How to care for Guinea Pigs – an In-depth Guide
One of the cuddliest pets, Guinea Pig, is rapidly climbing up the ladder of popularity. According to a recent survey by Treehugger, Guinea Pigs are America’s 12th most popular pet. These pocket pets are cute, cuddly, funny, and really intelligent creatures. But are Guinea Pigs easy to take care of?
Guinea Pigs are really easy to take care of. They need hay, fresh water, and food every day to stay healthy and happy. Keeping at least two Guinea Pigs would keep your pet busy and entertained at all times. These low maintenance pets would take just an hour or two of your daily time.
Guinea Pigs are charismatic and adorable and do not need much special care. However, it is important to know little tips to keep your little buddy healthy as well as happy. Read on to learn all about how to care for Guinea Pigs.
Step 1 – Setting up a cage for your Guinea Pig
Guinea Pigs need a spacious cage with enough floor space for your pets to run and play. For two Guinea Pigs, you need a cage that is at least 10.5 square feet in size. A cage of 30” by 50” would be quite appropriate for your pets. Guinea Pigs have fragile feet, so I recommend a cage with a solid bottom rather than a wired one.
Guinea Pigs need a large cage to stay healthy and happy. You should prefer a cage which has enough space for your pets to run and play. They need separate spaces for roaming, nesting, and feeding.
According to PETA, you should never keep a single Guinea Pig, as he might not be as happy and entertained. It is always recommended to keep a pair of Guinea Pigs. They need more floor space, as compared to vertical space. For two Guinea Pigs, you need a cage that is at least 10.5 square feet in size. A cage of 30” by 50” would be quite appropriate for your pets. With a roomier enclosure, Guinea Pigs would be able to exercise on their own and would increase the chances of a peaceful co-existence among multiple Guinea Pigs.
You should always choose a cage that has a solid bottom rather than a wired bottom. This is because Guinea Pigs have very fragile feet. A wired bottom can seriously damage your pet’s feet and increases the chance of having bumblefoot.
Guinea Pigs are one of the largest rodents but still have very small and fragile bones. A cage that is vertically higher and is of multiple levels is not preferred for your pet. A fall from higher than 5” can seriously injure your pet. So choose a cage which has more floor space and a maximum of one level.
Here are some good Guinea Pig cages which would be safe and comfortable for your little buddy.
|Cage||Size (LxWxH)||Weight||Extra Accessories|
|Guinea Pig Habitat cage by Midwest||47”x 24”x 14”||12.5 pounds||Durable, leak-proof, washable, full easy removal, PVC lined canvas bottom, modular design, 1 year warranty|
|Amazon Basics Habitat Cage||46.6”x 13.8”x 23.6”||9.15 pounds||Canvas bottomed textural surface, leak-proof, easy to assemble, easy to clean, durable, easy to store|
|Songmics Animal Cage||48.4”x 24.8”x 24”||16.3 pounds||Water-resistant, safe, fabric bottom mat, anti-slip pads, durable, easy to assemble and clean|
|Cavie Guinea Pig Cage||30.3”x 18.5’x 16.5”||8.46 pounds||Includes food dish and water bottle, hay feeder, elevated feeding tray, private hideaway, secure, 1-year warranty|
Step 2 – Find a perfect location for your Guinea Pigs cage
Guinea pigs are social animals and need to be in close contact with other Guinea Pigs or their owners. A Guinea Pigs cage should be placed in a room where you spend most time of the day, like a living room.
Guinea Pigs are social animals. They like to interact with each other as well as their owners. When you adopt a Guinea Pig, it might take them a few weeks to get familiar with you and to trust you. For this, it is important that they are around you most times of the day. A Guinea Pigs cage should be placed in a room where you spend most time of the day. Your living room or your hallway is the best choice for keeping your pet’s cage.
Guinea Pigs are very sensitive to temperature. Most veterinarians suggest to set up their cage indoors, rather than in your backyard. The right temperature is an important aspect of Guinea pig care. Keeping them indoors gives you an additional advantage of more interaction. The more you interact with your pet, the faster he will adapt to you.
Outdoor playing and exercising are also necessary for your Guinea Pig. Most pet parents prefer to keep their Guinea Pigs cage in their backyard for a few hours daily. Regular exposure to sunlight keeps them healthy.
Step 3 – Provide bedding for your Guinea Pigs cage
Lining a Guinea Pigs cage with adequate bedding is important to protect your pet’s fragile feet. Hay bedding is widely used by Guinea Pig owners, as they protect your pet’s feet, and also lets them chew on it when bored. It is good for your Guinea pig to chew on hay for their digestive as well as dental health. Do not use cat litter as Guinea pigs bedding as they easily clump up and can choke your pet if swallowed.
Guinea Pigs have quite fragile feet. To avoid damage to their paws it is always recommended to lay bedding to the bottom of their cage. Guinea Pigs are comfortable in paper bedding, wood savings, fleece bedding, or hay bedding. Most pet parents prefer hay bedding as hay is a part of your pet’s diet. It is good for your Guinea pig to chew on hay for their digestive as well as dental health. But in the past few years, there has been an increase in allergy in pet parents due to timothy hay. So do check whether you are allergic to hay or not before laying hay as a bedding for your pet.
Do not use Cedar or Pine bedding for your Guinea Pigs as they cause respiratory problems and liver diseases to your pet. Many beginner pet parents make the mistake of using Cat litter as the bedding for their Guinea Pigs. This can be fatal for your pet as it might clump up and choke your pet if they swallow it. To take care of Guinea Pigs it is important you find the right type of bedding for them.
Make sure you change the bedding every other day. The bedding should be clean, non-toxic, dust-free, and absorbent. Here are some good beddings for your pet.
|Kaytee Clean and Cosy Animal Bedding||Paper bedding||49.2 liters||Safe, absorbs 6 times its weight, 99.9% dust-free, odor control, soft and fluffy texture|
|Carefresh Small Pet Bedding||Paper bedding||56 liters||Ultra-absorbent, odor control, 99% dust-free, biodegradable, compostable|
|Kaytee All Natural Aspen Bedding||Aspen bedding||52 liters||No aromatic oils, all-natural, less dust, less debris, biodegradable|
|Small Pet Select Aspen Bedding||Aspen bedding||113 liters||High quality, safe, all-natural, kiln-dried, recyclable, compostable|
Step 4 – Provide plenty of fresh water to your Guinea Pig
To take good care for Guinea Pigs, they should always have clean and fresh water in their cage. You can either place a heavy bowl in their cage or attach a water bottle to the side. Make sure that you clean their water bottle everyday and fill it up with fresh water.
Your pet Guinea Pig should always have access to fresh and clean water. Change their water every day. You can either buy a cage that has a water bottle attached. The advantage of such a cage is that they cannot spill the water in their cage. It is also easy to clean and refill their bottle every day.
If you do not have a water bottle attached to your Guinea Pigs cage you can put a heavy bowl in their cage and fill it with fresh water. Keeping a heavy bowl would avoid them spilling water all over their cage on their bedding.
It is important to clean their water bottle or bowl every day. A bottle is pretty easy to clean. Just add a few grains of uncooked rice and water and shake the bottle vigorously. The rice will dislodge any greenish algae build up and would clean up the bottle. However, for a bowl, you would have to use either soap and water or alcohol and water to disinfect the water bowls.
Here are a few bottles that you can attach to your Guinea pigs cage, so they have access to fresh water at all times.
|RentACoop No Drip Water Bottle||32 oz||Chew proof, water stays clean, easy to refill, easy to attach, does not drip, easy to clean|
|RentACoop No Drip bottle with metal cup||32 oz||Chew proof, metal cup refills automatically, easy to refill, easy to clean, easy to attach|
|Midwest animal water bottle||20.28 oz||Easy to fill, easy to attach, stainless steel spout, 1 year manufacturer’s warranty|
|Lixit Top Fill No Drip water bottle||32 oz||Easy to refill, easy to clean, can be attached inside or outside the cage, BPA free plastic|
Step 5 – Provide your Guinea Pigs with plenty of hay
Hay is one of the primary parts of your Guinea pig’s diet. They love to chew on their hay throughout the day. You ca either spread hay in their cage, or use a large hay feeder and place it in a corner of their cage. Alfalfa hay is better for young Guinea Pigs, while tiothey hay is a better option for older Guinea Pigs.
Just like other rodents, Guinea Pigs need a regular and fresh supply of hay. And you would need lots of it! Hay is one of the primary parts of your Guinea pig’s diet, and their favorite food as well. They love to chew on their hay throughout the day, so make sure you keep some in their cage as well. You can either use a hay feeder and attach it to their cage or just sprinkle some in their cage in a corner. Some pet parents prefer to lay their Guinea Pigs bedding with hay, so they have plenty of it chew whenever they want. This brings us to the question, why is hay so important for your Guinea Pigs?
Hay provides plenty of nutrients to your pet Guinea Pig. It also provides them with fiber, both indigestible as well as digestible. Digestible fiber is used by your Guinea Pig to produce amino acids and Vitamin B. whereas, indigestible fibers is important for their intestinal tract to move at a normal speed. Along being good for their digestion, hay also helps to maintain your Guinea Pigs oral health. Guinea Pigs teeth grow throughout their life and grass hays are abrasive to their teeth. Chewing on grass hays helps them to wear down their teeth.
There is a wide variety of hay that you can feed your Guinea Pig with. Alfalfa hay is better for young Guinea Pigs, who are younger than 6 months, as they are high in calcium, calories, and proteins. For older Guinea Pigs timothy hay, orchard grass, and bluegrass is a better option.
Here are some good options of hay that you can feed your Guinea Pig with.
|Standlee Premium Western Forage Timothy hay||10 pounds||All-natural, high fiber, low protein, sun-cured, highly palatable|
|Small Pet Select Timothy hay||10 pounds||Super soft, leafy, hand-sorted, high fiber, low protein|
|Kaytee Wafer cut hay||4 pounds||Low protein, low calcium, high fiber, all-natural, superior nutrition|
Step 6 – Provide your Guinea Pig with fresh vegetables and fruits
Fresh fruits and vegetables should be a part of your Guinea Pigs diet. A healthy Guinea Pigs diet is 20% vegetables and 5% fruit. Include green leafy vegetables and fruits which are high in Vitamin C content. Maintaining a balance between vegetables, fruits, and pellets is important for the digestive health of your Guinea Pig.
Supplementing you Guinea Pig’s diet with fresh fruits and vegetables is important. Your pet is unable to produce Vitamin C on its own, so feeding them fresh fruits and vegetables rich in Vitamin C helps them to avoid diseases like scurvy. A healthy Guinea Pigs diet is 20% vegetables and 5% fruit.
Dark leafy green vegetables like collard greens, mustard greens, kale, lettuce, cucumber, kale, and spinach are particularly good sources of Vitamin C and other nutrients as well. Maintaining a balance between vegetables, fruits, and pellets is important for the digestive health of your Guinea Pig. Avoid feeding too much of a single type of vegetable as it might upset your pet’s stomach.
To take care of your Guinea Pig, it is important to feed them with fruits as well. However, fruits should only be fed as an occasional treat. Do not feed them with fruits more than once or twice a week. Apples, strawberries, and peaches are a few fruit treats that are good for your pet.
Along with feeding your Guinea Pig with fresh fruits and vegetables, you should also include pellets in their diet. Make sure that you pick Guinea Pig pellets, and not rabbit pellets. One of the important differences between the two is Guinea Pigs pellets have added Vitamin C, while rabbit pellets do not. However, you should feed a limited supply of pellets to your Guinea Pig as they cause your pet to gain weight. A quarter cup pellets are good for your pet.
Step 7 – Clean your Guinea Pigs cage regularly
Guinea Pigs are clean creatures. and get stressed out in dirty surroundings. To keep your pet relaxed and happy it is important to clean their cage frequently. Pick up old veggies and waste from your Guinea Pigs cage every other day. Do a thorough cleaning of your pet’s cage at least once a week.
To care for Guinea Pigs, it is important that you clean their cages regularly. It is important that their living environment is always clean and comfortable to live in. Guinea Pigs are quite tidy creatures and get stressed out in dirty surroundings. To keep your pet relaxed and happy it is important to clean their cage frequently.
Pick up old veggies and waste from your Guinea Pigs cage every other day. A thorough cleaning of your pet’s cage at least once a week would keep them happy and away from infections and bacteria. While cleaning your Guinea Pigs cage use warm water which is mixed with biodegradable soap. Using soap with chemicals might create an allergic reaction to your Guinea Pig. You can also use a mild disinfectant of one part white vinegar and three parts water.
While cleaning their cage make sure you clean everything from their bedding to the wires of their cage. If not cleaned properly there is a high chance that fleece would infest the cage causing various bacterial infections to your pet. After a thorough cleaning of your pet’s cage, make sure you place the cage outside in the sunlight to naturally kill all the bacteria.
Step 8 – Keep your Guinea Pig entertained with toys
To care for Guinea Pigs, it is important for your pets to exercise and run around. Let them out of their cage at least once a day. Exercising is an important part of the Guinea Pig care and is a key to their happiness. You should always adopt a pair of Guinea Pigs, so they can keep themselves busy and entertained. A bored Guinea Pig can often fall into depression and can die out of loneliness. They love to play with chew toys or logic toys. You can either make some of your own toys or buy one from your local pet store.
Guinea Pigs are active, intelligent, and curious pets. To take good care for Guinea Pigs you should always keep them entertained. It is important that your pet gets a little floor time every day. Take them out of their cage at least once a day. It would be good if they can stroll in your backyard and get some fresh light and air. However, if you have other pets or it’s not safe to let them roam alone, it is okay to let them around the house for a bit.
Make sure your Guinea Pig has enough space so they can play and exercise. Exercising is an important part of the Guinea Pig care and is a key to their happiness. Guinea Pigs get bored and lonely very soon. They are sensitive creatures, and can even die out of loneliness. Many pet parents ask if it is okay to have only one Guinea Pig?
You should never adopt a single Guinea Pig. These sensitive creatures need to bond and socialize at all times. Guinea Pigs are herd creatures and are the happiest in a group of two to ten. Getting a pair of Guinea pigs is so essential for them to be happy that Switzerland has made it illegal to own a single Guinea pig as a part of ‘social rights’ for your pet.
Guinea Pigs love to play with toys. Logic toys and chew toys are two of their favorite kind. You can get creative and make Guinea Pig toys on your own with old cereal boxes, toilet paper rolls, folders, or even paper bags. Just use your creativity while making them and drop a little hay in them and your pet would be busy playing and chewing with your toys. You can also set up a wired playpen for your Guinea Pigs to keep them safe from other pets or animals. It would make them feel secure and they can enjoy playing in all the space.
Guinea Pigs love to interact and bond with their human. These social species need your love and attention. Make sure you take some time out to talk to them, cuddle them, and play with them. It would keep them healthy and happy.
Here are a few interesting toys your Guinea Pig can play with
|Guinea Pig toys||Weight||Additional|
|Kaytee Chew and Treat toys||4 ounces||Pack of 5 chew toys, crunchy texture to help clean and trim teeth|
|Niteangel Fun Tunel||9.6 ounces||Foldable crinkle tunnel, pack of 3 play balls, lightweight, durable, easy to clean, stain-resistant, encourages exercise and exploration|
|Ecotrition Snak Shak Edible Hideaway||1.8 ounces||100% edible, honey-flavored, promotes natural chewing instinct|
Step 9 – Tame your Guinea Pig
You can create a great bond with your pet Guinea Pigs, by interacting with them on a frequent basis. Talk to Your Guinea Pigs in a slow and calming voice. This will help your pet to get used to your voice. Once they start trusting their owners, you can easily tame and cuddle with your pet Guinea Pig. They love to stay close to their owners and play with them.
When you adopt a Guinea Pig they would be nervous around you and run as soon as they hear you. You need to be patient with your pets and give them some time to get used to you and to bond with you. Once they bond with you, it would be pretty easy for you to play with them, cuddle them, and teach them new tricks.
While bonding with your Guinea Pig, talk to them several times a day. Guinea Pigs are quite sensitive to loud noises. So, talk to them in a slow and calming voice. This will help your pet to get used to your voice. Guinea Pigs also bond with their human’s smell. So while talking place a hand on their cage. As your pet gets used to you, they will occasionally come and sniff your hand and start trusting you.
Once your Guinea Pig starts trusting you and behaves calmly in your presence, you can try picking up your little buddy. However, you should be very careful while picking them, as Guinea Pigs have fragile bones and you might unknowingly hurt your pet. While picking up your Guinea, place one hand under his chest, and wrap your fingers around her body very gently. Now place the other hand under his bottom and lift him straight up.
Guinea Pigs love to cuddle with their owners. Once you pick your pet up, keep them close to your body. Guinea Pigs feel secure when their close to their owner and would not try to get away. Once you have bonded with your pet it’s quite easy to teach these intelligent creatures simple tricks.
Step 10 – Groom your pet Guinea Pig
Grooming your Guinea Pig frequently is a key to their happiness. If you have a short-haired Guinea Pig, brushing them every other day would be enough. But, for a long-haired Guinea Pig brushing them daily is a necessity. File your Guinea Pigs nails regularly, so they can easily walk around their cage. Do not bathe your pet unless it os absolutely necessary.
Guinea Pigs like to keep themselves neat and clean at all times. But it is preferred that you groom your pet Guinea Pigs quite frequently to get rid of all the dander they produce. If you have a short-haired Guinea Pig you can wipe them up with a damp cloth and brush them every other day. With a long-haired Guinea Pig you would need to brush them every day, as they shed a lot.
Guinea Pigs are naturally clean animals and do not require to be bathed. However, if your Guinea Pig has rolled in a puddle of mud, or has skin infection then you might need to wash them up. While bathing your pet you need to be quite careful as they hate bathing and can even go in a state of shock. Make sure that you use lukewarm water while bathing your pet and use a small animal shampoo. After rinsing the shampoo off, wrap them in a dry towel, and pat dry your pet.
Guinea Pigs need to get their nails trimmed quite frequently. Long nails might hurt their feet and cause discomfort in walking and playing. Trim their nails very carefully and make sure you don’t cut too close to their blood vessel. Use nail clippers to remove just the tip of their nail.
Here are a few grooming essentials which would be perfect for your pet Guinea Pig
|Grooming kit||Equipment Included||Additional|
|Ware Manufacturing Grooming Kit||Pin brush, Bristle brush, nail clippers, wood chew toy||Safe and effective to use, reduces shedding|
|Alfie Pet Slicker brush||Grooming brush||Strong, durable, soft bristles, comfortable to your pet, effortless use|
|Amazon Basics Pet Grooming set||Slick brush, shedding tool, double pin brush, double-sided comb, flea comb, 2 rubber grooming mitts, nail clipper||Made of durable stainless steel, comfortable non-slip grip, easy to clean, secure, 1 year warranty|
Guinea Pigs are easy to care for, low maintenance, smart, curious, and gentle pets. They would play with you, cuddle with you, and are sensitive to your emotions. They are worth every penny you spend to take good care of Guinea Pigs. While adopting a Guinea Pig you would get a chance to bond with them and create a special bond with your pet.
Thinking about adopting a Guinea Pig for yourself? Don’t miss out on these 13 unique facts about pet Guinea Pigs before bringing one home.
To find out other easy to care for pets check out 7 best low maintenance pets you can own in 2020.