The essential items you’ll need for your guinea pig are housing, bedding, food, treats, water bottles, a hayrack, hideouts, and chew toys. Your time is another essential that is often overlooked. Spending an hour per day with them is important to their overall health.
You’ve been to the pet store, picked out your new furry friend, and couldn’t be more excited to get your new pet home, but where do you start?
Before they make the trip to their new home, you’ll want to ensure that they’ll be comfortable and have their needs taken care of.
They’re being thrust into a new environment, and we want it to be as welcoming as possible to put our new friend (or friends) at ease!
The Essentials Items All Guinea Pigs need
The size of your guinea pig cage will depend on how many you have. Cages will typically have guidelines in their descriptions for how many guinea pigs each cage was designed for, but an appropriate example for two guinea pigs would be 30+ inches x 50+ inches.
When it comes to bedding, there are plenty of options such as pine and aspen, but you’ll want to be especially careful to avoid cedar.
While it may not be an issue for other animals, cedar is toxic to guinea pigs and should always be avoided.
Alternatively, you might consider a cage liner made of materials such as bamboo and fleece. These are slightly more expensive options, but make maintenance easier in the long run.
Food, Dishes, Treats, and Water
You’ll need to get a food dish for your guinea pig, but you’ve got lots of options regarding what you fill it with.
Before you’re inundated with options, there are two essential components for choosing food pellets for your guinea pig. You should select an option that is specifically formulated for guinea pigs and is rich in Vitamin C, as it is vitally important to the health of your guinea pig.
There are a variety of treat options as well, which you can be a little less discerning about, though the more nutritious, the better!
Don’t forget that you can also use fresh green veggies like kale, romaine lettuce, and green and red leaf lettuce as treats.
Lastly, you’ll also need an attachable water bottle for the cage. It should be a minimum of 12 oz.
Hayracks are just what they sound like – a hay holding container that supplies your guinea pig with gnawing-ready hay for days at a time.
You’ll need one of these at the bottom of the cage to ensure continued hay access. Hay is essential for the health of your guinea pig, as their teeth are perpetually growing and the consistent gnawing on hay keeps them from potentially unhealthy overgrowth.
They do consume the hay, but it is distinct from their food because it does not supply all the nutrients they require apart from natural fiber.
It’s important to have at least one hideaway per guinea pig in your group. If you have more than one guinea pig and a single hideaway, they will fight over it.
This is more a supplement to hay, but it also serves as a means of entertainment, just like any other animal toy! Get your guinea pig a couple of chew toys to keep their teeth healthy and paws occupied.
*BONUS — Another Guinea Pig??
Our last bullet is more of a suggestion than a necessity, but it is absolutely something to be considered!
Guinea pigs are clan animals by nature and require social interaction to be truly healthy. They live best in environments with at least one other guinea pig because, while they love to spend time with and interact with their owners, there is a distinct need for socializing with their own kind as well.
If you’d prefer to only have one guinea pig, that can be managed as well. It would be a good idea to find a friend who also has a guinea pig for your pet to socialize with when possible.
Spending Time With Your Guinea Pig
Some might consider guinea pigs to be high-maintenance pets, but that doesn’t have to be the case! Although they have needs that will take some of our time, most of these are more enjoyable than bothersome.
Guinea pigs are social animals, both with other guinea pigs and with their owners. It’s been said that guinea pigs benefit most by being held for about one hour per day, even if that means just falling asleep in your lap!
Your guinea pig will be chutting in no time. (“Chutting” is a series of short, staccato sounds that guinea pigs make to express relaxation and contentment in your company — kind of like a cat purring!)
Activity and Play
Guinea pigs are more playful than some might imagine. Try setting up obstacle courses for your guinea pig and place vegetables or treats in various hiding spots throughout.
You could even chase your guinea pig around through the course! This is a great source of exercise for your guinea pig as well!
This bullet might not be as enjoyable as the first, but it is essential to your guinea pig’s living situation. You’ll need to replace or clean their bedding, ensure their hayrack is stocked and water bottles filled, among other things. Feeding should be consistent and their hideaways maintained as well.
Schedule Your First Vet Visit
This is an important step for any new pet owner. Schedule a time to meet and talk with your pet’s new vet and get your guinea pig a quick check-up to ensure all is well.
Last but not least, you’ll need to become comfortable trimming your guinea pig’s nails.
A great place to begin is at your first vet appointment. If you don’t feel confident in doing it yourself, ask the veterinary assistant if they wouldn’t mind giving you a crash course.
Human nail trimmers can be used for trimming your guinea pig’s nails, but your job could be made easier by investing in trimmers designed for guinea pigs.