Choosing a Guinea Pig as a Pet
Guinea Pigs are the ideal beginner pet; they are social animals that very rarely bite or scratch but they can be nervous. In addition, they are normally very quiet animals which become tamer the more they are handled. When fully grown, at about 16 weeks, a Guinea Pig will be about 20-30cm in length; so as they get bigger, they will need more space.
Species of Guinea Pig
The American Guinea Pig is the most common guinea pig species, recognizable by their short smooth hair, which will require very little grooming care.
Albino Guinea Pigs which have a distinctive white coat and pink eyes.
Abyssinian Guinea Pig – are easy to spot as their hair is longer and slightly curly and will be particularly silky and shiny. Although their hair is in whirls they keep themselves relativity clean. Although they do not like to be held as much as smooth haired Guinea Pigs, they do love to be talked to, and can be quite vocal themselves.
Company for Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs are sociable animals and prefer to live with another guinea pig rather than alone. Natural instincts will cause unneutered Guinea Pigs to fight, so it is recommended that you neuter your Guinea Pigs. Recommended pairings are two females, or a neutered male and a neutered female.
Two male Guinea Pigs will fight, so it is recommended that they are not kept together.
Guinea Pigs have an average lifespan of four to eight years.
Where Guinea Pigs Like to Live
Guinea Pigs can be kept indoors or outdoors. Because of their large size, they will need a large cage or hutch, which will be at least four times their adult size, with a separate space to allow your Guinea Pig to exercise.
If your Guinea Pig is to live outside, choose a hutch which is fully waterproof, draught free and be raised from the ground to help protect from predators. During the winter it is recommended that you take your Guinea Pigs hutch into a shed or provide extra shelter such as a hutch cover to protect them against the harsh weather conditions.
If living indoors, choose a cage which has been specifically designed for indoor use. Your Guinea Pigs cage should be positioned away from radiators or direct sunlight and clear of any draughts.
Exercise & Play for Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs are curious animals that will be active during the day, and will become bored if they toys are not available for them. They love to chew so chew blocks and gnaw sticks should be provided at all times. Your Guinea Pig will also need space to run and jump around, so you will need to give them space to do this every day.
Diet & Nutrition
Guinea Pigs love to eat, so a carefully managed balanced diet is needed to prevent your Guinea Pig from becoming overweight. A diet of fresh hay and specially blended Guinea Pig food is recommended, with a mineral store and vitamin supplements to provide additional nutrients.
As your Guinea Pig’s teeth will continue to grow throughout his life, you will also need to ensure they have gnaw sticks and toys at all times, which will help to keep their teeth trim. Overgrown teeth will cause discomfort and an inability to eat.
Health & Hygiene
A healthy diet and hygienic conditions will help to keep your guinea pig in good health.
If you become concerned about your Guinea Pigs health, speak to your Petmania pet care advisors they will be happy to help you.
A healthy guinea pig will:
- Be alert with bright eyes
- Have dry and clean nostrils
- Have a shiny coat
- Have healthy trim teeth
Lice & Mites
Lice and mites can affect your Guinea Pig, so you should check for them regularly. Treatment is relatively simple, but early identification is necessary to prevent discomfort and potential hair loss. If you are concerned, please speak to your Petmania Petcare Advisor who will be more than happy to help.
Because your Guinea Pigs teeth grow continually, you will need to provide – gnaw sticks and chew toys to help ensure his teeth are evenly worn and to prevent overgrown teeth developing. Overgrown teeth will lead to discomfort, loss of appetite and other related illnesses. If you are concerned, please seek veterinary advice.
Guinea Pigs are excellent self groomers, but regular grooming by you will help strengthen the bond that you have with your pet, and also highlight any skin or health problems that may develop.
Groom your Guinea Pig daily if they have long hair, or weekly if they have short hair using a grooming glove or a soft brush.
Hutches & Habitat
Clean out your Guinea Pigs hutch on a weekly basis with a pet safe disinfectant. Food bowls and water bottles should be cleaned daily, and soiled bedding removed.
Neutering and Spaying
Through neutering (males) or spaying (females), you can help your guinea pig live a happier, healthier, and longer life.
Both neutering (males) and spaying (females) are surgical procedures done under anaesthetic; therefore there is minimal pain for the guinea pig. You can neuter your male guinea when it reaches sexual maturity which is after five months.
Neutering a guinea pig does not change their behaviour they will still show sexual signs towards females, but it will prevent reproduction.
Benefits of Neutering or Spaying
- Female guinea pigs when spayed have a less likelihood of becoming overweight.
- Reduces the risk of cancer and tumours developing
- Prevents unwanted reproduction
Take Me Home Checklist
When to take your Guinea Pig home, you will need make sure you have some things to in order to help keep him healthy and happy. We’ve put together a simple ‘Take Me Home’ checklist for new Guinea Pig owners. If you have any questions, or need any further advice, please drop in to your local Petmania and talk to our Petcare Advisors.
- Cage (indoor) hutch (outdoor)
- Bedding (wood shavings/ sawdust)
- Guinea Pig food + hay
- Water bottle + ceramic bowl
- Chew toys (gnaw sticks)
- Mineral stick/block
- Pet safe disinfectant
- Grooming glove or soft brush
- Guinea Pig book
- Guinea Pig treats
- Vitamin supplements