Guinea Pigs (Cavies)


Guinea Pigs are social animals and it is best to get them in pairs so they have each other for company when not with their human family. Obviously you shouldn't get a male and female unless you have one of the neutered. Two females will usually get along well especially if they grow up together and 2 males can also live happily together - it just depends on the individual guniea pigs. Two littermates often work out well. Guinea pigs can live between 4-8 years so make sure you are ready for the commitment before getting one.

Housing

The biggest mistake people make is not having a large enough cage. Guinea Pigs need a decent size cage. To get specific sizes or see some nice cages, check out this website. Cages should have smooth bottoms, not wire which will hurt their feet. Aquariums and plastic cages are not a good idea as they have poor air circulation and can make the guinea pig feel isolated. The bottom should be lines with paper products such as CareFRESH or Yesterday's News or aspen or kiln dried pine shavings. You should avoid cedar and regular pine shavings due to oils they may contain which can cause respiratory problems or other health issues. The cage should be placed in a bright, draft free room with temperatures kept between 65-80 degrees. They should not be in direct sunlight.

Feeding

Guinea Pigs should have unlimited Timothy or grass hay. Only pregnant mothers and the very young should have any alfalfa hay. Alfalfa Hay has too much calcium and can cause bladder stones.

Their pellets should be plain and timothy-based. They should have Vitamin C added. Guinea Pigs can not manufacture Vit. C and need it in their diet. This is the ONLY vitamin that they need. If they are getting plenty of good food with vitamin C (proper greens, some fruit and a high quality pellet) they do not need any supplements but if their diet is lacking in any way it is a good idea to give them some vitamin C supplements. Do not get the kind you add to water as it is too hard to make sure they are getting the proper amount. Also it can make the water taste bad and they won't drink it. Plus Vitamin C deteriorates rapidly in water and in light. You should use liquid supplements you can give them directly or chewable ones you can add to their food. Only give Vitamin C. Do not give additional vitamins and minerals. When you buy pellets you should not buy a big bag. The bag should have an expiration date on it and you should check it. The bag should be kept in a cool, dark place to keep it fresh and to preserve the Vitamin C. The pellets should not contain any animal products, corn products, seeds, nuts, rice or beet pulp. They should also be free of dyes and colorings, corn syrup and other sweeteners and preservatives like BHA and BHT.

Guinea Pigs should have daily veggies and some fruit. They shoukd have a good variety. For veggies you want the green, leafy ones. You should use romaine lettuce and not iceberg. Kale, parsley, spinach, clover, dandelion greens are good suggestions along with a little green or red pepper, tomato or carrot. Good fruits are a piece of apple (no seeds!), apricot, canteloupe, blueberries, strawberry, watermelon, banana, orange or grapes.

Do not feed commercial treats such as Yogurt Drops, mixes with nuts and seeds or dried pieces of fruit, rabbit pellets, any meat or dairy products and avoid gassy veggies like cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and brussel sprouts and also potato skins.

Other Care

Guinea Pig nails need to be kept trimmed and should be cut every 4-6 weeks. You can learn to do this yourself so you will not have to take them to the vet's for their trim. If you start when your guinea pig is young they will be used to it and more cooperative. Distracting them with a carrot or other tasty tidbit can help too.

Teeth also keep growing so giving your guinea pig something to gnaw on such as a branch or untreated piece of wood is a good idea.

Exercise balls and wheels are not a good idea as they may injure their spines, legs or feet.




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