Are guinea pigs for everyone?
There are two initial attractions for those who are considering a guinea pig as a pet. Firstly, they are cute, relatively active and interesting animals that will show their inquisitive nature if allowed. Secondly, they are relatively cheap to buy and, although they require a fair amount of equipment, the initial outlay is relatively small.However, a guinea pig won’t be suitable for everyone. They can survive on their own, but will require some attention during the day, which is why many people buy them in pairs.
They also enjoy gentle human interaction, so you should make sure you have time to give to them each day.It’s also worth noting that, unlike other small animals such as hamsters, guinea pigs actually have a long lifespan of around 5 – 7 years so you will need to be prepared to care for them for that amount of time.
What living conditions do guinea pigs require?This is an important part of guinea pig care as, while they can be sociable with people they know, they can be quite skittish and nervous if presented with a situation they are unfamiliar with. For that reason, your guinea pig should be kept in a quiet, peaceful room where there isn’t a lot of noise.
These pets can be kept indoors or outside, depending on the amount of space you have available. While they are quite small, the more space you can provide the better for them. There should be a space where they can hide and feel safe, as well as a larger open space for them to move about in.Guinea pig cages are readily available, as are suitable outdoor hutches. If you are keeping your pet outdoors, make sure the hutch is sheltered from the sun, wind and rain, and it may even be necessary to bring them indoors during the cold winter months.
Most importantly, a secure outdoor run is a great way of providing interaction and space for your guinea pig!
What should I feed my guinea pig?
An essential part of guinea pig care is making sure they are fed properly, receiving all the necessary vitamins and minerals they need to live a long and healthy life. Instead of being fed at intervals during the day, your pet will most likely eat regularly so make food and fresh water readily available while being careful not to over-feed them.
There are many types of guinea pig food available, including muesli and nugget-style options. However, it’s recommended that you choose the latter as it includes everything a guinea pig will need; with muesli they can pick and choose their favourite bits, not guaranteeing they’ll get all the nutrients they need.
Guinea pigs may also eat the hay you provide, and they particularly enjoy fresh vegetables, particularly greens. However, please do check with your vet first to determine which ones are suitable.Do I need to groom my guinea pig?
While they are not too intensive in this area, your guinea pig care regime should include a degree of grooming. If handled from a young age they should be receptive to this and actually quite enjoy it. All they will need is a small amount of brushing and the occasional bath, while their claws and teeth may need trimming occasionally.
As with any animal, it’s recommended that you take out pet insurance to cover any unexpected problems which can be incredibly costly. They are generally healthy animals but keep an eye out for any problems and visit your vet if you are concerned.Ultimate Guinea Pig Shopping List:
- Hutch or cage – providing a safe place for your pet to sleep and spend the day is the first step in keeping them happy. Buy it here.
- Bedding – use wood shavings for the base of the cage as they are absorbent, and then supplement with hay when required. Buy it here.
- Outdoor run – when the weather is nice, your guinea pig will appreciate being able to move around outdoors. Buy it here.
- Food dish – choose an appropriate dish for their living environment and make sure it is cleaned and topped up regularly. Buy it here.
- Water bottle – these are readily available and should be cleaned often and topped up with clean, fresh water. Buy it here.
- Food – specialist guinea pigs are recommended, but you can use muesli if you wish. Buy it here.
- Toys – to keep your guinea pig entertained, you can provide specialist toys, things for them to gnaw on or other things you think they may enjoy. Buy it here.