Guinea pigs are often a child’s first pet. It is thought that they are easy to look after and care for, and that they take a low level commitment.
This is completely untrue!
Guinea pigs care is required daily and while it may not take a great deal of time, it does require consistency and dedication. In part, for this reason, it needs to be an adult decision if you would like these as pets. Children often need to develop a routine and the consistency to ensure the animal is well cared for.
As part of this commitment you will need to feed them and give them fresh water every day. I would definitely recommend that you also handle them and interact with them too!
Guinea pigs are herd animals and they need friends – guinea pig friends! So you will need to consider having a pair of guinea pigs or more. As they are a herd animal you can certainly consider a larger number of them, but the housing that is required needs to be adequate for the guinea pigs that are being housed.
You will need 1.2 metres x .5 metre minimum for two guinea pigs to be happy and have sufficient space and ventilation around them.
There are many different types of housing that is available for guinea pig care. Top of the list would be housing them indoors as their health is prone to be affected by weather changes just like us. If they are indoors then chances are the temperatures are more moderate and comfortable as well as being away from predators.
Please see types of housing down below that will help you decide what is best.
The main purpose of the housing is to ensure that your guinea pigs are safe, and in an environment that is suitable for them.
Guinea pigs do not perspire. So they find it difficult to manage temperatures that are higher than 30 degrees. They have a body temperature the same as us, but you can think of them as wearing a fur coat. So if we are hot, they are also hot. If we are cold, then they also are cold. By providing them with a heat source or a cooling source you will be able to help them stay warm or cool down.
Guinea pigs need to eat regularly. It is important to have food available all the time. Their diet consists of 70% fibre and they obtain this from a good source of hay. There are many different varieties available but please ensure it is always in the cage. Hay provides the necessary fibre to regulate their gut, but it also enables them to wear down not just their front teeth, but their rear teeth too.
In addition to a good hay, they will need a fresh source of vitamin C daily. Guinea pigs, like us, don’t make vitamin C and need to get this from their food. If they do not get it, they will suffer vitamin C deficiency. The first signs of this are their rear legs not being able to move, but slowly starting to drag behind them. Vitamin C deficiency will kill. So providing your piggies with a fresh source of vegetables/fruit/grass daily will ensure this does not happen. It is also a social time for piggies as they just love to interact with you and nothing quite gets them as excited as knowing you are about to arrive with dinner!
Guinea pigs always require a fresh clean source of water. You can have a water bottle on the side of their cage, or a bowl within the cage. Certainly bowls are faster and quicker to clean but they also become messier as piggies run through them and over them all the time. In summer, I always promote having 2 sources to ensure that they do not run out of water.
You will also notice in the cooler temperatures that they may not appear to be drinking. They are getting enough moisture from their wet vegetables in this case.
Interaction and attention:
Guinea pigs really thrive on attention and care when it is gentle and agreeable to them. They are prey animals and as such they become frightened easily by loud noises or sudden movements. The more time you spend with your guinea pigs the more comfortable they will become around you. You will get to hear all their different noises and get to know their likes and dislikes.
Ensuring that you handle them everyday is both enjoyable for you and for them. Never grab at them quickly.