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Dangers of Outdoor Housing 
21st-Aug-2008 11:08 pm
spider hole
This is not directed at those in circumstances out of their control where they are trying to make the best of things. This is for all of us who want to do the best for our piggies, why we are all here, and are in a position to do so :)

The guinea pig has long been a domesticated animal, from around 5000BC in fact. As a result, and much like dogs, their genes and health are a mess. A guinea pig is very far removed from any wild animal, domesticated for such a long period of time they are very vulnerable to temperatures outside of a very strict range - 65-75 degrees F which is 18-24 degrees C. Not even the UK, where I live and where is considered a temperate climate, can keep within these magic numbers for a single day and night.

Why is the temperature such a big deal? The hair of a guinea pig is no thicker than the hair on a human head. And as we all know from being made to wear hats in the autumn and winter as small children, that hair doesn't keep you very warm! On top of that, guinea pigs lack the ability to sweat, meaning that when they heat up they have no physical way of cooling themselves down again. The death rate of pigs kept outside in summer, or even left unattended in a run is sadly high.

Many people seem to think guinea pigs are equivalent to rabbits, "designed" to live outside, happier when close to grass and so on. Now, I can't speak for rabbits, but with guinea pigs being such a social animal, housing them outside is very unfair. They love to welcome you into their herd, they love to have soft comfy things to lie on, they love to have lots of space to run around in and do their "zoomies", and they love to hear you doing things about the house. The idea that they are outdoor animals, as you can no doubt guess from their desired temperature scale, is just silly. This only came about because of this link with rabbits, which can still be seen by the number of people that keep rabbits and guinea pigs together - terribly dangerous!

Indoor guinea pigs can have a spacious cage custom built around or over your furniture and storage. Indoor cages smell less without all that wood soaking up urine. Hutches do smell faster, and guinea pigs have much more sensitive noses than we do - they love to be clean. An indoor cage can be placed in a living room or other busy room and they will adjust their times of sleep to coincide with yours and your working hours. They will get excited and greet you even when they don't want fed. They will follow you around the room, come to fetch you from another, and most importantly of all, from all this observation you can spot illnesses far more quickly.

Guinea pig care and medical knowledge has improved drastically in the last 10 years, even in the last 5 years. Library books and vets are out of date, even the animal welfare organisations that bend over backwards for larger animals are failing smaller animals, including guinea pigs.

Just ask yourself this. Would you keep your cats or dogs in wooden boxes in your garden?

Guinea Lynx, Cavy Spirit, and Guinea Pig Cages all advocate indoor guinea pig living. Doing a search on any of the forums will provide you with plenty of the sad stories of illness and death that have befallen outdoor guinea pigs, on a far bigger scale than any of the illnesses we all sadly come across in any guinea pig.

This is not part of some conspiracy, I and others are not in fact secretly guinea pigs with the power of typing seeking to bring all guinea pigs indoors so that we may take over the world. It is simply part of a revolution in pet care, of seeing guinea pigs as more than just animals we place in our garden in a box, but as family members, like our cats and dogs, who live in our family and who feel our love 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, while warm and safe in their comfy and spacious indoor cages.

I think we can all agree that when someone who is in a difficult position, such as a teenager living with parents, comes looking for help with what they can do, it is not helpful for this topic to rail road their comments of help every time. Help will always be given to those who need it, but recommending outdoor living regardless of circumstances goes against everything I and many other cavy slaves believe in. Guinea pigs deserve the best care, it's not more expensive, in some countries it might get you some funny looks, but it is the way of the future of guinea pig care. It is the care they deserve.

If you are interested in seeing examples of why indoor housing is part of modern guinea pig care and why outdoor living is frowned upon, please do read into it more :)

Here is a direct copy of some threads on Guinea Pig Cages to start you off :)

Dangers of Outdoor Housing:
Summer is Coming. Should You House Your GP Outside?
Outdoor vs Indoor
UK GP housed outside dies of heatstroke
GPs stolen from outdoor cage
2 GPs in outdoor cage killed by dog (on Animal Precinct)
HAWK, drops guinea pig in someone's yard
Violent thugs batter family pets to death
Thread about people breaking into outdoor hutches and sheds
2 guinea pigs stolen from outdoor shed
Guinea pig attacked by rats in shed
Magpies attacking GPs in their outdoor hutches
4 GPs dead. Cause is a suspected mouse infestation in shed and garden
Ant infested yard and hutches
Warning for those keeping animals outside
Guinea pigs stolen from "Cavy Sanctuary"
GPs stolen from outdoor garden
More Guinea pigs die of heatstroke
Guinea Pig Killed by Cat
Guinea Pigs Being Attacked by Cat

N.B. The bulk of the above stories are from the UK, partly because it is more common here than in almost any other country to still house guinea pigs outside. This is a "temperate" country for humans, not guinea pigs.

[x-posted from guinea_pigs after a good response there ^_^]
24th-Aug-2008 09:22 pm (UTC)
Not at all, please share as much as you can! :D
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