Guinea pigs are generally docile and friendly rodents that are native to South America. They can make great, lovable pets and are relatively easy to care for. The most common types of guinea pigs are the English or American Shorthair, Abyssinian, and Peruvian longhaired. They generally weigh 500-1000 grams (approximately 1-2 pounds).
A guinea pig’s diet should consist mainly of grass timothy hay; which should alwaysbe available in abundance. Small amounts of pellets can be offered but avoid feeding more than 1/4 cup per day per adult guinea pig. Offer only plain pellets without added fruits and/or nuts. Avoid alfalfa hay in guinea pigs, as it is higher in calcium and can predispose them to bladder stones.
Guinea pigs are one of only a few species of mammals (including humans) that are unable to naturally produce Vitamin C. Therefore, their diet mustbe supplemented with vitamin C in the form of vegetables. The following is a list of vegetables that are high in vitamin C and are safe to feed to guinea pigs of any age: kale, turnip greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens, brussel sprouts, collard greens, parsley, broccoli leaf, cauliflower, green peppers, cabbage, and spinach.
Guinea pigs should be housed in an enclosure that is large enough to move around comfortably, accommodating a hide box. The sides of the cage do not need to be especially tall since guinea pigs do not jump or climb very well. Any enclosure should provide adequate ventilation; therefore, aquarium tanks are not recommended for guinea pigs. Avoid wood flooring, which allows urine to soak in and is difficult to clean. A commercially available cage with a plastic bottom and a removable wire top is a good choice. Avoid cedar or pine wood chips when choosing bedding because they can contain harmful oils. Safer alternatives include recycled paper bedding or aspen. Any bedding should be changed frequently and the enclosure should be spot cleaned, as needed. Guinea pigs can be exercised outside of their enclosure, as long as, they are well-supervised.
Guinea pigs are very social animals and are usually content around other guinea pigs, although this may mean they will be less bonded to their human family. Pigs of the same sex usually get along best if given appropriate cage space. Males and females may be housed together but should be spayed/neutered to avoid breeding.
- Dental disease – usually if feeding too many pellets and not enough hay
- Hypovitaminosis C (Scurvy)
- Upper respiratory infections
- Intestinal parasites