Guinea pigs are small but they are climbing the popularity ladder when it comes to pets. These small animals have a friendly demeanor and can mingle with everyone in your family. Moreover, these creatures are disciplined and sociable. If you are considering getting a guinea pig as a pet, this is the right place for you. Get to know all about guinea pigs and you will rush to the nearest place to get one. However, there are a few things that you must prepare before you get them because these small, furry animals need a big cage so that they can run around and be active. Moreover, you will have to ensure that you have fibrous and bulk foods to feed them.
WHAT ARE GUINEA PIGS
Guinea pigs are small and furry and they live up to eight years. They can only weigh a few pounds and the best part is, you can choose colors. This makes these creatures more attractive for children who like a manageable pet that they can play with and keep indoors. However, that does not make these little furry creatures less suitable for adult pet keepers. It is nice to know all about the various kinds of guinea pigs, and their basic needs so that when you have to take care of them, you can keep them as happy as they will make you.
Guinea pigs are more popularly known for scientific experimentation and how rodents are used for all kinds of medicinal and social research. This is why the phrase guinea pig has also become synonymous with any living being that is being used as an experiment. When you get to know these creatures up close, you will realize how friendly and cuddly they are.
THE PHYSICAL APPEARANCE OF A GUINEA PIG
Guinea pigs are small animals like other rodents. They may look like rats, but they have hairy round bodies and short ears. Their limbs are short too, and they have large eyes, a big head, and a short tail. These animals are from the larger varieties of rodents and can move fast. The feet of these rodents have hairless soles and they have short hair, or can even have long silky hair depending on the variety. All guinea pigs originate from South America, but they have become a popular pet option worldwide.
THE DIFFERENT BREEDS OF GUINEA PIGS
There are a few varieties of guinea pigs. Some of them are hairless, and some of them are quite furry. There are more than ten breeds of these creatures and while some of them are more famous as pets, we think all of them are equally cute and cuddly. These breeds are all similar in behavior but their appearances are different. These variations include:
1. Peruvian Guinea Pigs
The most adorable guinea pig has the best coat and such a cute appearance that adults and children will love to play with them. You will need to care more for these rodents because you wouldn’t want their coat to become infested with lice, which can happen easily.
2. Coronet Guinea Pig
This guinea pig can be identified by its long flowing hair. It is friendly and craves attention from its owners all the time. Daily brushing will have to be a part of your daily routine. These rodents are more active and may even need daily baths because they can be dirty players.
3. Baldwin Guinea Pig
These hairless guinea pigs are sturdy and love to live outdoors. Nowadays, you will see many campaigns from various animal supporters to adopt these friendly little rodents.
4. American Guinea Pig
These are the most common and most of the pets you see at home are American guinea pigs. They have an easy temperament and their fur is not too long or short. Their moderate appearance and behavior make them a fine pick.
5. Alpaca Guinea Pig
This breed is considered the most beautiful because of the wavy fur and the most adorable color combination of the fur. However, these rodents need daily brushing so that their fur does not tangle.
6. Abyssinian Guinea Pig
This breed is known to be the friendliest, and these little creatures look like stuffed animals. A little training can make these small rodents great companions for eight years. The diet requirements for this species are not any different from others although many people believe that the name and origin of this breed may indicate that.
7. Rex Guinea Pig
The most manageable fur belongs to these rodents. They are active, and playful and will not cause a lot of disturbance around you. They like to be held close and petted, which suits all pet parents, and therefore, a beautiful bond is created.
The appearance of these breeds is different as they vary a little in size and color. Some of these varieties eat more, are more active, and may even have minor behavior differences. However, most of them are similar except for physical differences and the needs that arise from them. These creatures are going to be great companions no matter which breed you choose.
WHEN YOU CONSIDER GETTING A GUINEA PIG
Pet parents who consider bringing a young guinea pig home must be aware of the various kinds of this rodent species. Now that you know the variations available at pet shops and adoption centers, you must focus on setting up a habitat for these rodents.
Guinea pigs are not reclusive animals that need exclusive space but it would be nice if you set up a small cage or an enclosure where they can play, rest and eat. Moreover, since these animals relieve themselves anywhere, it is better to keep them in a designated area.
THE KINDS OF CAGES YOU WILL NEED TO SETUP
Guinea pigs need more space than other animals their size. These animals look small but they are quite active and need to be active so that they can thrive and grow properly. These guinea pigs can be kept in a garden or muddy place that is fenced on all sides. If you want to place them indoors, you can use a playpen with some earth and grass inside.
Guinea pigs will require a covered area, as well as these creatures, need to spend some time on their own, and enjoy solitude. Moreover, they will need some area to sleep and relax. These cute pets will require all the same things that all sociable people do, and that is why they can be relatable for all of us.
BEDDING FOR GUINEA PIGS
Guinea pigs do not need litter trays like cats, which means that they will need a bedding area separate from the places where they know that they can stay clean and will feel comfortable sleeping. The bedding can be absorbent, soft, and man-made. By man-made, we mean anything like a cotton mattress or something that you make yourself because it does not have to be a heap of clay.
Wood shavings can be a cozy bed for these animals but recently there have been some revelations about the dangers of using wood shavings as bedding. We suggest a simple cotton cushion, which can absorb the moisture, and keep the guinea pig warm. Moreover, you can get a fleece cushion or a paper-based bed.
BUILDING THE HABITAT
You can make the bed by yourself easily. Building a habitat or bedding can be a fruitful activity. All you need is some soft fabric and a filling. Stitch a square piece of almost twelve inches, and then fill it with a washable filling like polyester or thermocol beans. It will not take too much time.
Another way of making the bed is to use any old cushion. Be sure that you do not use any fabric that will induce the production of lice or parasites. The furry creatures can be difficult to clean if the fabric of the bed causes their fur to have pests.
FEEDING YOUR GUINEA PIG
One of the magical nutrients that these furry animals require is Vitamin C. It is unconventional, but for these animals it is necessary. These animals cannot make their own Vitamin C like humans, and therefore, you will have to replenish their dosage every single day. Pet parents can get a lot of Vitamin C supplements from pharmacies and pet stores that are designed to keep these furry creatures happy and thriving. However, incorporating this nutrient into their daily intake is also essential. For this purpose you can feed them:
- Citrus fruits,
- Pineapples and other fruits are rich in Vitamin C.
However, too much sugar intake is not good for these creatures, so make sure that you do not give them any foods or supplements that have high sugar content. Vitamin C is found in many fruits but the ones that have a higher sugar content like oranges, are not suited as an everyday item for these guinea pigs.
Another feeding essential is roughage. Guinea pigs need a lot of fiber so that their metabolism is on point, and they consume all their extra energy to digest it. If you give them refined foods with low roughage, these animals will not be able to digest them fast and might even get constipated. Long-term doses of low-roughage foods and high-sugar foods will mean that these creatures will develop gastrointestinal issues. Also, find out Can Guinea Pigs Eat Bananas.
THE CARING ROUTINE
All pets deserve some regular care and grooming, which all pet parents must know about. If you are not yet sure about how many times you must clean your pet, or how to brush their fur and keep them clean, read along so that you can ensure that your new pet is happy and clean at all times.
GROOMING OF GUINEA PIG
New pet parents often ask if it is acceptable to bathe guinea pigs and if yes, then how often. The answer is that grooming is simple for these low-maintenance creatures. They can be washed every day, but be sure that you trim their nails and clean them at least once a week. One of the most interesting things about these creatures is that their teeth keep growing all through life.
They can grow long and may even cause pain and discomfort to small creatures. If they are not trimmed properly, the guinea pigs stop eating because of the pain that it causes them to bite and chew food. It is essential to mention that these long teeth are not a problem for all guinea pigs and the majority do not need a trim if you keep giving them food with high roughage. The chewing of such foods can erode the teeth to normality.
NAILS, FUR, AND EARS CLEANING
As we mentioned earlier, brushing fur is an everyday task. However, cutting the nails and cleaning the ears are not supposed to be as frequent. Many pet parents take their guinea pigs to the veterinarian clinic for grooming and that is an easy way to get a healthy and clean guinea pig because they do not remain dirty and the trained staff at the clinic can pamper them well.
If you want to do this at home, remember that these rodents are like all other living creatures. They only need care when it becomes necessary. For example, only cut the nails when they are too long or become a problem. Similarly, do not clean their ears regularly and only do it once in a few months to ensure that guinea pigs do not get any mites or mud.
IS A GUINEA PIG THE RIGHT PET FOR YOU
Guinea pigs are great pets because they love to interact with humans. They will like to spend time with you and be near you. Unlike many reptilian pets or even mammals, these little creatures can be close to you all day and not get tired. Another reason for you to keep these pets is that they are great with children. There will be no licking, dangerous temperament changes like anger or anxiety that may cause them to scratch or attack children. Moreover, they can take a bit of mishandling.
Guinea pigs are small animals that can easily get scared or may even get mistreated if they are shaken aggressively or if there is any pulling or forceful catching by children. We always advise pet parents to supervise small children around guinea pigs. Moreover, if you are considering keeping these animals as pets, you should know that they can defecate several times a day. As their caretaker, you will have to ensure that their cage remains clean and this can be a serious commitment. Probably, this is the only point that makes these creatures a little out of the low-maintenance circle when it comes to caring for them. While their grooming is easy, their bathroom-going frequency can be a considerable duty.
Guinea pigs can be little attention-gainers because they make a lot of noise. While they are not constantly squeaking, they will know when to get your attention and when to remain by themselves. Another reason to love these creatures is that they are diurnal, which means that they stay awake during the day and sleep at night. Fortunately, this means that there will be less noise in the middle of the night.
Another important thing that you should consider before keeping these rodents as pets is that some people are allergic to them. Be sure to find out first and the only way to do it is to visit the pet shop or breeder once or twice before finally picking out one. If you get rashes or respiratory issues, it means that you are allergic to these furry animals.
GUINEA PIG NEEDS
Like all living beings, your guinea pig pet will have certain needs that you can check here:
These animals are social and they will not like to be alone in the cage. They will need a companion, which means that maybe you should get a pair of male and female rodents. However, two males or females will also be fine because these creatures are not competitive and do not fight for dominance.
2. More Space
They need more space than other small creatures. There are some animals that require less space and they can be comfortable in a small cage. However, these animals have to run around and they need more space.
3. A Treadmill
If you cannot designate a lot of space for these animals, you will have to put a treadmill in the cage so that they can exert their bodies and expend their energy by running on it. Many pet parents create a treadmill themselves by attaching a wheel with rings to a pivot.
4. Food And More Food
Guinea pigs keep nibbling on food, which means you will have to keep their plate full at all times. They eat more than other rodents and probably that is why they are so fluffy and cute. You can give them foods with high roughage like hay, and fruit peels. Additionally, you can feed them foods high in Vitamin C. For roughage, you can also feed them vegetables that can keep their intestines clean and their digestive system fast. You can get guinea pig food as well, and they will eat many pellets per day. Always ensure that their nutritional needs are met.
Guinea pigs need a steady supply of water at all times. Be sure to fill their water dish more than a few times every day. You can also attach a refillable bottle to their cage so that they can drink from the nozzle whenever needed.
TYPICAL BEHAVIOR OF GUINEA PIG
Guinea pigs are easy to handle when they have company. If you keep a solo pig in the cage, it will become hard to handle because of the moods. While we say that these creatures are easy to handle, they can be tough when their needs for companionship are not met. Another behavior characteristic is discipline. These pets want to have a set routine of food, playing time, resting time, and even cleaning and bathroom time. You must not disrupt their routine and respect it so that when it is time to play with you, they give you all their attention.
When you approach the cage, you might not see the guinea pig around. This is because they like to hide. However, when they feel your presence or you call them by their name, they will respond and come out of their hiding place. While these pets are friendly and easy to handle, they need time in a new place or around new people. Do not expect them to become friends on the first day.
SUPPLIES YOU WILL NEED
Here are some of the things that you will need to put in order before you get the guinea pig home:
- A cage,
- The food supply of Vitamin C-rich supplements, guinea pig food, vegetables, and fruits.
- Food bowl and water bottle,
- Wooden chews for their teeth,
- Hiding places in the cage,
- Nail clippers, and brushes for maintenance,
- Hay rack for all-day nibbling,
- Chew cubes and
- A cozy bed.
WHERE TO BUY GUINEA PIG
Many pet shops offer guinea pigs and you can select one easily. Many people like furry ones, and prefer younger rodents so that they can enjoy more time with these cute little animals. However, adopting a pet is a fantastic idea and you must encourage others to do the same.
Most pet shops and adoption agencies have small guinea pigs, which are somewhere between three weeks and three months old. If you care well for them, you can enjoy their company for up to eight years. Guinea pigs can be selected from any place but try and get pairs so that they feel loved and know that they have friends from their species nearby.
THE HEALTH CONCERNS
While we discussed grooming earlier, pet parents must know that the neater you keep your pet, the neater it would like to stay with because they like routine. If you bathe them every day for the first week that they spend with you, the same time for bathing must be ensured for all days to follow. Do not change their routine as they may get upset and react by not being social.
Another thing to care for is their hygiene which depends on their teeth and nails. There can be many parasites in the mud that you lay inside the cage. Be sure to clean and trim the nails regularly to ensure perfect health conditions for these small rodents.
COMMON HEALTH ISSUES
Some health concerns may occur in guinea pigs. All animals get some kinds of illnesses, and guinea pigs may experience the following:
This can be caused by too many supplements, extra roughage, and even too much water. Be sure to take your pet to a doctor if this happens.
Scurvy is caused by an excess of Vitamin C. If your guinea pig gets this disease of bleeding gums and rashes, it is time to consult a doctor.
3. Mites Or Lice
The furry animals can get lice quite easily. You will have to brush them and spray them with anti-lice lotions. However, try and keep the spray away from their face and neck, and limbs so they do not accidentally get sick.
When you give your guinea pig pet a bath, remember to dry it well. Not only will it make them look more furry and cute, but it will keep them from having pneumonia. If this happens, take them to a doctor without delay.
Ringworm in guinea pigs is a skin infection that causes itchy patches and can be a menace for these creatures. Be sure to keep them clean, and if this occurs, take them to a veterinarian.
HEALTH IS EVERYTHING
Be sure to ensure that you keep your guinea pig healthy. The few things that you can do to make sure that guinea pigs grow well and live long will include:
- Keeping them active,
- Keep them away from sugary foods,
- Feed them roughage,
- Keep their eyes and mouth clean and watch out for any mucoid discharge.
- It will be healthy for you to keep their doctor visits regularly.
- Guinea pig usually walks fast so if you see the pet walking slowly, observe it.
WHEN TO WATCH OUT IF YOU SEE THESE RED FLAGS
Guinea pigs are not sensitive but these rodents do need some regular attention to ensure that they are not seriously ill. If you see the guinea pigs losing hair, it is time to address the problem. Similarly, if they lose their appetite that is also a sign that they need medical attention.
Itchy skin, lethargy, or even nose and mouth discharge can mean that there is some health issue that needs to be addressed. Pet parents might feel that guinea pigs do not require a lot of attention, but they do need it when they are not well. While these situations might not occur very frequently, and if you are a good pet keeper they might never occur, however, keep a check. Also, find out How Long Can Guinea Pigs Go Without Food.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How regularly do guinea pigs mate?
Guinea pigs mate often and can give birth many times in their lifetime. When you bring home a guinea pig, be prepared to see many generations!
How many litters can guinea pigs have in a year?
Guinea pigs can have up to five litters in a year. This is a high number and that is why pet keepers encourage people to adopt these pets instead of breeding more.
Are guinea pigs difficult to feed?
No, you will not have to feed these pets yourself as they can eat by themselves. Moreover, they eat more than a few times a day so you will want to keep replenishing their food dishes and keep the hay rack stacked.
Guinea pigs are rodents that can be great pets. These creatures are friendly and so cute that elders and children can enjoy their company. Moreover, these animals are easy to handle. There are many interesting things to know about these creatures so you should read all about them. Once you are ready to keep these little furry animals as pets, they will be easy to maintain and will keep you entertained. However, you must be careful about their health so that they live long and healthy life.
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