Guinea Pigs: General Care.
BYC is filled with a wide variety of knowledge and information, a lot of it is based around poultry. However, there's also a lot of knowledge about other animals, such as rabbits, pigs, etc. So, I decided I wanted to spread some of my knowledge about one of my favourite animals, Guinea Pigs!
Guinea Pigs are cute, friendly and talkative little companions. Who, with the right care, can live for over four years! They love people and, most of all, they love attention! They're great with young children and other domestic pets.
Choosing Your Piggy:
When choosing your new family member it is important to choose carefully.
Firstly, where are you getting your piggy from? Are you adopting, or are you going buy from a responsible breeder?
Secondly, is the piggy you want healthy? Did you check his/her eyes, ears, mouth, nose, etc. for any discharge, faeces or blood? Does the piggy you want have diarrhoea?
Thirdly, is your piggy going to have a friend? Will you be able to spend lots of time with your pet, or will you get a friend to keep them company whilst you're occupied?
These questions are crucial to your Guinea Pig's welfare.
This is, by far, one of the most important things to research when deciding whether or not to own a Guinea Pig.
When it comes to housing, bigger is always better! Remember, piggies like to run, jump and flick themselves around, so having a small cage is not an option.
Have you decided if your piggy will live inside, or outside? If your piggy lives outside, will it be able to stay warm and safe? Will it be protected from the weather?
Bedding is another important feature in your piggies life. There are many types of bedding, each being different. So, to make it easier to choose, I've assembled a short list of bedding types with their pros and cons.
- Unscented Wood Shavings
Pros: Comfortable, easy to keep clean, dries quickly.
Cons: It can cause breathing problems if the cage\hutch is not ventilated properly, it can also remove the oils from your piggies skin, causing problems like bumblefoot.
- Scented Wood Shavings
Pros: Comfortable, easy to keep clean.
Cons: The smell is absolutely horrendous to your piggy, it can cause breathing problems and bumblefoot.
Pros: Easy to clean.
Cons: It will cause breathing problems, it can cause many other health problems such as bumblefoot and pneumonia.
- Shredded Paper
Pros: Safe, comfortable, dries quickly, easy to clean.
Cons: Must be cleaned regularly or else it begins to smell.
Pros: Super absorbent, dries fairly quickly, easy to keep clean.
Cons: Unfortunately, newspaper is covered in ink, so it must be used underneath another bedding.
Pros: Soft, comfortable, dries quickly, safe.
Cons: Must be cleaned regularly. (Avoid use of fabric softeners when washing the fleece.)
Pros: Soft, ventilated, easy to clean, dries fairly quickly.
Cons: Can poke your piggies eyes, causing infections.
Hay is really important and must be available to your piggy at all times.
It helps keep your piggies teeth at a manageable length and it helps keep their digestive system working properly. Whilst also providing your piggies with a warm place to sleep and a great place to play!
Food & Water:
As you probably know, food and water are highly important.
Water should always be available in a drinking bottle and it should be changed daily.
Guinea Pig Food should be provided, when necessary, in a ceramic bowl.
When choosing what food to give your piggy, remember, pellets and other complete foods are the best, as piggies will pick the sweetest pieces out of foods such as Guinea Pig Muesli, thus making them overweight.
Here's a list of vegetables, fruits and herbs that are safe for piggies:
Apple. (Remove apple seeds, as they are toxic to piggies.)
Only feed vegetables and fruits in small amounts to avoid bloating, diarrhoea, etc.
Taming your piggy is incredibly easy, especially if your piggy is young. When taming, the most important things to remember are to be quiet and be patient.
Allow your piggy to get used to it's environment for a couple of hours, then begin taming.
Follow these easy instructions when taming your piggy:
Sit beside your piggies cage, talk to them in a quiet, gentle voice. Have a little conversation with them, slowly they'll get used to your voice.
Once your piggy has gotten used to your voice, slowly place your hand in your piggies cage. Wait for your piggy to approach you, let them smell your hand. Then, they'll get used to your scent.
Now that your piggy knows what you smell like, you can continue with taming.
Try offering a small piece of fruit, or vegetable. Hold it inside of the cage and wait, soon your piggy should come over and take a little nibble.
Try to pet your piggy. Gently stoke their head, see how they react.
Once they are used to being petted, you can continue.
Carefully, pick up your piggy and place them on your lap. Pet them and give them some fruit or vegetables. Hold them for about 5 - 10 minutes, then, place them back into their cage.
Leave them to relax and try picking them up again tomorrow.
Soon, your piggy will run to you when you pass by their cage, they'll be very talkative and they'll love to be held!
Cleaning Your Piggies Cage:
Cleaning your piggies is very important. By removing soiled bedding you are also removing dangerous bacteria and disease.
Follow these simple instructions for a fresh, clean home for your piggy:
Take your piggy out of their cage.
Let a family member hold them, or put them in a run/playpen.
Clear the old bedding using a dustpan and brush set.
Once the old bedding has been cleared, spray the cage with pet safe disinfectant and wipe clean with a cloth. Then, clean the food bowl, water bottle and any toys that need cleaning.
Once the cage has dried, add your bedding and hay, then decorate the cage with toys and accessories.
Place your piggy in his/her cage and watch them enjoy their freshly cleaned home!
Grooming is a great way to bond with your piggy, especially if you have a long-haired piggy. Grooming includes many things, such as, brushing your piggies fur, or clipping their toenails. After grooming, place them back in their cage and give them some fruit or vegetables.
Hot & Cold:
During the Summer, piggies need help staying cool and, in Winter, piggies need to be kept warm. Here are some ideas that can help.
Staying Cool In Summer:
1. Try freezing a bottle of water, then place it in your piggies cage. They'll lay beside it to keep cool, and sometimes they'll even lick the bottle.
2. Put your piggy in a run, with a shaded area, and watch them as they bounce around and enjoy the delicious grass.
3. Give your piggy some watery fruits and vegetables, such as Cucumber, Lettuce and Pear.
Keeping Warm In Winter:
1. Provide lots of hay for your piggies, they will huddle up in the hay to keep themselves warm.
2. Provide places they can hide, such as piggy igloos, allowing them to keep out of the wind and rain.
3. If you keep your piggy inside, keep them away from drafts and feed them lots of hay.
Come & Chat:
If you enjoy Guinea Pigs as much as I do, why not come and say hello on my Guinea Pig Chat Thread. You're more than welcome to post lots of pictures of your piggy!
The Guinea Pig Chat Thread.
Or, leave a comment below!
A great big thanks to @Mountain Peeps and @Bluebee for letting me use pictures of their adorable piggies alongside my own piggies!