In a word… YES!!! Guinea pigs can be great pets, especially for kids. This article will explore why you might want to consider a guinea pig, and how to properly care for them.
WHY ARE GUINEA PIGS GREAT?
Guinea pigs are social and very well mannered. Their inquisitive nature makes them friendly, and their beautiful coats make them cute and cuddly. Even hairless guinea pigs are cute (they look like tiny pigs).
Just like pigs on a farm, females are called “sows” and males are called “boars”. For the most part guinea pigs are quiet, but they do chirp and purr. Insiders tip; when a guinea pig purrs, it usually means they’re hungry.
WHAT DO GUINEA PIGS EAT?
As with all pets, nutrition is extremely important. Guinea Pigs actually eat a lot throughout the day, much of it being Timothy Hay. Hay helps to keep their teeth ground down, otherwise their molars can become overgrown. It’s also important for your guinea pig to get plenty of Vitamin C each day. This can come from fresh vegetables in their daily diet, or from a vitamin C tablet. Keep in mind, while vegetables are great for your guinea pig, iceberg and other similar lettuces aren’t recommended because of their high-water content which can cause diarrhoea.
Speaking of water, most guinea pigs prefer drinking out of a bottle. There are some out there though, that will only drink from a bowl. If you find this is the case with your new pet, choose a heavy bowl that isn’t easily knocked over. It should also be big enough to ensure she never runs out.
For the most part, guinea pigs groom themselves. They will need your help, however, keeping their nails trimmed. If left on their own a guinea pigs nails can grow incredibly long, eventually curling around themselves. Just like dogs and cats, their nails should be trimmed monthly, and you want to be sure to avoid the quick. This is the blood vessel in the nail, which can be very painful if snipped.
If you’re not sure how to trim your guinea pig’s nails, your vet or veterinary technician can help you find the spot safely, and demonstrate how to best hold your new pet while trimming.
While friendly, guinea pigs can also be a little skittish. After some quality time with their new owners, however, they become their happy playful selves. Since they’re social creatures, they will enjoy playing with you and they should be played with at least once a day.
To help your new pet get used to being held, pick her up gently by placing a hand under their chest and your other hand under their bottom. Hold her closely to your chest, while still cupping her safely. This will prevent her from jumping.
HOW TO BUILD A HAPPY HOME
A long and wide cage is best for your guinea pig, they need plenty of floor space. The cage doesn’t need to be too tall, since they’re not big jumpers, but it should be at least 10 inches high to prevent her from escaping.
The best bedding options for your guinea pig are shredded paper, pellets, or certain wood shavings (avoid using cedar or pine shavings, their aromatic oils can lead to skin or respiratory problems).
DOES A GUINEA PIG REQUIRE REGULAR CHECK UPS?
No, regular check-ups aren’t necessary, however, there are times that you may want to bring your guinea pig in to be looked at. One of the best ways to spot that your pet isn’t well, is a reduction in appetite. Guinea pigs have a unique digestive system that makes them eat all the time. If they suddenly stop eating, it’s usually a medical emergency.
Guinea pigs can also develop many of the same issues that cats and dogs do. You may notice blood in the urine or a runny nose. These are other signs that your guinea pig isn’t well.
Fortunately keeping your new pet healthy and happy is easy. Their cage should be cleaned out (at least) every other day. A continuous supply of fresh food and water is also essential.