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Guinea Pig Care

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Finding the perfect enclosure

  1. Look for an enclosure that is a minimum of 7.5 square feet. This will seem large for a young cavy, but it’s the right size to accommodate an adult. If you are getting two guinea pigs, get a cage that is at least 10.5 square feet to accommodate both of them. ( If you want two, choose two males or two females; otherwise you will end up with many babies. Guinea pigs can begin mating as young as one month old.)
  2. Make sure to get an enclosure with a bottom that is solid and easily cleaned.
  3. Inside the cage you will need bedding, water bottle, hide, a food dish and toys. Timothy hay is a great bedding choice!
  4. Cover the bottom of the cage with newspaper, then a thick layer of bedding. The paper will make it easier to clean the cage.
  5. Prepare a space or room for your guinea pig to have space to run around without other pets or hazards. Never leave your pet unattended when you have it out of its cage or with small children.

How to Feed Your Guinea Pig

  1. Purchase dry guinea pig food. Feed each day per the instructions on the label. Anything that isnt eaten needs to be removed so it doesn’t go bad.
  2. Guinea pig teeth keep growing throughout their life so they will need things to chew on. Timothy hay, treats and chew toys are great options.
  3. Supplement with greens. Guinea pigs love their veggies like lettuce, kale, spinach and will happily eat them!
  4. Keep fresh water in the cage.

How to Pick Up Your Guinea Pig

  1. Choose a time when you are both calm and do not try to force anything.
  2. Support your cavy’s body from underneath. Place one hand under her chest and wrap your fingers around her body gently. Place the other hand under her bottom and lift her straight up.
  3. Hold her close to your body. Holding her close will make her feel secure and will prevent her from hurting herself trying to get away.
  4. Play with your guinea pig! They love to interact and you can purchase toys or treats to help them get some enrichment and play!

How to Clean Your Guinea Pig

  1. Guinea pigs generally keep themselves clean, but brushing them will help to keep them from needing a bath. A short-haired guinea pig can be wiped off with a dry cloth and brushed gently a couple of times per week. A long-haired guinea pig needs to be brushed gently each day.
  2. Use shampoo made for small animals, rabbit shampoo is okay. If they have a skin condition be sure to ask your vet for advice.
  3. Use warm water, not hot. Wash them quickly and have a towel near by to dry them off.
  4. Clip your guinea pig’s nails as needed. Don’t let them get too long.

How to Clean Your Guinea Pig’s Cage

  1. Scoop out the cage every day. Pull out any soiled hay. Pay close attention to the corners, where guinea pigs tend to do their business. Replace that hay with clean hay.
  2. Wash your guinea pig’s water bottle and food dish daily. Empty out old food and replace the water.
  3. Deep-clean the cage every week.
    • Take your guinea pig and all of the hay and accessories out of the cage.
    • Use a cloth that’s moistened with diluted white vinegar to wipe out the cage.
    • Scrub out the tray to remove any debris or urine smell. Rinse it with plain water.
    • Be sure to let it dry completely before adding clean, new hay and all of the accessories and toys

How to Tell If Your Guinea Pig Is Healthy and Happy

  1. Check your guinea pig’s eyes and nose. Both should be clear. Your guinea pig might have a bit of milky discharge from his eyes; this is normal.
  2. Check your guinea pig’s coat. Brush your guinea pig’s skin when you brush him. It should be full, and there shouldn’t be bald spots. Check your cavy’s skin, too; any redness, dryness, or flaking should be reported to the veterinarian.
  3. Check your guinea pig’s droppings. Guinea pigs have two types of bowel movements. First, they have caecotrophs, which are soft droppings that they eat. They usually eat them quickly enough that you won’t see them very often. Once those are digested, they produce hard pellets, which is what you’ll find in the cage.
  4. Check your guinea pig’s bottom. Cavies usually keep themselves clean, but if yours has a wet, smelly bottom, he could have a urinary tract infection or diarrhea. This requires a trip to the veterinarian.
  5. Check your guinea pig’s behavior. Guinea pigs are generally active, funny creatures. If yours is uncharacteristically quiet or if he’s isolating himself in the corner of his cage or not interested in playing, it’s possible something is wrong. Look for other signs of illness and, even if there are none, take him to the vet if his poor mood lasts more than a day.

Your guinea pig, with good care, can live four to eight years, so you have a good number of years ahead of you if you have just gotten your pet. If you have concerns about your guinea pig’s health, be sure to consult with your veterinarian. Otherwise, just enjoy your new friend