Guinea pigs are dependent upon you for a warm, comfortable shelter and all the good food and nutrients they need to stay healthy. They rely on you to keep their quarters clean and safe. You also need to figure out how to brighten up their little lives—after all, you got your guinea pig because you thought he—or she—is a cute little thing, right?
Here are at least 7 dandy things you can do to make your guinea pig super-duper happy.
1. Move Him On Up to the Big Time.
Even if you never heard of the 1980s television show The Jeffersons, it’s time to move your guinea pig into fancier digs, or at least improve what he’s living in now. Nobody, not even a cavy, wants to be caged up all the time!
Try these ways to give your little pet a piece of the pie:
- Cover all surfaces in his cage with soft cotton cloths or towels, for warmth and comfort. Beneath them you’ll want vinyl or heavy plastic. Have extra cloths on hand so that when one set of “flooring” is being laundered, another set is ready for use in his living quarters.
- Create multiple levels in your guinea pig’s dwelling. Use a plastic tunnel rather than a ramp to provide access to the second floor, and cover the floor of the tubing with fleece so that his feet can grip it. Otherwise he’ll be afraid of climbing an open-sided ramp, and he won’t be able to make the climb upward without something to provide traction.
2. Take Him On Vacation.
- Take your guinea pig out of his cage for some playtime every day, but do it so that he remains comfortable and safe. For instance, you can take him into your bathroom, shut the door, sit down on the floor with him, and then let him run about. Take with you some paper sacks with the lip of the opening folded back. He may want to scamper into hiding whilst becoming accustomed to his play area.
Use a small child’s wading pool as a little vacation spot for him, a place where he can scamper around and play.
Be certain you monitor him if the sides are low enough so that he can escape.
3. Make Playtime Comfortable—Yet Challenging.
You don’t have to buy him fancy toys—in fact, the wheels and balls you find in pet shops really aren’t very good for his back. Hampsters, Rats and Mice – Yes, but not guinea pigs.
He’ll love nothing better than cardboard tubes of various sizes. The cardboard tubes from toilet tissue rolls are just the right size for him to nibble at and move about. Tubes of a wider diameter give him loads of fun as he runs through them—or just sits inside hiding for a bit.
If you have some low-level ramps, like the type of curved plastic ramps used in a child’s auto tracks toy, lay them about on the floor and put a piece of green pepper on top. Many children’s toys made of wooden blocks or moulded plastic offer good options because they are manufactured with safety in mind and there won’t be rough edges to them. Just like the tunnel in his cage, creating an obstacle course in his play area will pique his interest and help him develop better agility.
You can find out more about guinea pig toys here.
4. Be Careful How You “Treat” Him.
That little treat you’re going to put on his plastic ramps to tempt him shouldn’t be too sweet or acidic or too big. Limit him to one slice of fruit daily, but it’s best to mix it up a bit: One day you can give him a slice of apple—and leave the skin on. The next day, make it a piece of pear, and after that he can have a seedless grape or a half section of an orange. Too much fruit exposes him to acid that will make his mouth sore along with adding too much sugar to his diet.
But each and every day, twice daily, he can have a piece of a green bell pepper (Capsicum). Every other day feel free to give him a slice of carrot or cucumber. He’ll like a couple kernels of corn cut from the cob or a broccoli floret, as well.
You’ll find more more food ideas here.
5. Watch Out For Stranger Danger.
Even if your guinea pig has lived with you for a while, he does not really like to be picked up too much. You’ll be doing a really super-duper thing for your pet if you discourage visitors, especially children, from handling him. If you have visitors that want to play with your guinea pig, let them offer him food—that’ll make them both happy.
6. It’s Bath Time—Every Once In A While.
About every three to four months, give your guinea pig a nice comfy bath. Since your pet’s idea of a comfortable bath is different from yours, be certain to heed these tips:
- Keep him away from any draft whilst you bathe him.
- In the wash basin, lay a piece of fleece. He’ll be a little nervous when you put him in, and the fleece will keep his feet from skidding on the plastic. Just fill it with about 5 cm (2 inches) of water. Have a separate bowl ready to rinse him, and put fleece in that also.
- Use the right shampoo. A couple good choices include Johnson’s Animal Shampoo or Gorgeous Guineas Essential Oil Shampoo. Leave it on for two or three minutes; if he tries to lick it off wrap him in a blanket. As you rinse him, keep water out of his ears, eyes, nose, and mouth.
- For male guinea pigs, apply a bit of that grease shampoo that mechanics use for their hands, something like Swarfega or GOOP. Dab a bit just beneath the male’s tail and leave it on for about 5 minutes, then rinse.
- Have your drying towels handy so he doesn’t get cold when you take him out of the water. You’ll need several.
- Once his hair is dry, you can comb through it, but avoid tugging out knots because you can hurt his skin. If you can’t untangle a knot, use a small scissors to snip it out.
Here are some more guinea pig bath tips.
7. Yes, The Grass Is Greener.
Once a week, give him a nice handful of grass. Cut it fresh from your yard, and never give him mowed grass. Be certain you cut grass that has not been treated with chemicals nor used as a lavatory by another animal. Toss it away after a half hour as it begins to lose its freshness. Guinea pigs love grass, but reserve it for treats. On a daily basis you should give him hay, such as alfalfa or Timothy hay, along with his pellets, which contain the vitamins and supplements that he needs.
Guinea pigs are special little guys and gals. It’s good to do each of these super things for them on a regular basis to keep them happy and healthy. You’ll find that they are amazingly social creatures, so be certain to give yours some attention each and every day. That’s the best possible thing you can do!
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