We’ll tell you the how to take care of a guinea pig. Knowing what do guinea pigs need or how should you be taking care of guinea pigs is the most important first step to owning one of these popular pets. Before you even get your guinea pig, you should learn how to look after your guinea pigs so that you can provide the best possible care right from the start. Here are a few things that you should prepare before you bring your new friend home.
- Cage – Cages should be well-ventilated, well-built, and non-toxic. Be sure they have a solid bottom rather than a wire bottom which can hurt little guinea pig feet, and plenty of space. For a lone guinea pig, you will need at least 6 square feet of space. For a pair of guinea pigs, you will need 8 square feet. Read everything you need to know about guinea pig cages.
- Bedding – This will catch droppings and provide cushion and bedding material for your cavies. Be sure to select a soft, absorbent, non-toxic bedding. NEVER choose pine or cedar shavings as they are toxic for guinea pigs and the dust can cause breathing problems. Read everything you need to know about guinea pig bedding.
- House – Guinea pigs love having a place that they can hide in, so be sure to provide them with a house that they can hang out in. The house should be big enough for them to easily go in and out of, and should be made of non-toxic materials as guinea pigs do love to chew on their homes. Get a tunnel for you piggie to hide in.
- Water Bottle – To keep your guinea pigs hydrated and happy, provide them with a large-sized small animal water bottle. There are a wide variety of options, but the normal ones with the balls at the end work just fine.
- Food dishes – For their pellet food and fresh veggies, you will need a sturdy, non-toxic bowl that is large enough to fit their food but small enough that they don’t decide to climb in and use it as a bathroom. Guinea pigs are notoriously messy eaters, so ceramic bowls are best as they are heavy enough to not tip over during meals.
- Hay rack – These can go on the outside of a cage and are meant to hold their hay. Be sure to pick one that is non-toxic and sturdy so it will last.
- First Aid Kit – Like all animals, guinea pigs occasionally get hurt or will require some minor medical interventions on your part, so be sure to have a small kit ready just in case. The kit should include toenail clippers (human baby or cat ones work well), mineral oil, cotton swabs, and special pet shampoo.
- Carrier – Having something to transport your cavy in is important if you need to take them to the vet. In a pinch, a small cardboard box will work, but having a small cat carrier is much more comfortable for them and easier for everyone.
You should also make sure that you have food, bedding, hay, and vitamin C supplements before your guinea pig arrives. Many people choose to keep plastic bins of food and bedding near the guinea pig’s cage so that everything is neat and together. Once you bring your furry friend home, you can begin to care for them.
Guinea Pig Care Guide
While guinea pigs are not overly difficult to care for, there are a few important things that you need to do in order to make sure that they are happy and healthy. If you do notice any changes in your guinea pig such as they are not eating or drinking or they are not as vocal or active as normal, take them in to see a small animal veterinarian as soon as possible. The sooner you take them in, the sooner the problem can be treated and the better chance they have at making a full recovery.
Guinea pigs are foragers which means they need to be eating constantly for their stomachs to work properly. However, because pellet food is so high in fat, it is actually dangerous to their health to allow them to munch on it freely all day. Instead, they need to be given hay freely which they can munch on all day. Guinea pigs under 6 months and pregnant females should get alfalfa hay whereas all other guinea pigs need to get timothy hay.
Pellet food should be limited to once or twice a day feedings. The average-sized guinea pig will only need 1/8 cup every day. You can make minor adjustments if your guinea pig is exceptionally large or small. Fresh fruits or vegetables should also be given every day. Be sure to give a variety of these leafy greens and special treats, keeping in mind that too much can make them sick.
Fresh fruits and vegetables for guinea pigs:
– apples (no seeds)
– arugula lettuce
– beets (leaves and fruits)
– cabbage (red, green, or savoy)
– cucumber (with peel)
– dandelion greens
– lettuce (boston, butterhead, romaine, but NEVER iceberg)
– melon (honeydew, casaba, or watermelon)
– pumpkin (fruit and leaves)
– squash (summer or winter)
– sweet potatoes (fruit and leaves)
– tomatoes (just the fruit)
– turnip greens
As with all animals, make sure your guinea pig always has access to unlimited fresh water. Be sure to change out the water when replacing it so that you’re no leaving the old water in the bottle. Bottles may occasionally require washings in which case be sure to use a very small amount of a gentle soap and rinse it extremely well.
Vitamin C is an essential vitamin that guinea pigs do not naturally produce in their body, so you have to provide it for them through supplements. While many of the fruits and vegetables do have vitamin C in them, it’s best to provide your guinea pig with supplements to be safe. Avoid the ones that you can buy at the pet store in treat form as these often contain large amounts of sugar as well. Instead, buy vitamin C supplements at any pharmacy, break them into smaller pieces, and feed them to your cavies as treats. Most guinea pigs will eat them right up.
Guinea Pig Care Tips for First Time Owners
This guinea pig care sheet would help the first time owners immensely. Once you have their physical needs met, if you want your guinea pig to be truly happy, then it’s time to meet their social and emotional needs. Guinea pigs are highly social animals, and usually require at least an hour of human interaction every day to be happy. This is why most guinea pig experts highly recommend getting two guinea pigs so that they can keep each other company. Just be sure to get two of the same gender, or you will soon find yourself having more guinea pigs than you wanted.
Guinea pigs are also very nervous animals as they are prey animals in the wild. Keep their cage somewhere quiet where there’s not as much activity in the house so that they can relax and don’t get over-excited. If there are a lot of visitors and you sense your guinea pig is getting nervous, allow them to return to their cage where they can hide and feel safe.
Because guinea pigs are gentle, quiet, and easy to care for, they make great pets for both children and adults. When it comes to children, social time should always be monitored by an adult to be sure that the children are treating the guinea pig properly. Guinea pigs that get too nervous or are held too tightly or uncomfortably may bite to express their discomfort or fear.
If you are ever unsure about anything with your guinea pig or aren’t sure how to care for guinea pigs, be sure to take some time to read the guides and other resources related to guinea pigs, so that you can continue to provide the best care and the best environment for your pet.
If you were asking yourself, are guinea pigs easy to take care of ? I hope you’ve found your answer. If you’ve got any doubts or queries please contact us.
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