Leaving Your Guinea Pig Alone? (Check This Out)

Guinea pigs need a lot of attention and care.  But, what if you have a sudden emergency?  Or if you need to go away from a weekend? You can’t take your guinea pigs. What do you do? Should you leave your guinea pigs alone?   

Ideally, you shouldn’t leave your guinea pig alone (unattended) for more than one day (24 hours).  And never leave your guinea pigs alone for more than two days.  It’s dangerous because guinea pigs aren’t self-reliant enough to stay safe on their own for that long. In fact, many experts suggest that guinea pigs be checked on every 12 hours.  

an you leave your guinea pig alone for two days

As a loving pet parent, you want the peace of mind of knowing that your cavy will continue to thrive while you’re away. So, I did a little digging and reading to help you prepare to leave your piggie pals alone safely.

How to Prepare to Safely Leave Your Guinea Pig Alone

Traveling and leaving your pets behind can be stressful.  So, here are some tips that will help you organize and plan everything in the best way possible to ensure the health and happiness of your cavy…

And to make sure they don’t get into mischief while you’re away.

Keep Guinea Pig’s Cage in a Safe Location of Your Home

You want to make certain that your guinea pig doesn’t get too hot or too cold while you’re gone. Guinea pigs are likely to get heat stroke when overheated (because they don’t sweat) and chillier temperatures could make them ill very quickly.

The best temperature for a guinea pig is between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. So, you have to make sure that your cavy’s cage is located somewhere in your house where that temperature range is stable.

Decide if your cavy’s current location is sufficient.  If not, it’s a good time to relocate your cavy’s cage.  If you’re too hot or too cold, then your cavy will be, too.  

Here are some other points to consider when deciding if the final location of your guinea’s pig cage location will be okay while you travel:

  • Direct spots in the sun should be avoided.
  • An area without drafts would be great (e.g keep them away breezeways or spots near windows).
  • Don’t place your cavies in places that may be damp, such as laundry rooms or basements.
  • Keep your guinea pigs in an area safe from other pets that consider them prey.
  • Avoid spots where there might be lots of unexpected, loud noises .

Double-Check Your Guinea Pig’s Cage Setup

Once you’re satisfied that your guinea pig’s location is appropriate.  Now, it’s time to examine the cage.  

The cage should be able to be separated into various areas for your little friends – like a real house.

A section for water, an area for food, and an area for sleeping will require your cavy to walk around more.  The extra exercise will help keep your guinea pig’s weight down and improve his health.

It’s critical that your furry potato has a cage that gives him enough room to move around, to explore, and exercise freely

So, if you have room in your house “a bigger cage is definitely better”.

Use the table below as a reference.

# of Guinea PigsCage Size
1 Guinea Pig7.5 ft2 (minimum) but more is better
2 Guinea Pigs7.5 ft2 (minimum), but more is better
3 Guinea Pigs10.5 ft2 (minimum), but more is better
4 Guinea Pigs13 ft2 (minimum), but more is better
In case you hadn’t guessed, more space is ALWAYS better for guinea pigs.

(The information from the table came from this source)

Can I leave my guinea pig alone for two days?

Besides room for more exercise, there are tons of benefits to having a large space set aside for your cavy’s cage.  Some of them include the following:

  • A larger space is easier to keep clean.
  • Your guinea pigs will be able to run around, play games, and chase each other.
  • They’ll be able to retreat into their own corner to can get away from each other when they need to (#lessfighting) 

Your guinea pig’s cage should be spot-cleaned at least once a day and deep-cleaned at least once a week.  Living in messy areas stress out cavies and can make them sick.   

Looking for some ideas on how to set up (or redecorate) your cavy’s cage?  Take a peek at the videos below. 

Make Sure Your Cavy Has Enough Food and Water

Cavies have a fast metabolism and need to be constantly eating, so you need to make sure that there’s enough available to last while you’re gone. Cavies need plenty of hay, fresh vegetables, pellets and water.

Your Piggies Need A LOT of Hay  

Cavies need an endless supply of fresh, high-quality hay.  Timothy hay or orchard grass hay are preferred. 

Hay adds fiber to your guinea pigs diet, which helps them digest their food.  Also, hay helps guinea pigs break down nutrients and vitamins from the vegetables they eat.   Without hay, a guinea pig’s digestive system can shut down.  

If you have paired guineas that are territorial about their food or water, it would be a good idea to set up an extra hay bag (or pile of hay) and an extra bowl of food set out to prevent fighting.

Also, having double or extra of everything is never a bad idea. Sometimes food (or water) bowls get pooped into or a water bottle might clog and leak.

The safest options for getting hay to your piggies include the following:

  • put a big pile of hay on the floor of the enclosure for the piggies to eat and to burrow into.
  • Get a big plastic tub or container and pile the hay into it.
  • Make a hay bag for your furry potato

Avoid the hay racks with spaces that are so large that a guinea pig’s head can get stuck in it. Not cool!

If you want some info on guinea pigs and hay, here’s some posts to take a look at: Are Hay Racks Safe For Guinea Pigs? (Find Out Now) and 5 Top Tips To Stop Guinea Pig Hay Waste

Here’s a video that will demonstrate how to make a DIY hay bag for your guinea pig, if you have the time and you’re feeling a little crafty.

Psst! My sewing skills are subpar at best. But, this is so simple that even I could do it

Loads of Fresh Water Is a Must

Water is very important to your guinea pig’s diet.  It’s best that cavies have fresh water each day. Guinea pigs (adults) usually consume 80 – 100ml of water each day.  That’s about 2.7 to 3.5 oz per cavy.  However, water consumption also depends on the individual cavy’s environment and diet. 

Using a hanging water bottle and not a bowl is suggested.  Water bowls can get knocked over and pooped or peed in. Make sure each guinea pig has its own water bottle and, just in case, place an extra water bottle (or two)  in the cage. That way if one bottle becomes clogged, they’ll be able to drink from others.

Guinea pigs sometimes like to spit food up the tube of their water bottles. So, water bottles should be cleaned and refreshed each day.  This will prevent bacteria from growing inside them that might make your piggie pal sick.

Also, sometimes water bottles leak.  So, it’s a good idea to inspect your cavy’s water sources for damage before you leave on your trip-so you can repair or replace them.

These two videos should help you make simple repairs to your water bottles if you need to do so.

Pellets Should Be Plentiful…But Not Too Plentiful 

Pellets play an important role in your piggie pal’s diet, too. Not as important as the hay, but important nonetheless. 

Each guinea pig needs ⅛ to ¼ cup of vitamin C fortified pellets per day that you’ll be gone.  The vitamin C is important because guinea pigs don’t make their own vitamin C. 

The pellets must be seed-free and corn-free. And the pellets have to be fresh

After about three months, the vitamin C starts to degrade and your cavy won’t get the vitamin C that it needs.

Fresh Vegetables Should be Available

Experts say that the average adult guinea pigs can be offered 1 cup (think dry measurements) of veggies a day.  

But, that doesn’t mean that your guinea will eat an entire cup of vegetables each day.  Adjust the amount of vegetables to the needs of your guinea pig. 

Clean up any leftover vegetables, so that they don’t rot, spoil your guinea pig’s bedding, and attract vermin (or other rodents).

Good VegetablesAvoid These or Feed Sparingly
Green and red bell peppers
Butterhead lettuce
Swiss Chard
Red Leaf Lettuce
Romaine lettuce
Turnip greens
Iceberg Lettuce
Beet Greens
Cherry tomatoes
Mandarin Orange
Egg plant

Leave Lots of Entertainment for Your Guinea Pigs

The last thing that you want is for your cavy to get bored and lonely while you’re gone.  Leave behind a nice stash of toys to keep your piggie pal stimulated, active, and entertained. 

This is especially critical if you only have one guinea pig.  Guinea pigs are happiest when they’re living in groups.  If you’re your cavy’s only friend, and you leave…

…You’re probably going to have one sad piggie pal on your hands. 

Sad guinea pigs don’t eat, drink, exercise, or play like they should.  This negatively affects your cavy’s health.

One of the best things you can do for your cavy (especially if you only have one) when you’re gone is to give her something to focus on other than your absence.

This is when a good stash of toys is worth its weight in gold.

Guinea pig toys don’t have to cost an arm and a leg.  There are plenty of free and affordable guinea pig toy options that will make your piggies day. I wrote an article about how to entertain guinea pigs. Check it out here

Meanwhile, here’s a few ideas to get you started:

  • Wooden Tunnels
  • Hideouts
  • Cozy Cups
  • Crumpled paper
  • A Towel Tent 
  • Paper bags (stuffed with hay?)
  • Balls
  • Empty oatmeal containers
  • Cardboard
  • Paper towel and toilet paper rolls
  • Stuffed tubes filled with hay

Other Health and Safety Concerns When Leaving Your Guinea Pigs Alone

Besides food, shelter, and companionship, there are two more things that you need to consider before leaving your guinea pigs on their own.

Escape:  Even though it’s not in their nature to do it, some guinea pigs can climb.  If you’ve noticed that your piggies have the makings of master escape artists, you want to take steps to prevent them from getting out of their cage.

  • Double check the bars of your cage.  The bars on a guinea pig cage shouldn’t be greater than one inch or your cavies will be able to squeeze through.
  • Check every corner of the cage to make sure that they are secured properly.  Examine for any possible weaknesses that your guinea pig will use to escape.
  • Invest in a cage (a large one) that has a top to it.  At the end of the day, it’s worth the expense if you don’t have to worry coming home to your cavy roaming free in your house.

Fighting:  If your guinea pigs bickery a lot, then you shouldn’t leave them alone unattended.  There’s a good chance that they’ll hurt each other while you’re gone. And you don’t want that.  

A good solution would be to add a divider to the cage to separate them…

Or to place them in separate cages.

However, you still want to keep them close enough to smell, hear, and see each other. That way they’ll still have each other for company. 

This situation also applies when you have a new guinea pig that you’re introducing to another.  

If you haven’t had a chance to observe them together for long, then it’s a good idea to keep them separated during your time away.   And if you’ve gotten a new guinea pig, it might be better to postpone the trip, if possible.

How to Reduce Anxiety Over Leaving your Guinea Pigs

Once you’ve done everything to prepare for your trip, you might find that you still feel a little anxious about leaving your cavy. Taking a few extra steps might be in order.  

1. Get a pet sitter

A pet sitter comes to your home and looks after your guinea pigs.  This arrangement gets your piggies personal care in their own home, which is a serious bonus

The pet sitter would come to your home to check on your piggies and refresh their food and water and change their bedding.  An added perk is that a pet sitter can also do things like collect your mail and bring in your newspaper. 

2. A friend, neighbor, or family member might want to pitch in

Teach them to care for your little piggies the way you care for them.

3. Try a professional pet (or house) sitting service

If that doesn’t work out, there are many professional pet (or house) sitting services that are staffed with responsible people, have a pet contract, and pet insurance. 

Pet sitting companies like Rover or Trusted Home Sitting have a verification process for their employees, which include background checks. Interview potential pet sitters carefully.

4. Boarding Your Pet 

In this case, you can take your pet to another location-maybe your veterinarian offers the service or maybe your local shelter. 

Do your research and make sure that the boarding facility is equipped to give your guinea pig the care and attention that he deserves

5. Install a security camera 

Many security cameras are very affordable.  And they hook up directly to your smartphone. 

You can monitor your piggie pals from a distance.  That way you can reassure yourself that they’re all right (and keep worry freak-outs to a minimum).

It’s best if you have at least two cameras to capture different angles of your piggie pal’s cage.  Then all you need to do is enjoy your time away.

Wrap Up

If you want to enjoy time away from home without your guinea pigs, you have to carefully plan and prepare to keep your cavies safe, healthy, and content

There are factors involving food, cage location, entertainment for your cavies that have to be considered.  You need to determine whether or not your cavies need to be separated and what sort of support you might need to check in on your piggie pals.  It can be a lot to take in.

The good news?

After reading this post, you’re equipped with everything that you need to do it well.  

Related Questions

Can guinea pigs get separation anxiety?  Guinea pigs can have separation anxiety.  To avoid it, you should introduce and then pair cavies together.  Also, you should give them toys and an environment that will be physically and mentally stimulated on their own.

Is it better to own one or two guinea pigs? It’s definitely better to own two (or more) guinea pigs.  Guinea pigs are very social.  And as much as you love your little cavy, there’s only so much attention that you give them as a human.  It’s better that they have another guinea pig buddy to hang out with-that they can play with and enjoy.  

Why are my guinea pigs fighting?  There are usually a few reasons why guinea pigs fight: illness, their cage is too small, they weren’t bonded well when they first met, or perhaps one of the piggies is getting territorial.  First, you want to make sure that your guinea pigs are playfully fighting…or violently fighting (like hackles raised, ball of fur, battle bites and furry fury). Sometimes what pet parents sometimes interpret as a big problem is actually just necessary guinea pig socialization.

(n.d.). Exotic Animal Care – Veterinarian in Pasadena, CA US. https://www.exoticanimalveterinarycenter.com/storage/app/media/Guinea-Pig-General-Care1.pdf

Guinea pig feeding. (n.d.). The Humane Society of the United States. https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/guinea-pig-feeding

Guinea pig housing. (n.d.). The Humane Society of the United States. https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/guinea-pig-housing#:~:text=The%20following%20guidelines%20are%20useful,50%22%20is%20a%20good%20size

Housing and feeding your Guinea pig. (2016, January 19). University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. https://vetmed.illinois.edu/pet_column/feeding-your-guinea-pig/

How to care for your pet Guinea pig » small animal hospital » college of veterinary medicine » University of Florida. (n.d.). Small Animal Hospital » College of Veterinary Medicine » University of Florida. https://smallanimal.vethospital.ufl.edu/clinical-services/zoological-medicine/how-to-care-for-your-pet-guinea-pig/

How to cope with anxiety about leaving your cat or dog when you travel. (2020, November 3). BeChewy. https://be.chewy.com/pet-parenting-travel-how-to-cope-with-the-anxiety-of-leaving-your-pet-when-you-go-away/

Nutrient requirements of the Guinea pig – Nutrient requirements of laboratory animals – NCBI bookshelf. (n.d.). National Center for Biotechnology Information. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK231932/

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