Guinea Pig Care
Guinea pigs originally came from South
America. They’re larger than hamsters, but
smaller than rabbits. They generally live for
five to seven years, and are very sociable
The various breeds of guinea pigs include
Abyssinian, Abyssinian Satin, Peruvian, Peruvian
Satin, Silkie (Sheltie), Silkie Satin, Teddy,
Teddy Satin, Texal, American, American Satin,
White Crested and Coronet. There are a wide
variety of different hair types, colors and
Guinea pigs make wonderful companions. They
bite only when very frightened, usually from
such things as mishandling or fear of a
threatening animal. Children caring for guinea
pigs should always be supervised by an adult,
since these animals need to be treated gently.
They are not toys. Primary responsibility should
be with the parents. One of a guinea pig’s most
endearing traits is his tendency to whistle when
excited by someone coming into the room or
offering a special treat.
The minimum space recommended for a single
guinea pig is 2’ x 2’ x 2’. More space must be
provided for any additional guinea pigs.
Wire-bottom cages can be used if something is
put down as flooring to keep the guinea pig’s
feet from getting caught in the wire bottom.
Never use a glass aquarium, due to the poor
ventilation that it provides. Always keep the
cage indoors away from drafts and extreme
temperatures. The bottom of the cage should be
lined with wood shavings or some other form of
safe bedding. Do not use cedar or pine chips—the
oils they contain can be dangerous to the
animal. Timothy hay is a good choice of bedding.
Be sure to change the bedding often enough to
keep it dry and odor-free. It is possible to
train a guinea pig to use a litter box, but the
process is a slow one and a great deal of
patience is required.
Guinea pigs love to hide when they play, so
be sure to place cardboard tubes and/or empty
coffee cans with smoothed edges in the
enclosure. Guinea pigs can be allowed to run
free in one room to get some additional
exercise, but the room should be carefully
checked for any openings from which the guinea
pigs can escape, get lost and possibly end up
hurt. These animals must be supervised when they
are loose because they will chew on anything in
their paths— including electrical wires.
It is essential for you to provide your
guinea pig with enough vitamin C. A quarter of
an orange will meet her recommended
requirements, and you can also offer other
high-C foods such as kale and strawberries.
Guinea pig pellets are supplemented with vitamin
C, but rabbit pellets are not. Therefore, it is
best to buy only guinea pig food.
You can give your guinea pig small amounts
of fresh fruit and vegetables to complement his
or her basic diet, but always make sure to clean
up any leftover fresh food before it spoils. The
ASPCA also recommends that you make grass hay
available to your pet. It’s great for the
digestive system, and will satisfy your pet’s
need to gnaw. Fresh, clean water should be
available at all times. Use an inverted bottle
with a drinking tube, and change the water
Guinea pigs’ teeth grow continuously, just
like those of all other rodents. So, it is
important for you to give your guinea pig a
piece of wood that he or she can gnaw on to wear
his or her teeth down. It’s best to provide a
tree branch that has not been treated with
pesticides or any other chemicals, but any small
piece of unpainted wood that hasn’t been treated
with chemicals will do.
Guinea pigs are very conscientious about
grooming themselves, but brushing them on a
regular basis will help keep their coat clean
and remove any loose hairs. Long-haired guinea
pigs should be brushed daily in order to prevent
tangles and knots from forming.
Guinea pigs are social animals who prefer to
live in small groups. If necessary, two young
males generally can be kept together, but
fighting usually breaks out among adult males.
Several females can be kept together without
problems, however. Since guinea pigs, like all
rodents, multiply rapidly, keeping males and
females together is not recommended.
A guinea pig who is ill should be seen by a
veterinarian as soon as possible.
Article courtesy: The American
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Printed with permission.
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