Caring for Guinea Pigs
Guinea Pigs have been known around the world as a great pet for over 400
years!! They have a calm temperament, aare not aggressive,
and rarely if ever scratch or bite an owner. The pets are popular
Christmas gifts and are perfect for teaching children how to care
for an animal. The pets are often raised in pairs since they are
social animals and are more at home when they have another pet to sleep
against. These pets can be purchased from a breeder or pet
store, or, adopted from a local animal rescue or shelter.
About Guinea Pigs:
Here are some links to find the Guinea Pig information you are looking
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Where are Guinea Pigs From?
They can still be found in the wild in South America in areas that are
on the edges of forests, swamps, rocky areas and grasslands. . Here are
the facts you need to know when considering them as a Pet.
Guinea Pig Breeds
There are many Breeds
but there are three breeds that are raised as
pets. Within each breed you can find differences in color and
- English, American or Common
- Short Hair
- Straight Hair
- Fine Hair
Abyssinian with Color
- Rough Hair
- Wiry Hair in whorls or rosettes (circles of color)
Long Hair Peruvian
- Long Hair
- Silky Hair
- Straight Hair
How Long Do Guinea Pigs
They can live from 4 to 8 years, and an average of 5 years in
captivity (as a pet).
Cost of Ownership
Among all pets, only owning a bird or fish costs less than taking care
of one of these pets.
plus $620 a year (U.S. Dollars)
- Birth Weight: .13 lbs (60g) - .24 lbs (110g)
- Adults Weight
- Males: 1.98 lbs (900g) - 2.6 lbs (1200g)
- Females: 1.654 lbs (750g) - 1.98 lbs (900g)
Gestation and Age at Maturity
Guinea pigs are in the mother's womb for 59 to 72 days. The
average litter is 4, with a range of 1 to 6. Males are considered
adults at age 9 to 10 weeks, while females are adults (at maturity) at
Litter and Room Temperature
The key to a good Guinea Pig Cage is to keep it simple. They should be
kept in approximately 200 square inches (4ft x 4 ft or 1.2 meters
x 1.2 meters) of floor space with
10 inch high walls. Materials used
include plastic guinea pig cages, metal and wire. Do not use an
aquarium as these do not have the proper ventilation.
Cage floors should be solid, not mesh. Shown right Midwest
Interactive Habitat Plus
which features 9 square
feet of living space and separate play and care areas.
They are not a particularly neat animal and will quickly make a
mess which includes feces and urine. Bedding should be changed
frequently to avoid odor. Do not use litter made pine and
cedar. These materials contain oils that can be toxic for your
Guineapigs should be kept in a room that is 65° to 79° F (18° to 26°
C). Avoid hotter temperatures or very humid environments.
What Does a GuineaPig Eat?
A GuineaPig primarily eats specially fortified pellets. Pellets
should be fortified with vitamin C and should be consumed within 90
days of the mill date on the package. After this date the vitamin C
content of the food declines.
is supplemented by green Timothy hay (do not use brown or yellow).
Small portions of fruits and vegetables also help to round and the diet
and provide a source of vitamins. Wash all items before putting in the
cage and to avoid spoilage, remove after several hours.
Once you establish a diet for your young pet, do not change it as this
can cause gastrointestinal probelms. You pet may refuse to eat
Vegetables for your Pet:
- Top Choices (excellent source of vitamin C for your pet)
- Mustard Greens
- Dandelion Greens
- Brussel Sprouts
- Good Choices
- Broccoli Leaves
- Beet Greens
- Broccoli florets
As a treat, you can also provide some fruit. Like the vegetables do not
leave in the cage more than a few hours.
- orange slice (can be provided daily)
If you buy a Vitamin C fortified food than supplements should not be
necessary. If you do not than provide 10-30mg of Vitamin C per day.
Include a sipper type water bottle affixed to the side of the cage or a
stainless steel bowl. The bowl can get messy so if you have a choice,
with the bottle. Replace the water every day. When changing the
water check the bottle to make sure that it works (food pellets can
block the opening). Wash the bottle weekly to avoid any bacteria.
The animals are known to vocalize and make a range of noises that can
only be described as whines, tweets, purrs, squeals, chirps and grunts.
They can also whistle.
Exercise and Play
One of the joys of ownership is being able to play with your pet
outside of the cage. Guineapigs like to play outside the cage, but will
chew anything in their site. To stay on the safe side block off
an area of a room for play and remove any electrical wires or other
items that can cause harm when chewed.
Like all pets, a guineapig should be check by a veterinarian at least
1x per year. A typical exam will include a blood test and a test of the
feces. The veterinarian will also check the teeth and gums for any
dental diseases. Common disease include:
- Mange mites
- Respiratory infection
- Ovarian cysts
- Bladder stones
If you suspect a health issue, you can
click here to consult with an online
veterinarian that is available 24 hours a day.
You can also fill out the form below and we'll answer your question as
soon as we can.
Have a Question for Our Vet About Guinea Pig Health or Care
Do you have a question about guinea pig health or care? Ask and our Vet will answer it for free!
Please be sure to include important information such as age, breed, diet, medications, advice from your veterinarian or anything else you believe would be helpful.
It also helps to include a picture, especially when asking about skin or coat problems.
Every week we will select questions to be answered by our Vet. If you need an urgent response, we suggest using this online veterinary service that has Veterinarians standing by 24 hours a day.
What Other Visitors Have Asked and Suggestions from the Vet
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For more information download this summary of How
to Care for Your Pet
(PDF) from UC Davis.
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