Guinea pigs are easy to take care of compared to other small animals such as rabbits, hamsters, and gerbils. Guinea pigs don’t need much space, eat a simple diet, and take excellent care of themselves. However, guinea pigs love to socialize, so be prepared to spend time with them.
Compact and cute, you may have seen them in your local pet store shuffling around in wood shavings. With pocket pets and rodents keeping becoming increasingly popular, you may have even considered adding one to your family.
While there are many fantastic choices, such as rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, and ferrets, the guinea pig should not be overlooked. They make fantastic pets and are relatively easy to care for.
What You'll Learn
- 1 Guinea Pigs are Hardy Animals
- 2 When Properly Cared For, Guinea Pigs Typically are Healthy Animals
- 3 Guinea Pigs Do Not Require a Lot of Space
- 4 Caring for a Guinea Pig is Fairly Straightforward
- 5 Guinea Pigs Have a Very Simple Diet
- 6 Cleaning up after your Guinea Pig
- 7 Grooming your Guinea Pig
- 8 Guinea Pigs are Suitable Pets for Older Children
- 9 Guinea Pigs Make Easy Pets
Guinea Pigs are Hardy Animals
Because of their size, small animals tend to have a reputation for being very fragile. Rabbits, for example, can break their own spines from kicking when handled improperly. Guinea pigs, despite being small, are relatively sturdy.
When Properly Cared For, Guinea Pigs Typically are Healthy Animals
When a guinea pig’s needs for diet, space, and cleanliness are adequately met, they typically have minimal health issues. Illness can develop from improper nutrition, but the guinea pig diet is fairly straightforward with balanced commercial food available.
Your guinea pig won’t have you running to the vet either. Unlike other animals such as cats and dogs, guinea pigs do not need vaccines. One checkup per year is typically sufficient for the average guinea pig.
Guinea Pigs Do Not Require a Lot of Space
As small animals, guinea pigs themselves do not take up a lot of room, and the same can be said about their enclosures.
Unlike other rodents, guinea pigs are not climbers and do not need a very tall enclosure. A single guinea pig needs an enclosure that is a minimum of 7.5 square feet and 15 inches tall.
As guinea pigs are social and herd animals, they thrive in pairs and small groups of three. For a pair of guinea pigs, the enclosure should be a minimum of 10.5 square feet.
Since they do not need a lot of space – guinea pigs make excellent pets for apartment living. These are just minimum requirements. You can make your guinea pig enclosure as large as you like. Larger enclosures allow your guinea pig to get more exercise, which is important as they can become overweight.
While there are many DIY cage options available for guinea pigs, most commercial pet stores will have guinea pig specific enclosures.
Even though guinea pigs are often kept in aquariums in pet stores, this is not a safe choice for them on a long-term basis. Not only are most aquariums too small for guinea pigs, but they also do not have proper ventilation.
The best cages are the ones that are single story made from wire with a solid bottom. As with most rodents, if they can fit their head through a space, the rest of the body will follow. That being said, for full-grown guinea pigs, the cage bars should be no more than one inch apart.
Caring for a Guinea Pig is Fairly Straightforward
Unlike larger animals that require daily walks and constant stimulation, caring for a guinea pig is fairly straightforward. Outside of providing them with a proper enclosure, guinea pigs have a simple diet, and cleaning up after them is relatively easy.
Guinea Pigs Have a Very Simple Diet
A guinea pig’s diet is easy to manage. There are many commercial foods available for guinea pigs, which can be supplemented with fresh vegetables and fruit. Guinea pigs also need access to fresh timothy hay and water.
To prevent scurvy, guinea pigs need a diet rich in vitamin C. Carrots are a good choice to supplement this in their diet.
Cleaning up after your Guinea Pig
Cleaning your guinea pigs’ enclosure is a simple task. Usually, the enclosure will have some kind of bedding, such as wood shavings or paper. For a more eco-friendly option, some people opt to use fleece liners. The benefit of using fleece liners is that they can be easily tossed in the wash and reused.
Regardless of what you use, the bedding should be spot cleaned daily, removing all feces. A deep clean of the cage should be done weekly. To deep clean, remove all bedding and scrub the cage with a guinea pig safe cleaner.
Diluted vinegar is an excellent choice as it breaks down ammonia, is safe to use, and is readily available. Deep cleaning every week keeps odors down and will keep your guinea pig healthy.
Grooming your Guinea Pig
The amount of grooming your guinea pig will require depends on the type of guinea pig. There are many different coat types, each requiring a different level of grooming. Short or long-haired, all guinea pigs benefit from being regularly brushed.
A soft baby brush is sufficient for a short-haired guinea pig. However, Abyssinians, Peruvian, Silkies, and Teddy cavies require more in-depth grooming due to their unique coats.
Guinea pigs need their nails trimmed about once every two weeks. This can be done at home or at your local veterinary clinic if you are uncomfortable clipping your own guinea pigs’ nails.
Guinea Pigs are Suitable Pets for Older Children
Friendly and personable, guinea pigs make great companions for older children. Besides being hardier than other pocket pets, guinea pigs are less skittish than other rodents.
They also bite less than other rodents and can be very affectionate if properly socialized. They are also entertaining to watch and can be vocal in response to their owners.
Guinea pigs are known to “pop” when they are excited. Due to the relative level of responsibility, guinea pigs are great for teaching older children responsibility and how to care for animals. Guinea pigs only live for four to eight years, making them a shorter time commitment than other pets.
Guinea Pigs Make Easy Pets
Guinea pig care is straightforward and they do not take up too much space. They make great pets for apartment living and for older children, not to mention the fact that they are fun companions.