An animal-friendly keeping of guinea pigs is very well possible half-year or all year round in the garden or on the balcony. Keeping guinea pigs outdoors is a particularly natural form of keeping guinea pigs and has many advantages.
An outdoor pen for guinea pigs can be set up in a more natural and varied way than an apartment enclosure. This applies above all to ground enclosures, since shrubs, herbs and a piece of the meadow can be planted here. You may also have more space in the garden than in the apartment. You can use this space by creating a varied adventure landscape with caves, bridges, branches, and tree trunks. In addition, the animals are always in the fresh air and exposed to changing, natural weather conditions and environmental stimuli.
However, keeping them outdoors is more labor-intensive and time-consuming than keeping them indoors. Even when the weather is bad, you have to take care of your guinea pigs every day and monitor whether the animals are healthy. So that the guinea pigs do not lose touch with humans, it is also important that you deal with them regularly.
Requirements for keeping guinea pigs outdoors
Before you decide to keep a garden, you should think carefully about the type and size of the enclosure and the location. The enclosure must at least partially protect the animals from rain and sun. Guinea pigs are very sensitive to heat and easily suffer from heatstroke. A shady place under a tree (around midday) is therefore ideal. Wooden huts are often not enough to protect against high temperatures.
The guinea pigs must also be protected from the cold and especially from drafts and moisture. Therefore, your guinea pigs need several shelters that are well insulated, for example with a layer of wood-Styrofoam-wood. Small holes are drilled on the upper sides of the house to prevent mold-promoting moisture from forming in the houses.
The guinea pigs have to be secured not only against the weather but also against predators such as birds of prey, martens, or foxes. For this purpose, the enclosure is covered from above and the sides with a thin wire. Stone slabs or wire mesh can be laid to prevent predators or rats as disease carriers from digging into the outdoor area from below.
Adjusting guinea pigs to outdoor housing
Guinea pigs that have been kept indoors are best relocated between May and September. Temperatures should not fall below 12 to 15 °C at night. Once the animals live in the garden, they must not be taken into the (heated) apartment when the temperatures are low (especially in winter). Otherwise, the guinea pigs can catch a cold due to the strong temperature differences. Of course, only healthy animals may move into the garden.
Incidentally, a daily health check must be carried out on guinea pigs kept outdoors – just like in the apartment. This is important so that no illness remains hidden and the guinea pig can be treated quickly by a veterinarian.
Feeding does not differ from that in housing. The main feed consists of hay, fresh feed (grasses, herbs, vegetables, and some fruit), and, if necessary, small amounts of pellets. Guinea pigs are gradually accustomed to fresh food (especially grass!), otherwise, they will suffer from serious disorders of the gastrointestinal tract.