what are guinea pigs?
Guinea Pigs are rodents (not pigs) that are natives of South America, larger than hamsters and smaller than rabbits in size and weigh a couple of pounds. Their lifespan is usually five to seven years. The most common breeds of Guinea pigs that are kept as pets are; the smooth coated, which has short glossy fur. The Abyssinian, which looks like a little live ball of fur and the Peruvian, which has long hair that flow to the ground. Guinea pigs are rarely reported to be violent and hardly bite. They are extremely friendly and make very good pets to older children who could handle them well. They are also known to make squeaking sounds when their favourite people come close to them. A happy guinea pig is known to jump straight up in the air. This action is called pop – corning.
A wire cage of four square feet per guinea pig with solid bottom would do to house them. Don’t get the wire floored cages as it is irritating to a guinea pig’s feet. Investing in appropriate absorbent bedding material is a good idea. However, if you find absorbent bedding material expensive, you can always go for hay or wood shavings to line the bottom of the cages. Plastic bottom cages are also good options; glass tanks however can be bad because of poor ventilation. Maybe wire tops and enough openings (not big enough for the rodents to escape but enough to provide ventilation) will be of some help. Keep their cages indoors always in a cool environment as guinea pigs are vulnerable to the heat and prone to heat strokes.
Guinea pigs are quite active and they specially love hide and seek. Place old card board boxes or empty smooth edged tins for this purpose. Provide them with lots of little toys to play with for entertainment and stuff to climb on for exercise. All kinds of guinea pigs need a closed caved in area to sleep. You can make one out of card board boxes or purchase one of the readily available at pet stores.
Rodents multiply at a very fast rate hence keeping male and female guinea pigs together is not recommended. It is better to have guinea pigs of the same sex in order to avoid multiplication and since they are social animals, they become friends very quickly.
The guinea pig food pellets available at the pet store would constitute for most of your rodent’s regular diet. They are made out of a proportionate quantity of plants, seeds and vegetables so they are nutritionally stable for guinea pigs. It is recommended to offer small amounts of fresh food and vegetables to your rodents every day since it satisfies their need to chew and are also fresh natural sources of nutrition. You could give them cucumber, carrots, grapes, corn and peas. Give them grass hay regularly as it works wonders for their digestive system. Make sure you clear out all the leftovers since they tend to spoil and dirty the cage. A quarter of an orange per guinea pig, to provide for Vitamin C is recommended since guinea pigs do not produce them in their systems. Fresh, clean drinking water must be available to them at all times. Make sure you feed them twice a day, in the mornings and in the evenings.
Like I mentioned earlier, guinea pigs rarely bite, but they may nip sometimes if they feel uncomfortable or threatened. It is important to get them used to you since you might feel the urge to cuddle them sometimes, given that they are so fluffy, cute and adorable. Toss in little treats to make them come closer to you and when they do, the right way to hold them would be to gently pick them up placing one hand under their bottom and one over their back. Remember to be very gentle.
Be regular in removing any waste from the cage. Replace the beddings if they get very dirty. The absorbent materials must be washed thoroughly. Once every week, wash the entire cage itself with warm water and soap and let it dry completely before you add fresh clean bedding.
Once the rodents get used to you handling them then let them out in a closed room which will provide more room for them to roam about and exercise themselves. Make sure there are no small holes or crevices because guinea pigs love exploring and they might venture outside and get harmed in some way. Once you let them out do not leave them unattended to because guinea pigs have teeth that are continually growing and hence they always need something to chew at. They start chewing on to anything that comes their way; hence you always have to keep a vigil eye on them while they enjoy playing about in a bigger space.
Their coats need to be brushed on a regular basis to keep them clean and glossy.
If you notice that your guinea pig is showing abnormal behaviour then consult a veterinarian immediately. You would know that things aren’t right with your little piggy if it sneezes, coughs, is inactive or is suffering from diarrhea. They are also prone to be infested my lice and mites, if you notice it then take your piggy to the vet for treatment.
So! This was a brief guide on guinea pig care, hope you found it useful.