Guinea pigs can be one of the most rewarding family pets out there—with the proper care and handling! They’re kind and gentle creatures that love to socialize and play with other guinea pigs.
- Guinea Pig Care Basics
- 10 Tips from Guinea Pig Owners
- 1. Feed your guinea pig a complete diet
- 2. Choose the correct size cage
- 3. Understand that your guinea pig has irregular sleep cycles
- 4. Give your guinea pig a friend
- 5. Guinea pigs only need a little simple grooming
- 6. Your guinea pig needs gentle handling
- 7. Leave the mating to the professionals
- 8. Create a separate playpen
- 9. Understand the cost
- 10. Check your guinea pig’s health regularly
- Caring for Guinea Pigs Should Be Fun
Guinea pigs are small (when compared to cats or dogs) and relatively fragile, so they require some delicate care. But it will all be worth your while in the end. Guinea pigs make wonderful family pets as they’re great around children and other pets, and they can be entertaining and loving companions.
You can use the points below to get a basic outlook on the care of a guinea pig. You will also find 10 unique tips from real guinea pig owners!
Guinea Pig Care Basics
Looking after a guinea pig can seem complicated when you’re looking at everything that’s involved. However, using the points below, you might find that you’re more ready than you think.
Give your guinea pig a quiet environment
Guinea pigs can get overwhelmed easily by the opening and closing of doors during the day, which means they need an isolated space for their cage.
This doesn’t mean, though, that they don’t like to socialize. It simply means that sudden sounds will overwhelm their nervous system. It will benefit the guinea pig to place them somewhere quiet and away from direct sunlight.
Interact with your guinea pig daily
Guinea pigs are highly social animals. They thrive on interaction with people and (especially) other guinea pigs. This means that if you interact with or just hang out with your pig each day for at least a few hours, you’ll have a happy pig.
They also benefit from getting out of their cage each day, which means that time in a safe space outside of the cage is a great addition to their schedule. You must supervise them the entire time they are outside of their cage.
Guinea pigs are known for their chewing, which means that you must protect your belongings when you let them roam around.
Provide mental stimulation within their cage
Guinea pigs can get bored when they’re in their cage all day, which means that adding toys or puzzles to their cage will benefit their quality of life.
You can also help their mental stimulation by changing out their toys each month. When guinea pigs get bored, they begin to chew things that they shouldn’t be chewing. Providing your pig with a variety of toys will help them stay busy while you’re gone.
Choose foods that benefit them
Guinea pigs need specific foods, not only for their internal health but also for their external health. You need to provide food that will help keep their teeth from getting too sharp, for example.
Guinea pigs also do not create their own vitamin C supply, which means that you must find foods that will give them that essential nutrient. Guinea pigs’ diets are incredibly important for a long and happy lifespan.
10 Tips from Guinea Pig Owners
Below you will find the nitty-gritty advice from guinea pig owners! These tips will save you a lot of time and energy if you implement them before you even purchase your new friend. But they can also help answer some of your questions if you’re a new guinea pig owner.
1. Feed your guinea pig a complete diet
Consensus: Guinea pigs thrive on grass hay as their main meal. The trick is ensuring that they get enough fruits and vegetables as well.
Guinea pigs cannot create their own vitamin C, which means that the diet you provide them needs to take that into consideration. Feeding your guinea pig fresh carrots, kale, and spinach will give them that daily dose of vitamin C they need.
The majority of your piggies’ diet is going to consist of hay and fresh veggies, as well as pellets. Make a note that you must not feed your pig certain foods, including potatoes and rhubarb.
With a balanced diet, your guinea pig will be thriving in your care!
2. Choose the correct size cage
Consensus: The smallest cage you should have for a guinea pig is about 120 square inches and at least 10 inches tall.
Guinea pigs are curious creatures that love to roam and explore everything in front of them. This means that you do not want to put them in a small cage. Your piggy needs room to run around and play with its toys, as well.
If you’re pairing your guinea pig with an additional friend, then you must double the space. This allows each animal to feel safe and have the space they need to sleep and play.
3. Understand that your guinea pig has irregular sleep cycles
Consensus: Guinea pigs don’t sleep for long periods of time, which means you’ll notice your pig taking multiple naps during the day and night.
Guinea pigs do not sleep for hours at a time like people do, which means that you’ll notice your pig sleeping a lot throughout the day. However, when you approach the cage, your guinea pig will be ready to play most of the time.
This also means that you’ll notice that they are active at night and might make a lot of noise. It’s highly recommended to keep the cage in its own room where there is no direct sunlight or anyone that the pig will disturb.
You don’t need to worry that your guinea pig won’t want to play during the day due to the numerous naps that it takes. This makes the guinea pig a great pet for children.
4. Give your guinea pig a friend
Consensus: Guinea pigs are social creatures and thrive with a cage-mate.
Guinea pigs have shown that they’re happier when they’re not alone in their cages. However, you must be careful about who you pair them with. You need to pair boys with boys and girls with girls unless they’re neutered.
A benefit to giving your guinea pig a friend is that they’ll likely be even more docile and friendly. It’s been shown that when guinea pigs have a friend, they’re much more likely to make less noise and cuddle with each other more.
If you have multiple children that want pets, then owning multiple guinea pigs is a great choice. You only need one large cage, which cuts down on the cost of buying two animals.
5. Guinea pigs only need a little simple grooming
Consensus: Your guinea pig doesn’t need to be extensively groomed, other than a simple brushing once a week and a nail-trimming once a month.
The grooming requirements of a guinea pig might throw you off at first, as most pets of the rodent variety require very little to no grooming by their humans.
However, grooming a guinea pig is actually very simple, so don’t overcomplicate it! Guinea pigs naturally have sharp teeth that never stop growing. However, this problem is taken care of with the abrasive hay that they eat and by chewing on various toys.
A guinea pig’s nails require your care, too, but that will be the most complicated part of the required grooming. If you’re keeping your pig’s cage clean and providing it with a good diet, then you won’t have to worry much about grooming.
6. Your guinea pig needs gentle handling
Consensus: Guinea pigs can become stressed very easily, and gaining your guinea pigs’ trust is important.
The handling of a guinea pig is a quiet and slow process, as guinea pigs are actually very fragile animals, despite their relative size. You must be aware of their natural patterns and not disturb them while they are sleeping or eating. (You can approach the cage and call for them while they’re sleeping, but don’t force them to wake up.)
Like most animals, you approach them quietly and let them come to you. You must use both hands to scoop them up, and take note of what they seem to want. They may just want to sit on your lap or enjoy being held.
You have to work them up to being held for longer periods of time before you expect them to be comfortable with it.
7. Leave the mating to the professionals
Consensus: Mating guinea pigs can be incredibly difficult, which means if you’re not a professional, your guinea pig should be neutered.
Pregnancy in guinea pigs can occur when the pig is as young as one month old, and pregnancy can be nearly life-threatening to the mother and her child. Due to the pelvic bones potentially fusing in female guinea pigs, C-sections often happen, with a low life expectancy.
It’s recommended to neuter your male guinea pigs to ensure your pigs’ safety, especially if you are housing your pig with the opposite sex. This will keep them safe and allow you more options for a second guinea pig.
8. Create a separate playpen
Consensus: Guinea pigs thrive mentally when you bring them out of their cage each day.
It’s highly recommended that you have a space either outside or inside where the guinea pig is safe to roam that is separate from their cage. This stimulates them mentally and helps them to socialize with people better.
You will want this play area to be safe for your belongings and for the pig as they love to chew anything they can. Ensure that the flooring of your separate playpen is safe for their feet as well.
9. Understand the cost
Consensus: The initial cost of purchasing a guinea pig can range from about $150 – $300.
It is important to understand that since you are going to be needing a larger cage the price is also going to be more. The monthly price will range from $30 – $50 for the various items needed for the care of your pig.
It can be overwhelming when you go to the pet store for a relatively small animal and see such a large price. However, you must understand that guinea pigs are delicate creatures and require more care than the average house pet.
10. Check your guinea pig’s health regularly
Consensus: Guinea pigs are susceptible to numerous diseases, which means that they require your daily observation of their health.
A few diseases that guinea pigs can have are bacterial enteritis, bumblefoot, fur loss, heat stroke, and pneumonia.
This can sound incredibly intimidating, but it simply means that your guinea pig’s health must be at the front of your mind. There are things to look out for, such as the temperature of the environment in which you are placing your guinea pig. You must be aware of the type of cage flooring that you have, as it can cause pain in their foot pads.
If you’re consistently keeping watch on your guinea pigs’ health, then you will be able to spot if anything pops up for your new pet.
Caring for Guinea Pigs Should Be Fun
The care of a guinea pig is a delicate but incredibly rewarding experience! The tips you have found in this article will prepare you to give a guinea pig its best life.