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Small pets

What Do I Need To Get Started With A Guinea Pig?

Chirrups, squeaks and all over fluffiness — guinea pigs make wonderful pets as cute and cuddly members of the family. Leave them to munch (and they will, almost incessantly), enjoy a stroke and a quick ruffle, or pop them down to waddle about their pen, and you’ll be greeted with instant joy and happiness. But as it is with every pet, to keep them happy and healthy, it’s vital to make sure you know how to care for them. So, before you start choosing names, make sure you’re ready to give your new furry companions everything they need for a happy and healthy life.

Give them a home

It’s important to give your guinea pigs a home so that they have somewhere safe and warm to stay. Letting them roam around the house isn’t practical — not only will this put them at risk of chewing through electrical wires, but you will also find your carpets soon get messy!

Cages come in different shapes and sizes. As guinea pigs often like to scatter about and panic-run from bed to food bowl, it’s best to give them as much space as possible so they have enough room to exercise. A good size to opt for is 7.5 square feet for one guinea pig, or 10.5 sq ft for two.

It's also important to remember that guinea pigs are sociable animals so should ideally live in same-sex pairs or as a group of females (known as sows) with a neutered boy (known as a boar).

Never house them with other animals — rabbits can bully guinea pigs making them feel stressed, so something worth remembering.

Drink it up

Guinea Pig

When it comes to keeping your guinea pig hydrated, a water bowl isn’t really an option. Guinea pigs – albeit fluffy and adorable — are not the brightest of pets, and it won’t be long before you discover yours, sat in its water bowl, wondering if anyone is going to give it a drink. Bottle it up and securely and attach it to the outside of the cage with the metal spout poking through — this way they can hydrate as and when they need and you can keep the bottle squeaky clean and topped up easily.

Food for thought

The primary ingredient of a guinea pig’s diet should be hay. You can then add a dish with dry food such as pellets. Dry pet food types can often look similar but each pet has its own nutritional needs so remember not to give your guinea pig the same feed as you give your rabbit for example.

Guinea pigs are vegetarian so you can vary your pet's diet with guinea-pig friendly fresh vegetables such as brocolli or carrot peelings. Careful not to give them too much though as it can upset their tummies!

Like humans, guinea pigs do not produce their own vitamin C so you will need to make sure this is represented somewhere in their diet. A lot of dry pet foods already contain it though.

Bedding

Wood shavings are a common choice for guinea pigs as it is easy to find, safe and absorbent. However, if your guinea pig has any sort of foot problems, wood shavings might hurt their little feet. So to make sure they are comfortable when they scooch about their new home, you might want to try recycled paper, or even a bit of both!

Be careful not to use sawdust as it can cause issues with their eyes as well as respiratory problems.

Hide and seek

Guinea pigs can sometimes be a little panicky and seeing them scuttle about in their cages at every little sound is no surprise. Give them a little hideaway hutch so that they can feel safe and more relaxed. Hutches come in both plastic and edible materials. Plastic is light, easy to clean and inexpensive. However, guinea pigs are curious creatures and will put almost anything in between their fluffy cheeks, just to have a little nibble. If this is the case, you might want to try an edible hutch to help them satisfy their chewing needs.

Disclaimer: This content in this article is intended for information or entertainment purposes only, it is not intended to replace the advice of a vet or animal health professional. Your use of the information is entirely at your own risk and Me & My Pets assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of the information found on this site. If you have any questions or concerns over your pet's wellbeing you should consult your vet immediately.  

Posted in Small pets