Information for the Guinea Pig Owner
Guinea pigs make great pets. They are normally very friendly animals and are relatively straightforward to look after. Below are a few common questions asked regarding guinea pig husbandry.
How long will my guinea pig live for?
Guinea pigs usually live for 4-6 years if cared for properly.
What food should my guinea pig have?
Guinea pigs love a variety of foods. The three main things they need in their diet are: fibre, protein and vitamin C. A good quality pellet, hay or chaff will have the correct nutrient balance – we can advise on specific diets if you wish. Fruit and vegetables are great for them to chew on as treats.
Guinea pigs require a high amount of fibre in their diet in order to maintain a healthy gastrointestinal tract. Vitamin C is essential because unlike rabbits, guinea pigs cannot produce or store vitamin C, so they need it ready-made in their food. If the diet does not contain enough, vitamin C can be given as a supplement, but it is best to use a properly formulated guinea pig food, and top it up with hay. Beware out of date food too – the vitamin C degrades over time, so for guinea pigs, it’s vital to stay within the use-by date or they could develop scurvy.
How much water should my pet drink?
The amount your guinea pig drinks will vary greatly depending on what they have eaten and the temperature, so do not be alerted if the volume consumed varies.
You should ensure you empty and replace the water daily to maintain palatability.
How big should their hutch be?
The hutch should have a feed bowl, a water bottle, hiding places (hollow objects) and room to run around. One guinea pig needs a hutch 30cm x 60 cm, plus a run so they can stretch their legs. As a bare minimum, the RSPCA recommend that they should have 60cm x 120cm (twice as big as their house area), however, the more room to run around and play in, the better.
What should I put inside my guinea pig’s hutch?
Guinea pigs love to play so any toys, objects (cardboard boxes are great) or logs to climb on are a great addition to a hutch. These enrichments help to entertain your guinea pig, improving their quality of life.
The hutch should be located either indoors or in a sheltered area away from drafts and direct sunlight. If you let your guinea pig get wet from the rain, they may become very cold and suffer from hypothermia.
Their bedding could be shredded paper, shavings or straw.
In the winter, you need to keep your guinea pig warm. Ideally, you could bring the cage indoors. If not, add additional blankets, which you could warm before putting them inside. All walls of the cage should have extra insulation to prevent drafts. The bedding should be thicker – up to around 2.5 inches. Ensure the water does not freeze.
In the summer, regularly check on your guinea pig to ensure they are not overheating. You may need to reduce the amount of bedding and change the direction of their cage to ensure they are never in direct sunlight. They need plenty of water. Frozen water bottles are a good addition to a hutch or run to create a cooler area for them to rest in if they want.
How often should I clean my guinea pig’s hutch out?
The hutch should be cleaned at least weekly. This helps to maintain the health of your pet. If you can see that the bedding is becoming very wet due to urine, you should remove the bedding more often. Wet bedding can cause sores and make your guinea pig cold. Not replacing the bedding regularly enough can lead to a toxic accumulation of ammonia.
How many guinea pigs should I have?
Guinea pigs do enjoy living in groups. The amount you have depends on the amount of room in the hutch. Do not overcrowd them.
They are social animals, however having more than one entire male in a hutch may occasionally lead to aggression so should generally be avoided. The best solution is often to neuter the males, and then they can live together in mixed sex groups without fighting and without babies!
Guinea pigs can get pregnant from 4 weeks of age and they get pregnant very easily, so it is important to neuter pets living together if you do not want any babies (pups)!
How often should my guinea pig be handled?
You should try to handle your guinea pig as much as possible from a young age to get your guinea pig used to it. They can then be handled as much as you wish or as much as they feel comfortable with.
Guinea pigs are great pets. If you have any problems, you can always phone us!