Guinea Pigs
Guinea PigsGuinea PigsGuinea Pigs
What should you expect from your guinea pig?

Guinea pigs are intelligent, quiet animals. As a solitary pet, it may bond closely to you, greeting you with chirps, purrs, squeaks or whistles. Guinea pigs do not require as much of your time as some other pets, but the more time you spend with them, the more interactive they will be. They are very active creatures and enjoy running through tunnels and negotiating mazes. They may play with toys, and if you have more than one guinea pig, they will play games of chase with each other.

Guinea pigs are social animals, and will establish a pecking order, frequently male-dominated. Overcrowding may incite aggression, and non-castrated males may be aggressive towards other males in the presence of females. Guinea pigs do not adapt well to changes in their food or environment. Fur barbering (chewing of the fur) may occur in situations of stress and overcrowding.

What do guinea pigs do all day?

Guinea pigs like quiet environments and appreciate having a box or tunnel in which to hide and rest. While your guinea pig does not need to be walked, it will enjoy wandering outside its cage. Like all rodents, guinea pigs explore their world through nibbling on new items; therefore, you should check their play area for any potential hazards.

What should you feed your guinea pig?

Unlike other animals, guinea pigs are not able to synthesize vitamin C on their own; therefore, a dietary source of about 100mg of vitamin C must be provided daily. Commercial pellets specially formulated for guinea pigs contain vitamin C, but the levels are affected by storage conditions and time. Vitamin C should be suppllemented via a daily tablet crushed and sprinkled on the food. Therefore, relying on pellets only is not recommended. You can provide supplementation with a quarter of an orange or a small amount of kale or cabbage daily to ensure adequate vitamin C intake. Fresh timothy hay should be offered for additional fiber.

Guinea pigs should have fresh, filtered drinking water in a bottle or dish at all times. Check the water bottle frequently because they like to play with the sipper tube, which may cause leakage.

If the nails or teeth of guinea pigs need to be trimmed regularly, evaluate the diet, as it may be inadequate.

How should you house your guinea pig?

Your guinea pig's cage should be at least 1' x 2', but the larger the space, the better. The sides of the enclosure should be at least 12" high.

The best flooring for guinea pigs is solid, covered with dust-free bedding of either soft wood shavings (aspen for example), shredded paper, hay, or commercial bedding pellets. While their fecal pellets are relatively odorless, bedding should be changed weekly to control urine odors. guinea pigs are very sensitive to the ammonia in urine.

Housing for your guinea pig should:
  • Be set up in a quiet part of the house away from sudden noises.
  • Be cleaned with a change of bedding material every few days.
  • Be maintained in a ambient temperature between 55-80 degrees.
  • Offer some opportunity for sunlight as long as shade is available to prevent overheating.
  • Include a box or tunnel for hiding and resting.
  • Include items for chewing such as branches from fruit trees, which will help keep the teeth worn properly.
  • Be easy to clean.

How can you keep your guinea pig healthy, happy, and safe?
  • Provide fresh food and water daily.
  • Keep diet stable and minimize treat variety.
  • Ensure a daily source of vitamin C in the diet.
  • Remove fresh food that is not eaten within a half hour.
  • Take your guinea pig to a veterinarian specializing in exotic animals, such as the ones at Saukville Veterinary Clinic, annually for a physical exam.
  • If your guinea pig has long hair, comb it daily and keep it clipped and clean.
  • Check droppings for evidence of illness: abnormally dry feces may indicate dehydration or constipation, while abnormally soft feces indicates diarrhea.

Things you must keep away from your guinea pig:
  • Wire flooring in enclosure
  • Tobacco and cigarette smoke
  • Electrical cords
  • Ingestible plastics
  • Furniture
  • Dogs, cats and young children
  • Toxic houseplants
  • Pesticides
  • Cedar shavings, pine
  • Refined sugars
  • Leaded paint and wood varnish
  • Galvanized metal