Caring for Guinea Pigs

Buying a guinea pig is relatively easy and affordable. However, the housing, ongoing veterinary care, food and time needed are a major responsibility. If you are not 100% sure that you and your family will be able to offer a guinea pig all of these things please think twice.

Guinea pigs are fully grown at around 4 months of age and can live to around 8 years. They are very sociable creatures and should be kept in same sex pairs or small groups from the same litter.

Housing

Suitable homes from two guinea pigs will include an outdoor hutch approx 134 x 83 x 111cm, plus an attached run no smaller than approximately 134 x 134 x 48cm, but the bigger the better. Outdoor hutches should be placed 25cm off the floor in a sheltered area protected from both hot and cold weather. Indoor cages shold be no smaller than 140 x 69 x 54cm and should be placed away from direct sunlight, draughts, TV's, radios, air fresheners and aerosols. A hutch or cage should have a layer of shavings on the floor with plenty of straw and hay for nesting material. In winter months your guinea pig will benefit from extra bedding and htch covers. A guinea pig bought during the winter should be kept indoors until springtime. 

Feeding

Fresh water should be available ata ll times using a gravity fed bottle. Do not place the bottle directly above food bowls. Hay is an essential part of a guinea pig's diet and unlimited amounts should be placed in a hayrack to keep it clean. Guinea pigs should be fed on a ginea pig complete dry food mix with added vitamin C, and can remain on this all their lives. The added vitamin C is essential as they cannot produce it themselves. Dry food is best put in a heavy ceramic dish, which is easily cleaned and gnaw proof.

Good fruit and vegetables - carrot, apple, broccoli, green cabbage, seedless grapes, kale and spinach. Also dandelion (only if you are certain this has not been contaminated with weedkiller) clover, coltsfood and grass. 

BAD FOODS - lettuce, avocado, privet, yew, foxglove, all bulbs, ragworth, lupin, bracken, laburnum and lilac. Please contact Avon Lodge as a matter of urgency if your guinea pig has eaten, or may have eaten any of these. 

Wood gnaws such as willow, apple and pear branches, and mineral licks are essential as they help keep teeth trim and replace lost minerals. 

Grooming

Long coat and Abyssinian guinea pigs must be groomed daily with a wide tooth comb. Short coated guinea pigs should be groomed once a week to remove mouting hairs and help keep their coat in good condition. It's also a good bonding experience. Their nails may need clipping every 3 months to prevent them from becoming overgrown. A veterinary nurse or vet can do this for you for a small fee. Please call the surgery to book an appointment on 0117 977 3230.

Cleaning Routine

A thorough clean of the guinea pig's hutch using a pet safe disinfectant should be done at least twice a week. Wet bedding and any uneaten fresh foods should be cleaned or replaced daily.  

 

 

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