November 3, 2022 by New Haven Pet Hospital Staff
Most children adore pocket pets, a fact with many possible explanations. It could be their little paws, twitching whiskers, or soulful-looking eyes. It could also be their very size that speaks volumes to kids. The ability to handle them in the palms of their hands goes a long way toward creating curiosity and bond that makes adoption a done deal.
Of the common exotic pets available, guinea pigs rank at the top. While they are fairly easy to provide for, you should still carefully consider their care needs long before bringing them home.
In the Know
As highly social animals, guinea pigs benefit from a same-sex friend to co-habitat with (or a neutered opposite gender).
Guinea pigs love a bit of space to run about through, and enjoy having quiet places of refuge to rest inside of. It is critical to proper guinea pig care to install adequate square footage to accommodate more than one single piggie at a time. Additionally, excellent ventilation, shade, and plenty of water should be readily available. They must be protected from excessive heat.
Food and Fun
Perhaps one of the most delightful aspects of owning guinea pigs is feeding them. They love to eat fresh fruits and veggies, and they are endlessly entertaining to watch. They cannot produce Vitamin C, so it is crucial to provide foods that meet their needs. Most commercial pellets have some volume of Vitamin C, but you can also purchase supplements to add to their water. You can feed them dark, leafy greens and sliced bell peppers.
Environmental enrichment is a simple, rewarding aspect of guinea pig care. There are lots of ways to play with them, including purchasing various guinea pig toys, play structures, or simply holding them. When they are happy, you’ll be treated to their sweet vocalizations such as squeaking, purring, chirping, or rumbling.
Cleaning and Supplies
While they can be trained to use a certain part of their cage for their bathroom needs, most piggies soil indiscriminately throughout their habitat. You can pick up after them every day, but a deep clean of their entire habitat should be done at least once a week. Depending on their cage’s substrate, you may decide to clean more frequently to reduce the smell.
During cleaning, guinea pigs need to be temporarily housed or relocated in a separate enclosed area. Be sure they are not vulnerable in this space.
A diluted 1:1 vinegar to water solution can be sprayed all over the cage to disinfect without harsh chemical fumes. Scrub, rinse, and repeat as necessary. New bedding and/or litter must be laid down after the cage is dried. As soon as you place your piggies down in their refreshed cage, step back and watch them zip through it gleefully!
Set the Example
Young kids should always be closely supervised when handling their guinea pigs. They can play active roles in the feeding and cleaning components of guinea pig care, but guinea pigs are delicate animals. They need protection from rough play, being accidentally dropped, or squeezed too much.
Guinea Pig Care for the Win!
There are so many reasons why guinea pigs make great pets. We encourage all pet owners to reach out to us at (260) 493-3739 with any questions prior to and shortly after adoption. If you have everything set up for them, excellent guinea pig care is attainable, safe, and sustainable.