Is It Dangerous For Guinea Pigs To Live Outside? (Explained Here)

So, you really want a guinea pig, but there’s no room in your house. This probably makes you wonder “Can guinea pigs live outside?” And if so, is it possible to do it safely?

Typically, guinea pigs can live outside safely. But, they’ll need to be protected from outdoor dangers such as pesticides, predators, toxic plants, pests, and extreme temperatures. If you’re thinking about adopting a guinea pig and housing it outside, you must consider all the risks that may go along with it.

can guinea pigs live outside

Keep reading to learn more about how to keep your guinea pig safe and happy when living outside – so you can rest assured that no matter what, your pet will enjoy a happy life.

How Can Living Outside Be Dangerous For Guinea Pigs?

can guinea pigs live outside

Whether they’re housed indoors or outside, there’s always the possibility of your guinea pig (or any other pet dying). 

But, a lot will depend on how well you care for your furry friends.

Being proactive is the key to keeping your guinea pig alive and happy. Therefore, you need to think about the following dangers:

1. Extreme Temperatures

All guinea pigs are sensitive to extreme temperatures. 

Any major change in the outside temperature can make them sick or even kill them (upper respiratory infections are no joke and neither is heatstroke).

So, you need to make sure that your guinea pig is protected from extreme temperatures.

Guinea pigs require a specific temperature range to stay healthy.

The best temperature of range for guinea pigs is from 65°F (18°C) to 75°F (24°C). If it drops to 60°F (16°C), they’re at risk for hypothermia (too cold). And if it spikes to 78°F (26°C), then you’re looking a heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

If you live in an area where the temperatures get too hot or cold, it’s better to keep your piggies inside your house.

And by too hot or cold, I mean that the climate where you live is so extreme that precautions you might take to protect your piggies from the elements won’t be that effective. 

Whenever your piggies are housed outside, you’ll have to take steps to make sure that the temperature in their environment isn’t too hot or too cold for your piggies to handle – an ideal temperature of range for guinea pigs is from 65°F (18°C) to 75°F (24°C). If it drops to 60°F (16°C), they’re at risk for hypothermia (too cold). And if it spikes to 78°F (26°C), then you’re looking at heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

2. Predators

Depending on where you live, there’s a lot of predators such as dogs, coyotes, cats, hawks and snakes that may be looking to make a tasty snack out of your piggies.

Some predators will literally try to break into your piggie’s home to get to them (I’m looking at you fox).

Others will use guinea pigs as dinner if they happen to find them outside – like if you forgot to close the run properly.

Or if you ran inside your house for “just a sec” and left your cavies alone (uh, don’t ever do that).

Either way, it’s not good.

Fortunately, there’s several things you can do to prevent this from happening (more on this in a bit). Because it’s up to you to keep your pets safe.

3. Pests

Guinea pigs can get flystrike, a dangerous condition which happens when flies lay eggs in their fur (usually near your piggies’ bottom) or inside their cage.

Maggots hatch from these eggs and literally eat your piggies’ flesh.

(Yes, it’s as horrible as it sounds. And yes, it’s also completely preventable.)

If treated as early as possible, the piggies can survive.

If left too late (you’ve got about 24 hours – and that’s pushing it – once they have flystrike) your furry friend will die a very painful death.

can guinea pigs live outside

4. Deadly Pesticides

If your guinea pig is outside, you need to assess whether or not they’ll be exposed to pesticides.

Pesticides and herbicides can travel on the wind, so make sure that you place your piggie’s enclosure where it’s not going end up covered in them.

Not only that, think about whether you treat your own lawn with herbicides and pesticides.

If your lawn is treated with chemicals, you can’t let your cavies graze or play on it.

They can get sick from ingesting these poisons.

So, before deciding to let your guinea pig outside, check what’s around them first to make sure that it’s safe.

5. Toxic Plants

It can be difficult to decide what type of plants to place in your garden.

The following plants are toxic to your guinea pigs (and this list isn’t even complete):

  • grass treated with chemicals and grass clippings from a gas mower
  • Daisies, buttercups, and celandine flowers (bad news for piggies)
  • wild garlic
  • aloe vera
  • ivy
  • poinsettias
  • tulips and lily-of-the-valley
  • fox glove and ragwort
  • hemlock

It’s doubtful that all of these plants will be in your backyard, lying in wait for your cavies.

But, if you don’t recognize them and you have no idea if they are poisonous or not… it’s safer to keep your guinea pig away from them.

Thinking about adding a piggie to your family or want to brush up on the essentials? Gotcha covered. What you need is a reliable, “all-in-one” resource to refer to when you’re struggling. A Beginner’s Ultimate Guide To Guinea Pig Care is a starting point with all the basics and more to get you on your way!

What Kind of Shelter Should I Keep My Guinea Pigs In If They’re Outside?

The first question you should ask yourself when determining what kind of shelter to build (or get) for your guinea pigs is whether or not they will be staying outside year-round .

If the answer is no, then you might want to go with a temporary structure that you can close up in the winter.

But, if your little friends are staying outside year-round, then you need to consider that the temperature varies greatly from season to season and even from month to month – and find something sturdier that can withstand the elements.

Essentially, there’s three protective shelters that most owners use to house their cavies outside – either permanently or temporarily. They include:

  • A hutch: Outdoor hutches are the most popular form of enclosure when guinea pigs are housed outdoors. Hutches come in many different sizes. But, it’s best to keep them simple and easy to clean – especially if you plan to build the hutch yourself!
  • A shed: A shed is a simple, roofed structure used for storage, sheltering animals or as a workspace. Sheds can provide a little more protection from the elements (thunderstorms and rain) than hutches and runs. A shed is also much harder to get into, so it provides an extra layer of protection for your guinea pigs. And one of the coolest things about sheds is that since it’s inside, you’ll be likelier to play and interact with your piggies more.
  • A run: These are most popular in the summertime – and is a less permanent option that a shed and hutch. This is basically a half-enclosed area that your piggies can roam within but it still keeps them safe from outside dangers. Depending on how much room you have, you can use wire or a fence to enclose it.

What you choose to house your piggies in will depend on the temperatures where you live, the season, and your budget (what materials you have available to you).

If you live in an area with a milder climate, it might make sense to keep your guinea pigs outside permanently.

But if you live somewhere colder, then during the winter months it might be better for your cavies if they were kept indoors with you.

Either way, you’ll have to weather-proof and predator-proof each structure to keep your cavies safe, happy, and healthy.

The best hutch is one that you can move easily. You should put it in different places around the garden so your guinea pig does not get too hot, too cold, or wet from the rain and wind.

How Can You Keep Your Guinea Pig Safe Outdoors ?

There are two main things you’ll need to do to keep your guinea pig safe outdoors.  And that’s to weather-proof and predator-proof their environments.

You won’t be able to keep as close of an eye on your little friends if they’re housed outdoors. So, make sure that there’s no risks of exposure to the elements or predators.  

1. Winter Weather-Proofing

Whether your cavies are housed outside seasonally or year-round, the weather is one of your biggest concerns.  And, guinea pigs have a very low tolerance for sudden changes in temperature or for drafty, cold environments.

Here are a few tips to protect your little friends in winter weather:

  • Insulate the enclosure: You can cover the top and sides of a hutch with bubble wrap, a foil blanket and then cover it with a waterproof tarp or tarps.  (But, make sure your piggies still have fresh air and enough ventilation!
  • Make it cozy for your piggies: The floor of the hutch should be covered with various layers of newspaper, shavings, and hay. Add pigloos and huts. Pile the hay very high and replace it frequently – your piggies will play with it and burrow into it for warmth. Use microwavable heat pads to make it even cozier. 
  • Paint the outside of the hutch or shed to help protect it from the weather. The best time to paint your house is in the spring before the pigs will live there. This way, it will be completely dry and aired out by the time you’re ready to use it.
  • Choose a good location: Make sure your hutch is sheltered from rain and wind and away from loud noises, so your piggies won’t be stressed out balls of anxiety. It should also be close to your house and accessible for feeding, watering and cleaning. Move your hutch into a shed or unused garage for extra protection from the cold.
  • Lift it up: Make sure you choose a hutch or shed that’s off the ground. That’ll keep the floor warmer and more comfortable.
  • Get water bottle covers. Water bottles can (and will) freeze in cold weather. Use covers to keep the water from freezing in your piggies’ bottles so that your piggies don’t have to either drink “ice cubes” or go thirsty until the sun comes out.

No matter how well you prepare your piggies’ enclosure for the winter, make sure that you check on your piggies frequently.  Make sure they have clean bedding, fresh food and water.

2. Summer Weather-Proofing

The heat can be more devastating than cold for your guinea pig. They’re susceptible to heat exhaustion and heat stroke (they can’t sweat, ya know).

Maintaining a comfortable temperature for your piggies can be tricky. But, keeping your guinea pigs cool isn’t impossible, if ollow these tips:

  • Change locations: Move your piggie’s hutch or run to a shady spot in your yard. Placing the hutch in a somewhat protected place (like under an overhang or in a niche) will help keep them cool. A location away from loud noise is always a plus.
  • Provide cooling resources: Granite stones put in the freezer and wrapped in cloth, frozen water bottles wrapped in socks, and lots of fresh cool (not cold) water will all help keep the temperatures down. Refresh the water often.
  • Choose playtimes carefully: If you let your piggies out to play, do so in the early morning or twilight before it gets too hot.
  • Spot clean and deep clean regularly: To avoid your guinea pigs getting Flystrike, you need to keep their enclosure clean. This is another reason why your enclosure choice is so important. It needs to be portable and easy to clean, so you’re more likely to scrub it down when you need to.
  • Keep a thermometer: Use this to make sure that your piggies aren’t overheating.

Guinea pigs show symptoms of heatstroke when they are exhausted, panting, salivating, and restless. Although some signs may be subtle, such as lethargy and restlessness in hot weather, it is important to notice these early warnings in order to prevent serious consequences.

3. Predator-Proofing (Summer or Winter)

Now, the most important thing you can do is make your guinea pigs’ home as safe as possible from potential predators.

Be sure to take these precautions seriously, because the last think you want is to come back from a long day at work to find that your piggies are now reincarnated as dinner for the local wildlife.

  • Do daily security checks. It sounds silly, but daily checks are a great way to ensure that nothing is amiss. Check for any obvious signs of tampering, such as broken wire fencing and chewed through mesh.
  • Make sure the enclosure is sturdy: When choosing guinea pig housing, make sure you get it from trustworthy sources with high quality enclosures . Just because it’s cute doesn’t mean your piggies will be safe. A run lid and a hutch roof need to be strong. Otherwise, if something falls on them, they’ll break.
  • Get proper locks: Outdoor shelters should have secure locks on the door, not latches that can easily be opened by predators or young children.
  • Don’t leave your piggies unsupervised: If you’re letting your piggies roam and graze, make sure you can watch them. Guinea pigs are prey animals, after all, and it’s likely that other critters will be hanging around the garden looking for lunch if they smell guinea pig on the wind.

Can My Guinea Pigs Live Outside Through The Winter?

As long as they stay comfortable and dry, Guinea Pigs may live outside year-round – even through the winter.

Temperatures at 60°F (16°C) put your cavies at risk of hypothermia. And rainy, windy conditions can lead to respiratory infections.

You just need to take proper precautions to weather proof and predator proof their shelters. Also, make sure they have adequate food, water and bedding.

The best hutch is one that you can move easily. You should put it in different places around the garden so your guinea pig does not get too hot, too cold, or wet from the rain and wind.

Can Guinea Pigs Stay Outside In The Summer?

A guinea pig is a hardy animal that can live outdoors during the summer with adequate protection from extreme temperatures and predators. Provide shade, plenty of fresh water, and protect it from rain or wind.

If it is going to be very hot outside, your guinea pig should not stay outdoors. Guinea pigs can handle temperatures between 65 F and 75 F, but they cannot tolerate long stints in direct sunshine. 

Can You Take A Guinea Pig Outside?

Guinea pigs can be taken outside and placed in an outdoor enclosed area – preferably someplace with untreated grass, so they can graze and play.

Just make sure that making sure that other animals such as dogs or hawks don’t get into the area. Placing them in an enclosed run can help them enjoy being outside without fear of being eaten by predators.

Final Thoughts About Guinea Pigs Living Outside

If you’re thinking about adopting a guinea pig and housing it outside, it’s certainly possible.

Just provide weather and predator protection and a sturdy guinea pig enclosure, as well as proper food, exercise, and water – and they can live outside comfortably in hot and cold weather conditions.

So, I hope this blog post has given you some food for thought. Follow these best practices to keep your pet safe from the many dangers of being outdoors.

Are you going to keep your guinea pigs outdoors? What will you do to keep them safe?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Also, if you know anyone who might find this article helpful – please share it with them!

Arellano, R. (2020, July 9). Heat stroke prevention for your Guinea pigs in summer. #1 Anaheim Veterinarian | Anaheim Pet Hospital & Emergency. https://brookhurstanimal.com/preventing-heat-stroke-guinea-pigs-summer/

Caring For Your Guinea Pig: Basic Husbandry. (n.d.). Pender Vet Animal Hospital • Fairfax, Chantilly & Manassas | Animal hospitals and pet boarding for dogs, cats, and exotics in Fairfax, Chantilly, and Centreville, VA. https://pendervet.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/EXOTICS_GuineaPigCare_May6.pdf

DVM, S. L. (2015). The Guinea pig handbook. Barron’s Educational Series.

Flystrike in Guinea pigs. (2021, July 24). Guinea Piggles. https://www.guineapiggles.co.uk/flystrike-guinea-pigs/

How can I tell if my pet is feeling the cold? (n.d.). Greencross Vets. https://www.greencrossvets.com.au/pet-library/articles-of-interest/how-can-i-tell-if-my-pet-is-feeling-the-cold/

Petco. (2021, July 27). Guinea pig care: What can Guinea pigs eat. Pet Supplies, Pet Food, and Pet Products | Petco. https://www.petco.com/shop/AjaxContentNavResultView?catalogId=10051&langId=-1&storeId=10151&contentPath=/content/petco/PetcoStore/en_US/pet-services/resource-center/food-nutrition/guinea-pig-care-diet-and-feeding-tips.html

Poisonous food and plants for Guinea pigs. (n.d.). Wood Green – The Animals Charity. https://woodgreen.org.uk/pet-advice/article/poisonous-food-and-plants-for-guinea-pigs

Similar Posts