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The Basics of Guinea Pigs
The Cavy is a wonderful species that live long lives and are very rewarding pets to keep.
- Average Life Span: 5 – 8 years
- Size: 20 – 30 cm, 1kg
- Minimum cage size (for 2): 120cm x 60cm
- Diet: 75% - Grassy Hay | 20% Vitamin C Infused Pellet | Fresh fruit & Veg
- Special requirements: Vitamin C, Hay, Wood Chews
Guinea Pigs - what's not to love about them? They are adorable, full of personality, quiet, and don't require training or a big backyard. They are perfect mid-long term pets who make great indoor pets for families with kids ages 8 and up. These little critters are quite skittish so they thrive in a quiet environment away from predators and the weather.
They love when their owners handle them daily and do so carefully, making them feel calm and safe. Guinea Pigs tend to learn the household routine and learn to enjoy that time of the day when vegetables come out! As herbivores, they are constantly nibbling away at food which can make their enclosures messy, so if you adopt a cavy be sure to prepare for lots of cleaning!
Guinea Pigs need to have a secure cage to ensure they are safe from predators at all times. We recommend keeping your guinea pigs indoors for this exact reason. Having your pigs inside as part of the family where they become acustomed to the sounds and routine of a household is very beneficial to them. Often when they are indoor pets they enjoy human interaction more than if they were kept away outside.
Cage size is vital to keeping your guinea pigs happy. They should be housed in pairs following the guide below:
Enclosure Size Minimums
- 1x Guinea Pig - 100cm x 50cm
- 2x Guinea Pigs - 120cm x 60cm
As a general rule, add 60cm2 per guinea pig.
If your cage has wire in the bottom this must be removed. Wire bases can cause a serious condition called Bumble Foot, where painful blisters form as a result of walking on the wire.
They Should Always Be In Pairs
Guinea pigs are herding mammals and should never be kept alone. They are happiest when in pairs so they have one buddy to cuddle and socialise with.
When keeping guinea pigs in groups of three or more, (especially boars) you'll need multiple food bowls, water bottles and hides for them to enjoy their own space when they need it. Guinea pigs are known to fight if too many are in too small of a space.
Never keep opposite sexes together! The only exception to this rule is if the male is desexed. Leave breeding to the professionals.
Guinea Pigs require a well balanced diet following the guide below.
- 75% Grassy Hay
- 20% Fortified Pellet with Vitamin C
- 5% Fresh Produce
The Cavy is a herbivore that requires Vitamin C and Fibre in order to keep their gut moving and healthy. Try not to change their pellets up too much as this can cause gastro intestinal upsets. However, they benefit from a variety of grassy hays to desensitize them to seasonal changes.
Hay - the majority of their days are spent grazing on hay, the process of chewing keeps their teeth healthy and their gut moving efficiently. However, not all hays are made equal. High calcium and protein hays should be avoided, this includes Lucerne and Alfalfa hays. Timothy hay and other grassy hays are ideal.
Pellets - their main source of vitamins and minerals. This includes vital Vitamin C which prevents your guinea pig from developping a disease called scurvy. Always check that their pellets include a special type of Vitamin C which is Fortified, meaning the vitamin won't degrade over time.
Produce - vegetables play an important part in your guinea pig's daily life. They provide your pet with fresh nutrients and enrichment. Provide half a cup of vegetables per day per pig!
Teeth and Nail Care
Guinea pigs are no longer found in the wild and depend on human assistance to be healthy.
Teeth - the Cavy's teeth are in a constant state of growth. With so much grazing its a vital part of their anatomy to ensure their teeth don't get ground back to nothing. This also means their teeth can overgrow if they are not provided an appropriate diet. Always ensure your guinea pigs have lots of fresh, grassy hay.
Nails - like the teeth, nails are always growing. The nails will eventually curl if they are not manicured properly. Every two-three weeks your guinea pig should have their nails trimmed back with a pair of cutters.
Pet City offer Guinea Pig Nail Trimming as a service for guinea pigs!
Enrichment & Foraging
It can be pretty boring staying in a cage all the time, that's why it's so important to ensure you're making your enclosure exciting using these tips below:
- Changing cage layout regularly
- Rotating chews, hides and tunnels
- Offer foraging trays for vegies and treats
- Take outside weekly for supervised play
- Spend time with and handle your pets
- For males, provide a soft toy they can play with
The best way to keep your guinea pig enriched is providing foraging trays filled with hay, treats, pellets and toys. Rotating your cage weekly simply by moving the positions of things can be exciting and stimulating for your pet.
Ensure you offer your pet time outdoors weekly to catch some sun and to explore a safe area. We recommend using puppy play pens to keep them contained. Always supervise your guinea pigs - cats and other predators will prey on them.
Try to interact with your pets daily, making it a part of their routing to be picked up, scratched, cuddled and hand-fed. Keeping your guinea pigs indoors makes this much easier and desensitizes them to the fears of human interaction.
Cleaning and Toilet Training
Guinea pigs are messy creatures! It does make things easier to create a toiletting area to reduce mess. While they won't use this area all the time, it will help. To do this, place a tray willed with litter and hay in one corner of the enslosure. You might find one place your guinea pigs like to poop, place it in this spot. Normally guinea pigs will grazy and poo at the same time, as eating hay takes up the majority of their day. A litter tray will catch most of their droppings.
Choosing a good bedding to line the bottom of your pet's enclosure can make cleaning a lot easier. We recommend using rewashable Vet Bedding which is both economical and easy to remove from the enclosure. Disposable beddings can create more mess depending on the type. If you choose a disposable bedding, ensure it's non-dusty and not too coarse. Fine beddings like Chipsi Ultra, Critters Comfort and Chipsi Shavings are suitable and comfortable.
Ensure soiled bedding is removed frequently. We recommend daily 'spot' cleaning which involved removing their stools from the enclosure. Weekly 'full' cleans involve a complete empty, disinfect and re-supply of everything in the cage, including hay, pellets, bedding etc. This is also a great time to let your pigs have supervised time outdoors.