Guinea Pig Basics: A Primer on Guinea Pig-Ownership
Gorgeous Guinea Pigs - Is a Guinea Pig Right for Me?
Are you ready to bring a guinea pig into your life? Guinea Pigs live on average for 8-10 years, and are a longer term commitment then many small pets. They need broad, flat habitats to exercise in, as well as daily greens to get their vitamin C.
Avast! Guinea Pig Scurvy
Guinea Pigs, like humans, cannot manufacture their own vitamin C. The best way to be sure your guinea pig is getting enough vitamin C is to purchase good guinea pig pellets containing stabelized vitamin C, such as Oxbow's Cavy Cuisine, and supplement with fresh greens and vegetables containing Vitamin C.
Choosing Your Guinea Pig
The first thing to remember is that male guinea pigs and female guinea pigs both make great pets, and bonded male pigs are no more likely to fight then bonded females. As cute as baby guinea pigs are, there are many adults that are far more mellow, mature, and easier to handle if you don't have a lot of time to commit to socializing.
One Guinea Pig or Two? Guinea Pigs are social, so if you have an opportunity to adopt a bonded pair they will appreciate the company of another guinea pig. Just be sure that your guinea pigs are of the same gender, or are spayed/neutered!
Essential Guinea Pig Accessories
You will need the following items for your Guinea Pig: A Suitable Habitat, Safe Bedding, A Food Dish, A Water Bottle, A Hiding Hut, A Hay Rack, Safe Hay and Fresh Greens.
Guinea Pigs need very broad, flat habitats and should not have multiple levels as a substitute for space...they do not climb and can be injured by a very short fall. The minimum amount of space recommended for a pair of guinea pigs is 7.5 cubic feet of space, and more is always better! We recommend building your own cage, as you can often make a better habitat for less money then you will pay for a store bought cage.
Your Guinea Pig's Bedding should be made of a safe material. We recommend using recycled cardboard bedding like Carefresh. You can also use Kiln Dried Pine that has had the aromatic oils removed, or Aspen Wood Shavings. Never use Cedar or regular Pine bedding, as these can cause respiratory problems.
Your Guinea Pig's food dish should be large enough to hold plenty of pellets, but not large enough for them to get their whole body in. Use a heavy material to prevent your guinea pig from tipping it and spilling all of their pellets.
Use a large, gravity fed water bottle to be sure your guinea pig always has a fresh supply of water.
A Hiding Hut can be made out of a variety of items. You can buy an Igloo type nest box at the pet store, or simply use a cardboard box, small plastic stepping stool, or wooden box with an entrance for your guinea pig to nap in.
Your hay rack should be large enough to hold at least a full day's supply of hay for your guinea pig, which can be quite a lot!
Young guinea pigs will benefit from having alfalfa hay in their diet, but we recommend feeding Timothy Hay to adult guinea pigs to aid in their digestion. Alfalfa can cause bladder stones in adult guinea pigs due to higher calcium levels, particularly with males.
Your Guinea Pigs will need fresh greens to supplement their vitamin C needs every day. Fresh greens include Romaine Lettuce, Kale, Mustard Greens, Collard Greens, Dandelion Greens, Parsley, Cilantro and Basil.
Guinea Pig Care: The Basic Routine
Your Guinea Pig should have a constant supply of fresh pellets, hay and water at all times to keep their digestive systems going.
Spot cleaning your guinea pig's cage daily can help when it comes down to cleaning time at the end of the week. Every week, you will need to completely clean your guinea pig's cage and accessories to keep a healthy environment.
Spend some time with your guinea pig every day to help them stay happy and friendly. Setting a towel on your lap and letting your guinea pig settle in with a nice leaf of lettuce to munch on can be a great bonding experience.
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