Guinea pigs are a popular first pet, especially for children. It’s pretty hard to resist those furry potato-shaped guys. Aside from being cute and cuddly, caring for them can be very particular, and you should do your research to properly prepare if you’re thinking of getting one.
Guinea Pigs are considered exotic pets. Not all vets have an exotics specialist, so the first thing you should do is locate a vet in your area.
While they are mostly quiet, they do make different sounds to communicate how they are feeling. “Wheeking” is the most common sound and typically how they express excitement, but it’s a great idea to research their different sounds and what they could mean.
Here are some other tips for caring for your Guinea Pigs:
- Feed them fresh fruits and vegetables: (too much fruit could cause them to become diabetic, limit fruits to once or twice a week).
- Guinea Pigs cannot produce their own vitamin C. You can purchase a supplement for them and feed them veggies that are rich in Vitamin C, like bell peppers.
- Avoid feeding them foods high in starch (peas, beans, corn): These could potentially cause a fatal bacteria imbalance in their GI tract.
- Always provide fresh, clean water available for them.
- House them in a spacious cage: 7.5 square feet minimum.
- If possible, get them in pairs: guinea pigs are social animals and will sometimes get bored. They enjoy having friends around.
- Give them lots and lots of hay: Hay should make up 80% of their daily food intake. (They also need pellets every day)
- Give them lots of time to play outside of the cage, along with some cuddles. Once they get used to your home, they will get excited and squeak to get your attention. They sometimes even have a favorite family member.
- Keep an eye on their weight; it is the first sign of illness. Other symptoms include refusal to eat or drink, labored breathing, wheezing, crusty eyes, and a rough coat. They are highly susceptible (especially in younger years) to upper raspatory issues like pneumonia.
- Keep their cage cozy and fun – research ways to set up their home like what bedding is suggested. They also enjoy toys!
Guinea Pigs have a lifespan of 4-8 years. Keeping them healthy is essential. Once your new furry potato is adjusted, they develop their own entertaining personalities and will never shy away from communicating with you!