If you’re thinking about getting a guinea pig or two for yourself or a family member it is impeccable that you know how to look after guinea pigs the right way. There are many contrasting ideas to do with guinea pig care, but which ideas are best for your guinea pigs?
First of all, when you buy a guinea pig you shouldn’t start playing with him or her straight away – you need to give your new pet time to settle in after moving house. You should try to keep your guinea pig’s environment as stress-free and quiet as possible, particularly in the first few days. During this time you should try to get to know your guinea pig and give him or her lots of attention, but without ‘imposing’ yourself on the guinea pig.
You should talk to your new pet and try to handle him or her at least once a day, at first to get your guinea pig used to being handled by you. Guinea pigs are likely to be shy at first, but with time and patience you can win your guinea pig over and he or she will begin to trust you more and be more friendly.
Now, because guinea pigs are herd animals you should always buy more than one, ideally from the same litter or pet shop, provided the piggies have been together and know each other. This is a good way to prevent fights in the future, although this method cannot be relied upon. In general, two or three female guinea pigs are more likely to get on well together than a couple of male guinea pigs. You can keep mix-gendered guinea pigs together but unless they’ve been neutered you’re likely to end up with babies – and lots of them!
By keeping more than one guinea pig, they will be company for each other, and won’t get as bored when you’re out, as they can keep each other amused. You should provide guinea pigs with toys which are guinea pig-safe, which they can play with to decrease boredom.
Now lets look at the accommodation for your cavies. Guinea pigs can be kept in both hutches and cages. If you are going to keep your piggie outside then a hutch is best; indoor guinea pigs tend to live in cages. Whether you get a hutch or cage, the amount of space your pet has should be the same. The ideal size is 3 or 4 ft (length) by 2ft (width) by 18 inches to 2 ft (height). The length ideally should be around 4 times of the length of the guinea pig when he or she is fully stretched out. The floor of a hutch or cage should not be wire or mesh as your pet could get his or her foot caught and potentially break a limb, which could be fatal. Ensure that whichever hutch or cage you buy there is a section that will allow your pets to get some privacy. Your guinea pigs’ home should also be safe for your pet, and secure.
The type of bedding your piggie has will depend on whether he or she has a hutch or cage. Bedding materials suitable for hutches are: newspaper, shredded paper, sawdust or chippings and hay. Similarly for cages, bedding materials that can be used are shredded paper, newspaper, hay and sawdust or wood chippings and fleece liners that are specifically for pets.
Guinea pig food – one of the most important aspects of guinea pig keeping. Like the majority of pets, guinea pigs require food that’s specifically for them. Unlike most rodents, guinea pigs can’t make their own Vitamin C, so it needs to be in their food. If they don’t get enough they could contract diseases such as scurvy which can be life-threatening in some cases. Whichever type of dried or supplementary food you feed your cavies, ensure that it has vitamin C in it and that it’s been specifically designed for guinea pigs. Don’t feed rabbit food as it hasn’t got the correct nutrients and vitamins that guinea pigs require.
Your guinea pigs should also be fed a variety of fresh foods at least twice a week; foods such as carrots, broccoli, cabbage, small quantities of romaine lettuce or apple (no seeds), kale, celery, kiwi and beetroot are ideal, (beetroot will often stain your pig’s urine a pink colour for a while). Avoid foods such as cauliflower, iceberg lettuce, brussel sprouts and rhubarb as these can often give your pet diarrhea.
Limit the amount of sugary manufactured treats you feed your pets as these are often full of artificial colours and flavouring. Brown bread toast makes a good treat for guinea pigs as it also helps to ware down their permanently growing teeth. Sunflower seeds are also a favourite among guinea pigs.
Your guinea pigs should have a plentiful supply of fresh grass, quality hay and water available to them, as in the wild this is what their diet would be primarily made up of. Avoid feeding grass if it’s wet though, as this can cause upset tummies in some cavies. Water should be provided in a bottle or bowl and changed everyday.
Guinea pigs need regular exercise, preferably everyday. This can be in an outdoor run or an indoor pen. Whichever type of run your guinea pig goes in, it should be safe for your pet and hazard free.
Everyday you should check the health of your guinea pig. By grooming you pet you’ll be able to check him or her for any abnormalities, cuts and bruises. When guinea pigs are ill, they’ll try to hide any symptoms; for this reason it’s important to get to know your guinea pig very well, then when he or she acts a little differently to normal, you may be able to tell it something is wrong. If you do suspect your guinea pig is hurt or ill you should seek a professional opinion and advice from your vet.
© 2010, Guinea Pig Care and Information. All rights reserved. No part of this web site may be reproduced without written legal permission.