Guinea Pig Care | What you need to know

Hello guinea pig lovers!

In this article I’ll be discussing the basics of guinea pig care and what you should know.

Responsibility

I wouldn’t recommend guinea pig ownership for anyone under 11 years old, as it’s a lot of work and guinea pigs need a lot of affection and care for them to be happy. It would be fine if you, the childrens guardian, were the one looking after the guinea pigs, feeding, cleaning etc, but at the end of the day, it comes down to whether you can actually achieve that or not.

Child looking at guinea pig in a basket

Space

Guinea pigs need 1.5 square metres of flat, even ground per piggy, but keep in mind that guinea pigs are social animals and they can get lonely without another guinea pig with them, so you’ll need to get two or more guinea pigs. See this list for how big your hutch should be, depending on the number of guinea pigs you have:

  • 2 guinea pigs – 2.5 square metres
  • 3 guinea pigs – 3 square metres
  • 4 guinea pigs – 3.5 square metres

If you can’t meet these standards, don’t get guinea pigs as they need the space to run around, play, and get away from each other if one’s being a bit of a bully.

guinea pig with carrot

Cleaning

Depending on the size of the hutch you’ll need to do spot cleans every 1-2 days and replace all the bedding every 1-2 weeks. However; if there’s lots of poop in the bedding then just clean it as needed. Depending on the type of bedding you’re using (fleece or other), these things will vary, but if you can’t clean their hutch when it’s needed, guinea pigs aren’t for you. It really is important to keep your piggies clean!

Food and Water

Guinea pigs need fresh vegetables and hay (or grass) every day for them to stay healthy. They also need a constant supply of fresh water. Hay or grass is very important to a guinea pig’s diet, so make sure you have a continuous supply for your piggies. Make sure to only feed them fruit about once a week, as too much can cause health issues like obesity.

3 guinea pigs outside

Nail Clipping

You should clip your guinea pigs nails monthly, or whenever they start to curve. Many people take their piggies to the vet or other professional to have a ‘guinea pedicure’. I would recommend this, especially at the start of your guinea pig journey. If you are confident, you can clip their nails yourself. First, hold your guinea pig against your stomach with its belly facing outward. Make sure you feed them their favorite treat so they associate it with getting their nails cut. I recommend using the edge of a human nail clipper to cut their nails. Take care that you don’t cut the quick ( the red part under the nail) as it will bleed if cut. If some of their nails are black then shine a UV light under it and you should see the quick. This website has more instructions on how to clip their nails, and what to do if you accidentally cut the quick.

Taking Them Outside

This isn’t the most important part of guinea pig care, but if your guinea pigs are indoors, then at least twice a week, try to let them out on some grass, inside a fenced area with multiple hidies for them to graze and run around.

Time

This really is a prime consideration. Guinea pigs are like children: you need to have enough time to look after them! You should have one to two hours available every day, depending on what you need to do for your guinea pigs. Some days, for example, you may need to clean their bedding, which will take an extra 15 minutes or so. If you’re very busy, then guinea pigs might not be the best pets for you.

furry guinea pig

The Hutch

If you plan to have outdoor guinea pigs, then I recommend a small to medium hutch connected to pet fencing. You lock them up in the small hutch at night and release them into the fencing in the day. Make sure you have bedding in the hutch.

If your guinea pigs are indoors, then I’d recommend a c&c cage, as you can make them as big as you want and they’re easy to assemble and clean. You can also build your own.

Bedding

You need bedding for each of your guinea pigs to sleep, eat and use as a toilet. There should be enough to fit all the guinea pigs you have without it being too squashed. Make sure the bedding is 100% natural as some beddings have harmful chemicals and even wood that’s poisonous to guinea pigs.

Vet trips

You should always have around $200 ready in case of an emergency trip to the vet and for any medicine needed. This can happen so it’s always best to be prepared.

Noise

Guinea pigs are very sensitive to noise. If there’s too much noise around them, they can become stressed, which adversely affects their overall health. Guinea pigs are prone to anxiety anyway, so if their environment is too loud eg lots of children screaming, machinery etc, then guinea pigs probably aren’t a good option for you.

Safety

Guinea pigs should always be safe, and feel safe. Unless they’re comfortable with each other, keep guinea pigs separate from other pets (such as dogs and cats), as they can stress the piggies out… and worse. Also, if your guinea pigs are outside make sure they always have hidies and safe spots in case of predators like birds of prey, and also make sure their hutch is fox proof.

Guinea Pigs are Long Term

Guinea pigs can live up to 9 years old, so only get guinea pigs if you can see yourself looking after them for that long. Guinea pigs are a huge commitment and they deserve a forever home. They are also totally worth the effort!!

Conclusion

And those are the basics of what you need to know to look after your guinea pigs! I hope I have conveyed that guinea pigs are a huge joy to care for when looked after properly! Feel free to comment below and ask me any questions you may have about looking after your guinea pigs!

So for the love of guinea pigs, bye!

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