(A rather extensieve list of!) Basic info you need to get started in guinea pig caring.
What you need BEFORE you get your guinea pig home
*Somewhere to live- a hutch, cage, playhouse or c&c cage
*Bedding- most importantly hay
*Food- Guinea pig mix AND veg
*Food bowls and water bottles. Ideally you want spares, too!
*Animal friendly disinfectant spray
*Toys, eg mesh balls for food, wooden chews, rope balls
Optional- things that you don't need but it's good if you have
*Spare bags of food, hay, and bedding
*Guinea pig care books, such as piggy potions or cooking for my cavy
*Dust pan and brush (makes cleaning out easier, but not essential)
Healthcare- things that can be useful but not always necessary
*Mite/lice hutch/cage spray
*Animal friendly antiseptic
*Towels- for wrapping sick piggies etc
*Kwik-stop powder or similar- for stopping bleeding of broken claws/overcut claws
Daily: Feed veg and pellet food, hug and groom, check for signs of ill health and treat if needed, change water, spot cleaning
Weekly: Change toys/stimulation, check claws and clip if needed, full cage clean
Monthly: Check teeth, wash bowls and clean water bottle
Yearly: Check hutch for rotting/falling apart, check indoor cage for loose bars etc. Treat for Parasites
A lot of people have been asking what to do in the cold weather. The info below applies to any creature that lives outside (rabbits, chickens etc)
1) If possible, bring your guinea pig inside. Having a guinea pig live inside is much better than outside, but if you can bring it in for just the night then that's better than nothing. You could use a cat carrier (as large as possible, and for as short a time as possible) or dog cage (check they can't squeeze out the bars!) as night time accommodation- make sure they have a water bottle and a few veges though. If you can't move them inside, move them into a garage or shed.
2) If you can't bring them inside, give them a lot of bedding. A mountain of hay for them to bury into and keep warm. Adding an extra layer of insulation also helps, such as bubble wrap around the outside of hutch, or a box full of, and covered with, hay in the bedroom area.
3) If your guinea pig lives alone, try to get it a friend as they will snuggle together when it's cold at night.
4) Water bottles should be changed regularly to avoid freezing. Try filling with slightly warm water (your guinea pig will appreciate this) and then wrapping the bottle in bubble wrap or fleece (or both). Some sites recommend adding glycerin as this prevents freezing, but it puts guinea pigs off drinking so please don't!
5) We recommend SNUGGLESAFE MICROWAVABLE HEATPADS. They're like hotwater bottles for animals, but without the hot water, and you just stick them in the microwave. They're a little pricey at about £15 but you can use them over and over and they're much safer for animals than hot water bottles. They are bite and scratch proof, and give of 10-12 hours of heat. We've been using these for 10 years!
NEVER house a guinea pig with a rabbit! EVER!!!! Guinea pigs need to talk to other guinea pigs, not rabbits! Often, guinea pigs are just bought as friends to 'play with' for a rabbit.
1) They have completely different diets. Guinea pigs don't make their own vit. c, and rabbits do, etc etc...
2) The guinea pig will be lonely- a rabbit is not company it can talk to.
3) The rabbit may look smaller than the guinea pig at the moment, but already it is so much stronger. A rabbit could easily kill a guinea pig by accident, in 'play'
4) they may seem to be getting on, but what a rabbit sees as 'play' could potentially kill a guinea pig. :(
We once had a lady come to the door whilst the guinea pigs were in the run and tell us that she had once made the mistake of housing a guinea pig and rabbit together. One night, she went to feed them and found the guinea pig unmoving but breathing. Rushing to the vets, an x-ray revealed every bone in the guinea pigs body broken, and the guinea pig was put to sleep. So, thats why you shouldn't house a rabbit and guinea pig together!
DON'T DO IT IF YOU VALUE THEIR LIVES AND HAPPINESS!!!
With the right care, they have the capability to live up to 9, though average is about 4 or 5. Its like saying humans can live up to 100, but most only reach about 80. The oldest guinea pig was 14 years and 10.5 months!
Inside piggies generally reach older ages because they're kept warmer, and it's easy to spot any health problems quickly.
Old piggies need to be kept warm, happy, clean and quiet.
Our record is currently Hatte, who lives to the grand old age of 10.
Life as a guinea pig can be pretty boring if your human doesn't give you things to do. It's very important to keep your guinea pig entertained in order to keep them healthy, prevent fighting, and just generally keep up morale.
Pet shops offer all kinds of toys. Some are great, some won't go down as well. It all depends on your guinea pig.
Cheap solutions are things like loo rolls, boxes full of hay, paper bags, hanging veg from ceilings or bars and crumpled paper. Get creative!
Rope and natural fibre balls available online and from pet shops always go down well, as do all sorts of chews and flip toys.
Animals will become acclimatised to surroundings if left too long, and will become uninterested. In order to keep up excitement, have a few toys and rotate them every week or two.
Guinea pigs need excersise (though not as much as other rodents) and stimulation, as do all pets. They should be allowed out in a large run on sunny days, with a hidey-hole to make them feel safe and secure, with a waterbottle. If your piggies an indoor piggie, then floor time is often fun. Cover up power cables and just let your guinea pigs run around and explore. This excersise should keep their claws short, but indoor piggies tend to suffer from overgrown claws. Adding bricks to hutches and cages for the residents to sit on and hop over keeps nails short. Use nail clippers, as specially designed rodent SCISSORS twist the nail and can be very painful. Don't cut the nails unless they're long, and its better to cut them regularly than let then get really long.
Guinea pigs often don't like their paws being handled, so doing this daily will desensitize them. Hold the paw gently but don't allow it to move once you've positioned the clippers as if the guinea pig jerks the nails could be painfully pulled or the nail being clipped in the wrong place. In pale guinea pigs, you can see the pink of the quick in the nail. Don't cut this or too near it as this could be painful, but a little in front. With dark guinea pigs, the nails are black so its guesswork- but it's better to cut too little than too much. You can also tell where to cut from looking at the nail from underneath (see website below) If you cut the quick, apply an pressure/an icecube/'kwik-stop' or flour. NEVER leave a guinea pig bleeding unattended.
If you are unsure on how to clip nails, you could always ask a vet to do it for you, or look at this website.
Guinea pigs will also need a toy, or hidey hole, to make their hutch or cage complete. Loo rolls, cardboard boxes, flower pots, salt/mineral licks, rodent treat balls, tubes and any other toy designed for rodents are fine. DO NOT give a guinea pig a running wheel as their spines aren't flexible enough and they can often become paralysed, so the same with running balls aswell.
Guinea pigs should be fed every day roughly 80g (depends on the brand of guinea pig food) of pellet food (such as Gerty guinea pig, Burgess or WAGG) per guinea pig, and an unlimited supply of hay (which is ESSENTIAL for their diet). They should also be given fresh water and fruit and veg (about a cupful per piggie) everyday. Pretty much any fruit or veg can be given to a guinea pig so long as its not potato, beans, spinach, or lettuce (romanian lettuce is fine) and remember to go easy on the red cabbage! Brocoli and califlour leaves are also fine, aswell as the stalk. When feeding new foods, give them a little and gradually build it up to avoid stomach upsets. Herbs are a good treat, and all will love a good pile of parsley! Their diets can also be supplimented with treats such as natures salad or guinea pig gronola bars. Variety is the key- daily veg should be mostly leafy greens.
To keep a guinea pig entertained, when you clean out its home, bury some veg and fruit in the bedding and have them rooting around for hours! you could also mix fresh grass in with the hay for a special dinner.
A guinea pig should weigh roughly 1000g, but 800-1400g is normal- any less or more and you'll have to fatten or put your piggie on a diet!If your worried about anything you're feeding your piggie its best to check it out than take the risk- you could ask us!
Guinea pigs are prey animals, so naturally skittish. If you make a grab for it it will get pretty scared! If you want to pick up your guinea pig, get it used to being touched first, and slowly get it used to hands under its belly. Once its fine with that, you can pick it up. Wrap it in a towel to prevent your hands and wrists getting scratched, to make light work of clearing up 'accidents', and put it on your lap. Once used be being handled they will love being cuddles.
To pick up a guinea pig, put one hand on its back to stop it struggling, and slide the other under its belly, and poke one finger inder its chin so its front paws are either side of your fingers. Guinea pigs never bite, only wiggle, and when they do wiggle, your in danger of being scrathed! Holding your piggie regularly will teach it that its no good wiggling.
A guinea pigs weight is a key way to check on your guinea pigs health, and should be monitered closely. Heres how to weigh a piggie...
1) Get some scales, digital is much more precise, and set it to grams.
2) Add a suitable guinea pig sized box, and add some distractions (parsely, grass, etc) Add the box to the scales and reset so that the weight of the box isn't added to the weight of the guinea pig.
3) Add a guinea pig! Make sure the guinea pig is settled happily in the box before you set it on the scales, because if it wiggles too much the box will fall.
How much should my guinea pig weigh?
Mature males (1-4years) 900-1400 grams
Older males (4+) 700+
Mature females (1-4years) 800-1400 grams
Older females (4+) 700+
Pregnant females Should put on about 50g a week
Anything above 1450 grams- diet your guinea pig!!
Anything below 600 grams (in an adult guinea pig), take your guinea pig to a vet IMMEDIATLEY.
Guinea pigs can be prone to certain things, like mites. Heres what to do! (alphabetical!)
Abcesses- Hard lump on your guinea pig, most commonly on the rump. These grow very large very quickly, and operating is vital (though should be carefully considered) because if it bursts, it will most likely become infected. Not to be mistaken for a cyst.
Baldness- A bald patch behind the ears is totally normal if the skin is flake free. The ears are also usually bald but can be a little hairy. Baldness of the front paws on the inside is also normal as this is what they use to clean themselves. Breeds of guinea pigs such as baldwin or skinny are meant to be bald!! Any other form of hairloss should be investigates by a vet.
Bladder/kidney stones- Symptoms are squeaking when toileting, sometimes a lump can be felt in the urethra. An ex-ray will also reveal these calcium deposits. Surgery isn't essential. If your piggie is old, then best let it be, and get some painkillers from the vets. Remove carrots, seeds and artificial colours (like in 'gerty guinea pig feed')and all mineral or salt licks from your piggies cage and diet. Replace hay with timothy-hay if you don't already use it, and all these actions minimise the ammount of calcium entering your piggie, therefore preventing further deposits.
Cysts- Soft lump usually on the rump or back. These often don't grow more than the size of a pea, and a piggie can live happily with them unless its causing it discomfort.
Cystitis- Crusty genitals, squeaking when toileting. Easily cured by vet prescribed anti-biotics.
"Jelly beans"- It's quite normal for your piggie to get lumps and bumps all over their body, about the size of a jelly bean, and sometimes these are neither cysts nor abcesses! Many piggies live normally with these, so unless you have any particular reason to worry, theres no need to take your piggie to the vets.
Mange- Mange is actually a mite. It irritates your guinea pigs skin, and is quite shocking to look at. Your beautiful, sheltie guinea pig could loose half its fur in a day, and the skin below be reduced to bloody scabs. Veterinary attention must be seeked, so antibiotics can be administered, and the scabs washed with anti-bacterial wash. It could be all over in a day, but it will take your piggie a few weeks to grow back its fur.
Matted fur- Sadly, quite common in long haired guinea pigs due to lack of coat care. Long haired guinea pigs tend to get matted around the rump, and the only way to get rid of these matts it to chop them off! You can easily do this yourself, and it will save you vet bills. A reguar brush (a couple of minutes a day) should keep a guinea pigs fur in top condition.
Overgrown claws/spurs on pads- not a sign of ill health, and actually very common!! look at this website for advice on how to clip claws, or get your vet to do it. Spurs are where the pad has become overgrown because it's not been worn down. Both spurs and long claws can be prevented by giving your guinea pig a wooden floor if it's in an indoor cage, or allowing it acsess to concrete a few hours a week.
Parasites- The symptom of having a parasite living in your piggies fur are pretty distinguised- Mange mites make your piggie bald and scabby, lice can be seen crawling through your piggies fur (and your piggie will also itch) and other mites leave behind black bits on your piggies fur. These can easily be seen on long haired or white piggies, especially around the rump. The mites can actually be seen crawling in the fur around the legs in a very bad case. Your piggie may also scratch the fur out of his/ her sides. No guinea pig owner has never not experienced mites once in a while, so don't panic if your piggie gets them!! Mange mites (see 'mange'), lice or mites are all very common, and can be caught from bad bedding or other animals. Ivermectin injections from your vet, parasite shampoo or pouches can all easily stop the parasites. Humans aren't affectedby mites (or mange mites), but can be bitten by lice. Just make sure you wash your hands after holding a guinea pig with parasites and you'll usually be fine.
Saggy chins!- Very common, and not a problem unless it's huge and making the guinea pig unable to clean themselves. It's called a dewlap and is just a deposit of fat! A little is normal but if one guinea pig has one and another doesn't this can idicate that the fat one is bullying the food from the other, and you should either provide more food or feed each seperately. If you're worried that the dewlap is too large, reduce the food slightly and give your guinea pig lots of excersise! If it is hard then that could indicate an absess or cyst and you should see your vet.
Shock- Guinea pigs can sometimes go into shock for one reason or another, and although its uncommon, and very unpleasant for you, it deserves to be mentioned here. Dogs are usually the cause of a guinea pig going into shock, because, unlike a cat, they are strong and very un-secretive about what they're trying to do. For example, putting the guinea pigs out one day, the runs didn't have their lids on, and the gate was open and two mastiffs appeared, jumped into lavanders run and snapped at her madly before I managed to drag the dogs out of the run. Lavander amazingly was unscathed apart from a broken toe- she could easily have died of a heart attack. She went into shock, and many people can mistake this for their guinea pig being dead. Just keep them warm and comfortable, and they should be ok the next morning if given the night to recouperate.
Long haired guinea pigs will require a lot of coat attention. If you want to keep them as pets, rather than show pigs, you can cut the fur short to make caring for them easier.
Long haired guinea pigs will need grooming for a few minutes every day. After a few days of not grooming, matts will begin to build up making grooming painful, and eventually these can
attract bacteria and diseases such as flystrike. Combing out the coat reguarly will keep
it soft and tangle free, as well as removing dead skin cells from the coat.
Short haired guinea pigs require much less grooming than long haired. A soft brush for a few minutes a day/every other day is enough, although sometimes combing may be required around the rump. When stroking your guinea pig, your will be grooming them!
More detailed info added everyday! Last added 8/1/16
please ask us before stealing pictures! :)