Living with Guinea Pigs!

Guinea pigs, also known as Cavies, originate from South America and have found their way into the hearts of UK pet owners thanks to their adorable and quirky characters. Docile and friendly (if handled carefully!) guinea pigs can make a fun addition to the family and a great pet for older children.

Unlike rabbits, guinea pigs communicate with each other vocally so you’ll have fun learning what all the different squeaks, shrieks, chatters, purrs and chirps mean! Read on to learn how to care for your guinea pig at home.

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Company & Handling

Guinea pigs are just as social as rabbits so it’s vital that you keep at least two same sex pigs together for company. In the wild guinea pigs live in small ‘herds’ and will regularly take part in social grooming sessions.  As a prey animal, a guinea pig will instantly freeze or flee when frightened. Take your time when getting a guinea pig used to being handled by humans as once your pig trusts you he is far less likely to squirm away from you and risk injury through a fall. Guinea pigs have delicate bones so should not be handled by young children who may squeeze too tight or drop them.

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Feeding your guinea pig

The food you need to give your guinea pig is very similar to a rabbit’s diet.  Plenty of meadow hay should be available at all times although if the weather is nice and you have a secure run, your pig will also appreciate fresh grass in the garden! You should also provide your guinea pig with a complete guinea pig pellet food with added vitamin C such as Tima Mega C or Guinea Pig Food Cavia Complete. Fresh fruit and veg can also be given as treats – lettuce, tomatoes, apples, bananas and grapes are all popular choices.

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Home sweet home

Coming from the warmer climate of South America, guinea pigs are better suited to indoorliving, particularly in winter.   They are not brilliant climbers so a wide flat cage is better than a tall cage with multiple levels.

Something like the Small Pet Cage R5A 120 will give your two guinea pig buddies room to run about and play with their toys when you are not around. Just like rabbits, your guinea pigs will also need access to a larger indoor or outdoor run for daily exercise.

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Choosing your Guinea Pig

Thanks to creative breeding, there is now a huge range of coats and colours to choose from.  Most pet shops will stock short haired guinea pigs with a smooth coat or the Abyssinian which has the endearingly ruffled, ‘dragged through a hedge backwards’ appearance! Other varieties, such as the long haired Shelties or Peruvians, can be bought from specialist breeders.

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A Guinea Pig is for life!

If you are getting a guinea pig in the late spring or summer, don’t forget that they will also need looking after in the winter and for the next 5-7 years if you buy a youngster. Why not consider giving a home to an older animal from a Guinea Pig rehoming charity such as Guinea Pig Rehome as there are always healthy adult guinea pigs in need of loving new owners.

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One Reply to “Living with Guinea Pigs!”

  1. If you can’t afford the time or money to give a cat or dog what they need like me, a guinea pig is the next best thing to a loving companion!

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