A Guide to Caring For Guinea Pigs
Though considered a delicacy in some parts of South America, guinea pigs have been a favorite pet for years in other parts of the world and are enjoyed more for their companionship than their meat. What makes these cute little critters such popular pets is partly just how easy they are to look after. Taking care of guinea pigs the right way is actually pretty simple when you know what you’re doing.
From what guinea pigs eat to the best ways of cleaning their homes, keep reading to learn everything you need to know about guinea pig care.
How Big do Guinea Pigs Get?
Part of what makes cavy care so simple is that these rodents don’t grow to be very big at all. The size they can grow depends on a few factors, like how long they live and whether they’re wild or not. Most guinea pigs, though, at full growth will be between 20 and 24cm. They reach their maximum length after around 18 months but this could happen sooner with a decent diet of fruits and vegetables, as well as some timothy hay for good measure.
How Long do Guinea Pigs Live?
Your guinea pig certainly won’t be around forever but it’ll outlive many other creatures of a similar size. For example, if you’re considering hamster care, you might prefer to go with a guinea pig since their temperaments are pretty similar to hamsters but they live quite a lot longer. Guinea pigs can live for up to eight years, depending on how well you look after them. In the wild, they’re known to live for only four years or so since plenty of other animals will eat them.
Guinea Pig Behavior
Providing a companion for your guinea pig is guinea pig care 101. They’re inquisitive animals and require some entertainment, usually in the form of another guinea pig. They can be good with humans but your friendship won’t be enough for them. As you probably know, though, they can be scared quite easily and often don’t like to be pestered, so giving them plenty of places to hide and seek shelter is essential. Without these conditions, your guinea pig will likely suffer as a result.
How to Hold a Guinea Pig
Firstly, not all guinea pigs like to be held so don’t force it. You may be able to warm them up to the idea but it won’t take a lot to stress them out. If you’re lucky enough and you’re able to hold them, making sure you do it the right way is key. Just let them get used to you first and don’t be nervous, as your guinea pig will pick up on this.
- Lay down a towel in case your hamster needs to pee or poop
- Slide one hand under its belly and start to lift
- Put a finger in front of its front paws to make sure you have a good grip
- Use your second hand to support the rear end
- You can hold your guinea pig against your chest to provide even greater stability and comfort
Guinea Pig Housing
Much of the housing that’s available for guinea pig care is too small and more likely suited to hamsters. Housing a guinea pig has certain requirements and you shouldn’t just pick any old cage that you can find for cheap. The bigger the enclosure the better and you’ll need to make sure it’s at least a meter in length. Here are some other important requirements:
- You’ll need to make the area 20% larger for each new guinea pig
- There has to be somewhere for them to hide
- Plenty of space to roam freely
How to Clean Their Home
Keeping a clean den for your guinea pigs is important and shouldn’t be overlooked. No creature can thrive in a dirty home, especially not guinea pigs, since they’ll be more prone to diseases and bad health. Cleaning the area may be a little time consuming but is pretty simple once you know how to do it effectively.
- Remove all litter, bedding, and other items. This is a lot easier when you first lay down newspaper
- Wash any fabrics you’ve placed into its home
- Use animal-friendly cleaning wipes to remove all stains and waste
Put everything back into its home and let your guinea pig back in
What do Guinea Pigs Eat?
Knowing what your guinea pig needs to eat is a key part of this guinea pig care guide. A well-balanced diet is important for keeping your little rodents healthy and set up for a longlasting life as your companion. Feeding it poorly or too infrequently will see it suffering and will seriously harm its wellbeing. Two important things to remember are that guinea pig teeth continue to grow and they cannot produce vitamin c. With that in mind, some of the most important foods for your guinea pigs are:
How to Know if a Guinea Pig Is Healthy
There are plenty of guinea pig care tips that can ensure your pets live as long as possible. Knowing when they’re healthy is actually pretty easy because guinea pigs tend to display some signs. Bright eyes without any discharge, a thick coat of fur, and well-groomed nails are just some of the more obvious things to look out for. Checking their bum is also important since they are prone to certain problems.
If you’re serious about owning guinea pigs or have just got your own, be sure to protect them with an exotic pet insurance policy in case anything goes wrong down the line.