Newest Review: ... had them as a pair rather than a single animal. Living Quarters ~ The beauty of these small pets is that they can be housed both indo... more
Keep guinea pigs indoors and they will interact and become a friendly pet
Member Name: staindgirl
Date: 24/01/10, updated on 24/01/10 (1539 review reads)
Advantages: Noisy, friendly pets if kept in the right conditions
Disadvantages: Need to keep safe from predators, extremes of temperature and can get a wide variety of illnesses
Guinea pigs can interact with humans but ideally are best kept indoors surprisingly but they love to also have a safe hutch/run with access to clean, pesticide free grass.
Females are called sows and males are called boars. The male is slightly larger than the female. They are fully ready to go from birth and covered in fur with open eyes and eating unlike most young animals. They are sexually active from 3-4 weeks of age so be careful if you take them on from someone who has not separated them early enough as even very young pigs can get pregnant which can be dangerous.
There are many different breeds in both short and long haired and include abyssinian, rex, peruvian, sheltie etc. Only experienced owners should get the longer haired varieties as they can need extra grooming or washing.
Although it is good for them to go out on grass in the summer, they need to be well protected from predators and the sun/heat. They can get heatstroke in temperatures over 28 degrees. In the winter they really shouldn't be kept in hutches outside and should be in a heated shed or indoors. Far too many guinea pigs unnecessarily die in cold or damp winters in unsheltered hutches sadly.
I personally keep mine indoors all year round where they are safe and get a lot of attention. They call me for breakfast and dinner of veg and eat a variety of vegetables such as greens, carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, sweetcorn plus herbs such as dill. Vegetables high in calcium are best avoided as guinea pigs often suffer from bladder stones.
Guinea pigs like humans need an intake of vitamin C - it is often added to dry feed but also important that fresh vegetables (never cooked/frozen) are provided for this as well.
A good vet is vital but in the UK a lot of vets are still not very knowledgeable. A guinea pig savvy vet will be able to do dentistry and xrays without anaesthetic as anaesthetic can cause a fatality during an operation although it is getting safer.
Never give guinea pigs penicillin based antibiotics as they can be fatal, although safe antibiotics to use are Septrin or Baytril as prescribed from a vet.
I currently keep 6 guinea pigs, 3 of my own and 3 foster pigs and my eldest pig is 6.5 years old. Guinea pigs kept outside do not generally live as long as indoor pigs and when pigs get elderly are more susceptible to the cold. They can get arthritis and when older are more comfortable lying on products such as vetbed.
Last year I had 5 of my own and the cost was £1700 as this included a couple of pigs who were older and had some ongoing vet treatment. This cost included hay and a new cage and feed.
For my pigs indoors I use a product called Megazorb which absorbs dampness and urine smells. I use this product underneath hay in sleeping areas. I line the cage with newspaper. Sawdust is not recommended as it can cause respiratory problems.
Avoid feeds such as Gerty which contain additives. Go for a more natural feed such as Dodson & Horrell. This comes in sacks of 15kg from horse feed merchants and can work out much cheaper than the sub standard feed sold in supermarkets and has low protein levels. Avoid feeds high in protein.
Guinea pigs need a constant and large supply of hay which should be sweet smelling and not musty. Plus fresh water should be available at all times. It is best kept in a bottle which should be changed daily to avoid bacteria build up.
They also need a large area and if indoors the best type of cage is a cubes and corroplast/correx one as these can be made as large as you like - most pet shop cages are actually far too small as guinea pigs like to run about. If you google C&C or cubes and corroplast or cavy cages you will see how to make these great home made cages. Correx is corrugated plastic which you can buy from sign shops or online as is used as the cage base. The grids are metal based shelving units which clip together. I currently have a 10ft cage in my living room made out of this. They are cheap, long lasting and can be made into amazing sizes and spaces for them to play in.
Guinea pigs like toys to play in and safe toys are cardboard tubes, paper bags or boxes with exit holes cut in. Towel tents and soft guinea pig specific bedding ranges to sleep on are also very popular plus big piles of hay to hide under. Avoid anything plastic which can be chewed.
Contrary to popular belief, guinea pigs are not great pets for children - they can and do get a wide variety of illnesses and these can be complex. If they are shoved in the garden in a hutch they can be neglected and early signs of illness by inexperienced owners can be missed. They need a lot of cleaning as they pee constantly and children often get bored of them. If they are outside they are not as tame. Sadly the guinea pig often gets the blame and loads end up in rehoming centres as people don't like the cleaning and don't bother to interact with them - please buy your children a toy instead!
People with little knowledge often say their guinea pig has died suddenly but that is usually simply because they are kept outside and they haven't noticed all the symptoms of illness first. Guinea pigs often hide illness as they are prey animals so you really have to study them and know about them indepth before owning.
Having studied guinea pigs at the CCT (Cambridge Cavy Trust guinea pig hospital) I have a reasonably good knowledge of them and their illnesses and have owned them for nearly 20 years - but there are always new things to learn.
Breeding should not be undertaken ideally - the female pigs can often have complications and die due to pregnancy despite how cute the babies look, don't risk your pets life or add to the unwanted amount of them in rehoming centres.
Female pigs can be kept in large groups or with one neutered male to a group of females and rescue centres often have ready neutered males up for rehoming. If you get males they should really only be kept in pairs as they can fight in groups. Guinea pig personalities are complex and they don't always get on but a good rescue centre will help you pair up a lonely pig and can do the matchmaking for you. Sometimes an older pig with a younger pig works well. A male female pair often works but please only do this if the male is neutered.
Please, please think if you have the time and patience to look after these complex animals before taking one on and do consider a rehoming centre rather than pet shops or breeders.
Summary: Do your homework before taking a guinea pig on
More reviews in the field of Pet / Animal
- Ken Loach
- Small and perfectly formed
- An unusual fish for a tropical fish tank
- A perfect family pet
- Highly addictive and highly amusing
- Chick-chick-chick-chick - Chicken!!
- Man's (or woman's) best friend.
- Ants... I love to watch them, but not in my kitchen.
- Ants in general, ants as pets and ants as pests
- The very best of breeds