Guinea pigs as pets are a fantastic idea and they will suit a vast number of different households and surroundings.
Many people love the concept of owning a pet; however, they do not want the responsibility of a large animal.
Households with small children will also benefit from owning a guinea pig. If you want to own a small animal which is full of fun and love, a guinea pig may be the ideal pet for you.
The guinea pig is also referred to as a cavy and is a member of the rodent family which originated in South America. Cavies in the wild will live in the grasslands and are often seen in small herds as they prefer to be with other cavies. Therefore, if you decide to have one in your home, they will be happier in pairs. Guinea pigs are incredibly affectionate towards each other and their human friends.
Welcome to the Western World
Since the introduction in the 16th century of the guinea pig to the western world, the popularity of this small, cute creature has grown. The immense amount of affection, love and easy care ensures that owning guinea pigs as pets is ideal. Handling, feeding, and playing can all be done easily by small children. This ensures that many parents choose guinea pigs as a first pet for their children when searching for small animals.
The average guinea pig weighs approximately 1000g making them lightweight and easy to handle for children and old people. Typically a guinea pig will live between four and five years if kept healthy and in the correct environment. You will find that guinea pigs have a unique personality and they are all extremely different. Your children will love learning about their new pet, and ensuring that they are kept in the correct environment is essential.
In the wild guinea pigs like to dig and will burrow to feel warm and safe; therefore, you need to provide a safe shelter for them to live within. Guinea pigs as pets in a household environment are typically kept in hutches or cages. This will depend if you want the animal in the house or outside in the garden. Your guinea pig will need a large enough cage or hutch to be able to move with ease and ideally some form of run.
“Hey! We aren’t happy in here… We need a bigger cage!“
Many people allow their guinea pigs to run around freely during the day and some people have the animals as house pets. You will need to ensure that their living environment has different areas for sleeping, eating and going to the toilet. Sawdust, paper and shredded bedding can all be used to ensure that your guinea pig is comfortable. You will need to be aware that guinea pigs do tend to be extremely messy and love to throw their bedding around their home.
Due to the playful nature of the guinea pig, they will often throw their food bowls around their home and love to jump around. Guinea pigs are extremely lively and love to play with other guinea pigs, pets and children. You will also notice that guinea pigs mark their territory with urine and after you have cleaned their cages out, they will spray immediately. Male guinea pigs are inclined to do this around your home; therefore, having them sterilized is advised.
If you have larger pets in the house, you will need to introduce the guinea pig carefully to ensure that they do not consider the animal to be prey. Some animals love to play with guinea pigs and it can be incredibly amusing to watch dogs and guinea pigs playing happily. You will need to understand you other animals and be acutely aware for the first few months. Guinea pigs as pets can be kept with other animals such as rabbits; however, they will prefer to be with their own kind.
As your guinea pig becomes more relaxed in their new home, they will display some unique characteristics. They are incredibly intelligent creatures and can be trained to solve problems for food. You will be amazed at how the guinea pig can jump over obstacles; however, they are not capable of climbing large objects. You will also find that your guinea pig gets startled incredibly easily and will run and hide if they feel threatened.
When your guinea pig is excited, they will show you by hopping and jumping (popcorning!!) on the spot while squeaking excitedly. You will be amazed at the huge array of different noises that your guinea pig will make. They love to chatter and will indicate different feelings and emotional through the different noises, squeaks and chirps. Guinea pigs are highly vocal and if you have two or more, they will communicate with each other.
Some common noises that the guinea pigs as pets make to communicate are:
When your guinea pig is content and happy they will purr, in a similar way to a cat. This can happen during grooming, feeding, or when they have a cuddle.
Your guinea pig will rapidly bang their teeth together, which will cause a noise remarkably similar to chattering teeth. This noise is a warning to other animals and the guinea pig will often stand on their back legs with their head held high.
Many people compare this sound to a bird and is typically heard when your guinea pig is stressed. They will also make a chirping sound when they are hungry or want attention; however, it doesn’t last for terribly long.
This is the noise that your guinea pig will make when they are excited and want to play. This noise is the most common and your guinea pig will make it while running around searching for mischief.
You can find out more about guinea pig sounds here.
The diet, which you need to feed your guinea pig should be varied and you need to ensure that you feed the guinea pig the correct food. Grass is incredibly beneficial, as your guinea pigs teeth are designed to chew plant material. Hay is another food that can be fed to your pet and alongside food pellets will ensure they are receiving a balanced diet. You must ensure that your guinea pigs as pets are receiving enough vitamin C or they will become ill.
You need to ensure that your guinea pig is receiving 10mg of vitamin C every day; this can be found in raw fruit, vegetables, or as a supplement. You may find that your guinea pig is fussy, which is not uncommon and many owners struggle to get their pets to eat fruits and vegetables. You should try not to change your pet’s diet, as they can refuse to eat entirely. Supplying your guinea pig with hay continuously is essential, as they tend to get bored and will chew on their fur.
Healthcare is vital to any animal and guinea pigs will need regular trips to the vet to cut their claws and examine their teeth. Guinea pigs nails grow incredibly fast and unless they are running on hard ground, they will need trimming. You can trim their claws yourself; however, unless you are highly confident, it is better to leave it to your vet. Once they have had their claws trimmed a few times, they will not mind the procedure.
There are now several different breeds of guinea pigs to choose as people have developed the breed over the years. The varieties will differ in hair color and length of fur, however, the temperament is the same. If you handle your guinea pig from an early age and create a bond with the small animal, you will have a loving pet. The guinea pig rarely bites, or scratches and is always happy to see you.
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Wishing your piggies lots of happy squeaks!