Should I put my two male guinea pigs in a shed?

D

DM220820

Hi all,

I have recently joined this forum to find the answer to these shed related questions...

Here is the story:

I rescued two guinea pigs (around 1 year old) a couple of weeks ago. They are staying in a c and c cage in my room as my parents wont let them stay anywhere else in the house. Everyone in my family is constantly complaining about the noise and mess they make and have suggested I move them outside to a shed.

My questions are:

How do I keep them warm in Winter (I'm based in Ontario, Canada)
Would they be okay living outside as have been indoors their whole life?
Would it be easier to clean?
Is it expensive to maintain a guinea pig shed?
What are the pros and cons of guinea pigs living in a shed?
How do I clean a shed in winter without letting in the cold air?
What should I make the shed out of and put on the floor?
Will my pigs get lonely?
Will they get scared of the storms?

Thanks and I appreciate any feedback xx
 

Siikibam

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I don’t have much experience when it comes to keeping them outside. One thing you have to bear in mind is if it gets too cold you would need to bring them indoors. If you are to put them outdoors you have to do so while it’s still warm. They need to acclimatise before it starts getting cooler.

To keep them warm you can pack their hutch (inside the shed) with hay. There are also some heat pads that can be used with them. They would probably not be able to come out onto the floor on particularly cold days, and they can’t live just ‘inside’ the shed. They would still need a hutch (that offers enough space needed for two boars). But being inside a shed would offer shelter from the cold and predators.

It would be even better if you could heat the shed as well. With regards cleaning I’d they’re in a hutch you can just close the shed door and then clean them out.

The expense would probably come from the actual shed and the amount of hay you use to keep them warm. The shed would need a floor and that would need something covering it to stop it being ruined by their wee.

They have each other so won’t get lonely. I’ll tag @Piggies&buns who keeps her boys in a shed, she can give more comprehensive information.

Another thing to bear in mind is if you move them there will be dominance behaviour as they ‘re-establish’ their hierarchy in their new digs.
 

Piggies&buns

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As siikibam has said, my boys live in my shed. It’s an 8ft x 6ft shed but they also have a hutch in there. They free roam shed in summer (with their hutch door always open), but are locked into the hutch in winter at night time and only get time to play in the shed itself when it is warm enough (luckily, it gets warm enough in there most days during the winter as it only takes a small amount of sunshine to warm it up) and during the warmest part of the day.

Unfortunately my current shed doesn’t have electricity but I can maintain their temperature in the hutch between 10 degrees c and 15 degrees c during winter but that’s only if it gets down to about 2c outside (the shed always remains warmer). Any colder than that and it can get too hard to keep them warm and I have spare grids to bring them indoors. Once they come indoors, they then have to stay indoors for the rest of the winter. They have a hutch stuffed full of hay, cosy hideys and microwaveable heat pads. As well as blankets, a themal cover and an old duvet on the hutch. The benefit of them being in there regardless of the winter temperature is that they aren’t exposed to rain and wind. Thermometers are essential if they’re outside plus a plan to bring them back indoors.
Heating and insulating the shed makes it much easier to keep them warmer.
During summer it gets too hot within the shed, so they are taken out of the shed by 8/9am and put onto the lawn run. Once it gets too hot on the lawn they come back in the house in their playpen until it cools down enough.

They need to acclimate to being outside so you need to move them out, well in this country now, so they can gently acclimate to the temperatures getting colder. You could not suddenly put them out, for example, in late autumn or autumn winter if you don’t have a heated shed.

I find it easy to clean. I just clean out their hutch, sweep the shed floor and pop new bedding down.

I don’t leave the door open, I get in quickly and always ensure the door is closed behind me. I take buckets into the shed and open the door as few times as possible.

My shed floor is lined plastic sheeting and then newspaper or puppy pads and then my choice of bedding on top. (Fleece in summer but hay in winter). Their hutch has hay as bedding year round.

It’s not too expensive to maintain, but it needs painting every couple of years as well as routine checks - are all screws tight, windows secure, roof sealed properly etc.
Sheds themselves are expensive (i was about to buy a new one but then Covid happened and my plans have had to be on hold), but bedding it is more expensive. In winter I get through loads of hay. I get through 20kgs of hay a month for eating and for bedding as their hutch is stuffed full of it.

They won’t get lonely as they have each other.
Any new noises are going to be different for them, they will get used to it though. They may be alarmed at first, but mine don’t worry about storms now. During fireworks for example (but the same goes for storms) , I make sure they are locked in their hutch early, covers pulled down and lots of hay and hides, so they don’t see flashing.
 

Hath

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I have one pair in the shed built for piggies. We've insulated it and made it so I have one smaller section with heater installed for winters. I have no idea what temperatures are like where you live.
One of my pairs always lived outdoors before I got them and are happier there compared to my other pair who prefers indoor.
But I moved them into the shed when the outside temperatures were above 15 degrees at nights. That was spring/summer time as it gave them plenty of time to get used to the dip in night time temps.
Because I have no idea what the weather is like where you live it's hard to tell if you're giving them enough time and if keeping them outdoors is an option.
Like I said, my shed was built with winters in mind and so it's insulated and has smaller section with heater where I close them off when it gets too cold. I have weather station clock in my bedroom (sensor is in their shed) so I know what the temperature is without going in to check as I would often wake up at night wondering if they're warm enough. Because they've been there for 3 years I have it down to a T and know how to prepare.
I have three basic stages:
They have run of the whole shed and platforms if the temperatures are normal.
If outdoor temperatures drop under 10 degrees they get extra bedding and heat pads (snuggle safe in UK, I have 4 as using two at a time).
If temperature drops under 5 outdoors the heating goes on intermittently (I have a timer on a plug so it turns on few times during night)
And then we have code RED when the temperatures are near freezing and they're only in small section so the heating is more effective and they're close to it. Plus changing their heat pads AM and PM. Extra hay in bedding area. And I also move the sensor to this section so I know what the temperature holds at. I set the heating depending on what the low temperature is meant to be as the sun will warm the shed, too.
I have solar lamp in their shed that I found useful, it gets dark quick so it charges during the day and then I turn it on when I am tucking them in and it stays on until it runs out of battery, just to give them extra light source. I had it for 3yrs and it's still working.
I usually change from fleece to wood shavings during winter, too. Just because I do more cleaning during the cold nights to ensure they have hay that isn't damp. I found my boys will stay in their bedding area most of the time and will toilet in there, too. So it's important that is kept clean and dry as damp is your/their worse enemy.
Money wise it's the change from fleece to shavings/megazorb and the extra hay and heating. Obviously, the initial build of the shed will be biggest expense. If you get rough winters with lots of freeze you'll need to build accordingly. We've had some bad winters lately and I am so glad we've built it with winter in mind.
Cleaning is quick, twice a day sweep a poop. And then the whole place clean as needed. I wouldn't keep them in a hutch, unless I had option to put them indoors during winter.
We've built the shed from scratch so it's raised off the ground and the floors are lined with linoleum. It's easy to clean. I put newspaper on the floor when I use woodshavings/megazorb so it's even quicker for the winter clean.
Fireworks, my boys are used to having radio on. So during fireworks season I leave battery operated radio in their shed on all night. Obviously, not blasting. One of my boys is deaf so he doesn't mind and the other one copes well as they don't hear much being in insulated shed and having background noise and plenty of hay to muffle the sound.
Like I said, one of my pair didn't like being in the shed and prefer it indoors whereas the other prefers shed as that's what they were used to. And being nervous piggies the household noises were too much for them. So I guess it depends on your piggies, but ensure they have each other for company and to cuddle with.
I prefer my pets indoors with me as I get to interact with them at will. But it was the right thing to do for them and they're so much happier in the shed. So biggest con is not having them near me!
There are many posts about keeping piggies warm in the winter on here. Obviously, keep in mind English winters aren't usually that harsh and you will need to plan for the summer time, too.
 

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Pigoles

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Having relatives in Ontario, I would be very worried about having guinea pigs in a shed in the very cold Canadian winters! I think they would not survive the very low temperatures tbh, and so staying inside in your room would be a far better option! Remember that this is a UK-based forum, so the members on here who keep their guinea pigs in sheds all year round are not dealing with the very cold temperatures of Canadian winters.
 
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