Guinea Pigs

About Guinea Pigs

Guinea-pigsAre guinea pigs suitable for all ages?

Guinea pigs are sociable animals but we do take particular care to match you to the right guinea pig where there are children under seven. Guinea pigs are easily injured if dropped; therefore, small children should be supervised when handling them. Children can, of course, help with the care and feeding of these family pets.

How long do guinea pigs (cavies) live?

Usually five to seven years.

Are guinea pigs friendly?

Yes they are, although they may nip or bite if not properly handled.

Caring for your Guinea Pigs

What you need to know

Cleaning: Check the guinea pigs’ housing and toilet areas daily. If the bedding is wet it will need replacing.

Health checks: You should regularly check the health of your guinea pigs. Is it eating and drinking properly? Does it look bright and active? If you are concerned about your pets health then please take it to the vets as soon as possible.

Feeding your guinea pigs: Guinea pigs love grazing on grass, and lots of it! A good quality hay or dried grass forage should always be available. They also need vegetables, as like humans they cannot create their own vitamin C.

A dry food with added vitamin C, balanced in nutrients in each pellet or a natural mix rather than artificially coloured one is also required.

Guinea pigs need to be fed at least twice daily, dry food in the morning and vegetables in the afternoon

Fresh water: Guinea pigs must have fresh clean water daily.

Vegetables and fruit enjoyed by guinea pigs: Basil, coriander, parsley, spring greens, curly kale, chard, broccoli, celery, sweet potato, tomatoes, celeriac, fennel, carrots, sweet corn and outer leaves. Fruits to be given in moderation as they are high in sugar which guinea pigs find hard to digest: Banana, melon, apples, pears, grapes. (only one type of food per feed)

Housing your guinea pig

  • Guinea pigs are sociable animals and need to live in pairs. We only rehome single guinea pigs as a companion for an existing one.
  • A pair of guinea pigs need a hutch with dimensions no less than 120cms x 45cms x 45cms.
  • Guinea pigs need access to a secure garden enclosure. They need an enclosed run of no less than 180cms x 90cms. The run should have a mesh lid to prevent entry by cats or other predators, and also a sheltered area. Partially shaded areas are preferable.
  • For a group of guinea pigs you will need a larger hutch and run. Large plastic tubes and boxes should be provided so that they can hide in them.
  • Guinea pigs are not as hardy as rabbits and they should be brought in from the garden during the winter months, from November to April, unless the winter is mild and frost free. Indoor accommodation must be well ventilated.
  • Provide enough good quality bedding such as hay to keep your guinea pigs warm. The best bedding is a good lining of newspaper with hay on top. Avoid wood shavings as these can cause fungal skin problems.

Healthy tips for guinea pigs

  • You need to give your guinea pigs regular health checks including their nails, but do not cut them yourself.
  • Teeth need to be checked. They will overgrow if not given enough to gnaw on. Root vegetables, fruit branches or hard specialist treats from pet food suppliers can all help to keep your pets teeth healthy.
  • Long haired guinea pigs need regular grooming to prevent knots.
  • Mites and scabs need to be checked for and veterinary treatment sought if found.
  • Guinea pigs can deteriorate quite quickly if ill, so contact your vet as soon as possible.

Need more help and advice?

Call the Small Animal Team at Raystede on 01825 880467 or email smallanimals1@raystede.org

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