10 TIPS FOR BEGINNERS
Have you just got your first ever guinea pig?
Or maybe you are thinking about getting one?
This page covers the basics of caring for guinea pigs,
and what you should know about them
Tip 1: Keep them in pairs/groups
Guinea pigs that are kept on their own are more likely to become bored or even depressed. They are very sociable animals, and thrive with company of their own kind!
Some reasons why a companion is essential:
They are herd animals by nature
For security and to feel safe
Better quality of life
Happiness & well being
Tip 2: Provide a spacious accommodation
There are so many options when it comes to housing your guinea pigs. Deciding wether they will be housed indoors or outdoors has an important role in accommodation type. There are some suitable homes you can buy online, you can construct your own, ask someone else if they can build one for you, convert old furniture, purchase a garden building (such as a shed or playhouse). There are endless options, but here are some questions you should ask yourself.
Will it meet the minimum size requirements?
Is it safe from other animals (e.g. dogs, foxes)?
Is there sufficient ventilation?
Can I clean it with ease?
Is it free from drafts?
Will the enclosure be out of direct sunlight?
Can they keep warm enough if housed outdoors?
Tip 3: Enrich the habitat
Having a large accommodation is great, but to make that even better, you can provide enrichment for them to stimulate their brains. Enrichment can help to prevent boredom and it is great fun to watch them display natural behaviours. Take into consideration some their natural instincts when enriching the habitat to encourage this kind of behaviour.
Tip 4: Feed them a natural diet
The digestive systems of companion guinea pigs works the same way as their wild form did. Guinea pigs have a thin stomach and a long intestine.
They consume countless small meals each day (including hay, grass, vegetables, forage, herbs..) as their digestive systems are designed to eat little and often.
A good variety of grasses and meadow plants contain almost all the vitamins and minerals required.
Tip 5: Monitor their health
The best way to monitor the health of your guinea pig is to get to know them very well, by spending lots of time with them - this way it will be easier to detect illness if they are acting out of character and not being themselves.
Some health care tips:
Weigh them regularly
Trim their nails as needed
Do regular health checks
Brush & trim fur (long haired breeds)
Tip 6: Be patient with taming
It is important that we remember that guinea pigs are not cuddly toys. Despite their cuddly and cute appearance, we have to respect that they are not teddy bears and generally don't enjoy being picked up and cuddled. Guinea pigs are prey animals, so they are likely to associate being picked up with fear, therefore their instinct is to run away or hide. It is definitely possible for them to gain your trust, but this takes time and patience.
Tip 7: Clean their home regularly
It is best to spot clean their home once a day. This involves spot cleaning the urine and faeces from their home and replacing with fresh bedding. Once in a while you should use a water & vinegar solution to disinfect the floor base.
Guinea pigs can be challenging to litter train. The best way to get them to use their trays more is to fill them with hay or put their hay rack directly above it. They tend to pee/poop in dark places so this also encourages them.
Tip 8: Choose a suitable bedding
Opt for bedding with a low dust content.
Horse supplier stockists generally offer the best savings.
Some suitable choices include:
Wood pellet litter
Hemp based litter
High quality wood shavings
GUINEA PIGS & RABBITS?
Tip 9: Don't get a rabbit as a companion
It is important that we remember that the best companion for a rabbit is another rabbit, and the best companion for a guinea pig is another guinea pig. It is possible the animals may seem content living together; this is not unheard of, but in most cases, rabbits and guinea pigs can't communicate or understand each other as well as they would with a companion of their own kind.
Tip 10: Be prepared for emergencies