You want to have a long and happy relationship with your new pet guinea pig, right?
Even before you’ve chosen him and brought him home, prepare for him as much as possible. He’s a small, sensitive creature, and it won’t do to bring him into your household and then try to figure out what he needs.
Home Sweet Home
Your guinea pig requires a roomy, clean shelter that will be safe and comfortable. Most guinea pig experts will tell you to avoid the store-bought cages and put one together on your own.
The best kinds have Coroplast bases and grids. Coroplast is a synthetic material that cleans up very nicely. The base must not be made of grids, because they will hurt his feet.
Coroplast units are often manufactured as cubes, and people in the industry refer to them as C&C for cubes and Coroplast. You’ll want to allow about 7 square feet for a guinea pig’s home. If you have more than one guinea pig, add an additional two square feet per pig.
The grids that attach to the Coroplast bases are usually 14 square inches. The spaces between the grids must not be wider than 1.5 inches or 3.6 cm. There have been cases of guinea pigs becoming caught and injured, even fatally, in wider-spaced grids.
A basic cage does not require a lid unless you have another pet such as a dog or cat that might scare your guinea pig.
Polar Fleece Tunnel
Guinea Pigs love to have hidey houses. Often called Pigloos, you can buy them online. Also consider a tunnel like the one pictures above for your pet.
Even if you feel certain that Fido or Felina will not harm your piggy, you can bet your bottom dollar that they will scare him—so protect him with a lid if that’s the situation.
The floor of his home should be partially covered with a nice piece of cloth. Don’t cover the entire thing, because it’s going to become soiled and unsanitary. Do buy several pieces, whether you choose fleece or just cotton towelling, so that you always have a fresh one to lay down as necessary. Many people use pine shavings, hay, or commercial products on the bottom of the cage. Avoid using corn cobs, newspaper, or straw.
It’s a good idea to lay fleece over pine shavings so that urine can pass through the fleece—polyester is the best material for that purpose—and soak into the shavings below, thus keeping your pet dry and snug.
Find out more about Guinea Pig Bedding here.
Many people construct a balcony in their guinea pig’s cage compete with ramp. Again, make certain the ramp is not made of grids that will catch his feet. Guinea pigs also like having an enclosed area of the cage where they can go when they want to get away from it all.
A Feast Fit For a King
Kings probably don’t love alfalfa and timothy hay, but your guinea pig will go crazy over them! Alas, guinea pigs generally cannot have alfalfa after they are a year old because it contains too much calcium.
Timothy hay and even grass cut from your yard, as long as it hasn’t been treated with any chemicals, will provide him with the fibre he needs for good digestion and to keep his teeth ground down.
Choose hay with more leaf than stem. It should be soft, fresh, and clean. Keep in mind that “fresh” can include a bale of hay—not straw!—that will last quite a while as long as it’s stored properly.
Your guinea pig also needs a good supply of vitamin C, since his body does not manufacture that nutrient. Allow for 10 to 30 milligrams per kilogram of body weight daily to keep him in good health. Sweet green peppers make a good daily addition to his diet. Other vegetables such as cucumbers, carrots, and tomatoes, to name a few, may be among your pet’s favourites.
He can have a small piece of fruit, such as a few apple slices, a strawberry, or a few grapes, but only one of those per day because of the sugar.
Avoid dried fruits because of the high sugar concentrations that occur in the drying process.
You can find out more about what can guinea pigs eat here.
Colour Him Happy
You’ll want to be certain your guinea pig is well groomed and clean.
Long Haired Guinea Pigs will Need a Trim
Exotic vets are the type of veterinarian that treat guinea pigs, and locate one before you bring your pet home. The pig won’t need any shots, but you do want to know who you’ll go to in case of emergency. Otherwise, take him for an initial visit and ask the vet when you should return.
Weigh your guinea pig weekly; he should not gain (or lose) more than an ounce or two per week once he’s past his infancy.
Brush his hair every day with a baby brush; if he has longer hair, keep it trimmed so that it stays out of urine. You will rarely need to bathe him, but toenails should be clipped monthly.
Get to Know Him
As you get to know your guinea pig, you’ll pick up on the types of care that he needs and you’ll begin to realize that every guinea pig has his own needs and likes.
Don’t bother buying him any commercial toys; he’ll be happiest with the afore-mentioned toilet tissue cardboards that provide much gnawing pleasure.
Most guinea pigs enjoy having a roommate – in fact, it’s essential as Guinea Pigs are very social.
Guinea Pigs and Rabbits Can Have a Run Together, But NOT live in the same cage.
Don’t expect him to learn his name and react to you the way a dog does, but do expect him to be a friendly, soft little creature that enjoys the environment you’ve created for him.
You can expect to have 5 to 8 long and happy years together!