Guinea Pig Care

guinea-pig-careThere is a lot more to guinea pig care then people realize and it is VERY important that when purchasing a guinea pig, you don’t underestimate their needs. I have had a lot of people ask me about their care lately and what they need. I decided to sum this up for you in a nutshell!

For the first time owner, there are a few things that you need to be aware of. First of all. Guinea pigs are not “easy” to care for. In fact, they have a lot more NEEDS then your average pet. A bit like fish! -First you think they are wonderful “beginners pets” then you realize that they need to have the temperature monitored, filters, phd and water testing equipment. Before you know it, you have taken on a larger task then was anticipated! Obviously guinea pigs aren’t exactly the same as fish, but they do have a few special needs…

Cage

guinea-pig-care-1Not many people realize that guinea pigs actually have to be inside. Not outside in an itty bitty hutch where they can freeze, over heat or be eaten by predators. Personally, I have never had a guinea pig that survived living outside. And I live In New Zealand where the temperature is quite mild and the predators are fewer! The bitter truth is there. They will get Upper respiratory infection if the temperature drops, which can be deadly. URI comes on suddenly and if not noticed immediately, it can deteriorate rapidly.

Then there is just the opposite! Heat stroke! Guinea pigs have a similar body temperature to ours, but they cannot sweat. So many people have left their pigs in the baking sun and come back to find them dead. It is very sad, but if you live in a climate with soaring or freezing temperatures, you MUST supervise your guinea pis outside.

Keeping guinea pigs outside only works if you have a pet-shed or a chicken coop that is the right size. The temperature must be monitored and the appropriate warm bedding and heating pads provided in cold weather. In cold weather make sure they are kept cool in a shady place and that their water bottle is kept cold.




Nevertheless, guinea pigs are a lot of fun to have indoors! Here is why…

  • You can decorate the cage however you like
  • Your guinea pigs become part of the family
  • Because they are with people all the time, they become very friendly!
  • They don’t smell as long as the cage is cleaned
  • They don’t bite (rare is the biting guinea pig)
  • They aren’t particularly loud and their noises are super cute!

I won’t go into detail about cages because this is a summary, but c&c cages are the absolute best! Read more about them here!




Diet

guinea-pig-care-2We covered diet pretty thoroughly in the diet section, but here it is. The most important aspect of guinea pig care. Many guinea pigs have died from malnutrition and poor diet.

They MUST have…

1 cup of high vitamin c veggies a day (per pig)

1/8 cup of recommended Oxbow pellets

Unlimited hay

A water bottle

Things to consider when buying a guinea pig

  1. Please try to adopt from a rescue or find an unwanted guinea pig listing near you! So many hundreds of guinea pigs are sitting in shelters and need a home! At the time of writing, the Palace Piggies Rescue has over 300!!! I have an extensive list of guinea pig rescues so if you want to see if there is one near you, please drop a comment below and I will get back to you!
  2. Pet shops are not the place to find information on care. Sometimes the staff only care about the sale of their pets and not about their health. They sell a lot of treats that are bad for guinea pigs and toys that are very dangerous. Guinea pigs can get their heads stuck in wire hay racks, break or damage their spines on harnesses and exercise balls.
  3. Are you the carer or are they for your children? Lots of children get bored pretty quickly and you may end up being the primary caregiver! Are you prepared for this?
  4. Do you have anything set aside for vet care? You may want to put aside $5 a week for any emergency expenses.
  5. Are you prepared to groom your guinea pigs and check them over? Each week perform a regular health check -weigh your guinea, -check ears for wax buildup, -clean the grease gland at the base of the tail if it needs cleaning and brush them regularly.

guinea-pig-care-3

Playtime

Guinea pigs should have an hour of playtime in an enclosed area or secure room every day! Can they roam free range around the house? Only if your prepared to either put up with the mess or undertake the painstaking task of potty training them! Plus move all the cords out of reach and block off spaces behind and under furniture!

Some people have one room for free ranging which is easier then the whole house! Potty training is very possible, but it takes consistency and patience. It is not as easy as a dog or a cat.

Guinea pig care takes a lot of initial set up and planning, but once you have all these things in place, you are free to enjoy your wonderful pets! Just remember- Guinea pigs aren’t the “put me in a cage and leave me” type of animal. They need love, care and attention.

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Health!

While the correct housing, diet and amount of exercise will help your guinea pigs to live long, healthy, happy lives, there are still a few things that you will need to do to ensure that they are comfortable.

1) Clip their nails once every two weeks. Just like us, piggies need their pedicures too! If they are getting lots of space to run around in then they will wear down their nails a little bit, but they do need to be clipped or at least checked. If they are not attended to, their nails will continue to grow and curl around becoming very uncomfortable and hazardous if they were to catch on something.

guinea-pig-care

2) Check them over everyday. Feel for lumps and bumps under the skin, look for sores or hair loss and any other signs that something is wrong. Guineapigsforever.com/my-guinea-pig-is-sick

3) Clean the grease gland once every three weeks: how to clean your guinea pigs grease gland

4) Weigh them once a week to monitor their weight. Weight loss is a serious sign.

 

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13 thoughts on “Guinea Pig Care

  • May 25, 2016 at 6:54 am
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    You mentioned that they were not loud, however my cousin had one when we were younger and I spent the summers having sleepovers in her room… I remembered her was loud, she even named it Squeaker! Did she just have a particularly vocal one, or is there times that they can be loud?

    Reply
    • May 27, 2016 at 9:43 pm
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      Well, there will always be exceptions to that rule! Some people manage to keep their guinea pigs in their bedrooms but most find that it is annoying listening to the water bottle rattling. I’ve never heard of people being unable to sleep for squeaking!

      Reply
  • May 25, 2016 at 12:08 pm
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    Oh wow! I didn’t know there were so many things to consider when owning a Guinea Pig! That might be why there’s so many in rescue shelters like you mentioned. I’ve had rabbits, dogs, cats, birds, gerbils, hamsters, hedgehogs, and fish throughout my life but I never had a guinea pig before.
    You said the best place to get one is from a rescue shelter. Do you have to pay like you do at pet stores or are they free?

    Reply
    • May 26, 2016 at 1:20 am
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      Hey Andy
      Yes you are spot on! Most people don’t realize that guinea pigs require a bit of looking after and this is why they end up in the shelters. A lot of rescues get their guineas altered to prevent anybody breeding them, so the fees are a lot higher then the pet shop. I personally think that they are worth the extra cost! Plus it helps the shelter out as well πŸ™‚
      -Emma

      Reply
  • November 8, 2016 at 10:01 pm
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    Hello Emma
    I am so glad you have written about guinea pigs. I have seen too many that are housed in cages that are not suitable. They are so often wanted as pets but once the novelty wears off they are neglected.
    These are smart little animals and like all other pets deserve to be cared for correctly.
    I am planning on getting one from a rescue center for my niece. Before I do, I am going to educate her as much as possible on the correct care and treatment – she will be reading your site before she becomes the proud owner of a guinea pig!

    Reply
    • November 8, 2016 at 10:34 pm
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      How exciting! I am so glad that you are going to rescue! Guinea pig care is certainly challenging but they are a lot of fun! I hope your niece finds this site helpful!

      Reply
  • November 8, 2016 at 10:02 pm
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    What a great article. I have only owned cats or dogs as pets, but after reading your post, I am thinking of going to a rescue center near me to see about adopting a guinea pig. I agree that they should never be outside due to weather and predators. Do you know where some good rescue centers are in the US for guinea pigs? You mention potty training a guinea pig is possible, would love to hear more about how.

    Reply
    • November 8, 2016 at 10:32 pm
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      HI Stephanie! Thank you for your comment on my article on guinea pig care. There are actually quite a lot of rescues in the US as you can see from the rescue locator!

    • http://guineapigsforever.com/rescue-locator
    • Crazy Cavies
      Foggy Creak
      Cavy House
      LA guinea pig Rescue
      Orange Country Cavy Haven
      Cavy World Guinea Pig Rescue
      Piggie Poo Rescue
      Cavy Care INC
      Second Chance Cavy rescue
      Eve Marie’s guinea pig rescue
      Piggie Place
      Metropolitan Guinea Pig Rescue
      This Little Piggy
      Critter Coral Rescue
      Knoxville Guinea pig Rescue
      Whistle Ridge
      Have A Heart guinea pig rescue
      Wheek Care Guinea Pig Rescue
      Peninsula Guinea Pig Rescue
      The Critter Connection
      Piggyville
      Atlanta Metro guinea pig rescue
      Texas Rustlers
      Second Chance cavy rescue
      Rescuedguineapigs.com
      Oswego County guinea pig rescue
      CJ’s Cavy Caves
      Cavy Spirit

      Potty training not easy but there are some ways that you can minimize the mess! Put the litter trays in dark corners of the cage. Guinea pigs like to go where they feel safe. Provide hay as the litter because they will spend hours sitting in it eating the hay! Feed them in their toilet corner to encourage them to go πŸ™‚
      I hope that you manage to find a rescue near you! Getting accepted for adoption is not always easy so make sure you read the guidelines on the website and find out as much as you can before buying!

      Reply
  • November 8, 2016 at 10:50 pm
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    Thanks so much for sharing all of this information. We haven’t gotten any guinea pigs yet, but have been researching them, and your article was very helpful. Can you tell me, please, how they do in a home with cats? Although we’d be keeping the cats away from them, I’m wondering about things like allergies from dander in the home, especially since you mentioned they can get upper respiratory infections. Thanks for the help!

    Reply
    • November 8, 2016 at 11:15 pm
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      In my experience, since we have two cats, both can get very used to each other being around. Our Tika is always clambering onto the windowsill and rubbing against the cage! Sometimes she even sneaks a cheeky paw through the bars, but my guinea pigs just move away calmly and aren’t bothered πŸ™‚ Guinea pigs can get pretty “boring” for cats pretty quickly so don’t worry!
      As for allergies, I’d be more concerned about the humans then the guinea pigs! Some are allergic to pets for that reason but I’ve never heard of guinea pigs getting allergies from dander, so don’t worry πŸ˜€

      Reply
  • November 8, 2016 at 11:32 pm
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    Great tip about shelters versus pet stores! I never even considered that. Shelter’s may not seem as sexy and a glamorous as a “pet shop” in conversation, but I think anymore anything “gritty, natural and careful” are ironically quite trendy.

    I, for one, would like to know what I’m getting. When it comes to pets, I especially need to know what I’m getting into and able to talk to someone who’s knowledgeable about the my chosen pet. It does no one any good when both caregiver and customer know nothing about the animal in question, and I think that’s the case with “pet shops” a lot of the time. If I were a teen or college student working part-time at the pet shop, I’d likely apply and be hired for my “willingness”, age and work experienceβ€”NOT my expertise lol Sad truth to consider.

    Reply
    • November 8, 2016 at 11:49 pm
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      I agree πŸ™ Sadly the higher up the ladder you go, the less people seem to care about animal welfare. Often it is the lowly staff in the pet stores who want to make things better but don’t have the authority πŸ™

      Reply
  • November 8, 2016 at 11:37 pm
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    Hi there I just finished reading your article I really loved it looking forward for more articles thanks for the information.

    Reply

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