Guinea pigs have many qualities that pet owners look for, such as being small, gentle, and affectionate. But just as with all animals, guinea pigs also require care and attention. Before you decide to become a guinea pig pet parent, consider a few of these guinea pig facts to understand these animals better.
Do Your Research
You are about to make a big decision for you and your family. It is best to do your research before becoming piggy parents. A guinea pig mustn’t be an impulse purchase. It is vital to know how to take care of them, how much activity they require daily, and what food they eat. You can find a lot of information on social media forums where piggy parents can also provide you tips and tricks.
Know Your Basics
By nature, guinea pigs are social animals. In the wild, you will find guinea pigs to be living in groups of 5 to 10. They like to be housed together with one another. Hence, keeping one pig would be detrimental to the pig’s mental health. The best grouping option for such animals is either two or three males or females kept together. If you have two females, then one neutered male can be a good pairing.
A pair of two male guinea pigs might cause unnecessary tension in terms of fights where you might have to separate them. But be aware that personality differences can exist in the animals and they might not get along well with one another; in this regard, it is always best to socialize and introduce them as babies to become friends and be easily housed together.
Unlike their size, guinea pigs need a lot of space. It is essential to have a big enough cage for your pets to move around, exercise, and interact with one another. You can buy large cages online or from your nearest pet stores. An enclosure can also be customized for your pet’s needs if required.
The ideal size for a guinea pig’s cage should be a minimum of 36 inches in length with 30-inch width and 18-inch height. But if possible, a cage larger than this can turn out to be even better.
In terms of household temperatures, guinea pigs can acclimate well to an average temperature that does not exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure not to keep the pet cage in direct sunlight or a drafty area.
Along with the cage, insert one- or two-inch bedding in the cage for the comfort of your animals. Make sure to clean the cage of your pigs regularly nearly every week. If you keep the cage dirty and stinky, then it might be dangerous for your animal.
In nature, guinea pigs are herbivores, so they spend a lot of time grazing small herds in the wild. They have continuously growing teeth. This is the reason why they require a lot of roughage, which encourages chewing. This prevents any dental problems from occurring in guinea pigs.
For a good diet, your pig needs to have a constant supply of grass, including oat, barley, or hay. Make sure that the grass is dry and does not have any molds or fungus in it. If you provide an environment for your pig, they can graze on the grass to ensure their well-being.
Along with grass, also provide green leafy vegetables and herbs such as cabbage, broccoli, and lettuce to your guinea pigs. These fresh leafy vegetables provide vitamin C to the pigs since they cannot make their own. Undoubtedly, fresh, clean drinking water should also be supplied at all times.
Foods that need to be avoided for your guinea pigs include grass clippings, citrus fruits, and root vegetables such as carrots. Make sure to include only fresh food in your pets’ diet to keep them active and healthy.
Guinea Pigs Also Need Exercise
Guinea pigs can be awake for almost 20 hours a day, and they do not need any beauty sleep; make sure to give them sufficient space to play, explore, and run around. Just as with humans, these pigs also require exercise and movement to remain healthy.
They love tunnels, archways, and houses. Along with a big case, your pigs would also need room to run around, whether on grass or in your home if they are indoors. During their playtime, make it interesting for them by using tunnels or crevices to explore. This would be very stimulating for the animal.
It is important to remember that even though your pigs are active, they certainly aren’t climbers. Hence it is best to avoid bottlenecks or tall heights to ensure that they don’t feel trapped or fall.
Even though guinea pigs are very clean and they continuously groom themselves, they do require grooming. Even though most guinea pigs hate baths, they might not even need one unless necessary, but you should brush their hair and trim their nails to maintain hygiene.
Additionally, please pay close attention to their teeth. Since these pigs have continuously growing teeth, they can have overgrown teeth. Overgrown teeth can cause pain and distress to your guinea pig, and they might avoid eating. This might require the removal or trimming of their teeth by a professional vet.
Guinea Pigs Are Long-Term Commitments
Before you get a guinea pig, remember that they are expensive pets to keep. Even though they are lovely affectionate animals, you will need to pay substantial amounts for their food, cage, accessories, and frequent vet visits as well.
Since guinea pigs have a long lifespan ranging up to 8 years, you might want to consider costs for such a long duration. And as mentioned earlier, they cannot be kept alone, so double the number of expenses needed for two pigs. Along with these costs, consider that your guinea pig might require treatment for mites or any emergency care, so you need to have the budget for that as well.
Also, don’t forget that if you go on an extended vacation, you will have to hire a pet sitter or board your pig, which will add to your costs as well. Lastly, it is also best to find out if you are allergic to guinea pigs, as some people might be allergic to the protein in the animal’s saliva or urine.
Considering all these facts, make an informed decision to have a guinea pig as your family member. But if you are going out to buy a pig, it is best to check your local shelter or rescue center first. Many pigs are often left there for adoption, so it is best to give them a second chance to a forever loving family and home.