture their own Vitamin C. This means they need to get it directly from their diet. If they don’t receive enough Vitamin C, they can develop a condition called scurvy. This causes extreme pain and joint weakness.
You can provide adequate Vitamin C by feeding a high quality pellet food and supplementing with high Vitamin C veggies like bell peppers.
However, if your guinea pig isn’t big on veggies, you may want to consider an additional source of Vitamin C. Chewable tablets, such as Oxbow’s Vitamin C tabs, are the best option for this. These tablets look like little biscuit treats, and most guinea pigs love them.
I usually give my guys half a tablet a day, even though they likely get enough Vitamin C from their daily veggies. Guinea pigs cannot overdose on Vitamin C, so it never hurts to give a little extra.
Toys, Tunnels and Chew Items
Toys and chew items are almost a necessity, but they aren’t needed right from the start. However, chewing on things like woven hay toys or apple tree sticks gives them something fun to do in their cage. It also helps your guinea pig wear down their ever growing teeth, and deters them from chewing cage bars and furniture.
Guinea pigs also love tunnels. They are very drawn to anything resembling tunnels, no matter what material they are made of. Woven hay tunnels are fun because they are essentially a toy and chew item in one. Fleece tunnels are also fun and cozy to run through or sleep in.
Treat balls are a great enrichment toy for guinea pigs as well. Treat balls are little plastic balls with an opening on one end. You can fill them with pellets or diced up veggies and watch your guinea pig roll the ball around to make the treats drop out.
You may need to teach your guinea pig to roll it at first by scattering some treats near and under the ball. Encourage them to push it by giving them a treat each time they nudge or sniff the ball. Most guinea pigs love treat balls once they understand how they work.
Toys do not have to be store bought either. Paper bags, boxes, shredded paper, and piles of blankets are also super fun for guinea pigs! You can also give them some toilet paper tubes stuffed with hay.
It’s important to cut a slit down the side of the paper roll first, because guinea pigs have been known to get their head stuck in them. Guinea pigs can be entertained with many simple things you can find around your home, as long as they are safe for guinea pigs to play in and chew.
Fleece Beds or Cuddle Cups
Guinea pigs usually love soft fleece beds, often called “cuddle cups” to sleep on. While hiding houses are the most important, it’s nice to add a bed or two in your cage. This way your guinea pig can choose to sleep outside their house if they want to.
Litter boxes are optional, but they can help keep your cage a lot cleaner if used properly. Place the litter box under a private, secluded area where your guinea pigs like to hang out. A spot where they already pee a lot in the cage is ideal. Fill it with lots of fresh hay to give your guinea pig a reason to go in there frequently.
Personally, I like to use large puppy litter pans and put all my guinea pigs’ hay, food, and water bottles in there. It definitely helps a lot with cleaning and saves lot of bedding. For more litter training tips, check out our litter training page.
Exercise pens are another incredibly useful item to have around when you have guinea pigs. I use ex-pens most frequently for floor time. You can use them to set up a safe space for your guinea pig to explore. You can also use them to give your guinea pigs free roam time in a room, or the rest of the house.
Exercise pens are useful for blocking off couches, beds, cabinets, and other furniture that you don’t want your guinea pig chewing or going under. They are also great for keeping your guinea pigs safely contained if you decide to take them outside on a nice day.
24 inch high dog exercise pens work well for guinea pigs. You can also buy a pack of wire grids and zip tie them together to make an exercise pen in any size you want! As long as you don’t zip tie them together super tightly, they will fold together like a fan for easy storage when not in use.
Waterproof Floor Mat
Waterproof floor mats are also useful for floor time and exercise. It’s no secret that guinea pigs poop and pee wherever they go. It’s hard to have them out for floor time without damaging your carpet or flooring. That’s why waterproof floor mats come in handy!
My favorites are these waterproof splat mats made for kids. I have a few of them so I can cover an entire bedroom floor. They are also easy to sweep off, and machine washable.
Mini Broom and Dustpan
A mini broom and dustpan comes in very handy for spot cleaning your guinea pig’s cage or the floor. They are also quite cheap and last a long time. Definitely a worthy investment when you’re starting out with guinea pigs.
Pet Safe Cage Cleaning Disinfectant
Disinfectant sprays can help get rid of lingering odors when you clean your guinea pig’s cage. However, guinea pigs can be sensitive to strong smells and cleaning solutions. The best option is to purchase some small pet cage cleaning spray to safely disinfect your piggy’s cage once a week.
Guinea pigs are a fun and adorable pet to add to your home, but they can be quite expensive upfront. I hope this guide helped to clarify what items you need for your guinea pigs, and what you can wait on if need be.
If you’re wondering how you can cut down on some of these costs, be sure to check out our article featuring 8 easy ways you can save money as a guinea pig owner.
You can also save some cash by checking out this quick list of 15 items you should never buy for your guinea pig, so you’re not wasting money on unnecessary supplies.