|Talkative, social and
guinea pigs are great as a child's first pet or as a lifelong hobby.
They are members of the Cavy family (Caviidae) of rodents native to
A guinea pig cage should have a solid floor covered in bedding rather
than a wire-bottom cage, which can cause problems if the guinea pig
its toes on the wire. If you use a cage with a wire floor, be sure to
surface where the guinea pig can relieve its feet.
Good bedding for guinea pigs will be absorbent, soft, and
non-aromatic. Wood shaving bedding should be avoided. The aromatics in
wood can cause irritation to the guinea pig's very sensitive sense of
smell. Cedar bedding can
be toxic and pine too dusty, and corn cob can harbor mold spores.
A fluffy bedding, such as the commercially available recycled paper
bedding, used in a thick layer is ideal. Shredded or pelleted
aspen is also a good litter. Supply nesting materials and dry hays.
Cleanliness is very important for good guinea pig health. Areas that
are soiled frequently should be cleaned once every day or
two. The whole tray of bedding should be completely changed weekly or
week, depending on the number of guinea pigs you have and the size of
A plentiful supply of clean water is very important as well. Avoid
using a dish for water; guinea pigs may push bedding into it or spill
it. Damp bedding
can lead to foot problems, so it's best to use a hanging water bottle.
Water needs to be changed daily. Guinea pigs like to
food up the tube of their
water bottle. Daily cleaning limits the chance that bacteria will grow
in the water. Make sure that the drinking tube is not
clogged by food.
The mainstay of a guinea pig's diet should be grass hay, such as
timothy or fescue. Alfalfa and clover are legume hays, which
are higher in
calcium, protein, and calories. Legume hays may be appropriate for
growing guinea pigs or
pregnant ones, but not for adult guinea pigs.
Pelleted diets marketed for guinea pigs may be used in moderation.
Limiting pellets by weight: 1 tablespoon pellets per pound
of guinea pig. That means the average adult guinea pig can have roughly
tablespoons of pellets a day. Young, growing guinea pigs can have
unlimited access to
pelleted guinea pig food.
Pellets need to be fresh. The vitamin C in the food
will degrade three months after manufacturing. Unlike most other
which produce their own vitamin C, guinea pigs must
get all their required vitamin C from the food they eat.
Salt licks are not necessary for guinea pigs unless
they are eating mineral-deficient hay. The hays sold for pet
should not have this problem. If you do want to get your guinea pig a
salt lick, the
colored salt-and-mineral ones are better than the plain white ones,
no added minerals. Salt licks can also help with getting your
to drink more water, if that is a concern.
As tempting as they are, pretty diet mixes containing grains
seeds are disastrous. Guinea pig digestive systems are
designed for grass diets, which are high in fiber and low in
sugars and starches in some diets can cause a change in the digestive
intestinal obstructions, and obesity. If your guinea pig has been on
such a diet,
switch to a plain pellet and hay diet gradually.
So what can you give your guinea pig for a treat? Think dark,
leafy green vegetables, such as collard greens, parsley, and dandelion.
not to feed them the same thing every day, in order to avoid potential
from consuming too much of a vegetable that is high in certain
minerals. These veggies are good treats for your cavy, something new
that also provides extra moisture and vitamin C to their diet. If your
grass untreated with pesticides, guinea pigs can have outside time to
as well. Just be sure to watch out for neighborhood cats and hungry
Adult Size: 1 – 2.5 lbs, 8 – 10 inches
Life Span: 4 – 5 Years
Sexing can be difficult when young. Invert the urethra to check for a
penis. There is no difference in external appearance. Genitals can be
obvious on males.
Females get along with each other, and a male can even be added. Males
usually get along, after some settling of hierarchy, but will fight
over a single female. Two males together is not recommended.
Native to the Andes mountains of South America.
They make their homes in the cool and dry areas of the Andes. This
terrain is void of large vegetation and so they feed on grass.
Guinea pigs make
wonderful pets. For a
happy and healthy guinea pig, follow these tips and consult your own
Dr. Kenneth Welle, University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine
Cavy IQ Test
Pig Christmas Ornament
Guinea Pig Habitat
Guinea Pig Igloo