My sister and I had the honor to serve two guinea pigs namely Doobie and Koko. They had the most dynamic personalities and we all had a lot to learn from them. They are the inspiration behind this article. You dudes will be missed !
Thinking of keeping a pet, but your parents won’t approve of a dog or a cat, as that is too much of a responsibility? So that’s where these cute, little mushy furballs zoom in and make their way into your heart with their little wheeks and popcorns. Now those of you who might be thinking of these “popcorns” as a conventional food item have surely not met a guinea pig slave.
Insight Into Guinea Pigs
Don’t get bamboozled by the name, Guinea Pigs are not related to the pig family nor come from Guinea. They are fun little rodents. Many people make the mistake of confusing them with hamsters. Hamsters are nocturnal while Guinea pigs aren’t. Guinea pigs are vegetarian and live for food. A lot of food. Provision and availability of hay should be your first concern if thinking of petting Guinea pigs. Plus there are a lot of other stuff you gotta care about.
We share the most useful 8 tips for families considering keeping a guinea pig as a pet for the first time.
A well-balanced guinea pig diet consists of unlimited amounts of hay, both to eat, play and snuggle with and a limited amount of vegetables and fruits. They require a daily dose of Vitamin C from foods such as tomatoes (avoid giving the leaves), spinach, parsley and kale. Clean and fresh water should be provided to them and changed on a day to day basis. Use pellets sparingly in your guinea pigs’ diet.
Make a cage that allows at least 7.5 square feet of cage space for 1 guinea pig, but for two guinea pigs normally 8-10 square feet would be preferred. However, for male guinea pigs the preferred size acts as more of a requirement than as a suggestion as boars often to fight more and require more space. Rule of thumb, is bigger the cage, happier the pet.
The cage should always be placed indoors as guinea pigs are very sensitive to temperatures. Make sure to provide the cage with lots of hides as guinea pigs are prey animals, and their first impulse is to hide on getting frightened .
Provide your guinea pigs with few inches of bedding, it may be Aspen bedding(avoid cedar or pine bedding as it can cause respiratory problems), paper bedding or a soft fleece blanket with a U haul pad or another absorbent layer underneath.
Guinea pigs are like potato chips so you can’t just have one. They need company because they are herd animals and they rely on the safety of their group. In Switzerland it is illegal to keep only 1 guinea pig.
So make sure to keep them in pairs, same gender pairs work fine if they have been introduced properly. A boar and a sow would also work, but the best thing to do would be to neuter the male.
Give your guinea pigs some floor time daily, and let them loose in a safe space for them to explore.
An exploring piggy is a happy piggy.
Make sure they have plenty of space to run around and also supply them with plenty of toys and cage accessories. Also provide them with hide spots and tunnels in their floor time, as some shy ones might not be able to come out and explore in the first floor time.
6. INTERACTING WITH THE HOOMANS
Make sure to interact with your guinea pigs on a daily basis, as frequent handling each day is the key to your guinea pigs happiness.
Talk to them, cuddle them, carry them in your arms, tame them, teach them tricks, allow them to step on your palm and trust me you will be rewarded with plenty of guinea pig kisses.
Also look out for signs of depression in your guinea pigs like loss of appetite, inactivity etc.
7. SPOT CLEANING
Guinea pig cages should be swept twice a day removing droppings and any uneaten vegetables. A thorough clean out where you change all the bedding should be done once a week.
Trim your guinea pigs’ toenails every few weeks. If they have dark toenails use a flashlight, so as to see where the quick is and avoid cutting into that as it may cause bleeding. Avoid bathing your guinea pigs frequently, as it upsets their natural body processes. Long haired guinea pigs may need bath more often. Weigh your guinea pigs weekly as the first sign of weakness in a guinea pig is weight fluctuation.