Guinea Pig Care Guide

Guinea pigs might well be the gentlest of all pets. Happiest in small groups, these rodents are delicate but reasonably easy to care for.

Guinea pigs, also known as “cavies,” are rotund rodents from South America. They are affectionate and gentle, and well-suited for households with children.  However, as true herbivores that are very low on the food chain, they should be kept away from dogs, cats, ferrets, and rats.

Also, they cannot jump more than a couple inches into the air. Make sure they are not in danger of falling off the edges of tables, beds, stairways, or other hazards.

ESSENTIAL EQUIPMENT

Guinea pigs don’t need much equipment:

  • A cage or hutch;
  • Pet-carrier
  • Food and water dishes
  • Bedding
  • Nail trimmers and a brush
  • A safe piece of fruit wood to chew
  • A hidey hut to complete the picture.

EXERCISE

Cavies should not use exercise wheels. Ever. Exercise wheels result in damaged backs, injured feet, and generally unhealthy Guinea pigs. Ignore the picture of the lovely wheel on the cavy cages.

Instead, provide a clear bit of floor for the Guinea pigs to just run around. You might even consider a play pen or an empty plastic wading pool. Some people have even started teaching their Guinea pigs to jump over very short toy horse oxers.

FEEDING

Cavies are messy. Be prepared for them to foul their food and water dishes. A water bottle hung on the side of the enclosure is a good back-up for the water bowl.

Fresh grass hay must be available at all times, and good Timothy-grass-based Guinea pig pellets ought to be the main part of your pet’s meals. Why Timothy specifically? Your other choice is usually alfalfa, which is much too high in calcium. Fresh vegetables such as carrots, broccoli leaves, and radish greens will round out the diet. Vitamin C supplements are a wise precaution, because the vitamin C in the pellets loses its potency quickly. Simply sprinkle the powder over the veggies.

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