How should I care for my guinea pig?
Many Australians consider guinea pigs to be their first pet. They are the first animals they learn how to love and care for. Despite being a more low-maintenance pet than a dog or cat, guinea pigs still need the proper environment, food, and management to ensure they are healthy and happy.
Guinea pigs were originally herbivores who would spend time in small groups foraging and grazing. They need to chew a lot of roughage because their teeth are constantly growing. This wears them down and prevents serious dental problems.
To keep your guinea pigs happy and healthy, you should feed them plenty of these foods:
- Constant supply of grass or grass hay, such as Timothy, Oaten, and Barley. Hay that is available at all times should be of high quality, dry, and sweet-smelling.
- Daily, fresh leafy greens and herbs should be given to your dog. These include dark-leafed lettuce, Asian greens such as bok choy, marigold and borage, and dark-leafed lettuce. Some other foods to feed guinea pigs are broccoli, brussels sprouts, silverbeet, and apples without seeds.
- Vitamin C is a necessary dietary supplement for Guinea pigs, as they cannot synthesize it from food. Vitamin C-rich foods, such as capsicums and fresh green leafy vegetables, should be included in their daily diet. Vitamin C-rich foods like carrots and kiwifruit are great sources of Vitamin C, but they should not be consumed every day, as they contain a lot of sugar.
Be sure only to buy grass, herbs, and vegetables that are not sprayed with chemicals. Never feed your guinea pig lawnmower trimmings.
Small quantities of high-quality commercial “Guinea Pig” pellets (minimum 16 % fiber content) can be given, but they should not constitute the majority of the diet.
Guinea pigs should always have clean, fresh water available to them.
You should also be aware of what, and you shouldn’t feed your guinea pigs. Many items may seem harmless but could cause serious health problems. You should not provide guinea pigs any of the following (this list is not exhaustive): grains and nuts, seeds, corn, beans, peas, buttercups, garden shrubs, lilies, nightshade oak, avocados, onions, potato beans, beetroot mushrooms, foxgloves, rhubarb, or human food, such as chocolate, bread, biscuits or sweets.
Guinea pigs enjoy socialization and will be happier if kept with others. If possible, desex your guinea pigs, but in the event that this is not possible, keep two females and two males together to prevent unwanted breeding. Guinea pigs shouldn’t be kept with rabbits.
You should provide your guinea pigs with a safe, interesting, and varied environment. Guinea pigs need to feel safe and secure because they are prey animals. You can give them cardboard boxes, wooden boxes, or custom-made igloos.
Guinea pigs need a large enclosure with plenty of warm, dry, comfortable areas to hide and rest. Hay, fleece fabric, and shredded paper are all suitable bedding. Avoid using wood shavings or sawdust. Be sure to clean the hutch and remove any waste regularly.
Guinea pigs need mental stimulation and exercise as well.
- Give your guinea pigs plenty of space to play and run around.
- Forage for them.
- Create a variety of levels and areas that your guinea pigs can explore.
- Toys like balls and small stuffed animals are great for guinea pigs. To help them relax and wear their teeth down, give your guinea pigs chewing objects, such as cardboard boxes or safe wooden branches.
- Provide your guinea pigs with a safe outdoor space and allow them to graze.
Guinea pigs need to be handled from a young age. Handle them gently, firmly, and with care.
It is important to groom your guinea pigs, especially if they have long hair. Check the length of your guinea pigs’ toenails regularly and ask your vet to clip them as needed.
Guinea pigs can hide pain and illness well. Know your guinea pigs and their behavior. If they behave abnormally, this could be an indication that something is wrong. Please get in touch with your veterinarian immediately if this happens.
Guinea pigs are wonderful pets if they have all they need!
Visit our Knowledgebase Article to learn more about what guinea pigs require in order to stay happy and healthy.