Guinea Pig Care Guide
Guinea Pigs are very sociable animals who are great pets. They are tame and easily handled and will usually live for 6 to 8 years. In the wild guinea pigs live in colonies so its best to give your guinea pig some non human company. Preferably you should keep guinea pigs of the same sex together or you will end up with plenty more guinea pigs than you bargained for! Usually you should keep 2 guinea pigs purchased at the same time together rather than introducing a young guinea pig into an older guinea pigs home.
Guinea pigs are great communicators and make a wide range of sounds from cat like purrs of contentment to an inquisitive range of squeaks when exploring. Unlike other small animals guinea pigs are not nocturnal so your guinea pig will keep roughly human hours of activity!
Guinea Pigs can come to enjoy being handled if they are socialised from a young age, they will literally purr like cats in your hands! When you first get your new guinea pig give it some time to get used to its new home. After a day or two you can start approaching it. Start by talking gently to your guinea pig so it becomes used to your voice. Stroke your guinea pig gently and as they become confident and used to you you can pick them up. Place one hand under the guinea pigs chest so that its feet are either side of you. Support it neck and back with the second hand.
Guinea Pigs, like, rabbits are ‘fibrevores’. That means that fibre is the primary constituent in their diet. You should put together a feeding plan for your guinea pig including good quality forage or herbage, a quality dry guinea pig food and treats, snacks and water. Hiding little stashes of food or treats around the cage keeps them entertained while you are away and simulates a natural environment.
You can house guinea pigs either inside or outside. Guinea Pigs can be kept outside all year but are better put into a shed during winter unless you have a dry warm hutch with a hutch cosy to keep them outside. When moving outdoor guine pigs into a garage for winter make sure that the room is well ventilated and has natural sunlight. The Guinea Pig cage should be placed out of direct sunlight and away from all sources of heat or draughts. Your hutch should be at at least a foot wide though and 5 times the guinea pigs length but as with most animal housing: the bigger, the better! The base of the hutch should be covered with woodshavings to give a moisture absorbing layer. Fill the sleeping area with bedding material but avoid straw as this can hurt your pet’s eyes. You should also provide your guinea pig with a run so that they can stretch their legs a bit. Move this run about so that the area is not overgrazed.
The key to keeping your guinea pig healthy is feeding him appropriately and cleaning out his home regularly. Because your guinea pigs teeth grow continuously you will need to provide gnaw sticks, mineral stones and toys for him to wear his teeth down on. Make sure that there is vitamin c in his diet. Like humans guinea pigs need vitamin c to stay healthy. You may also add a vitamin supplement to their drinking water.
A healthy guinea pig will be alert and chripy with a dry nose and , bright eyes and shining coat. If your guinea pig shows some signs of thinning fur or balding contact your vet. His dropping should be dry, firm pellets.