Guinea pigs are a good pet for a beginner or experienced pet owner. Follow these steps to purchase and care for your Guinea pig.
Purchasing a Guinea Pig
The first step is to look for a reputable breeder or pet store that specializes in selling guinea pigs and has a good reputation. Once you’ve accomplished this, look for a guinea pig that is active, has a shiny coat, and appears healthy. Avoid any guinea pig that seems lethargic or has any visible signs of illness. You’ll also need to purchase several supplies to make your guinea pig has an adequate home and the proper food.
Guinea Pig Care
To care for a guinea pig, follow these guidelines:
Provide a spacious cage (minimum of 7.5 square feet) with a solid bottom, and bedding material such as wood shavings or straw.
Feed your guinea pig a diet of hay, fresh vegetables, and a limited number of pellets. Avoid feeding them foods high in sugar and fat.
Always provide them with fresh water, either in a water bottle or a bowl. Change the water daily.
Give your guinea pig time outside of their cage to play and exercise. You should also consider purchasing tubes and other accessories that can be placed in their cage.
Regularly check your guinea pig’s health, including their eyes, ears, teeth, and fur. Consult a veterinarian if you notice any health issues.
Guinea pigs are social animals and do best in pairs or small groups. It’s okay to place 2 or more females together in a cage but don’t place 2 males in the same cage because it may lead to them fighting. Spend time with your guinea pig daily to keep them happy and healthy.
11 Fun Facts About Guinea Pigs
1. They don’t come from Guinea. In fact, guinea pigs originate from the Andes region of South America.
2. They are not related to pigs. Even though male guinea pigs are called boars and females are called sows, they are rodents. Their scientific name is ‘Cavia porcellus’, which is why they are sometimes referred to as ‘cavies’. The word ‘porcellus’ is latin for ‘little pig’. This name may have come about because of the pig-like squeaking noises they make.
3. Rabbits are Not Good Friends. It’s a popular myth that you can happily keep guinea pigs and rabbits together. Not only will rabbits bully guinea pigs, but they also have very different needs. Rabbits can also carry diseases which can be very harmful to guinea pigs.
4. They Love to Talk. While they enjoy human affection, guinea pigs need to be with others of their own kind and should always be kept in pairs or small groups. They communicate using several noises, including the well-known ‘wheek-wheek’ call – a sign of excitement or to find a friend – and a low ‘purring’ sound, which they make when they are feeling content and chilled out. They also emit a series of short ‘putt-putt’ noises when they are exploring.
5. They don’t sleep much. Although crepuscular creatures, who are most active during dusk and dawn, guinea pigs are awake for up to 20 hours of the day. This means they need constant access to food, water, companion guinea pigs, safe hiding places and toys to keep them occupied, as well as an exercise area with tubes to tunnel along, shelters to hide in and deep areas of hay to forage in and nibble on.
6. They can dance, sort of. When they are excited, guinea pigs can jump straight up and down, often turning 90° in mid-air, performing a slick little move known as ‘pop corning’.
7. They have weird toes. Guinea pigs have four toes on their front feet, but only three on their back ones.
8. They are fast learners. Baby guinea pigs are born with fur and their eyes open and are able to run when only a few hours old. At three weeks, babies are weaned, and they are fully mature in three months, although they will keep growing until they are around a year old.
9. They need vitamins. Guinea pigs are not able to make or store Vitamin C. Feeding good quality, grass-based guinea pig nuggets, which are high in fiber and Vitamin C and rich in nutrients, is the best way to ensure they’re getting everything they need, along with a small handful of leafy greens, such as dandelion, spinach, kale and broccoli. They also absolutely love sweet corn husks, they’ll eat the corn itself, but they prefer the husks.
10. They should eat lots of hay. Good quality feeding hay should be the main part of a guinea pig’s diet. As mini grazers, not only does this help their digestive system to work properly, gnawing on hay keeps their constantly growing teeth the right length.
11. They can live a while. With the right nutrition, suitable accommodation, company, care and kindness, guinea pigs can live for up to seven years.