Guinea Pigs Can Make Great Pets
4 November, 2013
Guinea pigs can be wonderful pets and companions. These docile, friendly members of the rodent family rarely bite and are known for squeaking with delight when their favorite pet parents enter the room. Guinea pigs are a great starter pet for older children who know how to properly handle these little guys. But, don’t be fooled. Guinea pigs need the proper care to prosper.
The home for your guinea pig
Guinea pigs are social animals that prefer to live in small groups. If you keep two or more females together, they will become great friends. If you want two males, it’s smart to choose two babies from the same litter. Since guinea pigs, like all rodents, multiply rapidly, keeping males and females together is not recommended.
You’ll need to provide a minimum of four square feet of cage space per guinea pig; however, the larger the cage, the better. You’ll need a solid-bottom cage without wire floors as they can irritate your pets’ feet. Plastic-bottom tub cages with wire tops also make great guinea pig homes. Never use a glass aquarium, due to the poor ventilation that it provides. Line the bottom cage with aspen or hardwood shavings or some other form of safe bedding, such as grass hay.
Have a hiding and sleeping place for your guinea pig
Guinea pigs love to hide when they play, so be sure to place cardboard tubes and/or empty coffee cans with smoothed edges in the enclosure for this purpose. Plastic pipes and flower pots are good, too, and bricks and rocks for climbing will be much appreciated. All guinea pigs need a cave for sleeping and resting, so make sure to purchase a covered sleeping box, readily available at pet supply stores.
How to properly feed your guinea pigs
Commercial guinea pig pellets should make up the bulk of your pet’s diet. Nutritionally complete, they’re available at pet supply stores, and are made from plants, seeds and veggies. Feed your guinea pigs twice daily, in the morning and in the evening.
Unlike other animals, guinea pigs cannot manufacture Vitamin C, so you’ll need to ensure that your pets get enough of this essential nutrient every day. A quarter of an orange will do, but you can also include some fruits and veggies that are high in C to their daily ration of fresh foods, such as kale, dandelion greens and strawberries.
Fresh, clean water should be readily available at all times. Use an inverted bottle with a drinking tube, and change the water daily.
Make sure to clean your guinea pig’s cage daily
Remove soiled bedding, droppings and stale food from the cage daily. Clean the cage completely once a week by replacing dirty bedding and scrubbing the bottom of the cage with warm water. Be sure everything’s dry before adding fresh bedding.
You should handle your guinea pigs with care
It’s crucial that you get your pets used to you—and used to being handled. Start by feeding them small treats. When they’re comfortable with that, you can carefully pick up one pig at a time, one hand supporting the bottom, the other over the back.
Guinea pigs are very conscientious about grooming themselves, but brushing them on a regular basis will help keep their coat clean and remove any loose hairs. Long-haired guinea pigs should be brushed daily in order to prevent tangles and knots from forming.
Make sure to keep up your veterinary care
If you think one of your guinea pigs is sick, make sure to bring your guinea to your vet immediately. Common signs that something isn’t as it should be include sneezing, coughing, diarrhea and lethargy. Guinea pigs are very susceptible to external parasites such as mites and lice. If you think your pet is infested, head to the vet for treatment.
With love and care, your guinea pig will thrive and be a great addition to your home.
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