There are a number of different guinea pig habitats available to people who wish to keep these rodents as pets. They can be easily kept in large, open pens or in cages that provide a large amount of floor space. Large containers, such as plastic swimming pools, can also be used as guinea pig habitats. Though there are many good choices for housing these animals, they should never be kept in small cages, cages with wire grates on the bottom, or glass tanks, as each of these environments pose health risks for the guinea pig.
One of the most common guinea pig habitats used in homes is a large wire pen. The walls of the enclosure do not need to be higher than a couple of feet, because most guinea pigs are not adept at climbing over barriers. A top is not usually needed if there are no other pets, such as dogs or cats, that could jump inside and injure the guinea pigs. These enclosures are ideal habitats because they provide a great deal of square footage, something that guinea pigs need an abundance of, and are generally inexpensive.
Large vertical cages can also be used as guinea pig habitats. These cages offer a lot of floor space but divide it between two or more levels. Though guinea pigs are not good climbers, when provided with ramps, they are able to move up and down between levels. In most cases, these cages will be completely enclosed, which makes it safer to keep guinea pigs in a house with other pets.
It is also possible to find guinea pig habitats that were not originally intended for use as such. Plastic children's pools and large plastic bins can be successfully used to house these animals. In most cases, the guinea pigs will not attempt to climb over the sides of these enclosures, though some will. Observing a guinea pig carefully in its new environment will help an owner determine whether that environment will be safe for the guinea pig. It is also important to make sure that the guinea pig does not chew on and eat the pieces of a plastic enclosure, which could sicken the animal.
In the wild, guinea pig habitats include grassland and rocky areas. They are found only in South America, with their range extending from Peru in the north through northern regions of Argentina in the south. They live in burrows in large family groups.