Guinea pigs needs daily exercise and interaction, and they can only get this by being taken out of their cage and given a larger area to explore. Many people simply let their pets run around the on floor, but this can sometimes be hard work, particularly if you have more than one pig, as you need to constantly watch them to make sure they don't go anywhere they shouldn't. A guinea pig playpen can solve this problem by providing your cavies with a safe and secure area to play in.
The playpens discussed here are designed mainly to be used inside, with occassional outdoor use. If you intend to let your pets run around outside on a regular basis (such as during the summer months), then you should consider a dedicated outdoor run instead of, or as well as, an indoor playpen.
Most guinea pig playpens consist of a metal cage which is covered with an epoxy coating to prevent rust and to protect your pigs from any sharp corners. This cage is usually circular in shape, with open ends top and bottom, and a hinged door in the side to allow easy access to your pets.
Playpens often come with a plastic panel which can be used as either a base for your pigs to run on, or as a cover to go on top. This can be particularly useful if you have other pets, as you can use the cover to stop them getting into the playpen and attacking your cavies.
Although they are similar in many ways to outdoor runs, indoor playpens are generally taller and don't take up quite as much floorspace. This makes them easier to use indoors, where space is often at more of a premium than outside on the grass.
Most playpens can be folded flat for easy storage. This is ideal if you don't have much space, or if you simply want to keep it out of the way when it isn't being used.
Generally you won't need to perform much cleaning, but it's very easy to do if required. The bars simply wipe clean, and the base/cover can be detached and wiped down, or washed more thoroughly if it is still dirty. If you use chemicals when cleaning, be sure to use animal-friendly products which won't cause irritation, and be sure to wash each item thoroughly to remove all traces.
If your pets are going to be in their playpen for a long time, you need to provide them with food and water. The simplest solution is to transfer their food bowl and water bottle from their cage to the playpen, or you can buy a second set of items to save you having to move them from one to the other and then back again.
To provide extra stimulation, you could place a selection of toys and obstacles in the playpen. However, don't go overboard - although these toys are entertaining to humans, guinea pigs actually get more enjoyment from simply running around, so give them plenty of room to do so.
If you have young children, their guinea pigs' playtime can be very stressful for you - not only do you have to watch the pigs, you also have to watch what your children are doing! A playpen can take some of this stress away, by looking after the guinea pigs for you while you concentrate on what your kids are doing. Rather than having to deal with all of their pigs at once, you can get them out to stroke one at a time.
A guinea pig playpen is a great way to let your pigs exercise in safety and comfort. You will also find playtime less stressful and more enjoyable, as you can spend less time keeping an eye on your cavies, and more time playing with them.