Hello efurrybody! Peppi here! As the wisest and oldest of the herd, I thought it was important that whee told you about how to look after us. It’s furry important! But here I’m going to have to hand over to mummy, she will tell you all about it.
Thanks Peppi! Today I’ll be talking about how to look after your guinea pigs.
GUINEA PIG CARE GUIDE
By Bella Brown
New Guinea Pigs…
When you get your guinea pig home, make sure to give them plenty of quiet time so they can get settled into their new home. It’s usually recommended to have at least 2 days of limited contact so they can settle in, after which you can start to fully enjoy your new pet. Please remember that cavies like to be kept in at least pairs as they are sociable animals. Sows will live happily with 1 or more other guinea pig, whilst boars will live with other boars that they have known from birth, or their father. If you introduce a new boar into another boar’s cage, they will fight.
How to look after your cavy
Guinea pigs are very easy to keep which is one of the reasons they make such fantastic pets, especially for children. All they require is a nice hutch or cage with lots of bedding and somewhere to hide occasionally. For bedding we recommend wood shavings and newspaper and/or cage liners to help with cleaning out, and for their bed area, hay and straw. However, some guinea pigs like to have a chew on the newspaper underneath the wood shavings, so it’s dependent on your cavy!
The hutch/cage can be kept both indoors or outdoors, although please ensure you do buy an appropriate hutch that can cope with the changing elements when keeping them outside. During the winter the guinea pigs will be OK with the cold weather but do need to have shelter from wind and the rain/snow. For this you can just use some old carpet or a tarpaulin over the front. During the summertime guinea pigs love living on and eating grass so if possible it is recommended to put them in a run (with some shelter) whenever possible. An additional benefit to this is that they make excellent lawnmowers and so can help with that chore that no one likes doing in the summer.
To remember how to protect your cavy/cavies from getting unwell from the cold (etc.), remember the three D’s of what guinea pigs don’t like.
Damp- make sure to clean their cage out regularly to ensure that urine doesn’t soak the cage.
Dirt-Clean your cavy’s cage out regularly and change food and water once/twice daily to ensure happiness!
Draughts- Make sure to provide protection from the wind when your piggies are living outside, and don’t situate an indoor cage right by a door!
Any well-known brand of guinea pig food is suitable as they tend to have Vitamin C added. DO NOT feed them with rabbit food as this usually lacks the addition of Vitamin C which is essential to the guinea pig’s welfare. Lack of Vitamin C is probably the most common reason for premature deaths as the immune system becomes weakened so that the guinea pig is more susceptible to infections.
If you decide to change the food then please do so over a few days by mixing in parts of the new food with the old one in increasing amounts until they are just eating the new food.
In addition to the normal food, guinea pigs love a variety of fruit and veg. I have found that a few favourites are Carrot Peelings, Spinach, Peppers (any colour), Dandelions, Chard and Parsley. My guinea pigs favourite veggie is definitely Celery, and they love cucumber although it isn’t very nutritional. Also corn on the cob is is great too as it is good for their teeth as well as for their health. Most of these have high vitamin C content, and are also incredibly good for your guinea pigs. Others that are suitable include Cabbage (NOT RED CABBAGE as this is highly poisonous), apples (remove core and seeds due to choking hazard) and Broccoli. Anything not listed as poisonous etc. should be perfectly fine. DO NOT feed them anything from the onion family or flowers grown from bulbs as these are also highly poisonous. One last thing they shouldn’t eat is Lettuce. This gives them diarrhoea if given in excessive amounts and can actually kill. A little bit is OK occasionally but not regularly. It is also not very nutritional.
There is a great list HERE of many, many suitable and unsuitable veggies and fruit.
Another big part of their diet is hay. They should be given hay as bedding already so make sure to top it up daily so they have enough bedding, as well as so they can eat some of it too.
Fruit/Veg should be given twice daily (once daily in the summer if they are outside eating grass) in amounts that they can eat in one sitting. If you give them too much, it will just wilt and turn disgusting in the cage so be consistent with how much you give. A handful per guinea pig is usually good for adult guinea pigs, whilst 5 weeks-4 month old guinea pigs tend to eat a small handful maximum. Obviously some guinea pigs are greedier than others, so you will have to gauge for yourself how much to give. Pellets should be changed daily, and water should be changed daily also. The best hard food/pellets that I reccommend are Excel Tasty Nuggets (for Guinea Pigs). Ours love these, and they are great because they provide all of the vitamins and nutrition that your pigs need via hard food all in one, and your pigs won’t be picky as they are all exactly the same! You can buy them from any good pet store or online.
My pigs love the blackcurrant ones, these are really great as they have a little added sweetness via the blackcurrants and are even tastier! When you open the packet you’ll be amazed at how good they smell!
Your guinea pig’s claws should be cut regularly. You can use special guinea pig clippers (recommended), which you can usually get from your local pet shop. Cat/dog claw clippers can be used, although these are usually bigger and clumsier to use. Your guinea pigs might struggle but be firm and reward the pig with a big ‘well done’ and a stroke afterwards, as well as a little treat if possible. Cut the white bit of the claw; don’t cut the quick (the pink bit). Some guinea pigs have brown or black claws so here are some diagrams.
Your guinea pigs coat should be clean and shiny. If you see the guinea pig scratching then this is likely to be due to mites or lice. This can easily be treated with products from a pet shop, such as insecticidal shampoo, mite and lice spray or other pet product.
For long haired guinea pigs, you need to use a comb to brush them daily. You can also use a baby’s hairbrush to make their coat shine! You will also need to wash longhaired guinea pigs once a month/ every three weeks to keep them clean. This can be done with mild baby shampoo or guinea pig shampoo. Follow the instructions on the bottle.
If you are entering your guinea pig in a show, then make sure to wash it and brush it before the show, as well as cutting its claws, cleaning its ears out, etc. Pregnant sows may NOT be entered. For more information on this, please contact me with the contact information found at the bottom of these instructions. J
I will also be doing a video series of ‘preparing pigs for shows’, so keep your eyes out for that!
I don’t recommend attempting to breed unless you are totally confident with keeping and caring for the adults and babies. However, should you be interested in having a few little babies then here a few basics to help!
•I recommend first breeding a sow at 5-8 months.
• They can reach sexual maturity from as young as 4 weeks old, so it is important to separate the babies at 4-5 weeks.
• They come into season every 14-17 days; therefore putting a female in with a male does not guarantee a litter! Try putting the male with a female for 3-4 weeks; this gives a higher chance of the sow becoming pregnant. The best way to ensure the sow becoming pregnant is to keep the boar in with the sow until her pelvis starts to open.
• Litter sizes vary from 1-4 on average, though can be as many as 7+
• Pregnancy lasts approx. 10 weeks. Female will look rounded when 6 weeks pregnant. Approximately 2 weeks before she is due to give birth, her pelvis will gradually open. This is when the boar she has mated with should be taken away from her, so as to avoid back-to-back pregnancies.
•NEVER breed from a female for the first time that is over 9 months old. This is because if she hasn’t been mated prior to this then her pelvis will have fused over and she’ll be unable to give birth. If you mate a female guinea pig of 9 months of age, you are putting her life on the line, as well as your happiness!
• They reach sexual maturity later than the females, from around 7-10 weeks old.
• They MUST be removed from the female before the birth as mating will take place immediately after the birth, which isn’t fair on the female.
• If you have a pair of boys and put one or both boys with a female then you will NOT be able to put them back together. THEY WILL FIGHT!!!
I hope you found this useful!
I have inserted a contact form below, so if you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me below. I’d really appreciate it if you could leave feedback using the dropdown menu in the contact form as well, although this isn’t required.
I’ll get back to you ASAP, usually within 24 hours.
Thanks for reading!
Bella and Piggies xox 🙂