How to Take Care of A Guinea Pig for Beginners

Guinea pigs are also known as “cavies.” They are social animals with compact and rounded body shapes, short legs, and no tail with an average life span of 4-8 years.

They are popular pets known for their cuddliness and cunning nature. Their responsiveness to feeding, style of communication, and handling makes them a perfect fit for domestic purposes. They keep to a daytime schedule, and they rarely bite even when stressed. It is necessary to provide an adequate diet, rich in vitamin C and roughages and as well as large cages for adequate exercise and feeding space.

Although, they are commonly not a natural first pet for children or someone with a busy schedule since it requires plenty of attention, maintenance, time, and a well-researching approach to their care. Therefore, learning how to care for a guinea pig is essential before making the leap and bringing them home.

Guinea Pig Care for Beginners

They are no specific pattern to care for guinea pigs because every guinea pig reacts differently to their environment. However, you must take into consideration the basic needs and care required for the wellbeing of your guinea pigs.

Dietary Needs

Guinea pigs are herbivores, and they have special diets which must be rich in vitamin C and roughages for maintaining a healthy gut and intestinal contraction. Grasses hays are considered to be a perfect meal for guinea pigs because they are naturally abrasive, which makes it the ideal material for him to chew and chomp its rare teeth. Since guinea pigs continuously experience growth in their teeth throughout their life, so constant grassing and chewing grass hays helps keep the teeth shorts.

Grasses also provide numerous nutrients which contain indigestible fiber that helps to keep the intestinal tract operating at a normal level and digestible fiber, which is used up by the cecum to produce amino acid and vitamin B. Any good hay can be given to guinea pigs, but it is necessary to consider when and how it is fed. Unlimited Timothy hey is recommended for guinea pigs but for young guinea pigs under the age of 4 months, pregnant and lactating mothers, should be fed with Alfafa hay and the mixture of timothy and Alfafa hay should be given to the cavies.

Just like humans,  Guinea pigs are incapable of producing their own vitamin C. Therefore, to avoid diseases like scurvy, they need to get the supplement from fresh fruits and vegetables daily. It is necessary you follow the manufacturers manual and expiring date provided in their feed as nutrients can disappear over time.

Green leafs such as dandelion greens, collard greens, kale, mustard greens are a good source of vitamin C. Vitamin C supplement can also be added to their drinking water but shouldn’t be considered harmful as excess vitamins can be passed out from their urine.

Guinea pigs should also be given guinea pellets in limited quantities as pellets help them gain excess weight, necessary consideration in their weight gain should be taken when feeding guinea pets with such. On average, an adult guinea pig should not eat more than ¼ cup of pellets a day, with unlimited grass hay and a small quantity of fresh foods.

Guinea Pig Housing

Guinea pigs can be housed in an enclosed cage made of wires, durable plastics, glass or stainless steel. It is necessary you provide proper ventilation by opening one or two sides of the cage. Also, avoid using materials like wood to make cages as it can be easily eaten up.

The best guinea pig cage doesn’t have to be expensive, but lots of specification needs to be considered while building a coop for your guinea pig. Guinea pigs should be provided with adequate room space of at least 7.5 square per feet for one adult guinea pig to roam and separate spaces for nest and feeding. This, in turn, also helps to prevent the likelihood of developing heart diseases and diabetes.

The floor in the enclosure should be either wired or solid, but they both offer their advantages and disadvantages. While the wired floor is easier to clean and maintain but often causes injuries to their feet and hocks as a result of broken legs when the guinea pig falls in the wire mesh and panics to escape, but the solid floor is more challenging to maintain but safer for your pets.

They are various types of bedding available today, but it is necessary you choose the best bedding for your guinea pigs for their comfort and general well-being. Bedding for guinea pigs are available in various types, but the qualities and materials make it better suited for growing your guinea pigs.

Bedding must be clean, free, no-toxic, absorbant, and dust-free. Shaded paper, fleece, wood shavings, commercial pellets, processed ground corn are best suited for your guinea pig, but if you are keeping a guinea pig for the first time, it is advisable to try out different types of bedding to determine which one makes the guinea pig more comfortable. Avoid using beddings with an unpleasant smell and those that are non-absorbent such as cedar and straw as they might cause discomfort, irritations, and diseases to your pet. 

Environmental Factor

The environment which you house your guinea pet should be clean, free from noise, and should be located away from heat sources such as direct sunlight, fireplace, wood stoves and heat vents. Guinea pigs do best in dry, serene environments with adequate ventilation. Dampy cages promote mold growth in their hay and bedding and can make guinea pigs more prone to ailment.

Guinea pigs are social animals and can be mixed, including males with females, and they will live happily together.

Conclusion

The guinea pigs are usually gentle and social rodents that serve as a companion animal and experimental model in North America and Europe. They are highly selective in their meals during their early stage, and they can refuse to eat when their meal type is changed or not suitable. For so, the reason they are fed with chews and vegetables which adds necessary nutrient for their growth. They do not respond well to environmental change, and they might try to bite or freeze when they perceive danger.

How to Determine Gender on Guinea Pig?

How to Tell Your Guinea Pig Sex? 

It is quite simple, against information, we usually find! You can even tell the sex of a few days old little piggy. When the piglet reaches the age of about two weeks, sex determination shouldn’t cause any problems. You just need to know, what things you should pay attention to. 

Two Weeks Old Guinea Pig

In the pictures bellow reproductive organs of two weeks old piggies are described (of the girl and the boy).

“Hollows” of sex organs of a female guinea pig are in shape of letter “Y”.

In the drawing and picture of a boy, you can see a small ball (yes – it is an element which you are thinking of) from which a vertical line extends.

One Month Guinea Pig

There are not many differences between one month old pigs sex organs and two week old ones, although they are bigger.

The girl’s proportion of hollows is changing a bit – the vertical line of the letter “Y” is much shorter. Only diagonal lines are clearly visible.

The boy’s penis is much better visible.

Three-Months Old Guinea Pig

Reproductive organs of three months old individuals are already fully developed. 

There is no difference comparing to the one month old piggy. 

You can see well-developed testicles.

Growing Up

After The Birth

A piggy is born with fur and it is a size of a mandarin. The moment after it is licked by its motherlittle piggy starts to look around. A few hours after the birth, she starts going out of the house and touring the cage.
Little pigs have disproportionately big paws and head compared to the rest of their body. With time
however, body proportion will change to the benefit of the backside.

A Few First Days

Little pigs are very brave and curious about the world. After a few days they start eating solid food, although they still drink milk from their momfor anotherthreeweeks. Their walk is clumsy and sometimes they fall down. 

The First Month

About 3-4 week old pigs should stop drinking mother’s milk. They are already quite big. They reach the size of over half the length of the mother’s body.

They love to play and chase each other. They jump funny and they wave their little heads. Males start to show an interest in females at the age of three weeks, although the females don’t want to play this type of games.

When a pig reaches the age of one month, it is a perfect moment to give it away to new owner, if we don’t want to keep it.

Between the First and The Third Month

Females achieve sexual maturity in the second month of their life, and males in the third month (officially). However, it can happen that our little piggy will be ready for breeding at the age of one month. That’s why you should separate males from mother and sisters, when males reach age of one month. Around the second month little pigs start calming down. They become less energetic. They sit and lie more than jump and run around the cage. If we want to sterilize males, we must wait until they reach the age of three months. Only then they are big enough and have well developed testicles. The vet won’t do this earlier anyway.

After the Third Month

Pigs have already reached sexual maturity; still grow, but very slowly. A pig can grow until it’s six months old. 

Guinea Pig Grooming and Hygiene

It is necessary to do few things regularly and the piglet will be always clean and smell nice.

Cleaning The Cage 

– Once a month you should do a thorough cleaning – clean the entire cage and accessories;
– Change the entire bedding once a week and wipe the bottom of the cage with a wet handkerchief;
 
– It is necessary to change dirty bedding and throw out excrements and leftovers of food every day.

It is often said, that guinea pigs stink – it isn’t true. If you do the cleaning regularly you will avoid an unpleasant smell.

Cutting Claws

You should buy a claws clipper. 

Your guinea pig’s claws should be cut every month. It requires a little bit of skills and sometimes it is necessaryto ask somebody for help, because piggies don’t like this treatment, and they may struggle a lot. In such case someone should hold the pig while you are cutting its claws
Below it is presented, how to cut the claws. You can see a proper cutting line – green dashed line. Be careful not to cut the quick!

Bathing

It isn’t necessary to bath your guinea pig. Some people recommend to wash it once a month. In my opinion you should bath the piggy only when it is really needed, especially that guinea pigs don’t like it. 
Sometimes it happens that the piggy stinks. It may be caused by different reasons. 
If the pig gets terribly dirty …. a bath is necessary.

You should wash the pig in slightly warm water. You may use a shampoo for babies or special one for animals. I use a shampoo for babies.

Sometimes pigs are scare of a hair drier, but it’s a splendid solution in the winter. If you don’t use the drier, you should hold the wet pig in a dry towel for a while. You can put slightly wet pig into the cage and move the cage closer to a heater.

STEPS OF WASHING A GUINEA PIG

Cutting and combing fur

Only long-haired piggies require cutting and combing fur. You should use a special brush or a comb. You should not allow for tangling up and overgrowth the fur.

Guinea Pig Diet

Proper diet is very important for guinea pigs, because these animals give a lot of attention and devote a lot of time to eating 🙂 
Creating a menu for a piglet is quite easy and cheap, although you have to remember a few simple rules:

Guinea pigs should have unlimited access to fresh water.

Give your piggy large amounts of fresh hay every day. 
It is non-absorbent and isn’t suitable for bedding, but it is a basic component of the diet.
An adult piggy should eat about one kilogram of hay a month. The hay is available with herbs and other plants, but it isn’t necessary.

Grains and pellets are important part of guinea pigs diet. 
Choose pellets intended for guinea pigs, which are enriched with vitamin C. Pellets for other rodents may not contain it. Pay attention, whether pellets you choose contains vitamin C, because your pet must absorb it (guinea pigs are unable to manufacture their own). If you fulfil thisconditionit isn’t necessary to buy the diet supplement with vitamin C. Pellets are more economical than grains, because the piggy won’t be picking its favourite grains. At beginning it’s better to buy a smaller package – if the piggy doesn’t like it; she won’t eat it. No arguments will help. Your piggy may scatter pellets all over the cage, and eventually pee on it. 

Grain sticks are a splendid solution.
They aren’t exposed to be scattered all over the cage or polluted. The sticks contain not only food, but also a wooden centre, so it can be used as a teething toy. However, a spoiled piggy won’t start to eat a grain stick,until you’ll remove it and put it on the bottom of the cage.
The biggest disadvantage is an artificial honey, which is often an ingredient of grain sticks. Pigs don’t like it.

Vegetables and fruits should be only an addition to guinea pig’s diet.

Guinea pigs should be fed witch vegetables and fruits once a day. Pigs like: 

– dill,
– parsley leaves,
– cucumbers,
– lettuce (in reasonable amounts),
– carrot,
– celery,
– root of a parsley,
– apples,
– bananas.
 

Pigs adore grass, dandelions and clovers.

However, if they come from lawns, meadows or parks; they might be polluted with excrement of animals and exhaust fumes, so your pig can be poisoned. If you decide to give your piggy some grass, wash it carefully. Leaves of certain trees are also recommendedfor example: leaves of willows and maples. As teething toy, the best choice is a branch of fruit tree. These branches are rich in tanning agents, that are good for your pig’s health. However if we don’t have any fruit tree’s branches, it isn’t a problem. 

Guinea pigs produce two kinds of excrements: inedible and edible (contain vitamin K and vitamins from the B-group) which are willingly eaten.

At the end, you should remember that every pig is different, and has its own preferences. Some piggies eat everything; other ones are more fussy and may be resentful, if they don’t get food, which they prefer. If you are a new guinea pig owner, remember – don’t overfeed it. Having a new piglet is often a big event at home. Everyone is excited seeing its eating…..and gives it a lot of treats. After some time, owners start to realize, that their piggy is to fat and it’s wrong to give it so much food. Howeverthe pig won’t understand it and will be demanding food in very “aggressive” manner: loud wheek with open snout….for very long period of time. Explanations or shouts will make no impression on the piggy. The pig might wheek even when it hears a rustle of a plastic bag – the pig will connect that sound with vegetables, which are often wrapped in foil.

A properly fed guinea pig has soft and shining fur. It is curious, likes exploring and playing.