Guinea Pigs make fantastic pets for both young and old. They are fun, full of character and really enjoy being handled. They rarely bite or scratch which make them ideal first pets.
Guinea Pigs do like to have company. Male guinea pigs are happy to be together as long as introduced at a young age and females tend to get along whatever their age.
Single guinea pigs tend not to be as happy, so preferably at least two guinea pigs should be kept together at all times.
Lifespan- approximately 5-7 years.
As with any pet the bigger the cage the better. Guinea Pigs are happily housed indoors or outdoors.
A hutch similar to the above is ideal to house 2-4 guinea pigs. It can be moved from grass to concrete or can be permantly housed in the same place.
The advantage of grass is, guinea pigs love to eat it and it is very good for them. Disadvantage is it can get muddy and wet in winter, which isnt good for their feet or coat.
The advantage of concrete is it keeps their claws trim and is easy to clean.
You can also get hutches with solid bases, which are also fine to house guinea pigs.
It is essential wherever the hutch is housed is draught free and has shelter from the rain, wind etc. In winter it is advisable to cover over with plastic or sheeting as guinea pigs arent as hardy as some other rodents. Housing in a shed or unused garage in winter is also a good option. Do not house in a used garage as car fumes are dangerous to guinea pigs.
An indoor cage designed for rabbits or guinea pigs is ideal. They usually have a plastic base, which can be covered with a good woodshavings. There should be a house of some kind for the guinea pig to hide in.
Keep an indoor cage away from radiators and draughts.
Bedding- Woodshavings should be used on the bottom of the cage or hutch and then hay should be provided to both eat and to hide in. We dont recommend using straw as this can be quite sharp and hard and can injure guinea pigs eyes. Sawdust also shouldnt be used, as this can hurt eyes and cause breathing difficulties.
Cleaning- Guinea pig houses tend to need cleaning once a week. Spray with a good animal disinfectant and replace all bedding.
Toys and Play
There are many toys on the market for guinea pigs. Willow toys are ideal as they provide something good to chew and provide hours of fun.
Guinea Pigs love platforms, placing vegetables and fruit on top encourage them to exercise and stretch, building their muscles and stimulating them.
Have a good look in your local petshop, many things are suitable and there are some very good things on the market. Its a good idea to have a few toys and keep changing them to keep your guinea pigs stimulated and active.
Unlike other animals guinea pigs cant produce their own Vitamin C, so it is essential this is provided in their diet.
There are many complete guinea pig foods available in pet shops.
Museli- This is a food which has got many different ingredients in it. It is very nutritious, however guinea pigs can selective feed and if this is the case, this may not be the best option for your guinea pigs.
Pellets- Always use guinea pig pellets not rabbit. Guinea Pig pellets are basically the museli food crushed into a pellet. It has been designed to avoid selective feeding. Not all guinea pigs prefer this type of food, but it is ideal for guinea pigs that do selective feed.
Guinea Pigs need extra fibre in their diets to aid their digestion, so it is essential a good quality hay such as readigrass, timothy hay or excel grass is provided for them to eat. This can be easily put in a hay rack and is available in any good pet shop.
Fresh vegetables and fruit should be given at least three times per week. This is an essential part of a guinea pigs diet. Ensure it is fresh, do not use frozen and ensure if picking grass or dandelions it has not been sprayed with any nasties.
Guinea pigs favourites tend to be-
Dandelions, grass, broccoli, carrots, root beetroot, celery and cucumber (only in small quantities)
Do not feed-
Lettuce, parsnips, potato tops, tomato leaves or too much cabbage.
There are also many vitamin supplments which can be added to guinea pigs water available on the market. Also many treats- give these in moderation, however a small treat never hurt anyone!!
Lastly enjoy your guinea pigs!! Learn what they like best and if you feed at a particular time each day, they will start to talk to you frequently which is always lovely to hear!
This care sheet is advise we would give to any new owners. If you need any further advice on health issues or any questions at all please do contact us, we are happy to offer advice to any new or old guinea pig owners.