Guinea pigs are cute, little adorable animals that are not only gentle but can also be easily trained. The best place to buy a guinea pig would be a pet shelter. Most people buy guinea pigs on impulse and then fail to give the tiny little pig enough time. Guinea pigs are in general called cavies though males are called sows, and the females are called boars. The baby guinea pigs are called pups. The most common variety of guinea pigs are the American, Abyssinian and the Peruvian varieties.
Guinea pigs have a lifespan of 5 to 7 years though most may live up to 10 years. Keeping two of the same sex is generally advisable but two males if kept together may fight. Guinea pigs are normally quite animals though they may call out loudly sometimes. They are active during morning and night. They make great family pets and rarely bite. They require a large cage though a homemade cage will work just as well.
Guinea pigs are mostly alert and active animals so if a guinea pig becomes panicky when picked up and doesn’t relax even after some time or is very quiet with little or no movement don’t buy that guinea pig because it may be sick. Also avoid guinea pigs that are overweight or underweight. They should well rounded and not extremely skinny or obese. Their skin should be soft and velvety and there should be no fluid discharge from their eyes, nose or ears. Make sure you check for parasites such as lice and redness and flaky skin.
Guinea pigs cannot produce vitamin C on their own though this vitamin is highly essential for their well being. Without this vitamin guinea pigs become very ill and might even suffer from scurvy. To prevent this, a selection of vegetables high in vitamin C along with a guinea pig pellet can meet the vitamin C requirement of a guinea pig. Another way to meet this requirement is to feed your cavy vitamin C tablets. You can buy these tablets from your local vet. Pellets should be fed to guinea pigs on a daily basis. Vitamin C pellets lose their potency over time so look for pellets that have a stabilized form of vitamin C. For young guinea pigs alfalfa based pellets are fine whereas for adult guinea pigs timothy hay based pellet are suitable. Hay is the staple diet for all guinea pigs and they should be provided with a fresh bunch at all times. Green leafy vegetables along with fresh fruits are needed for your guinea pigs.
Avoid cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower because they lead to gas production in the digestive tract. Avoid starchy vegetables like potatoes. Spinach, parsley, dandelion greens are good choices for your guinea pig. All green vegetables and other fruits must be introduced gradually else they may upset your guinea pig’s stomach.
IS THE GUINEA PIG RIGHT FOR YOU?
Guinea pigs need quite some time out of their cage. Whether they stretch their legs , cuddle in your lap or just run around daily interaction with your pet is a must. They need to be groomed regularly though shorthaired breeds can be groomed once in a week. Their cages must be cleaned regularly in order to avoid fungal growth. No one likes to live in a dirty environment whether man or animal. Before you go adopt or buy a guinea pig make sure to discuss it with your kids. Will they be able to take care of the guinea pig? Will they be responsible enough to look after its nutritional needs? Always remember that no animal should ever be used to teach your children responsibility. That would be an inhuman and cruel thing to do. A guinea pig requires quite a few things so before buying one ask yourself if you are willing to spend that much money on a new pet. They require a large cage, bedding material, hidey box, food dish, toys, timothy hay and vitamin C pellets.
Guinea pigs love company so even if you are committed to spending time with your pet every day do think about getting another guinea pig. Keeping two will be beneficial for you because you won’t have to worry about your guinea pig getting bored.
ARE YOU ALLERGIC TO THEM?
Some people might to allergic to guinea pigs. They are allergic to the proteins in the animal’s urine and saliva and not their fur or dander. If you aren’t sure whether you are allergic or not go visit a friend’s house who has a guinea pig or to a local pet shelter to see if being around a guinea pig triggers any kind of allergic reaction.
Remember that guinea pigs are not dogs or cats, so if you are a dog or a cat person refrain from buying guinea pigs. They don’t interact like dogs do and the only way they show their affection for you is by letting you pick them up and by licking your hand sometimes. They have a long lifespan; almost 10 years so make sure you can take care of your cavy for that period of time. They might not crave attention but they need your love and care. So think about what you need from your pet before buying one and make sure you know the kind of commitment and time you have to give your pet. They are for life and they deserve the best we can give them.