Species: Cavia porcellus (guinea pig)
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.
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;
– 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 needed, only 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).
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.
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.
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 piggy, which 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.
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”.
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 course, if 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.