Tails Blog

Keeping a Guinea pig for a pet

Steve Coppell - Sunday, September 19, 2010

Guinea pigs make great first pet for kids. These cute  little critters  have a gentle nature, and they are relatively easy to care for. 
Guinea pigs love the company of their own kind, so its a good idea to keep at least two together. Pairs or small groups from the same litter, or a mother/daughter combination often works best. Two males may fight, especially if they are introduced later in life. Be aware that these critters breed prolifically. So this will impact on who you decide to keep together. Desexing is important if you want to keep males with females without babies.

You will need a hutch that provides an enclosed area for sleeping and a meshed area that provides a light airy environment during the daytime. Ideally the hutch can easily be moved so that your guinea pigs have access to fresh grass all the time. In summer be mindful that they arent placed where they can overheat in the sun, and in winter its a good idea if they are moved under cover or into a hutch that is raised off the ground. (Not inside the garage! Exaust fumes can be fatal)
Always provide clean warm bedding. Often its a good idea to line the area with newspaper then untreated wood shavings (to absorb their urine) followed by hay or shredded paper for warmth and insulation. 
Your guinea pigs need a constant supply of fresh water. For convienience and hygiene there are some good gravity feed waterers available because bowls of water tend to get tipped and or soiled.
Moving the hutch around the yard will provide fresh grass for them to graze on. (Dont feed them mown lawn clippings) they should also have a supply of fresh hay, ideally stored on a rack so that it doesnt get soiled.
A daily supply of vitamin C is important. So give them fresh vegetables such as carrots leafy greens, dandelion greens broccoli and cabbage. You might offer some fresh fruit but you should be aware that too much can cause diahoea. You can also buy guinea pig pellots with vitamin supplemented with vitamin C.
Guinea pigs teeth are continuously growing, so they need to eat a variety of hard food to wear their chompers down, and keep them in good condition. So root vegetables (turnips , swedes) or perhaps a gnawing block from a pet your local pet shop.

Guinea pigs like to feel safe, so a homemade tunnel from cardboard boxes or ceramic piping will go down a treat in your guineas pen. Or if you prefer there are a range of toys and accessories available for the entertainment and exercises purposes.
You might like to provide an enclosure so that your guinea pigs can get outside of their pen, and have more room to exercise.
Spending time with your pets will gain their trust and they will quickly become use to being handled and petted. They can be shy little creatures that startle easily, so approach them slowly and quietly from the front to avoid frightening them.

Did you know?
Guinea pigs originated from South America
Guinea pigs were first domesticated about 5000BC
Male guinea pigs are called boars, females sows and babies pups.
There are more than 30 different breeds of guinea pigs.
Unlike many other rodents, guinea pigs are born with fur and with their eyes open.
Guinea pigs usually live 5 to 8 years.