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Things to Consider Before You Get a Guinea Pig


Guinea pigs can be a lovely pet, but make sure you understand their needs before getting one. Small animals, so-called “starter pets”, deserve the same humane treatment and attention as a dog or cat.

Our shelter is full of guinea pigs that people bought without considering the long term responsibility and cost of having this kind of pet. Guinea pigs can live for 5 to 8 years and some can live considerably longer. They breed very quickly - babies get pregnant at 4 weeks old!

Guinea pigs will be very skittish, they need lots of attention to get used to humans. If you do not have the time to spend with a pet, this may not be the right time to acquire one.

Remember guinea pigs need veterinarian care, just as a dog or cat would. They are often injured through falls, being squeezed too tightly, or tossed back into cages. We often take in guinea pigs with broken legs or missing eyes from rough treatment. Make sure the veterinarian you choose knows about guinea pigs - so do and some don’t. We have a list of vets that are very good with guinea pigs in the Denver Area, click here too see the list.

Pet stores often sell female guinea pigs that are pregnant. Shelters are better about knowing if they are or aren’t! Shelters also have every age, color, temperament, and hair style of guinea pig imaginable. We have singles, pairs, and multiples (all one sex, of course). We have free advice. We truly love our guinea pigs.

If you have deicded that guinea pigs are the pet for you the sections below are full of information about how to house, feed, and care for them. If you have any questions that aren't answered here feel free to email questions@cavycareinc.org.

Guinea Pig Housing

You can use a kids wading pool (hard plastic) for an exercise area or make a play area out of baby gates. Never use exercise balls or wheels for guinea pigs; they can break their backs.

Guinea pigs like to run, jump, and play so the bigger the cage, the better. You can make a cage out of coroplast and wire grids or you can buy several kinds of cages which are appropriate. A deep (6”) pan in the bottom of the cage will help keep the shavings in the cage and not on the floor.

Guinea Pig Diet

Hay should be 80% of a guinea pigs diet. All hay should be green in color, not brown or yellow. Timothy hay is sold at most pet stores, feed stores, and also online. Timothy hay is best for guinea pigs. Do not use alfalfa, it is too high in calcium for guinea pigs.

In addition to loose Timothy hay, give your pet timothy hay cubes they are good for keeping guinea pigs teeth at proper lengths. Willow tree branches and fruit tree branches that are well dried are also acceptable to use to curb teeth growth, as long as you are sure they have not been treated with pesticides.

Provide a good quality pellet such as Kaytee Timothy, Oxbox Cavy Cuisine, or Nutriphase for your guinea pig. Guinea pigs cannot manufacture vitamin C so you must provide food that is specifically made for guinea pigs. Use a heavy food dish for guinea pigs so they do not knock it over. These type of bowls can be found in the dog, cat, or small animal department of any store.

Guinea pigs enjoy a variety of veggies and fruit - apples, carrots, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, parsley, cilantro, tomatoes, green/red/yellow peppers, blue/black/straw berries and oranges. Avoid cabbages, broccoli, celery.

All guinea pigs are different, if yours does not like the first fruit or vegtable you give them try something else. Some will eat everything and others will be picky eaters.

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Little Bear

Sex: Male
Age: 3 years 9 months
Breed: American Smooth Coat

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