What You Need to Know Before Getting a Guinea Pig
Guinea pigs are known as “pocket pets” or small animal companions. They are cute, cuddly companions that will each develop their personality and grow to love your family. Building trust with your new pet is key, and they love to cuddle and enjoy regular human interaction with their new owners. Here is what you need to know before getting a guinea pig:
Guinea Pigs Are Social Animals
We know Guinea pigs are social animals, which means they will usually do best kept in pairs or in small groups (more than 2 can be housed together if given an appropriate-sized cage). Most owners choose to keep two guinea pigs of the same gender (males or females) to avoid unwanted reproduction. However, if a male or female is spayed or neutered, they can stay with the opposite gender guinea pig, and most will get along quite well.
Guinea pigs need a good amount of space to be able to move and run around. A cage of about 10.5 square feet gets recommended for two guinea pigs. That means a cage that measures at least 30″ x 50″ for a pair of guinea pigs. You will need more space if you plan to house three or more pets in the same cage.
Safe options for bedding for your pets include fleece liners with absorbency pads underneath to absorb urine and water dripping (from water bottles). If you prefer not to wash the bedding (fleece) regularly, you can also choose cardboard or paper-based bedding’s that are safe for your pet as well. Placing 1-3″ of it at the bottom of the cage and remove wet bedding along with feces and leftover vegetables daily.
Guinea pigs have the following dietary needs that should be met daily to help them live in optimal health:
- Guinea Pig Pellets: Guinea pigs need to be supplied with about 1/4 cup (per pig) of quality guinea pig pellets each day. Rabbit pellets are not appropriate as they lack the Vitamin C that guinea pigs cannot produce. Guinea pig pellets get made of ground up Timothy hay, which is appropriate for guinea pigs.
- Fresh Grass/Hay: Guinea pigs need an unlimited supply of fresh Timothy hay, or Orchard Grass supplied to them daily. Guinea pigs have constantly growing teeth which need to be filed down, and the roughage of grass and hay help do that. Moreover, it also aids in proper digestion and proper bowel movements regularly by adding fiber and bulk to their diet.
- Fresh Vegetables/Fruits: Guinea pigs need about 1 cup of dark, fresh leafy greens added to their diet. Lettuces like green/red leaf lettuce, kale, and romaine are great choices. Bib and butter lettuces work well, too. Other treats guinea pigs will love to include colored (NEVER HOT) bell peppers, carrots, snapped green beans, celery, cucumber, and even a piece of corn on the cob to name a few treats. Veggies should get given daily. Parsley and cilantro are also great choices to add Vitamin C to your guinea pig’s diet.
- Fresh Water: Guinea pigs should have an unlimited fresh supply of water changed daily.
These proper dietary needs ensure that your guinea pig can live a long, healthy, happy life and have a proper diet to keep them healthy in the long-run.
A Place to Hide
We know that guinea pigs are prey animals in the wild; therefore, they need a place to feel safe and secure. A hideout is required for each guinea pig to feel optimally safe and secure. One hide-out per guinea pig is a great rule of thumb. That way, they can hide separately and keep their personal space without feeling violated or trapped by other guinea pigs in their habitat when they want solitude.
Their cage should be cleaned at least once per week with feces and wet bedding being removed daily to avoid the smell and unpleasant odors.
In return for great care, you will get a pet that is healthy and can easily live the upwards of 5 to 7 years, sometimes up to as long as 10 years. Your guinea pig will become part of your family and share the same love with you that you share with them.
Guinea pigs (and other small pocket pets) can make great companion animals and provide your family with the love and companionship of a pet without the added responsibility of a cat or dog. They make great pets for people who work full-time, yet want companionship after their workday ends. They also make great pets for apartments or smaller living spaces as they do not need the extra room a cat or dog would require.
For further assistance about what you need to know before getting a guinea pig or to get a wellness check for your pocket pet, please feel free to contact us here at Andes-Straley Veterinary Hospital to set up an appointment today.