How to Choose and Care for Guinea Pigs
Sat, April 17, 2021

How to Choose and Care for Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs make popular pets among families because of their temperament, said Lianne McLeod of The Spruce Pets, a pet website / Photo by: Nattesha via Shutterstock

 

Guinea pigs make popular pets among families because of their temperament, said Lianne McLeod of The Spruce Pets, a pet website. They are sociable and can keep a daytime schedule, which can be a plus point for people. Guinea pigs also rarely bite even when stressed. 

Depending on their breed, guinea pigs have their own unique coat type and color patterns, added McLeod. The most common breeds of guinea pigs are the American (short, smooth hair coat), Abyssinian (short coats with “swirls), and Peruvian (long-haired). Hairless varieties are known as skinny pigs, with the breed sometimes being referred to as cavies or a cavy. 

Guinea pigs need a large cage and ample exercise as well as a healthy diet that provides adequate roughage and vitamin C. If you are considering getting a guinea pig, you need to learn the basics to make it healthy and happy. 

 

Choosing the Right Guinea Pig 

You can purchase a guinea pig from a pet store, but make sure that the staff are knowledgeable about the animals so that they can provide you a better insight into their care. You also need to house them in clean enclosures and handle your pets regularly. Be sure to look for stores that keep0 males and females separately or you will get a surprise litter. But the best option is to purchase one from a reputable breeder if you’re looking for a show-quality or pet-quality guinea pig and even a specific breed. A good breeder ensures that the babies are socialized well and handled from an early age. 

Would you believe that shelters also have guinea pigs? You could visit a local shelter to give a pig a second chance at life. The guinea pigs there might be skittish at first if they were not handled much when they were young. However, most of them will settle down in their new homes once a routine has been established. Regardless of the source, get a healthy, well-socialized, and easy to handle guinea pig. It should be healthy and alert. Its nose, eyes, and rear end should be clean and free of discharge. The fur should be soft and full. 

Its body should be firm and rounded. It’s best to stay away from a pig that is either overly skinny or overweight. Avoid a guinea pig that panics when handled, especially if the animal doesn’t relax quickly. However, don’t get a guinea pig that is overly calm or quiet since possibly, it is ill. Don’t forget to check its skin for flakes or redness. Look out for any sign of parasites such as lice, which are noticeable behind the ears in the bald area.

You can purchase a guinea pig from a pet store, but make sure that the staff are knowledgeable about the animals so that they can provide you a better insight into their care / Photo by: Erik Lam via Shutterstock

 

Behavior and Temperament

Guinea pigs are social animals. Hence, you should consider getting a same-sex pair so they have someone to socialize with. The best option is to get a pair of females as males may be prone to fighting, especially if they are not neutered. These animals may get nervous at first but they rarely bite. Generally, guinea pigs become tame when you handle them frequently. They are usually quiet but they can call out loudly and can be active both day and night. Yes, guinea pigs do make wonderful pets, but children should handle them gently.

 

Housing

Guinea pigs need a large cage to roam around. Luckily, it is easy to cater to their needs with a homemade cage. At a minimum, your pet’s cage should be two feet wide by three feet long. It should have adequate floor space. Guinea pigs tend to stay on the ground, unlike other rodents that climb and use vertical space. Avoid using a wire bottom cage since it can damage your guinea pig’s feet. Keep its enclosure away from windows to avoid overheating or drafts. Ensure that your pet’s housing is clean and you will need to have another small enclosure for your guinea pig to sleep in. You can play with it outside of its cage. 

Guinea pigs need a large cage to roam around. Luckily, it is easy to cater to their needs with a homemade cage. At a minimum, your pet’s cage should be two feet wide by three feet long / Photo by: Dev_Maryna via Shutterstock

 

Diet

Guinea pigs are herbivores. You can feed them with fresh hay and leafy vegetables. Their diet also needs to focus on tooth wear and vitamin C. For the latter, you need to provide your pet with vitamin C supplements. You will need to consult your veterinarian on how to achieve the right levels of vitamin C for your guinea pig. On the other hand, they need to wear down their teeth by consuming leafy vegetables and fibrous foods since their teeth constantly grow. Your pet’s diet should also consist of high-quality pellets. Guinea pigs also need access to clean fresh water. Water should be placed in a water bottle rather than a dish as it can spill or get contaminated. 

 

Health 

They may be hardy creatures but that doesn’t mean they are immune to sickness. The most common ailments of guinea pigs are diarrhea, scurvy, tumors, respiratory infections, urinary problems, and infestations by fungus, lice, or mites. Consult your veterinarian if your pet has any of these issues. 

Guinea pigs are popular and family-friendly pets. They come in different colors and patterns too. While they are sociable, be sure to handle them with care especially if you have children living in your house.