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About Us

About US is about YOU, too. Because it's the grass-roots acceptance of bigger cages for guinea pigs that has helped make the site and the ideas a success. Congratulations to you and please keep up the good work! Guinea pigs everywhere are thankful.

Teresa Murphy, Founder, Cavy Spirit (Guinea Pig Rescue and Adoption)

Making a C&C cage during the Hollister rescue

Teresa, measuring for a C&C cage during the Hollister rescue.

Cavy Spirit is a guinea pig rescue in San Mateo, California. Since 1999, approximately 1000 guinea pigs have been rehomed directly or indirectly through our rescue. The vast majority of them have needed transitional homes either in our rescue home or foster homes or other temporary locations.

We needed a cage design that was:

bulletinexpensive
bulletprovided significantly more space than the pet store cages
bulleteasy to reconfigure: expand, reduce, resize
bulleteasy to replicate
bulleteasy for adopters to buy or build
bulletattractive, so adopters would want to provide proper caging
bulletattractive, so adopters would want to adopt our cavies!
bulleteasy to clean and maintain
bulletsafe for the guinea pigs

Cavy Spirit Cage Evolution

We started with the cage that our inherited first guinea pig came with, a small metal cage with a metal pan. Then we moved up to an expensive SuperPet cage, the biggest and best we could find at the stores. Then as our guinea pig count grew, we bought more SuperPet cages and hacked the sides down and linked them together. That was very expensive, messy, and hard to clean.

Then we moved to a large, molded kiddy swimming pool. That large pool sat on top two 8-foot folding work tables that we placed next to each other lengthwise in our dining room. Next we added a three-level SuperPet cage at the outside end of the swimming pool and connected them with a large ramp. At that point, enough was enough and we decided to come up with our own, new design. We went to TAP Plastics, a local plastics store that cuts and glues custom Plexiglas items for you. Just a simple, stripped down version of what we wanted was going to cost many hundreds of dollars, be very heavy, and not at all flexible.

Then, we decided to go with linoleum and Neat Idea Cubes. There were plenty of cage designs on the internet that used NIC (Neat Idea Cubes) designs, especially rabbit cages. We made quite a few linoleum and cube cages. But, it wasn't easy. Linoleum was not an ideal material for a variety of reasons. (By the way, the Neat Idea Cubes - NIC - was a brand name of the grids that are no longer available for sale.)

How we came up with C&C Cages!

Then we remembered an obscure web page that talked about Coroplast -- BC SPCA. This page has been revised since we first found it years ago. It's really become even more obscure and hard to find and no longer mentions the brand name Coroplast. But at the time, we finally decided to search out this strange new material and give it a try. That's how we came up with combining Cubes and Coroplast. We prefer our version of creating the box over the one presented by the SPCA site. It's more stable and secure (and easier to assemble). But a definite big thanks to the person who came up with that and thanks to the SPCA in British Columbia for sharing it.
 

Fighting the Status Quo

Cage sizes traditionally quoted are either 2 sq feet or 4 sq feet for the first pig, and an additional 1 or 2 sq feet per additional pig. However, at the Cavy Spirit rescue, we have found that this size cage is far too small for a pet guinea pig. The larger the cage the better. Over the years, we have observed significant changes in behavior of guinea pigs when moved from the traditional, so-called "large" pet store cage to the truly larger Cubes and Coroplast cages. Their change in behavior is analogous to being "released from jail." Activity levels increase dramatically. They walk, trot, pop, and run laps. We use the larger pet store cages for quarantine, very temporary housing, or hospitals. You can also recycle an existing pet store cage as a transport or vacation stay cage.

A piggy won't die in a too small cage unless it is so small it is abusive. But, unless one takes a guinea pig out regularly and frequently for free-run time (not just lap time), the guinea pig may cease to be happy and healthy. Even with the best of intentions to provide regular floor time, we are easily derailed in our busy and ever changing lives. In addition, guinea pigs like to exercise and run around on their own body clocks, not at our convenience.

Why are the cage sizes commonly quoted too small? First, the quotes have been so pervasive, they have become conventional wisdom--generally accepted guidelines--but with no reasoning or justification to back them up. Why are they generally accepted? Because that is what the experts and professionals in the books say. In addition, many internet sites, large and small, pick up the recommendations to add to their "care" information. Once you buy a cage, you want to believe that you've done the right thing, especially when you've invested a good sum of money. Let's look at the "professionals" and see how this standard came about. 

First, there are the labs--the big professionals! The cage manufacturers that supply the labs sell cages that are 1 sq foot for 1 adult guinea pig. That's 12 inches by 12 inches--for their entire life. While lab cages don't really have a bearing on pets, you should know what the rock bottom minimum is for keeping an animal alive. 

Now, let's move up to the breeders. Regardless of the intent of the breeder (to supply labs, pet stores, cavy fanciers, or sometimes all three), most breeders do not have a lot of room for large cages. They do not house guinea pigs as pets. Yet, who do most people look to as the experts on everything cavy? The breeders. Who writes most of the books about cavies where "proper cage sizes" are espoused? The breeders. But large cage sizes increase cost in direct expenses, labor, and maintenance. Few breeders are motivated to increase their cage sizes. 

Where are many of the popular cavy books sold? At the pet stores. Pet stores sell cages. They sell cages that are easily mass produced, shipped, and stocked on the shelves of the average pet store. There are many examples of popular cavy books that are authored by breeders and published by companies that distribute the books in pet stores. Most of the books have photos of typical pet store cages and recommend the cage sizes to match.

A larger cage gives your cavy a happier and healthier life. And if you can support a cageless environment where the piggies have the run of a room or big area in the home, that is even better! Try it out and let us know how your guinea pigs like the larger setup. Photos of your cages are always welcome!