So, you want a pet guinea pig? These critters are lots of fun and make wonderful pets. But they do need some specific care.
Let’s explore what it takes to have a pet guinea pig.
The Guinea Pig Home
Just like we wouldn’t want to live in a cramped room, your pet guinea pig will want a spacious living area, too. Choose a cage that measures at least 7.5 feet or 10.5 square feet for two guinea pigs.
Remember: The more room the better and AVOID cages with wire flooring. This can cause harm to your pet’s feet.
You will also need some other items to make your pet’s home great. These include;
- Bedding – Line the bottom of your enclosure with paper and 3 to 4 inches of cellulose and plant-based fibers (you can find this at a pet store). Do not use corn cobs, cat litter, wood shavings, newspaper, or things with heavy perfumes.
- Hide-away-house – Guinea pigs like a safe place to sleep and to rest.
- A ceramic food dish
- A drip water bottle
- Guinea pig food
How to Set Up a Guinea Pig Home
Before you bring home your pet guinea pig, you have to get its cage ready. Here’s how to set up a guinea pig habitat.
Step #1 – Step the cage up according to the instructions on the box.
Step #2 – Place the bedding on the floor of the cage.
Step #3 – Rinse the drip water bottle, then fill with fresh water. Hang on the side of the cage, so the drip portion is inside the cage and low enough for your pet to reach.
Step #4 – Rinse the food dish, dry, and fill with food (more on that latter). Place in the cage (not under the water bottle).
Step #5 – Add in any toys or hiding places you want to use. Guinea pigs love to play, so toys like blocks of wood for chewing and toys designed for ferrets or bunnies are also useful. Use toys made from rope or wood since they will stand up to any gnawing or chewing your guinea pig may do.
Remember – Guinea pigs are very social animals, so be sure to play with your pet every day. They also do well kept in pairs, but be sure to get two females or two males (or you will have lots of mini-piggies).
Step #6 – Place your pet’s cage away from drafts, and direct sunlight. Choose a place that is quiet and relaxing, yet still close enough to the family so it doesn’t get lonely.
Guinea Pig Play Area
Your pet guinea pig needs to get out of its cage each day to exercise and explore. Choose a room in your home without carpeting (in case your piggy has an accident).
Pick up all the electrical cords so your guinea pig doesn’t chew on them (this can lead to electrocution). Remove all other pets from the area and close the door.
Place some guinea pig toys on the floor to help amuse your pet. Sit on the floor and play with your furry friend using ping pong or tennis balls – guinea pigs love to chase these.
You could also buy a tunnel; but avoid creating your own tunnel out of any materials that include paper, cardboard or glue as it can cause digestive issues for your pet.
Note: If you don’t have a suitable room for your pet, you can purchase a guinea pig playpen it can use for exercise.
Feeding Your Pet Guinea Pig
Feeding your pet guinea pig is easy as there are processed foods that have been formulated to be nutritionally complete – look for these at a pet store.
Your pet guinea pig also needs;
- Timothy Hay – this helps keep your guinea pig’s teeth from growing too long.
- Small amounts of greens – dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, dark green lettuce are best. Offer a cup of these greens per day.
- Raw carrots or sweet potatoes can also be given a couple of times per week.
Remember – It is important to always remove any uneaten food from your guinea pig’s cage at the end of the day. This prevents the food from spoiling.
Choosing a Guinea Pig
Guinea pigs come in a wide range of colors and color combinations. In fact, there are 13 varieties of this wonderful animal. Some have short hair, while others have long coats.
Look carefully at your prospective pets to be sure they are active and healthy with clean, well-groomed fur. If possible, watch to see that your potential pet is eating and drinking properly. Finally, check to see that the other guinea pigs in the enclosure are also healthy, active, and clean.
Bringing Home Your Pet Guinea Pig
After you have chosen your guinea pig, the person at the store or rescue organization will put it in a small carrying box for you to take it home in.
When you get home, open the door of the cage. Carefully open the box and place it in the cage. Allow your guinea pig to walk out of the box and into its new home.
Remember: Your new friend will be very nervous, so allow it to investigate the cage and its new stuff without being disturbed.
Holding Your Pet Guinea Pig
Always approach your pet calmly and with a soft voice. You don’t want to scare it. To support your pet’s body from underneath, place one hand gently under its chest and wrap your fingers around the body. Place the other hand under its bottom and lift it straight up.
Remember – Hold your piggy close to your body. Holding it close will make it feel secure and will prevent it from hurting herself trying to get away.
Cleaning Your Guinea Pig’s Cage
Scoop out the soiled bedding each day – pay attention to the corners (this is where piggies tend to do their “business”). Replace it with clean bedding.
Once a week you will need to thoroughly clean your pet’s cage. To do this, you will have to relocate your furry friend to a safe place – this is a good time to let him play in his guinea-pig proof room or playpen..
Once your pet is safe, take apart the cage. Throw away the old bedding and any uneaten food, or chewed up toys.
Now mix light dish detergent and warm water in a bucket or a laundry tub. Scrub down the cage, the bottom, and all the plastic toys.
Allow the habitat to dry or use a towel to quicken the process.
Replace the bedding, food dish, water bottle, and toys.
You’re now ready to put your pet back into its clean home.
What Does That Sound Mean?
Like any pet, you’ll notice that guinea pigs have adorable quirks and can be very energetic. They’re also chatty, too!
Check out these guinea pig sounds;
- The ‘Motorboat’ – when content, exploring, or out of their cage, guinea pigs can make a happy noise that sounds a little like a boat engine.
- The ‘Purr’ – another happy sound usually when being petted.
- The ‘Scream‘ – this piggy is scared
- The ‘Squeal’ – a noise to attract attention or a reaction when it is in pain or distress.
- The ‘Rumblestrut’ – a sway, accompanied by a rumble or purr, to intimidate a rival or to attract a mate.
- The ‘Popcorn’ – a combination of shaking, leaping, and skipping signifies extreme guinea-pig happiness.
Now that we have explored the guinea pig, do you still think it is the perfect pet for you? Let us know in the comments section. If you have a guinea pig, tell us about it!
Fun Facts About Guinea Pigs