Guinea Pigs

Why do guinea pigs make good pets?

Guinea pigs love being petted and stroked and become tame with careful handling – these sociable qualities have made them one of the best loved and most popular small pets.

What are the most commonly kept guinea pigs?

There are many types of guinea pig available which vary greatly in colour, but they all have an average lifespan of five to seven years.

What are guinea pigs like in their natural habitat?

Naturally they live in large groups and are very sociable – as a general rule when keeping as pets, two females will live happily together and two males from the same litter will get along well – and if you intend to keep two together, its best to keep litter mates or two that have been introduced from an early age.

You can choose to keep a single guinea pig, just bear in mind that it will require lots of regular contact from you, and lots of lovely petting sessions.

How do I keep my guinea pig?

Guinea pigs are most commonly housed outside in a wooden hutch, although many are now being kept as ‘house pets’ – but wherever you choose to keep your guinea pig, you should provide as much space as possible. We recommend woodshavings throughout the base of the hutch or living space to provide an absorbent layer, with straw in the sleeping area. In addition to the hutch or living space, we always recommend a suitable run to give your guinea pig a larger exercise area, and access to grass.

How do I look after my guinea pig?

All small mammals need regular care and attention, daily feeding (we recommend specialist guinea pig food which contains essential vitamins and minerals and a good handful of hay) and fresh water, and cleaning at least once a week. You can also introduce raw vegetables – carrots and broccoli are good to start with – but avoid lettuce as it doesn’t contain any nutrients.

How do I handle my guinea pig?

When you take your guinea pig home you should allow it to settle into its new environment, so it’s best to leave it alone for the first two days before trying to handle it. When you do start to handle your guinea pig, always bear in mind that he or she may be frightened, so keep the noise to a minimum and handle carefully. Like some humans, guinea pigs can be scared of heights and may not enjoy being held, but they love being stroked! And it’s always best to start handling whilst sitting on the floor to prevent dropping or jumping injuries.

What equipment and supplies will I need?

For their accommodation you’ll need a weather-proof hutch with woodshavings for the floor with straw for bedding, and an enclosed run for use in the garden.

You’ll need a ceramic dish for food (we recommend specialist guinea pig food which contains essential vitamins and minerals), a water bottle for fresh water, and a hayrack for your hay.  Your guinea pig also needs essential minerals so you’ll need to provide a salt lick and mineral stone for them, and wood gnaws are a good idea to give them something to chew on that isn’t your slippers!  And like humans, guinea pigs love treats so be sure to have some handy.

Don’t forget your disinfectant for weekly cleaning of the hutch and food dish, and a bottle brush for the water bottle.

Finally, it’s always a good idea to have a reference book handy to make sure you’re providing everything your guinea pig needs.