Originally from South America Guinea Pigs come in a variety of coat colours and types – some even Elvis like! Guinea Pigs are extremely sociable animals and can be housed together in same-sex couples or groups to discourage aggressive behaviour and fighting.
Guinea Pigs can be housed in purpose built plastic and wire cages. A traditional rabbit hutch is also a suitable type housing – provided it is secure and well-ventilated. When choosing a home for your Guinea Pig it is important to chose a type of housing that is large, spacious and well-ventilated. The home you choose should also be secure – to protect your Guinea Pig from potential threats such as cats and foxes (if kept outdoors) and also to prevent your pet from escaping. Ideally a solid floor is preferable to one made of wire mesh to prevent damage to your Guinea Pigs toes and feet. Wood shavings are commonly used as a bedding material. Your pet should also have access to an outdoor run on a daily basis to allow them to exercise and graze on fresh grass. The run should be easy to move to ensure that continued grazing on fresh grass is available. Guinea Pigs also love having somewhere to hide – so it is important to ensure you provide your Guinea Pig with a few different ‘hide-outs’ to make them feel safe and secure.
Once you have selected an appropriate home for your pet it is important to choose a suitable location in which to put it. Ideally the cage or hutch should be located in an area that has access to natural light and is free from drafts and sheltered from wind. To provide environmental enrichment toys such as cardboard tubes and various types of chew toys can be provided to ensure that your pet’s home is a fun place to be and to help maintain good dental health.
For a balanced diet Guinea Pigs require grass or hay (ad lib) and fresh, leafy green vegetables should also be provided daily. A commercially prepared ‘complete’ food should also be given but this should only make up a small portion of your pet’s overall diet. Foods that are high in sugar including fruits should be avoided. Water should be available to your pet at all times and a water bottle is ideal as long as fresh water is provided daily. Vitamin C supplementation is required in Guinea Pigs as they cannot make their own. Fresh green vegetables or 1/4 Vitamin C tablet dissolved in their water daily is enough to meet their requirements.
Guinea Pigs are unable to produce their own Vitamin C and therefore must be provided with a direct source of Vitamin C in their diet to prevent deficiency. Feeding fresh leafy green vegetables and small amounts of Vitamin C rich food such as kiwi fruit can help ensure your Guinea Pig gets an adequate amount of this essential vitamin in their diet. Vitamin C can also be provided in your pets water using liquid or tablet forms (1/4 tablet dissolved in their water) but this must be changed daily.
Guinea Pigs that are fed an unsuitable diet (eg mainly on pellets) are highly susceptible to developing dental problems or dental disease. Guinea Pigs teeth grow continuously throughout their lives and in the wild their teeth are worn down naturally as they spend a large portion of their day grazing on highly fibrous material such as grass. It is important that your Guinea Pig is allowed to graze throughout the day on either grass or hay – as this should make up the majority of your pets diet.
Guinea Pigs are also at risk of acquiring internal and external parasites such as worms and mites. There are ‘spot-on’ treatments that are available for both prevention and treatment of these infestation. Please contact the clinic for further information.