Basic Information

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia 
Phylum: Chordata 
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia 
Suborder: Hystricomorpha
Family: Caviidae
Subfamily: Caviinae 
Genus: Cavia
Species: Cavia porcellus (guinea pig) 

Physiological Data

Body length: 23 – 35 cm (females are usually shorter), 
Weight: 700 – 1300 grams,
Life expectancy: 7 – 12 years,
Number of young per litter: 1 – 6 (usually 2 -3),
Body temperature: 37-39 Celsius degrees. 

 

When You Should Go to a Vet?

Visits to a vet are not frequent. Guinea pigs don’t need any vaccinations. If it catches a cold, it’s not a big problem. The pig will have a runny nose and will sneeze for a few days. When your pig has a cold, keep windows closed and take care of proper heating.

Guinea pigs are quite healthy animals, but if you notice any worrying changes, it is necessary to go to a vet.

Things that Should Worry You

Changes in the pet’s behaviour, for example: it’s apathetic and stays in its house most of the time;
– Diarrhoea or no feces;
– Skin changes:
rashes, growths, spots; 
– Nodules;
– Poor appetite –
too long teeth might be the reason. Rodents’ teeth grow continuously throughout their lives – guinea pigs should have teething toys in order to systematically wipe the teeth off. Sometimes vet’s intervention is neededonly the doctor can trim teeth;
– Green or/and stinking water in the water bottle. Fungi or algae may be the reason. You may exchange equipment and wash the cage. If it doesn’t help, you should go to the a vet with the pig and contaminated water. The vet may want to do water analysis;
– Scratching. Pigs don’t scratch themselves very often. If the piglet scratches much more than it used to, it can be caused by parasites. 

You shouldn’t give your pet any medications on your own initiative, it may cause more harm than good. 

Guinea pigs don’t get sick too often, and when you take your pet to the vet quickly, it will get better soon. It’s good to know where a 24 hour vet is – in your town, although I’ve never need it, and I’ve had lots of guinea pigs in my life (including two unexpected births).

What Do Guinea Pigs Like?

Caresses

Each pig has its own preferences… the majority likes to be petted behind the ears(they have bare skin there), some on the nose, other on the back, the head or the chin. They don’t like touching the tummy and it is better not to touch their paws. 

Food

They love juicy food (fresh vegetables and fruits), but they shouldn’t eat too much of it. Some pigs love milk – however, remember that adult mammals should not drink milk. Some pigs like tea with lemon and sugar (unfortunately)what is also forbidden, although you can give your pig a little bit of tea from time to time. Dill is one of the most favourite guinea pig treats. I haven’t met a piggy, which doesn’t love it.

Other Entertainments 

Guinea pigs enjoy walking around the flat. Their curiosity about world will lead them everywhere, also into places rather dangerous for them. Touring the space under the bathtub or corners behind wardrobes is highly inadvisable. A smart piggywhich is able to leave the cage on its own, will find “its places” at home. When a piggy hides there, it’s almost impossible to find it. Your pig will come out when it wants to. 

You can also make a paddock outside – use a metal fence and remember to cover the top of it (rodents are food for many birds). The paddock must be really reliable. If it is made from a string, the piggy may bite it through and go for a walk. 

Diseases

Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea can be caused by: poisoning, bacterial infection, an inappropriate diet or when the diet has been changed too fast. Symptoms should not last longer than two days. You can try to help a pig by eliminating humid food from the diet for a few days. If symptoms don’t disappear, you should take your pig to a vet. If the pig has a fever too, don’t wait for the spontaneous improvement and go to the vet at once. The fever may be a symptom of a bacterial infection. In this case giving antibiotics is necessary. 

Koprostase

Its symptoms are red and stinking faeces. The pig needs to see a vet at once. A treatment is unfortunately long-term. It is based on giving paraffin oil and vitamins from the B-group to the pet. 

Excessive Fur Loss

It is caused by deficiency of fibre in a diet. Proper diet should eliminate symptoms. Your piggy should eat more food rich in fibre, such as hay, porridge oats or flax grains. 

Paralysis and Paresis

It can be caused by two factors: 
Virus. In addition to paresis there’s one more symptom – increase of body temperature. The pig should be taken to a vet immediately. There is no cure. It is necessary to put the guinea pig to sleep (euthanasia).
Vitamin A and B deficiency. It could be caused by a bad diet. In this case forecasts are much better. You can take your pet to a vet, although It will be sufficient to give your piggy food rich in A and B vitamins
 

Paralysis

Internal: tapeworms, nematodes, sheep liverfluke, flagellates, blepharismas etc. Symptoms of these parasites are: a change in stool color (on red) and weight loss. You should go to a vet, because only the doctor can establish proper therapy, which unfortunately is usually long-term.
External: chewing louse (look like white ascarids), lice, fleas. Symptoms: scratching, little cuts on the skin, reddening, fur loss. You shouldn’t give your pig any medicines on your own initiative
,although you can (in case of visible parasites) disinfect the pig using a preparation for fleas (purchased in a pharmacy or in a pet shop). After that don’t forget to wash your piggy and clean its cage. However don’t do anything on your own, if you see wounds on your pigs skin – the piggy has to be taken to a vet. 

Overgrowth of Teeth

It is most often caused by lack of hard food in the diet and teething rings. Overgrowth of teeth makes eating impossible, which can lead even to starvation. You should go to a vet who will trim teeth to the right size. 

Cold

Symptoms: runny nose and sneezing. Don’t give your guinea pig any medications on your own (except a food supplement with vitamin C). In such case, you should turn up the temperature in the room, in which the pig is. Cold should pass in a few days. If symptoms don’t stop or become more intense, you should go with your piggy to a vet. 

Cuts

You should wash the woundwith hydrogen peroxide (don’t put nothing on it). If it doesn’t heal up, you should go to a vet. In case of cuts caused during claw trimming, you can use styptic powder – just put the pig’s paw into the container of powder. In case of more serious injury (heavy bleeding) a visit to a vet is necessary. 

Gingivitis

It is caused by deficiency of vitamin C. Symptoms: swelling and sometimes bleeding gums. You can help your piggy very quickly – buy a food supplement with vitamin C in a pet shop. Your piggy should have a proper diet; it should contains lots of vitamin C. 

Pneumonia and Bronchitis

The symptoms are: increased thirst, poor appetite, heavy breathing, cough, sneezing, apathy, becoming dull and ruffled fur. It is difficult to determine whether it is pneumonia or bronchitis(pneumonia is more dangerous). We recommend to place the cage in a warm place. A help of a vet is necessary. 

Corneitis

Symptom: white spots on the eyeball. It is caused by a decrease in immunityA vet decides on a treatment – it is usually based on giving immune medications. 

Bone Fracture

It can happen, when the pig jumps into the cage from the owner’s hands (don’t let it do it!). In case of a fracture of the upper part of a pawimmobilized with a plaster isn’t possible, you can only hope, that the fracture will heal. When there’s a fracture of a lower part of the limb, a plaster cast is put on for a period of 8-10 days. 

Reproduction

Guinea Pig Breeding

We don’t recommend breeding guinea pigs. There are usually no problems during pregnancy and delivery, but bringing the younger generation up may be troublesome.

If you get a pig with a “surprise”….you must know some facts. Below we are presenting some information for future “parents”.

Basic information 

Pregnancy lasts 8-10 weeks and it is notvisible until the end of the fifth week. The pregnancy can be dangerous, if the pig is over a year old and it is its first pregnancy. Bones of a pelvis cannot spread enough – in this age they are firmly joined (if the piggy didn’t give a birth before). In this case you should go to a vet. Only a doctor can help. 

How to Tell Your Guinea Pig is Pregnant? 

If you have doubts, whether you are dealing with pregnancy, or perhaps your pig simply grew fat, at first you can check its belly. If it’s a fat issue, guinea pigs tummy will be soft in touch. If piggy is pregnant, its belly will seem to be “stuffed” and strained – you may feel like touching a balloon. Moreover during the pregnancy piggy’s sides also grow. During three last weeks you may see babies moving and even hear them. Of courseif you want to be sure, go to a vet to do the ultrasound scan.

Before the Birth 

Three to four weeks preceding the delivery, the expectant mother should be separated from other pigs. During last weeks you shouldn’t take the guinea pig out from the cage, in order not to harm babies. You can pat her. During pregnancy you should feed your piggy normally, although you can give her a little bit more food(even overfeed her). The piggy will demand more food. 

Birth and After The Birth 

Labor is very quick (usually a few minutes), mainly at night. The pig won’t show any signs of an upcoming delivery. There won’t be a big mess after, guinea pig as every rodent, eats the placenta. After the birth, little pigs should spend time only with their mother. They should not be taken out of the cage, till they are two weeks old. The mother can reject them, if someone else’s smell is on them. Smell of her owner on her children doesn’t disturb her very much. The pig looks after her children, she feeds and licks them. However, she isn’t too possessive and isn’t much upset, when one of her babies is missing for a moment.