Guinea Pigs make lovely pets, especially for children. We’ve looked after lots and lots over the years and they all have their own adorable little characters. Here’s our top tips for looking after Guinea Pigs.
Guinea Pigs are really good pets for children and can live for anywhere between 4 and 8 years.
Both males and females can make good pets, although it’s generally thought that males are slightly friendlier than females. Guinea Pigs are very social and tend to like company, althought it’s advisable to stick with same sex pairings as they do like to breed!
Guinea Pigs can be kept in or outdoors. Outside hutches should be fully weatherproof and it’s a good idea to invest in a hutch cover which will keep them safe from bad weather. In the winter Guinea pigs should be housed in a good quality shed or garage (but away from dangerous car exhaust fumes). It’s essential to ensure that your hutch is secure from foxes and other predators!
The base of a hutch should be covered in absorbent wood shavings and the bedroom part with hay that they can snuggle up in. Do not use straw which can irritate a Guinea Pigs eyes.
For daily exercise it’s essential that your Guinea Pig has an outdoor run, which should be filled with things they can play with e.g. logs, rocks and dedicated toys. If you have a bit of grass in your run, it’s a good idea to move your hutch/run, now and again, to avoid bare patches from overgrazing!
If you intend to keep your Guinea Pigs indoors it’s a good idea to purchase the largest dedicated cage you can afford in order to give them lots of space to run around. Remember to place indoor cages away from hot radiators and bad draughts.
Fibre is a very important to Guinea Pigs to aid digestion. Hay should always be made available which will also help them to grind their teeth and prevent them getting too long. Guinea Pigs are generally given two types of food: nuggets and muesli. Muesli is very nutritious, but if they throw away the good nutritious bits you can put them on nuggets which will ensure they get all the nutrition they need. If you intend to change their food it’s essential to mix in the new food with the old for a period of around ten days in order to avoid stomach upsets.
Guinea Pigs are unable to produce their own vitamin C, so it’s essential that any food they are given includes this vitamin. Lack of vitamin C in Guinea Pigs can cause immune systems to weaken and make them more prone to infections.
Guinea Pigs will also appreciate small quantities of fresh fruit and vegetables which should be gradually introduced to young animals. As Guinea Pigs tend to eat small amounts often it’s essential to ensure that food and hay are always available to eat. Fresh clean water should be made available daily via a dedicated bottle.
New Guinea Pigs should not be handled in the first few days. Allow them to get familiar with their new surroundings and then start bonding with them by stroking them and then gently pick them up as their trust with you grows.
Hutches and cages should be cleaned with a safe disinfectant every week and all soiled bedding removed every day. Hygiene is extremely important for maintaining good health and please remember to clean your hands afterwards.
Guinea Pigs should be groomed every week and examined for signs of fleas and mites. Flystrike on outdoor pets is something to be aware of in the summer. Please be vigilant.
Hopefully you’ve found these tips for looking after your Guinea Pigs useful. If you have any questions about keeping Guinea Pigs, please give me a call on (0131) 333 0640 or send me an email.