GUINEA PIG Pet Care
General Care Information
GUINEA PIG Feeding Information
- Provide your Guinea Pig plenty of room to roam – cages should be at least 18 inches wide, 14 inches high, and 25 inches deep
- Guinea Pigs love hay – for eating and for nesting, do not use cedar chips, saw dust or fabrics
- Use a firm but gentle grip to pick up your Guinea Pig
- Vitamin C – Guinea Pigs need lots of it, so treat your pet regularly to fresh fruits and vegetables that are high in Vitamin C
- Guinea Pigs love to keep clean – help them out by cleaning their cage regularly
- Guinea Pigs need companionship – another Guinea Pig of the same sex is usually the best companion
Guinea Pig Chow
Guinea Pigs need plenty of fresh water and food designed specifically for Guinea Pigs – do NOT try and feed your Guinea Pig Rabbit food. Unlike most animals, guinea pigs do not internally generate Vitamin C and therefore will need supplements to their diet. Commercially available guinea pig chow contains about 20% protein, 16% fiber, and about 1 gram of vitamin C per kilogram. These chows have a 6 week shelf life and should be purchased in the amounts that your pet can consume in a 6 week time period.
To supplement your pet’s diet with vitamin C, provide drinking water mixed with ascorbic acid – mix 200mg of vitamin C for every 1 quart of water. In addition to drink mixes, give your guinea pig several leaves of cabbage or a quarter of an orange every day. Be sure to wash all fresh fruits thoroughly before feeding. Fresh fruits and vegetables are meant to be supplements and not staples in the diet and therefore should not exceed more than 15% of the daily menu.
Guinea Pigs should have water made available to them at all times, especially during the hotter seasons of the year. A hanging drops-style water dispenser is a great solution for keeping water from spilling and keeping it free of contaminants. The water dispenser should be refilled with fresh water every two days and should be cleaned with a disinfectant soap and rinsed thoroughly each time it is filled. (see above instructions for supplementing water with Vitamin C.)
GUINEA PIG Grooming
Guinea pig nails should be trimmed as often as necessary and may not ever need to be trimmed depending on what type of surface your pet is accustomed to. Guinea pigs that spend a lot of time on hard, semi-rough surfaces will naturally wear down their claws to an acceptable length. If your guinea pig mostly lives on soft surfaces, the claws will grow longer into a sharp tip. Using commercially available cat clippers, clip the end of the claws – do not cut the claws too short to avoid injury.
Just like other members of the rodent family, the guinea pig’s front two teeth – the incisors – will grow throughout its entire life. Because these teeth are always growing, if they are not worn down naturally or clipped occasionally they will curve into the mouth preventing proper eating resulting in starvation.
To care for your guinea pig’s teeth, make sure to provide your pet safe toys to gnaw on such as commercially available chew sticks, tree branches or wood blocks. The natural chewing action will wear down the front teeth to a healthy, acceptable length.
If the teeth become too long and are in need of clipping, take your pet into the local veterinarian to have the clipping done. Additionally, if you notice that the teeth are chipped, consult with your veterinarian.
Guinea pigs are fastidious groomers and generally will keep their fur clean by themselves. If you choose to brush your pet’s fur, use a stiff pet brush by applying moderate pressure to remove loose hair and to remove any mats. As you brush, inspect the ears and skin for any signs of mites, fleas or any other kind of skin irritation or abrasion.
Most guinea pigs do not like the water – in fact, the panic induced by a bath can result in unhealthy stress and potential injury. Guinea pigs should not be bathed unless they absolutely need it – for medical reasons, such as fleas, or if they happen to get extremely dirty, mud or sewage.
As an alternative to a bath, consider some of the following options:
- Powder baths – apply the powder to the fur and brush out with a stiff brush
- Spot clean dirty bottoms with hydrogen peroxide – gently rub to remove feces and urine stains
- Spot clean fur with a washcloth and warm soapy water
GUINEA PIG Housing
When choosing a new home and location for your guinea pig, it is important to consider the comfort and safety of your pet. Choose a safe, quiet location that gets plenty of air circulation and where the climate can be controlled. Guinea pigs prefer to live in 60 to 75 F degree temperatures. In hotter climates where temperatures extend over 75 degrees, provide your pet with a frozen ice pack in the bottom of the cage so the pet can cool itself. In cold weather, you may want to cover the cage with a warm blanket. In addition to climate concerns, constant or sudden loud noises in the home can cause the guinea pig undue stress – find a location that allows for social interaction without all the chaos.
Your guinea pigs enclosure should be between 100 and 180 square inches of floor space – any less space causes your pet to feel cramped. The sides should be at least 10 inches tall. The enclosure should be made of easy to clean material such as wire, stainless steel, glass or thick plastic. Cages made of wood are not recommended as they are hard to keep clean and are more apt to get chewed on, eventually creating an escape route for the pet.
The best type of bedding is hay – it’s great for sleeping and for snacking. Bedding should be cleaned weekly and the enclosure should be washed with hot soapy water and a non-toxic disinfectant. While other types of bedding can be used, be sure to avoid cedar wood chips, and saw dust. Cedar, while it smells pleasant, is actually toxic to guinea pigs and should be avoided as a choice of bedding. Saw dust tends to bind itself to male genitalia and should also be avoided.
Wire bottom cages can be convenient ways to keep urine and feces out of the cages, as the waste can easily drop through the mesh onto the ground. While this may be the easy way out for some pet owners, be aware that wire cage bottoms are hard on hamsters feet and can cause open sores as well as present the opportunity for broken legs if a leg happens to slip through and get caught.
If your guinea pig scares easily, you should provide a box or enclosure inside the cage where your guinea pig can escape to and hide. Frightened guinea pigs can behave erratically and, if they have no where to hide, may harm themselves trying to escape whatever it is that scared them
GUINEA PIG Exercising
Guinea pigs do not require as much exercise as their other rodent family counterparts. They generally do not enjoy running wheels or plastic balls for roaming the house. Guinea pigs can find plenty of exercise by simply exploring in and out of homemade tunnels and obstacle courses made of blocks.
Rather than exercise, a guinea pig prefers to lay around and soak up the sun. Be sure to not allow your pet in the sun for too long as overexposure can result in heat stroke.