As a cavy owner, you are probably wondering why your guinea pigs need a run if their hutch is already the recommended size? Well, the answer is quite simply, these pocket pets, although small in size, have loads of energy, and as natural foragers, they need plenty of space to run around.
In the wild, guinea pigs spend very little time sleeping. Instead, they scurry around searching for food or evading predators, only stopping for a quick power nap now and then. As pets, however, cavies are kept in hutches where they are safe, and food is readily available.
But this pampered lifestyle, without enough exercise, can lead to all sorts of health problems, including obesity, diabetes and heart problems. Sedentary guinea pigs are also more likely to suffer from stress and anxiety. Hence the necessity of a run.
Your Essential Guide to Guinea Pig Runs
Not sure what a run is, what it’s made of or how it works? Don’t worry. This section will give you all the information and advice you need when choosing a run. Our guinea pig run guide will help you provide your guinea pigs with a safe and nurturing environment.
Let’s get to it, shall we?
What is a Guinea Pig Run?
The best way to describe a guinea pig run is that it’s a long, large cage that is placed on the grass. The simple design provides your cavies with the perfect environment to keep them safe while they play, forage and get much-needed exercise. With a run, you don’t have to worry about your pets escaping or getting lost while they roam freely in the garden. It also keeps them away from your flower beds, potentially poisonous plants and protects them from potential predators.
What Does a Guinea Pig Run Look Like?
Our guinea pig runs all have a wooden frame with galvanized wire mesh panels. Always made with your precious pets in mind, the wood is treated with a water-based pet-safe preservative that can withstand the UK’s weather conditions. And the 1″ x .5″ mesh panels help keep your cavies safe from predators, while still giving them a 360-degree view.
Is There a Living Area Inside the Run?
Because we don’t think guinea pigs should be left in this type of enclosure overnight, our runs don’t have any built-in living areas. But we do have perfectly sized shelters that provide your piggies with protection from wind or rain during the day. As well as somewhere to rest after a lot of running around.
Are Guinea Pig Runs Easy to Assemble?
Our runs are delivered to your door in flat-pack form, which means you will need to do a little bit of DIY. But don’t stress, they’re easy to assemble, and we provide you with detailed instructions as well as the necessary tools.
Are Hinged Doors Necessary on a Run?
The best runs come with hinged doors, either on the side or on top. This allows for easy, and quick, access to your guinea pigs, without the risk of them escaping. Of course, it’s important to remember that these doors are potential escape routes for your curious cavies, and can also be used by wiley predators to get in. Always make sure that the doors are shut tight with a catch or clip when your guinea pigs are inside.
How Big Should a Guinea Pig Run Be?
Small pets only need a small area to exercise, right? Wrong. Although a guinea pig is often described as a pocket-pet, they need loads of space where they can play, forage and socialize with their pals. But they also need some time on their own, even in a run. Typically, guinea pig runs are approximately 4ft (or 1.2 metres) long and 30cm high, but we think bigger is always better.
We offer 4 and 5ft runs that are the tallest on the market, measuring 2.3ft in height, while our XL Folding Canterbury run, at 7.5ft long and 4ft wide, provides more space than any other product that’s currently available.
Are There Folding Runs Available?
If you’re worried about getting a run because you have a limited amount of space, we’ve got the perfect solution for you. Our folding runs are portable, so you can move them around, and best of all, they are collapsible for easy storage.
Where Should Guinea Pig Runs Be Placed?
If you have a free-standing run, you have the option of choosing the best possible spot for it. If you’re not sure where the best place is, however, we’ve got the information you need.
1. Place the run on a soft surface
Because they have such delicate little feet, guinea pigs need a soft surface, which is why it should be placed on the grass. This will protect their feet and give them something tasty to chew on.
2. Make sure it is placed on even ground
Some guinea pigs are escape artists, so make sure it is placed on even ground. Even the slightest gap under the frame could be an opportunity for your cavy to break out.
3. Keep the run out of direct sunlight
Cavies, although robust little pets, don’t do well in extreme weather conditions. When positioning the run outdoors, make sure it’s not in direct sunlight. If it’s too big to fit under a shady spot, make sure some of it is covered in case it gets too hot. It’s worth getting a cosy shelter as well as a run shade. Both of these will protect your piggies from the sun, wind and rain.
4. Move the run around
Self-standing runs are a great idea, as they allow you to move it around occasionally, giving your guinea pigs a fresh patch of grass to chew on, while providing them with different views of the garden.
5. Keep the run away from poisonous plants
Guinea pigs love to graze, which means anything in your garden is considered a delicious snack. While many garden plants and flowers are perfectly safe for cavies to chew on, others are poisonous and potentially fatal if eaten. Make sure your guinea pigs’ run is in an area where there are no toxic flowers or plants nearby.
Are Guinea Pig Runs Easy to Use?
Not only are runs easy to assemble, but they are also really straightforward to use. If it’s a stand-alone set-up, simply place it in a suitable spot, pop your piggies inside and let them forage and play.
Can Guinea Pigs Live in a Run?
A run is not the ideal permanent living space for your guinea pigs. And it’s not suitable for an overnight stay either. This kind of structure doesn’t provide enough shelter and warmth, and even though they are predator-proof, there is always the risk of a badger or fox getting in. Also, because they are placed directly on the grass, your cavies are susceptible to respiratory problems during the rainy and cold seasons.
Are Hutch-Run Combos a Good Idea?
Hutch-run combos are a very good idea from a space point of view. There are two types available, which provide your guinea pigs with an all-in-one house and exercise option; however, you must choose the right one for your needs and your piggies’ health.
While a popular choice for people in warmer climates, the hutch and run combo that sits side by side won’t necessarily work in the UK, because of our wet and cold seasons. Instead, we suggest looking at one where the hutch is on top, and the run is on the ground. This will keep your guinea pigs safe when the temperatures drop and provide them with all the space they need.
A common bugbear with these combos is that there isn’t enough space for your guinea pigs to get their much-needed exercise. But here at H&R, we have extension runs that can be added to existing structures, giving your guinea pigs more room than they ever dreamed of.
What Accessories Do You Need for a Run?
When setting up a run for your cavies, it’s important to remember that they’re prey animals, and will feel exposed and vulnerable in a wide-open space. By adding a few essential items, your piggies will be able to enjoy their exercise time, rather than being huddled up in a corner.
1. A shelter or pigloo
As already mentioned, guinea pigs need somewhere to hide while they’re in their run. Our cosy wooden shelter is perfect for this, as are our 2-in1 beehive beds. Always make sure there are enough shelters for the number of guinea pigs in the run.
It’s a good idea to include a few toys too. This will keep your guinea pigs stimulated, and encourage them to get more exercise. We like these chewable toys that are fruit-flavoured with a tasty treat inside, as well as this trio of guinea pig-friendly balls.
You can’t go wrong with a few tunnels. We have chewable tubes, or chubes as we like to call them, that will keep your piggies entertained.
To Finish Off
Ideally, your guinea pigs need at least an hour in their run every day. This will give them the exercise they need to stay in shape and keep them stimulated. Keep in mind though that they need to be supervised at all times, and for them to enjoy their time in the run, you will need to include a few essential items.
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