Caring for Guinea Pigs

A Guinea Pigs Needs

ENVIRONMENT

Not a lot of people realise that guinea pigs have hair and not fur so need to have a similar temperature to humans.  They cannot cope with excessive sun, wind, rain or draughts. You will need to position your hutch with all this in mind to find a suitable location. You can find covers to fit over the hutch but you must not forget to remove the cover if it is a hot day.  Hutches need to be a cosy size as they spend a lot of their time in their bedroom quarters and do not like too much room as they start to feel insecure due to having poor eyesight.

When they are on the grass in their pens they still need protection from the weather and they definitely like to hide away in tunnels, boxes etc

We have found at the shelter that putting a layer of vinyl on the floor of the hutch helps to make it a lot easier to clean and it reduces the smell. Then a layer of newspaper with hay on top is perfect as when you clean them out you just roll paper and hay up, brush, disinfect and remake. Simple.

DIET

Use a ceramic bowl so the cavy cannot spill the food and a water bottle is a good idea, but you need to periodically check the spout as sometimes the end gets rusty and stops working.  Hay, grass and vitamin c are the most important parts of a guinea pigs diet. You can get vitamin c when you give your cavy a small amount of dry concentrate that is especially made for cavies.  Giving fresh food daily is a delight to your pig but always try to rotate it so they get a different mix every day as some fruits contain acid which would cause sores if given daily.

Here is a list of delights your pig  will love
apples                                celery
pears                                 beetroot
oranges                             greens
melon                                carrot
kiwi                                   cucumber
strawberries                       sweet peppers
banana                              parsley
raspberry                           sweetcorn
clover                                tomato
dandelion
groundsel
plantains
nettle tips
tips of brambles

BEHAVIOUR

Guinea pigs have such a sweet nature, as soon as they become part of your family you fall in love with them. Most are shy and will hide away from you but once they bond they will accept you and make squeaking noises to greet you.  There are a variety of sounds from a cavy, grunts, squeaks, coos and gurgles and you will get to know the difference.

Be aware that teeth chattering is a sign of anger. Do not put your hand near when you hear this as you could accidentally get bitten.  Let your pig know when you are going to pick it up by talking to it, as cavies have poor eyesight and will get frightened and may harm themselves if they do not realise what you are about to do.  When putting your pig back into their hutch you must not let your cavy jump from your hand as they have short front legs and will easily break their jaw

HEALTH

If we re-home a guinea pig to you it should be in good health unless you are told different. Guinea pigs should look bright eyed and their hair should be in good condition.

If you think your guinea pig is unwell it should be taken to a vet. As they are prey animals cavies usually hide their symptoms and try to carry on as normal.  Guinea pigs can suffer with malocclusion which is where the teeth are overgrown and why you need a good diet for them. Wood from fruit trees is ideal and plenty of hay to gnaw on.

Parasites are another problem a cavy can get. Lice and mange are quite easy to cure. You just need to buy the medication from your vet.
Guinea pigs always need a vitamin c supplement and you will need to buy special dry food for this and it helps to feed plenty of fresh grass and red and green peppers also help to provide enough vitamin c.
A pigs life span is usually 5 years

COMPANY

Guinea pigs are sociable animals and in the wild live in colonies therefore you should have at least two to live together.  Groups of females with one neutered male works very well (lucky male) or a group of females. You cannot get a group of males living together unless they are brothers, and there are no females around that they can smell and even then it might not work.  You should not let a rabbit and guinea pig live together, the rabbit might bully the pig and they have different diets.