Guinea pig's also known as Cavies are one of the gentlest, loving, clean and adorable pets you can care for. These timid creatures have grown in popularity over the last few years but not as much is known about pet guinea pig care as cats or dogs or fish which are more prominent. Luckily guinea pigs are not too difficult to look after, they are clean, do not smell like mice and do not bite like ferrets. Here are a few simple tips to help you give your delightful guinea pig the best care possible!
It is best to keep your guinea pig in a decent sized cage, four to six square feet of floor space for each guinea pig is good but slightly smaller will suffice. Make sure the floor is solid and not a wire cage like the walls, as this can hurt their feet. Guinea pigs cannot jump or climb very well either, so you do not need a roof to their enclosure as long as it is about 18 inches high. Even though guinea pigs are generally quite friendly, it is very important to make sure your enclosure also has a place for your pet to hide if it wants; this is because in the wild guinea pigs feel defenseless against predators so when they feel threatened needs a place to feel secure in.
A bed of shredded newspaper or wood shavings is ideal for your
guinea pig. Beware however of wood shavings with a lot of aroma
such as some types of pine as this can cause some health issues.
Changing the bedding at least once a week will help keep your
cavy healthy and reduce bacterial growth and risk of disease.
Remember to check the cage daily to make sure it does not need extra cleaning...as with people and other pets, we're all different and some of us a little messier than others.
For good Guinea pig care you should have a large and steady supply of water as they tend to drink a lot. Water in a dish is fine but can often get messy as bits of bedding may get into it and they might tip it accidentally and wet themselves and their cage. Most experts recommend a feeding tube attached to a bottle, these can be purchased at most pet stores and have a device that stops the water leaking out so the guinea pig can drink without making a mess. Guinea pigs are also very susceptible to a lack of vitamin C and while their food pellets are infused with the vitamin older tablets lose their potency. You can add Vitamin C supplements to the drinking water however to keep their supply up. While guinea pig pellets should be the main part of your pet's diet you can also feed them other fresher food like turnips, spinach, hay and kale. Do not however feed your pig fruits and sweets as this upsets their digestive system.
A sick guinea pig will suffer from hair loss and crusty or inflamed eyes, nose and ears. These symptoms are caused often by a lack of vitamin C but also from diseases they can pick up from guinea pig colonies at pet stores, while the usual cure for diseases like these is antibiotics, guinea pigs are known to react very badly to such treatment. Other things to check are flaky skin and ticks and fleas, when purchasing your guinea pig make sure you check for all these things so you choose a healthy pig that can live up to 8 years if cared for well!
Long haired varieties of guinea pigs need regular brushing, combs used for Persian cats are good for this. Make sure your long haired pig is free from items getting caught up in their hair, this breed needs much more attention. You should also clip the nails of your pig once a month, a normal nail clipper is good for this. A Guinea pigs teeth are also always growing and they need something wooden in their pen for them to chew on so they do not overgrow.
You should now know the basics of good pet guinea pig care and will have a happy healthy little pet that will delight you for many years to come!