Guinea pigs are tailless rodents that have long, short or wild hair. Their colors can vary. They are approximately 1-2 pounds when fully grown and can reach 8-10 inches in length. Guinea pigs live on average for around 5-8 years.
Guinea pigs are described as comical and cuddly. They love to chirp, chirp, and whistle. They are great pets and can be social animals.
Guinea Pig Care
Guinea pigs can be tough little animals that are easy to care for.
Guinea pigs are herbivores. GRASS HAY is their most important food, just like rabbits. Grasses are great for Guinea Pigs, as their teeth will grow throughout their lives and grass hays can be abrasive.
Good DIET for Guinea
The guinea-pig also gets nutrients from grases, including both digestible and indigestible fiber. Indigestible fiber helps keep the intestinal tract at a normal speed while digestible fiber allows the GI bacteria produce vitamins B and other amino acids. All grass hay, including timothy orchard brome, is suitable for feeding.
Avoid legume hays like alfalfa. They are too high in calories and calcium, as well as protein, for your guinea-pig. You can either place the hay in a hay feeder, or in the corner of your cage.
Guinea pigs cannot produce vitamin C themselves, just like humans. They need to be fed from outside to prevent scurvy. You should give your guinea pig fresh fruits and vegetables every day to prevent this from happening.
Vitamin C is found in dark leafy greens like kale, collard and mustard greens, and dandelion, but sweet peppers, pears, strawberries, and cucumbers are also good options. Your pig should be fed 1/4 to 1/2 cup of fresh food daily.
You can also give Guinea pigs PELLETS in small quantities, but ensure that they are Guinea Pig-specific pellets and not rabbit pellets. Other pellets don’t contain enough vitamin C, but Guinea Pig pellets do.
Also, make sure to read the label so you can choose a grass-hay-based pellet over an alfalfa-based one.
Pellets can cause guinea-pigs to gain weight. If they become overweight, adjust the amount of pellets you feed them. An adult guinea pig should not eat more than 1/4 cup of pellets per day. They should also eat unlimited grass hay and small amounts of fresh food.
Avoid feeding : Foods high in starch include beans, peas and corn, as well as cakes, cookies, cereals, grains, bread, and nuts. These foods can lead to a severe, potentially fatal, imbalance in the normal bacteria in the guinea-pig’s digestive tract.
It is vital that your guinea pig has clean, fresh food all the time. WATER: They have water at their disposal at all times.
Your guinea pig can find the sight, smell, taste and texture of their food to be mentally stimulating. They may also enjoy the sounds of food preparation which can give them a sense of joy for the future.
You can increase mental stimulation by placing fresh food or hay in paper towel rolls, paper towel rolls, nontoxic baskets, or small pieces of crumpled or folded paper. Pellets can be placed in small hollow plastic balls with holes on the sides.
First-Class HOUSING in Guinea
You can house your guinea pigs in wire, stainless steel or durable plastic enclosures. It is not recommended to use wood because it is hard to clean and easy to destroy by guinea pigs.
To promote air circulation, one side should be left open. It must be escape-proof and should not have sharp edges or other potential hazards for your Guinea Pig.
FLOORING : The enclosure can be made of wire or solid. Although wire flooring is more durable and easier to maintain, it can cause injuries to the feet, hocks, and legs. While solid flooring is more difficult to maintain, it is safer for your pet.
BEDDING : should be non-toxic, clean, absorbent, and dust-free. Wood shavings, shredded newspaper, ground corn cob, or commercial pellets are all acceptable bedding options.
Cedar shavings are not recommended as they can cause respiratory difficulties and liver disease in Guinea Pigs. Avoid saw dust as it can impair males.
The SIZE : Your guinea-pig enclosure should have a floor area of approximately 100 square inches per adult guinea. You can leave the enclosure open at the top.
However, the sides should be at least 10 inches high to prevent your pet from jumping out and causing injury. If the enclosure is opened, it is important to consider other pets in your household that could pose a danger.
The ENVIRONMENT : Your guinea-pig home should be quiet and away from any noises, excitement, or stress. Avoid direct sunlight and cold damp places. They are nocturnal and require quiet times of light to sleep. Guinea pigs thrive in cool, dry environments that have adequate ventilation.
Guinea pigs can be found in the following: SOCIAL Animals can be safely housed together so that more than one animal is allowed, even males and females. Although males can sometimes fight with females, they are usually fine to live together.
You should also consider that guineas pigs older and more dominant may chew on the ears and hair of their cage mates.
HANDLING for Guinea Pig
Guinea pigs can be handled easily. The guinea pig will usually approach if you place your hand in the cage. The guinea pig can be picked up easily. The one hand should hold the hind end, while the other holds the midsection.
To reduce the risk of dropping guinea pigs, it is best to use two hands when handling them. Although they rarely become aggressive, they can jump or attempt to run if they are not used to being handled.
Grooming and medical needs
Although guinea-pigs don’t require routine vaccinations, they are recommended to have an annual check and parasite inspection. A veterinarian with experience in the treatment of guinea-pigs is recommended to get utmost guinea pig care properly.
They should be familiar with conditions such as vitamin C deficiency, overgrown teeth, colds, pneumonia, bladder stones and infections. Consult a veterinarian immediately if guineas pigs seem drowsy, have a dull or bald coat, or are losing their hair.
Avoid giving your guinea pig medications that are not intended for cats or dogs.
Spaying and neutering
Spaying/neutering Guinea Pigs is a risky procedure that should only be performed by a vet with extensive knowledge and experience in guinea-pig care. We discourage you from sterilizing your pet. You can find more information about guinea-pig bonding on the internet.
Grooming Guinea pigs involves regular toenail trimming and ear cleaning.
Guinea Pigs : Diet Guidelines
Guinea pigs need unlimited amounts of fresh green grasshay (usually timothy). Alfalfa hay/alfalfa treats can be given to young guineapigs, pregnant or malnourished adults but should not otherwise be given.
Alfalfa is a common ingredient in guinea-pig pellets, which are high in calcium. Supplemental alfalfahay/alfalfa treats can cause bladder stones in some guinea-pigs.
Use pellets that are made for Guinea Pigs. A heavy bowl should not be tipped. Each animal should be fed approximately 1/4 to 1/2 c. daily of fresh pellets. Avoid foods that are high in seeds or nuts.
Adult guinea-pigs can choke on whole seeds and the fat content of such foods can make it difficult for them to eat. Always have fresh water available, and preferably in an easily accessible water bottle. Daily cleaning of water bottles and food bowls is necessary.
Vitamin C is essential for Guinea Pigs. Vitamin C in pellets can become diluted over time so it can be supplemented with liquid or powdered vitamin C.
For an average adult, the recommended daily intake is 30 mg. Liquid C is a liquid that can be purchased at most health/nutrition shops. It is pleasant tasting and easy to use.
You can eat fresh greens and vegetables in moderation. A large amount or too many vegetables can lead to diarrhea and other nutritional or digestive problems. You can give Guinea pigs parsley, bell peppers and romaine lettuce.
Avoid vegetables of the cabbage family (kale and broccoli) as they can cause serious conditions like bloat. Always thoroughly rinse fresh foods. Allow guinea-pigs to adapt slowly to any new food items by introducing small quantities.
Temperature and housing for Guinea Pig
It is best to use wire cages that have a solid (metal, plastic) bottom and are easy to remove for cleaning.
They can injure your pet’s feet and toes. A cage for one guineapig should measure at least 24 inches wide by 24 inches long, and at least 15 inches high.
A minimum of 24″ x36″ is recommended for guinea-pigs with more than one. A small house can be added inside the cage to provide a safe place for the guinea-pig when it is stressed or tired.
You can use a small cardboard box, or a commercially manufactured house that you find at your local pet shop.
Plastic tubs and aquariums are not recommended. They are often not big enough and do not provide adequate ventilation.
They also isolate the guinea-pig from its environment by reducing sight, sound, or smell. Jack Pine Guinea Pig Rescue*, Stacy, Minnesota, can help you find the right cage for your pet.
Bed Arrangement for Guinea Pig
Clean bedding is essential for the health and well-being of your Guinea Pig. You can use kiln-dried pine shavings or aspen for inexpensive bedding. You can also use straw/hay, but it is more messy to clean and less absorbent.
Recycled pelleted beddings are more expensive, but they are beautiful. Pine bedding and cedar bedding should not be kiln dried as the oils in wood can pose health hazards to guinea pigs.
Temperature for Guinea Pig
Except in tropical climates, a guinea pig should be kept indoors. Keep guinea-pigs in their housing clean and dry. The environment in which a guinea pig lives should be well lit, but not directly exposed to sunlight. It should also allow them to engage in daily human activities.
Exercise, playtime, and handling
Playtime and exercise
Your guinea pet will need to exercise regularly. A suitable-sized cage and time spent with you each day are key. Gym balls and exercise wheels are not recommended for guinea-pigs as they can cause injury to their spines, legs, or feet.
Picking up your Guinea Pig with both hands is a good idea. Guinea pigs can be easily hurt if they are dropped and may bite or nip if they are not handled properly. When handling guinea pigs, children should be closely observed.
Making new animal friends
Always supervise interactions with pets, including dogs and cats. A guinea-pig should never be left unattended when it is surrounded by a ferret, dog, cat, or other predatory animals.
Basics of Guinea Pig Bonding
Guinea pigs are social creatures. They need daily attention from their humans and/or other Guinea Pig buddies. Consider having two guinea-pigs to share the household’s company if everyone is away most of the day. Your buddy guinea pigs will make you happier and be more entertaining.
Special Diet Instructions
A well-balanced guinea pig diet consists of:
- High-quality guinea pig food, Timothy hay and limited amounts of vegetables and fruits.
- Require 30 to 50 mg of vitamin C daily from high-quality food, vitamin supplements or fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C.
- Clean, fresh, filtered, chlorine-free water, changed daily.
- Do not feed chocolate, caffeine or alcohol as these can cause serious medical conditions. Avoid sugar and high-fat treats.
Things to remember when feeding your guinea pig:
- Fresh food, Timothy hay and water should always be available.
- A limited amount of vegetables and fruits can be given daily, but should not exceed 10% of their total diet.
- Vegetables and fruits not eaten within 24 hours should be discarded.
Housing of Guinea Pigs
- Guinea pigs acclimate well to average household temperatures, not to exceed 80°F; be cautious of extreme temperature changes. The habitat should never be in direct sunlight or in a drafty area.
- A minimum 36″L x 30″W x 18″H escape-proof habitat with a solid surface area and plenty of room for exercise and play makes a good home for one guinea pig. It is best to provide the largest habitat possible.
- 1 to 2″ of bedding should be placed in the habitat; proper bedding includes high-quality paper bedding, crumbled paper bedding or hardwood shavings. Cedar-based products are not recommended.
- Guinea pigs may be kept in same-sex pairs if they are raised together; otherwise, keep adult guinea pigs housed separately. Different types of small animals should not be housed together.
Normal Behavior of Guinea Pigs
- Easy to handle; prefers a routine and similar time for playing, feeding and resting each day.
- Hides in objects, but will come out when people are near the habitat.
- Chew on objects to maintain all their teeth, which grow continuously; ensure they have plenty of chew sticks or mineral chews available.
Habitat Maintenance of Guinea Pigs
- Clean and disinfect the habitat and its contents at least once a week with a 3% bleach solution. Rinse and allow to dry completely before placing the guinea pig back into the habitat.
- Remove wet spots daily; change bedding at least twice a week, or more often as necessary.
Grooming & Hygiene
- Guinea pigs stay clean and rarely need baths, but can be spot-cleaned with a damp washcloth or unscented baby wipes if needed.
- Fur may be brushed with a soft-backed brush. Hairless guinea pigs benefit from a small amount of non-toxic aloe-based lotion rubbed onto skin to keep it soft.
- Guinea pigs need their nails clipped approximately once a month.
- It is normal for a guinea pig’s teeth to be yellow; cleaning is not necessary.
- Consult with a veterinarian if a guinea pig’s teeth or nails seem too long.
Health Overview of Guinea Pig
Signs of a Healthy Animal
- Active, alert and sociable
- Eats and drinks regularly
- Healthy fur and clear eyes
- Breathing is unlabored
- Walks normally
- Communicates by squeaking
- weight loss
- abnormal hair loss
- diarrhea or dirty bottom
- distressed breathing
- eye or nasal discharge
- skin lesions
- overgrown teeth
Common Health Issues
|Symptoms or Causes
|Loose stool caused by poor diet, stress, internal parasites, unclean housing or other illness.
|Consult with a veterinarian to determine cause and treatment.
|Consult with a veterinarian to have teeth trimmed regularly.
|External parasites that cause guinea pigs to lose patches of hair.
|Consult a veterinarian for treatment.