Does my guinea pig need exercise?

As pet parents, we want to ensure our animal companions lead happy, healthy lives. One question that often arises is whether guinea pigs need exercise. While they may not require as much activity as a dog or a cat, physical activity is still essential for their well-being. 

Guinea pigs are naturally active animals in the wild, spending their days foraging for food and exploring their surroundings. However, domestic guinea pigs often have limited space to roam compared to their wild counterparts. This can lead to health issues if they don’t receive adequate exercise. 

So, how much exercise do guinea pigs need? While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, experts recommend at least one hour of supervised exercise outside of their cage each day. This can include floor time in a safe, enclosed area or supervised playtime in a guinea pig-proof room. During this time, your guinea pig can stretch their legs, explore new surroundings, and engage in natural behaviours like grazing and burrowing. 

In addition to physical exercise, mental stimulation is also important for guinea pigs. Providing toys, tunnels, and hiding spots in their cage can encourage mental engagement and prevent boredom. Rotating toys regularly can keep things interesting and prevent habituation. 

Ideas to stimulate your guinea pig 

Hay hide-and-seek – Hide small treats or pieces of vegetables in a pile of hay and scatter it around the play area. Guinea pigs love to forage, and this activity encourages them to use their natural instincts to search for food. It also provides mental stimulation as they explore and sniff out the hidden treats. 

DIY tunnel maze – Create a maze using cardboard boxes and tunnels for your guinea pig to navigate. Cut holes in the boxes and connect them with tunnels to form a maze-like structure. Place treats or toys throughout the maze to encourage exploration. Guinea pigs enjoy the challenge of navigating through tunnels and obstacles, and it provides both physical and mental stimulation. 

Keep in mind your guinea pig’s age, health, and temperament when determining their exercise needs. Young, healthy guinea pigs may require more activity than older or less active individuals. Some guinea pigs may be more timid or nervous in new environments, so it’s important to introduce them to new spaces gradually and provide plenty of reassurance and encouragement. 

To ensure their safety during playtime, always supervise your guinea pig during floor time to prevent accidents or escapes. Remove any potential hazards from the area, such as electrical cords or toxic plants, and close off any small spaces where your guinea pig could become trapped. 

While guinea pigs may not need as much exercise as some other pets, regular physical activity is still essential for their health and well-being. Providing opportunities for exercise and mental stimulation can prevent obesity, promote mental and physical health, and ensure your guinea pig leads a happy, fulfilling life. So, the next time you’re wondering if your guinea pig needs exercise, remember that a little time outside the cage can go a long way in keeping them healthy and happy.  

Check out our blog for more ideas for guinea pig play.  


The post Does my guinea pig need exercise? appeared first on Ontario SPCA and Humane Society.

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