Guinea Pig Care Guide
Guinea pigs make great pets and can be a fun addition to the family, but it can often be difficult to know if you are meeting all of your pet’s needs. Here to help is our guinea pig quick-tip guide, teaching you how to fulfill the housing, nutrition, exercise, and grooming needs of the pet you love.
How Should I House My Guinea Pig?
Guinea pigs are typically housed in cages with smooth, flat, solid floors. Mesh or wire-bottomed cages are dangerous as guinea pigs can get their feet caught in the floor-gaps, so be sure any cage you provide has sturdy, undivided flooring. Here are some other considerations worth keeping in mind:
- Guinea Pig Cage Sizing: A good rule-of-thumb for cage sizing is to provide at least two square feet of space for each guinea pig you own, allowing plenty of room for movement and play.
- Accouterments: Separating your guinea pig’s home into distinct areas for sleeping, eating, and exercise may also be a good idea. Some guinea pigs enjoy a compartmentalized home, so using shoeboxes, thick paper towel rolls, or similar manufactured “rooms” bought at pet stores for living and sleeping areas may help make your guinea pig that feel that much more “at home” in his new living arrangement.
- Guinea Pig Feng Shui: Experiment with your guinea pig’s furnishings – just like us, different guinea pigs will enjoy different arrangements of their things. Check your local pet store for safe toys, exercise options and food bowls and play with the arrangement to see what your guinea pig likes best!
- Bedding: Guinea pigs also enjoy a soft bedding area to dig, burrow, and lie in when they get tired. Recycled paper, dry hay, and aspen wood shavings are all great options for bedding that are also healthy for your pet’s skin.
- Regular Sanitation: Cleaning your guinea pig’s cage at least once a week is vital to his or her health. Guinea pigs can be very messy, so a good cleansing of their cage on a regularized, weekly basis is a great way to keep your pet healthy and clean.
What Should I Feed My Guinea Pig?
Guinea pigs tend to drink a lot of water, so be sure to provide a proper water bottle with a metal spout in your pet’s cage, and be sure it’s filled daily.
Guinea pigs also generally like to be fed on a schedule, so regularized feedings can go a long way toward making your new pet more comfortable. Try to start your guinea pig with pellets, fresh fruits, and vegetables in the morning to get off to a healthy start, and feed hay in the evenings.
Guinea pig pellets should constitute the majority of a guinea pig’s diet, so be sure the pellets you purchase contain vitamin c, as it is a necessary component of a healthy guinea pig’s nutrition.
If not supplied from the pellets, vitamin c, as well as many other essential vitamins, can easily be supplemented by fruits and vegetables, especially kale, spinach, turnip greens, parsley, and carrots. But be sure to not overdue it on any supplemental foods! Like many smaller pets, obesity can be a real problem for guinea pigs, and can lead to a decrease in the overall health and wellness of your guinea pig.
What Kind & How Much Exercise Does My Guinea Pig Require?
Guinea pigs love to burrow and tunnel, so providing opportunities to do just that is a good way to positively engage your pet while also playfully satisfying his or her natural instincts. To scratch the burrowing itch, try some of these options:
- PVC Pipes
- Large Plastic Tubes
- Cardboard Boxes
- Wrapping Paper Cardboard Centers
Grooming Your Guinea Pig
From the moment of birth, a guinea pig’s teeth grow constantly, so providing toys and safe objects to gnaw on will keep your pet’s teeth from growing out too long, and also keep him or her happily occupied. For this purpose, try using unpainted woodchips, twigs, hay, or empty paper towel rolls you may have simply discarded before.
For the long-haired breed of guinea pig, brushing is a must. When you see your pet begin to develop an overly fuzzy coat, or start to shed excessively, a thorough brushing is in order. Generally, you should brush your guinea pig at least once a week, with particularly fuzzy creatures needing more regular care.
It is also a good idea to trim your guinea pig’s nails once every four to six weeks. Your pet’s nails can grow too long if not properly groomed and curl backward, growing into the pads of the hand and causing severe pain and infection if left untended.
Need More Information?
If you have any more questions about the care of your guinea pig, consult your local veterinarian, search through our Preventive Care and Ask a Vet libraries, or click through some of the related links below: