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Guinea Pig Care Guide

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Guinea pigs make fantastic, inexpensive pets which are great for young children.

They also develop wonderful personalities and can become very affectionate.

Shelter & housing

These pets generally need a very hardy structure called a hutch, with two sections:

  • A fully enclosed area for protection from the elements and for sleeping.
  • An activities section.

Ensure your pet’s hutch has good ventilation and allows them to avoid direct sunlight, as they are much more sensitive to heat than cold and are susceptible to heat stroke. It is best to position the hutch off the ground, with adequate shelter.

The guinea pig’s hutch should be a minimum of 70sq cm per guinea pig. If your hutch has a wire floor, ensure it is well covered with hay, so as not to risk your guinea pig catching and breaking its leg. Bedding material should be soft straw or hay, also provide material for your guinea pig to burrow under in the activities section.

Tip

Care must be taken if mixing rabbits and guinea pigs together. Bullying can occur and each species has different dietary requirements.

We like to chew

Guinea pigs will chew anything including carpet, furniture, shoes and more. Serious hazards include electrical wires and poisonous plants. Their teeth grow continuously and they need to chew to wear them down so the mouth closes properly. Always provide gnawing toys, we have a great range available at PETstock.

Handling

Let guinea pigs get used to your hands without picking them up for a few days, calmly talking to and petting them. Carefully place your hand under your guinea pig’s mid-section, just behind the front feet, and use your other hand to support their hindquarters. It may help to restrain the front legs between your fingers. Bring your pet close to your chest, supporting their entire body with two hands. Always keep a firm yet gentle hold. If your pet begins to struggle, lower yourself to the floor to reduce the chance of fall injuries. When placing your pet back in its cage, release at ground level.

Feeding requirements

Your guinea pig must have a constant supply of fresh water, good quality hay as well as a daily supply of high quality guinea pig pellets.

Fresh vegetables should also be fed daily. It is recommended you offer three types from the following list: broccoli, carrots, cucumber, brussel sprouts, capsicum, dandelion greens and parsley.

You can also feed your guinea pig fresh grass.

Note: Guinea pigs should not be fed celery, spinach, raw beans, rhubarb and beetroot. Do not feed your pet lettuce. It is non-toxic but often causes diarrhoea.

Fruit such as bananas, apples, oranges, strawberries and raspberries make good treats.

Vitamin C is very important for guinea pigs, as they cannot produce their own (like us, they are susceptible to scurvy). It is vital they get daily fruit and vegetables as mentioned above.

Tip

Ensure fresh water is available in special, non-drip bottles with stainless steel nozzles, as wet bedding may cause moist dermatitis and the parasitic disease coccidiosis.

Bedding

Bedding should be changed frequently as dirty or wet bedding can cause sores on the feet.The flooring should consist of hay or soft straw (please be mindful that hay bedding may be eaten away and will need replenishing). Sawdust should be avoided as it is too fine and can irritate the eyes, nose and ears. Create a sleeping area with something like a bird nesting box, filled with hay or soft straw.

Exercise

Play pens and exercise pens are available from PETstock, which are ideal for guinea pigs to run around on grass on a daily basis. Guinea pigs should be allowed a shelter even in the exercise area where they can feel safe.

Ensure you keep your guinea pig under constant supervision if bringing them inside to run around.

Treatments

Worming

Guinea pigs should be wormed every three months with a small animal wormer.

Mites

Regular examination for fur and ear mites is required. Lice and mites are quite common in guinea pigs, which can be easily picked up from new bedding (e.g. hay and straw).

Mite and lice sprays can be used in minor outbreaks; however veterinary treatment must be sought if the condition worsens.

Nail trimming

Guinea pigs nails can grow very long and sharp, they need to be checked on a regular basis and trimmed as necessary.

Heat stroke

Guinea pigs do not toleratwe heat well and can die from overheating. On very hot days provide relief through frozen plastic bottles of water, a fan and frozen fruit and vegetables.

Tip

Toilet train your Guinea Pig to ensure no messy accidents occur.

Guinea Pig Check List