Guinea pigs are sociable pets. They are captivating, adorable, and the perfect beginner pets for your family. They are small and gentle but active and very friendly. Once they settle down in their new environment, they are easy to handle and play with. Guinea pigs are very different from cats and dogs but equally communicative and funny.
Caring for guinea pigs, just like any other pet, is a lifelong responsibility. It may take them a while to acclimatise themselves to you and your home, but once they get adjusted to being around you, rest assured, you will have many beautiful moments to cherish with them. If you plan to bring home a guinea pig, we are here to help you learn all you need to know about how to care for them.
Building a house for your guinea pig
A cosy and comfortable house is the first and most important thing you need to prepare before bringing home a guinea pig.
- Guinea pigs grow rapidly, and although they are tiny, they need a large habitat to move freely in.
- Make sure the house has solid flooring to prevent foot sores.
- Baby guinea pigs can easily escape through the bars of the house, so buy a cage with a deep bottom and escape-proof it by securing the spaces between the bars with a cable wire.
- Place 1-2 inches of high-quality, paper-based bedding or shredded paper bedding that will absorb waste products.
- Provide a hide box made from edible material or cardboard for some privacy.
- Never place the house in direct sunlight.
Feeding your guinea pig
Guinea pigs are herbivores; therefore, guinea pig food must contain ample plant material for a healthy digestive system. A nutritious diet of fresh grass, hay, and some fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C are essential for your pet's proper growth and health.
In ample quantities, Guinea pig food should consist of a balanced diet like Timothy hay, orchard grass, oat, or meadow hay. Hay prevents dental disease, diarrhoea, and obesity in guinea pigs.
- Guinea pigs require a pile of hay as big as their body per day.
- Fortified pellets provide all the required vitamins and minerals to guinea pigs. One-fourth cup of pellets is the ideal quantity to prevent obesity.
- Guinea pigs love vegetables, but these should be offered only as treats, as they contain more water and lack the nutrients provided in pellets.
- Choose vegetables and fruits rich in vitamin C, as guinea pigs can't make this vitamin in their body and, as a result, suffer from vitamin C deficiency. Bell peppers, carrot tops, cilantro, spinach, turnip greens are some of the best vegetables you can feed your pet guinea pigs.
- Treats low in sugar and high in fibre can be given to guinea pigs, but only to encourage them during interaction or games.
- Fresh, clean water is necessary for your pet and should be supplied in unlimited quantities. Place a heavy dish or hang a drop-style bottle in the cage and wash and clean the containers every alternate day.
Caring for your guinea pig
- Guinea pigs do not need baths, as they self-clean. But you can clean them with a damp cloth and mild, unmedicated soap or unscented baby wipes.
- You can also use a soft brush to brush their fur a few times every week to avoid tangles in their long fur.
- For hairless guinea pigs, use an aloe-based lotion to rub on their skin to keep it soft.
- Consult your veterinarian if you notice your guinea pig's nails and teeth growing too long.
Caring for your guinea pig’s health
A healthy guinea pig will be active and happy. They happily munch on the hay you provide them, which ensures healthy, soft fur, clear eyes and nose, and a normal gait. Being sociable pets, they will communicate with you by squeaking, which is another sign of good health.
However, if you notice a change in their demeanour, such as lethargy, then you need to observe them for signs of illness, such as:
- Weight loss
- Itchy skin
- Skin lesions
- Eye or nasal discharge
- Overgrown teeth
- Difficulty in breathing
So, to ensure the good health of your pet guinea pig, it is important to keep their enclosure clean and disinfected. Ensure they have dry bedding, lots of clean water to drink, and ample hay. Regular grooming and consultation with the veterinarian are also essential for their well-being.
With proper care and a healthy diet, guinea pigs can live up to 8 years. It takes a bit of effort and loads of patience to bring them up, but the joy they bring into our life is unparalleled. So, are you ready to bring this adorable companion home?