Owning A Guinea Pig For The First Time
Last Updated on
Owning A Guinea Pig For The First Time
As a pet owner you will have many questions about Owning A Guinea Pig For The First Time.
- How Much Do Guinea Pig Cages Cost,
- What Can I Use For Guinea Pig Bedding,
- What Kind Of Food Can Guinea Pigs Eat,
- Guinea Pig Care Guide For Beginners,
- How Often Should You Bathe A Guinea Pig,
- How To Bathe A Guinea Pig For The First Time
In this all-inclusive article we will explain the Owning A Guinea Pig Pros Cons and the most important things all new pet loves should know abut Owning A Guinea Pig For The First Time.
Guinea pigs, also called cavies (from Latin Cavia Porcellus or cavia for short), are absolutely adorable and endearing little pets whose popularity among critter lovers has been steadily increasing for decades.
Although there are various guinea pig breeds, piggies are usually about 10 inches long, weigh 1.5 – 2.5lbs and have an average lifespan of 5-7 years. Affectionate and gentle, their health and happiness mainly depend on your care, love and devoted companionship.
Lots of people keep guinea pigs as pets because they are such cute little creatures to have in your home. Just like Owning a Hedgehog, the more you interact with them, the more they get to be relaxed with you around. If you let them sit on your lap, they will purr happily and sometimes fall asleep if you groom them gently.
On other occasions, when are they are happy and alert, guinea pigs will jump straight up and down in the air which is known to as “pop corning” and often done by pups while playing.
Where Did Guinea Pigs Get Their Name?
Guinea pigs are members of the Caviidae family, a species of rodents that are native to South America. Although domestically called guinea pigs, cavies originate from the wild guinea pigs of Brazil and Peru.
There are quite a few different theories on where did guinea pigs originated. One of the theories is that the Spanish conquerors who, during the fifteenth century, were in Peru searching for gold, brought the guinea pigs back to Europe with them and since they traveled by way of Guinea, it was assumed incorrectly that these creatures were actually from there.
Whether we can figure out Where Did Guinea Pigs Get Their Name or not, one thing is for sure they are here to stay!
What Do Guinea Pigs Like To Do For Fun? (Guinea Pig Daily Schedule)
Many people are curious about the best guinea pig cage.
When owning a guinea pig for the first time, it is important to realize that they may naturally keep a different schedule than you and your family. The guinea pig daily schedule is not exactly the same as ours, so most owners are not living their lives on guinea pig time.
Though it can be difficult to understand, once adjusting your routines to accommodate your guinea pig’s natural schedule, you will probably find your relationship with your pet to be much more rewarding.
Guinea pigs are primarily night owls. These creatures are most active in the evening and night time hours each day. Because of this characteristic, they are often times rewarding pets for human versions of the night owl.
Guinea pigs can keep a night dweller company in the wee hours of the morning, when others are fast asleep.
However even if you are not a night owl, you can still interact with your guinea pig. Your guinea pig will probably still be awake when you wake up each morning. First thing in the morning is a great time to give your guinea pig one of his daily meals. Also give him plenty of hay to graze on throughout the day. Once your guinea pig eats his breakfast, he will probably be ready for a nap.
Your guinea pig will probably nap for the rest of the day. He will usually wake up if you try to wake him up, but do not expect him to be enthusiastic about play or interaction. He might also wake up to snack on some hay, but then will be ready for another nap. Finally, around evening, your guinea pig will be ready to start his “day”.
Once evening rolls around and your guinea pig is awake, you can feed him his second meal. Either before or after feeding him each evening is a great time to get your guinea pig out of his cage for playtime. The more time you spend playing with him each evening, the less noise he will probably.
Here is a quick guinea pig morning routine with afternoon and evening activities as well.
Guinea Pig Timetable
Clean cage. Check the water and the hay & pellets.
Give the hay a little freshen up. Replacte water & pellets (not always, only if it needs to be changed)
Pop him on the floor for at least 25 – 35 minutes.
Time to get snuggly and Cuddle up. (While you are close just give him a quick check eyes, nose ears etc.
Clean cage, check weight and hygiene, health check over.
Twice a Month
Trim nales, clean ears, bathe and brush hair.
Buying Your First Guinea Pig
Buying your first guinea pig is always a fun time. There is so much to think about and while you will be very excited to bring your favourite pet home you should also think about other factors.
For example, will your personal and family circumstances affect your decision on what breed of guinea pig to buy?
It is best to remember that long haired guinea pigs usually require a lot more grooming and maintenance, and that some guinea pigs are more suited to families with children than others are. New pet owners who are owning a guinea pig for the first time, usually overlook this important fact
Try to do as much research as you can about the many different breeds of guinea pigs to ensure you choose the correct one for you and your family.
As long as you are not buying your first guinea pig for breeding purposes, it really doesn’t matter if you get a male (boar) or a female (sow).
However, it is imperative that when you go to a breeder or a pet store to choose your guinea pig, they should be separated by sex. If they are not separated or the pet store employee does not know how to tell the sex of the guinea pigs, then they should be avoided as you might run the risk of buying a pregnant female.
How To Pick A Friendly Guinea Pig
Learning how to pick a friendly guinea pig takes a bit of time.
Before making your selection, you should take a good look at all the other guinea pigs in the cage and make sure that they all appear healthy. Their cage should also be clean with plenty of food and water and the guinea pigs should look like they are well cared for.
Also take note of whether the guinea pigs seem alert and active and if they have firm, rounded bodies. Their coats should be full and smooth and their noses, eyes, ears and rear end should also be clean. Always avoid any guinea pig that appears to be too thin or too overweight, and especially stay away from any guinea pig that shows any signs of ill health as well as those that are act frightened whenever they are held.
Before Bringing Home First Guinea Pig:
- Handle the Guinea Pig. (Don’t take no for an answer)
- Check Eyes to make sure they are bright and clean
- Check ears, nose and bottom (make sure there isn’t any redness or sores)
- Check Guinea Pig seems active and alert.
- Check Guinea Pig is not to skinny.
- Check coat is shiny. The shiny the more healthy and happy!)
- Check skin is free from any bites and cuts.
If you follow these guidelines you will know how to pick a friendly guinea pig and one step closer to owning a guinea pig for the first time!
Guinea Pig Cages
The Best Guinea Pig Cages come in all shapes ans sizes and variety of colours, combinations and prices. This can leave most people feeling a bit puzzled about what is best for them. I’ll break down each section below so you get a more completed picture on how much do guinea pig cages cost and how big do guinea pig cages need to be.
Related: Best Hedgehog Cage
How Big Do Guinea Pig Cages Need To Be?
According to The Humane Society of the United States 7.5 square feet cage should be a minimum for one cavy with dimensions of 30″ x 36″ being a good size. As it’s always better for cavies to be kept in pairs, the bigger cage the better! (see why below)
How Much Are Guinea Pig Cages?
Luckily guinea pig cages are pretty cheap. Prices start from around $20 and can get as high as $150. However there are many start kits out there that include:
- Hutch or Cage
- Food: Pellets and fresh vegetables:
- Hay for bedding and to eat:
- Guinea Pig Friendly Disinfectant Hutch Cleaner:
- Accessories: Food Bowls & Drinking Bottles:
- Care sheets
Checkout our Top Rated Guinea Pig Cages and how to avoid the common buying mistakes most people make.
Best Types Of Guinea Pig Cages
Learning the best types of guinea pig cages involves getting to know your guinea pig in more detail. A Happy guinea pig is one who has all of his needs met. As he’ll be spending almost all his time within the cage it’s important you get it right.
The minimum living space for cavies is 7.5 square feet plus 1.5 feet for every additional guinea pig cage.
You should go for a smooth bottomed cage because wire bottom, wire ramps or wire s
helves can cause injuries to their feet. A small covered house or box inside the cage with more than one entrance will give them a sense of protection and a cozy place to sleep.
As a rule of thumb, guinea pigs should not be kept with other small species of
ten kept as pets. If you have a cat or a dog at home, be extra careful as guinea pigs are prey animals so a sturdy cage top is highly recommended.
Best Types Of Guinea Pig Cages: Other Factors
1. Good Flooring
The local pet store sold us a cage with a wired floor. The explanation that they gave my daughter is that it would be easier to clean the poop which falls through the wiring and into the plastic pan.
This is a huge NO!
Cavies have small and sensitive feet and they need a solid surface.
Having their feet constantly pressed against wire may cause a painful condition called “bumblefoot”. Your guinea pig’s feet might swell and become infected. To prevent this condition, you should look for a cage that has only solid surfaces where your guinea pig will be running and playing.
Compared to the rest of the guinea pig, your cavy’s legs and feet are really too small to be carrying all of the weight so the appropriate solid surfaces will keep them safe, healthy and comfortable.
Labyrinth-like cages with ramps and platforms look interesting to the kids and parents but think of your pet first.
Ideally, the cage should not have too many areas where a section is connected to another section of the cage by a narrow path or a ramp to an additional level. These will take up a significant amount of room and prevent the guinea pigs from having a wide-open race track to run in.
A dominant guinea pig in a larger group will block off access to parts of the cage by taking over a certain section and keeping the other guinea pigs from roaming and playing freely.
2. Avoid Aquarium Type Cages
Once a common way to house guinea pigs, aquariums are in fact quite inappropriate habitats for a number of reasons. Firstly, they have solid sides and your pet won’t get enough air circulation.
Standard aquariums are also way too small for a guinea pig, let alone for a few of them. Cavies are social animals and they do best when you keep two or more together. This makes aquariums worse for the cavies as they might fight if their quarters are too small.
Another problem is the fact that the solid glass muffles the sound in the aquarium. A guinea pig that gets used to a closed space will be afraid of you taking them out and exposing them to open space with unmuffled noise. The sides of the aquarium may impair their hearing and vision as well.
3. What about multi-level cages?
Well, they are certainly interesting, especially when they include all the accessories such as the food and water containers.
Do bear in mind that unlike other species of rodents, cavies don’t climb. They need special consideration when vertical space is provided in their cage. With a heavy body compared to tiny legs, you need to consider any heights that your guinea pig can fall from.
Guinea pigs can seriously injure themselves in a fall from as little as one foot high. This is why all additional levels should ideally have walls that function like guard rails to keep your guinea pigs from falling over.
The ramps between the levels should also have walls to help keep the guinea pigs safely on solid ground when they run between levels. The ramps should be as long as possible to keep the incline level to a minimum and preferably with texture or ridges on a solid surface to prevent sliding down or falling over.
Cages with removable tops for convenient access and PVC tray for easy cleaning
This is a very important feature in a good cage: if it comes with a removable top, you will have no problems getting your hands into the cage to pick up your pets, serve food, add accessories or clean the cage.
This is a smart tip if you are owning a guinea pig for the first time.
As for the cage trays, they vary in depth from about 3″ to 6″ deep. Go for deeper trays as they will prevent the mess around the cage: your guinea pigs will kick some of the bedding out of the cage and onto your carpets and deeper trays or pans around the cage will certainly help.
4. Finally, How Big Do Guinea Pig Cages Need To Be?
To sum up, size is the most important feature to consider for the wellbeing of your cavies. Pets in larger cages are more likely to exercise on their own. As mentioned above, 7.5 square feet cage should be a minimum for one cavy with dimensions of 30″ x 36″ being a good size.
This will increase their lifespan and lower the risk of obesity or muscular related health issues.
A good-sized cage will not get dirty as quickly and there will be less of an ammonia build up. This will keep your guinea pigs healthier. Guinea pigs which live in social groups are likely to get along with their cagemates if they are provided with enough space to interact.
Avoid aquariums, if possible, and if you choose a multi-level cage, check that they are safe for the piggies in terms of possible falls and injuries.
Look for cages which have good access for you to handle the piggies and maintain their home full of hay, water, and accessories to play.
Avoid small starter cages as that would be not just a waste of money for you, but also a huge mistake in providing inappropriate, unsafe and unhealthy habitat for your loving piggies
Remember, the best types of guinea pig cages are not always the cheapest ones. This is a one-off investment for the good health, long life, and happiness of the furry little companions we all adore, so choose wisely and with love.
Please follow the guidelines and get a large cage for your pet cavy. The minimum cage size refers to uninterrupted running space. This means that space is not partitioned by a divider which your pets need to climb or walk over.
All 13 recognized guinea pig breeds thrive in homes that allow them ample room to play. Guinea pigs in large cages also tend to be less depressed and will be more likely to grow up talkative, playful and outgoing because they will feel happy and healthy with enough room to play.
What Can I Use For Guinea Pig Bedding?
People who are thinking about owning a guinea pig for the first time, usually get stuck on what to use for guinea pig bedding.
The most commonly used bedding is processed paper and similar products but you will find a number of interesting and innovative beddings such as hey, towels, EnviroTiles and so on.
You’ll soon figure out what works best for you by trying different beddings and, of course, make sure to change it regularly and keep the living area clean.
We’ve compiled a list of the 9 best guinea pig bedding products available. Read our detailed reviews here
A build up of ammonia is a health risk for your pet’s respiratory system and you won’t like the odor, either.
What To Use For Guinea Pig Bedding? Types of bedding
You guinea pig needs soft but absorbent bedding which will make their home comfortable as well as sanitary.
The type of bedding you’ll go for depends on its benefits as well as of your budget and personal preferences.
Here are your options:
Economical, available, fairly absorbent and provides warm flooring background for other complement bedding materials like shavings. It makes cleaning easier but if the material is really soft and fluffy, it may get messy around the cage.
A little more expensive than paper shavings, these are widely available. What you need to bear in mind is to double check that wood shavings do not cedar as it contains phenols.
Aspen shavings are safe wood bedding and do well with both odor control and absorbency.
Pine shavings contain volatile oils. These oils, namely phenols, are a potential hazard for your piggy’s respiratory system and/or liver if used for longer periods of time.
These are second most economical bedding material. They are a little more difficult to find and occasionally a tad too hard on cavies’ tiny feet. It’s best to combine them with other bedding materials to make them more comfortable..
These are becoming more and more popular alternative. They contain formulae which are providing great absorption and a pleasant odor throughout the week.
Can I Use Newspaper For Guinea Pig Bedding?
Whilst you can use newspaper for guinea pig bedding it should be only used as a short term solution. Newspaper can work as temporary bedding, but you may need t change it quite often.
You could use it as a base and layer it up. You could also share some to put on top.
Remember to change it at least twice a day as it will get very damp and smelly fast. Hay and newspaper are not the best options for guinea pig bedding so once you can switch it out for some Carefresh paper bedding or Aspen wood shavings.
Learning exactly what to use for guinea pig bedding is also about trial and error. Some owners just prefer one style or type over another. Experiment with a few and see which once comes out on top for you.
What Can Guinea Pigs Chew On?
Get some chew toys and nibblers. Guinea pigs’ teeth keep growing throughout their lives and can make it difficult for the furry cuties to eat properly. Cavies need to regularly wear their teeth down by chewing, biting and grinding rough objects so that their teeth stay at manageable length.
Learning what kind of toys do guinea pigs play with is crucial to their hygiene and health.
Guinea pig chew toys are specifically designed to wear their teeth and also keep their mouths clean and healthy at the same time. Chew toys are usually made from hard, natural wood, which provides good abrasive surface to help wear down their pointy front teeth. Avoid plastic nibblers as they are too soft and can be poisonous to your pets.
Food and water bowls must be kept readily available and clean. Guinea pigs are not climbers so no need for ropes and hammocks. Tunnels and tubes are great hideaways, and super fun for them to run through.
Do avoid wheels for guinea pigs at all costs. They are dangerous for the cavies’ backs and pose other potential risks and bring discomfort into their lives.
What Kind Of Food Can Guinea Pigs Eat? Guinea Pig Diet
Learning what kind of food can guinea pigs eat is an important part of being an owner, especially if you decide on owning a guinea pig for the first time.
Get it wrong and you’ll have a very unhappy guinea pig. Get it right and you can increase the life of your furry friend for years!
Being herbivores, a basic guinea pig diet consists of fresh water, unlimited grass hay, a cup or so of vegetables per day for each pet, and good quality cavy pellets.
These adorable critters cannot synthesize vitamin C so it’s necessary to include a variety of fresh vegetables to supplement their requirements for vitamin C and other micro nutrients.
Cost, availability and convenience are also to be factored in: some pet owners strive to provide an all natural diet, but the majority will conveniently include pelleted products specifically produced for guinea pigs. Grass hay and fresh vegetables do need to be included in the diet, as well. Make sure to read our guinea pig food reviews.
Probably the most adorable and gentle of all rodents, guinea pigs’ food requirements are rather simple. It is, however, easy to get their diet wrong and feed them foods which don’t provide enough essential nutrients and minerals. Worst case scenario, you might end up serving them wrong food and cause them to become obese or even seriously ill.
What Are Guinea Pigs Favorite Food?
Whichever of the guinea pig breeds you have, it goes without saying that you will need the best guinea big water bottle for the fresh water to be regularly provided every day for the guinea pigs to stay healthy. It can be difficult to tell what food is the right food when owning a guinea pig for the first time. Here’s is all you need to know about guinea pig diet requirements.
According to most authorities including RSPCA, good quality hay needs to constitute the main portion of cavies’ diet.
While the fiber in pellets is still fiber, studies have shown that the large indigestible fiber in hay is more effective than small, pulverized fiber at moving food through the digestive tracts of all herbivores, including guinea pigs.
High-fiber diets not only decrease hair accumulation in the gut, but may also have a protective effect against enteritis (inflammation of the intestine, especially the small intestine, usually accompanied by diarrhea).
In general, both Alfalfa and Timothy hay can be stored for many months, depending on how fresh it is and if kept in the proper conditions. Storage at home is extremely important: hay should be opened to breath as soon as you get it.
You should keep it in a dry and well-ventilated place and not in plastic. A wooden or cardboard box is perfect. If you get a bale or a partial bale, the hay will stay fresher for longer periods if you break up the bale to as little chunks as possible.
Apart from Timothy hay, other hays recommended for adult guinea pigs include Oaten, Wheaten, Pasture, Paddock, Meadow and Ryegrass hays.
A high-quality pellet or dry food makes a readily available and convenient part of a healthy guinea pig diet. If you supplement pellets with various fresh vegetables, and water, your pet will have all the nutrients it needs (hay always comes first, thou).
Pellets are considered better than food mixes, and are available in two types. Alfalfa hay-based pellets are perfect for young and pregnant guinea pigs because of the high content of calcium. However, this can cause bladder stones in adult cavies, so you should switch to a Timothy hay based pellets when your pets are about 12 months old.
Although pellets are less important than a constant supply of fresh grass hay, they can provide additional vitamins and nutrients which your cavy cannot get from hay alone, especially if the pellets are supplemented with Vitamin C.
Even though good quality, Vitamin C rich pellets brands cost a little more than the others, they are really worth it for the health and happiness of your cavy.
3. Vitamin C
Just like humans, guinea pigs cannot synthesize Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) from food substances. This is why we need to supplement their diet with Vitamin C.
Although guinea pig pellets have added Vitamin C, storage or exposure to light can rapidly destroy it. Timothy hay and other grasses are poor sources of vitamin C so you shouldn’t rely on the pellets or hay to provide guinea pigs with their requirements.
We need to feed guinea pigs some vegetables and some fruits if we want to increase the natural intake of Vitamin C.
Here is a chart with Vitamin C levels in foods commonly fed to guinea pigs:
What are guinea pigs favorite food and vegetables?
Vegetables are an extremely important part of guinea pigs’ diet. Try to feed cavies 3 vegetable servings per day. Make sure one serving is some type of leafy green.
Don’t offer more than 1 serving of any given vegetable in a day.
Here’s a list of useful veggies with serving notes:
(*)=Use no more than twice a week.
- Alfalfa, radish & clover sprouts
- Beet greens (tops)*
- Bok choy
- Broccoli (mostly leaves/stems)* – 1 FLORET & STEM
- Brussels Sprouts – 1 Sprout
- Carrot – 1 to 2 baby carrots or equivalent
- Carrot tops*
- Celery – 2 INCHES, cut in 1 inch pieces
- Chard (red or green)* – 1 LEAF
- Cilantro – 6 – 8 STEMS AND LEAVES
- Clover – 10
- Collard greens* – 1 LEAF
- Cucumber – 1 SLICE
- Dandelion greens and flowers (no pesticides)* – 6 LARGE OR 10 SMALL
- Green peppers – 1 SLICE
- Mustard greens* – 1 LEAF
- Parsley* – 6 – 8 STEMS AND LEAVES
- Pea pods (the flat edible kind)*
- Peppermint leaves
- Radicchio – ½ CUP
- Radish tops – 3 LEAVES
- Raspberry leaves
- Romaine lettuce (no iceberg or light colored leaf) or red/green leaf – 2 LEAVES
- Wheat grass
Fruit is considered a treat so provide fruit no more than once or twice a week, especially sugary fruits.
1 cubic inch of these fruits may be provided but no more than once or twice a week:
- Orange (including peel)
Guinea Pig Diet Requirements: Foods Not Suitable
Due to probable indigestion and other health issues, the following foods should not be offered to guinea pigs:
cereals, grains, nuts, seeds, corn, beans, pears, breads, biscuits, sweets, sugar, breakfast cereals, chocolate, buttercups, garden shrubs, onion grass, onions, potato tops, raw beans; beetroot, spinach and rhubarb leaves; pickled foods or any bulk plants.
In addition, do not feed your guinea pigs pizzas, hamburgers or other junk food leftovers as well as candies and cookies. Just stick to our guide and keep your pets healthy!
Related: 7 Best Guinea Pig Food Reviews 2019
Guinea Pig Care Guide For Beginners
Many people are curious about the best guinea pig playpen.
But, the cost of guinea pig care and guinea pig maintenance is much lower then other pets. This is one smart fact to keep in mind when owning a guinea pig for the first time.
Guinea pigs are gentle critters with delicate bones so it is really important to learn how to hold and carry them safely. Since some pets might be inclined to jump when you are returning them to their cage, make sure to have a good hold and let them down safely.
Falls and jumps from a height may result in broken bones, injury, and even death in guinea pigs so young children should not be allowed to pick up or carry guinea pigs and adults should be careful.
How To Take Care Of A Guinea Pig For Beginners: Holding
It’s important to support the entire body pet when taking your pet.
Step 1: Wrap one hand securely around their chest. A good way is to restrain one front leg by placing your finger in front of it.
Step 2: Then use your other hand to support the hind feet and rump.
This hold technique is especially helpful with new or nervous guinea pigs that might have a tendency to nip and bite when being transported.
At times, carrying can be a very scary experience for a guinea pig so it’s good to have them fully used to you handling them. When returning them to their cage, be alert to prevent jumping injuries we mentioned.
A good way to do so is to hold your pet safely a few inches above the cage floor first. Then when their feet touch the bedding, do not let them go before they stop squirming. Once they finally stop struggling, let them go gently.
In a few weeks, your pets will learn not to struggle when held and put back into the cage. What’s more they will also learn not to run away immediately after you let them down.
Another way is to return your guinea pigs to the cage rump first. This will also prevent injuries from jumping. Stick to the same routine and your pet will learn quickly.
Once again, young children should not be allowed to carry a guinea pig. They may squeeze it too tightly or accidentally drop the pet and cause serious injuries. By all means, you can patiently teach older children how to handle cavies, supervise them and monitor their progress.
How To Take Care Of A Guinea Pig For Beginners: Nail clipping and Brushing
Guinea pigs really need bathing but they do need regular brushing and nail clipping.
Regular brushing will help keep your guinea pigs’ fur in good condition and most of them do not mind being brushed. Just make sure you use a small, stiff brush and a small metal comb. While brushing and combing your guinea pig, use the opportunity to check for problems such as lice or sores and scratches on the skin.
The need for brushing depends on how long your guinea pigs’ hair is, and whether they are shedding. Long-haired guinea pigs need daily brushing. If you have a hard time coping with the long coat, the hair can be trimmed to make it easier on you and your pet.
Simply trim the longer hair so that it doesn’t dragging on the ground. You may want to see a groomer for advice and if you find it difficult to do the grooming yourself, ask a professional to do it from time to time.
Short-haired guinea pigs can be brushed every few days, the minimum being once a week. If your guinea pig is shedding and losing more hair than usual, brush at least every other day.
How To Trim A Guinea Pig’s Nails
As for the nail clipping, the hardest part is probably holding your pet still. If you are owning a guinea pig for the first time, you may struggle to keep your furry friend still. With patience and practice, nail clipping will become a routine for you and your guinea pig will most likely squirm less over time.
Most guinea pigs are not too difficult to hold, but when starting out, have a helper hold your guinea pig so you can trim the nails.
Step 1: Try to sit with your guinea pig on your lap facing away from you with its rump against your stomach. This will to keep your guinea pig from backing up.
Step 2: Hold your guinea pig upright with its back against your body by placing your hand lightly around your guinea pig’s chest.
Step 3: Make sure the hind end is supported either on your lap if you are sitting down, or with your other hand. It time and with a little practice, you will be able to hold one foreleg out by placing it between your fingers using this method.
Step 4: Another option is to gently wrap up your guinea pig’s body and three of its legs in a light towel, leaving one leg free for clipping the nails. Don’t wrap him too tight as this may impede breathing and take a break between legs to reduce stress.
You can use human nail clippers if you like or nail clippers designed for cats and other small animals. These look like little scissors with small notches toward the end of the blade for cutting the nails. You should do the clipping at least once a month, although you can do them even more often if needed.
Advanced Guinea Pigs Nail Care
Here are some more advanced guinea pig nail care tips.
The longer the nails get, the harder they will be to trim because as the nails get longer, the blood vessel gets longer too, and the nails will start to curl. Regular nail clipping helps keep the nails in good shape and your pet good looking
The trick to nail trims is to cut the sharp tip off the nail without cutting into the blood vessel. The part inside the nail where the blood vessel and nerve endings are located is called “the quick”. If you cut into the quick, the nail will bleed and it will hurt your guinea pig.
If your guinea pig has light color or translucent nails, the quick will be visible as the pink part inside the nail. Make your cut a bit in front of the quick because if you get too close, it may still be a bit painful for your cavy.
If your pet has dark nails, you cannot guess where it’s safe to cut based on the shape of the nail, it is safest to just clip off about 1/4 inch of the nail tip. Again, if in doubt, have a groomer, veterinarian or other experienced owner show you how to trim cavies’ nails before you attempt to do it yourself.
How Often Should You Bathe A Guinea Pig?
Learning how often should you bathe a guinea pig is quite simple.
Guinea pigs should not be bathed very often. They are prone to respiratory infections. They can easily catch a cold which may develop into pneumonia, so you must be very careful to keep your piggy warm during wash time.
Some owners bathe their guinea pigs once a month during the summer and every two months in winter. A bath may also be necessary if you notice that your cavy really needs one for reasons of health, because of parasites or if your vet says so.
As a rule of thumb, bathing your guinea pig more than once a month will do more harm than good. It also puts your pet at risk of skin infections and catching a cold, not to mention injuries and falls due to improper handling them during bathing.
How Often Do You Bathe A Guinea Pig If They Don’t Like Water?
Short-haired guinea pigs need a bath only about every three months. Long-haired guinea pigs should be bathed every two months since their coats grow at a rate of about 1 inch per month.
As for the reasons why you should bathe your cavy, never bath your pet just because of their smell or because you think they will look prettier after a bath. In fact, do not bathe them for any cosmetic or aesthetic reason.
If your buck smells quite unpleasant, sometimes neither castration nor bathing is the right solution. What is? Well, cleaning their bursa perinealis and glandula caudalis is always the better option for your cavy with less stress and fewer risks involved.
Bathing can be useful if the pig’s fur is highly felted, which might be the result of bad hygiene by the previous owner, or even you, for that matter.
An occasional bath is also useful if you need to clean out dead parasites. If you’re not sure whether cavy has a parasitic infection, consult your vet.
If your cavy is seriously ill and cannot clean itself you should brush/cloth clean it after taking it to the vet, of course.
Reasons for not bathing your guinea pig
Guinea pigs’ fur and skin are not made to be exposed to water too much, let alone too frequent bathing. Cavies’ glands produce adequate quantities of oil so they don’t need baby or other cosmetic oils.
An unnecessary baths change the natural oil balance and also dry pig’s skin. As a consequence, your pet will be more susceptible to parasites like biting lice or mites.
The regeneration of the small layer of oil on the skin, once it’s been disturbed, may take weeks.
Apart from the health risks, bathing causes your pet a lot of stress and when their immune system is low, they become more vulnerable to infections and parasitic infestation.
Also, bathing is very stressful for your cavy which favored the population of parasites too. So there are really not many good reasons to bath your cavy. If your Guinea Pig is fit and happy you must not bath it, especially not if you just like it or you might think it smells.
To sum up, do not bathe your cavy because you like bathing it or think a bath will make it look cute. In addition, accept the fact that they have a specific odor and don’t bathe them because of their smell.
How To Bathe A Guinea Pig For The First Time
Here are some tips for learning How To Bathe A Guinea Pig For The First Time.
Before bathing, make sure you have enough time to bathe and dry your pet. If you have more guinea pigs, bathe them all in one go. Just Like owning a hedgehog, guinea pigs are very scent-oriented animals and if you bathe only one of them and put it back into the cage with the others, they will possibly try to fight the freshly bathed piggy because of its new smell the others won’t recognize.
1. Familiarize yourself with the risks of bathing your piggy
Guinea pigs don’t like water and they are not accustomed to it. They don’t like swimming either and can easily get very stressed when you try to bathe them.
One of the most concerning risks is the chance of your pet inhaling water into their lungs. If this does happen, your cavy will need medical care as soon as possible.
Then, there is also the risk of injuries from falls due to the poorly chosen bathing spot (inadequate sink or a bathing container at a dangerous height) and the wrong technique.
Another risk is being uninformed about the bathing of your guinea pig choosing a shampoo and conditioner which are not suitable for guinea pigs and can cause irritated and dry skin. You are not preparing it for the Piggy Pageant. Use a suitable shampoo recommended by your vet.
Lastly, bathing is very stressful for piggies so make it safe and short but dry them thoroughly.
2. Remember when you should bathe your guinea pig
Do not forget that your guinea pig doesn’t need a bath just because it has certain smells which are natural for them. A lot of guinea pig owners mind the smell of urine and think that their guinea pig needs a bath when, in fact, the bedding, which smells of urine, needs to be changed.
What’s more, we sometimes fail to recognize that the bedding we are using is inadequate. For instance, newspapers simply aren’t absorbent enough and therefore do not eliminate the unpleasant odor of urine.
The fact remains that the only time a guinea pig really needs a bath is if they have been signed off by a professional exotic vet, have a sticky or resistant substance in their fur, or have remains of feces or for medical reasons.
3. Young cavies should not be bathed
Baby guinea pigs should never be bathed unless there’s a medical reason confirmed by your vet. Exposing baby guinea pigs to cold water can be critical to their health. The same rule applies to pregnant sows which will get way too stressed, which may affect the babies they are carrying.
Many people who decide on owning a guinea pig for the first time overlook this important rule.
4. Get the right shampoo
Prepare a suitable shampoo for your guinea pig. Do not use any human, cat or dog shampoos on your cavies. Their skin is different from other animals and humans and using the wrong shampoo can cause dry skin irritation or oil imbalance.
5. Dust baths are not suitable for guinea pigs
Some sources recommend dust treatments to keep guinea pigs clean. Guinea pigs are not like hamsters and do not naturally take dust baths. It’s simply not effective for cavies to use dust as a grooming agent. Dust is, in fact, quite harmful to guinea pigs and can cause respiratory problems, so avoid using dust baths completely.
6. Prepare a suitable bathing container
Whatever bathing spot/container you choose to use, it needs to have the sides which are tall enough so that your guinea pig can’t to jump out and get hurt. There are several options for where you can bathe your guinea pig. You can use your sink, the tub, or in a portable plastic tub on the floor.
7. Prepare a wet towel or a cloth if your guinea pig doesn’t really need a bath
If your cavy does not need a full-soak bath, have a damp cloth on hand and use it to clean the piggy. It can be a lot easier and safer for your guinea pig instead of using a tub with water, especially if they only have a few dirt patches on their rump.
8. Prepare your guinea for bathing by calming them down
Guinea pigs generally do not like water and may become anxious or freak out you just drop them in a tub. Be gentle with your guinea pig, stroke them and chat with them while preparing the bath and carrying your piggies to the bathing area.
If you have more piggies, wash them all in one go but do it one piggy at a time: they may get frustrated otherwise and hurt each other. This will make the process longer but safer.
9. Prepare all your bathing supplies in advance
You will need a suitable shampoo recommended by your vet (preferably a critter care brand), a shallow basin or washtub, a dry towel, guinea pig brush and an optional hair dryer.
If you don’t have a shallow tub, you can easily bathe your guinea pig in a normal bath or sink as long as it is safe and comfortable for your guinea pigs and you. Bear in mind that using a sink is a hazard and make sure your guinea pig cannot run off the edge of the counter, fall and hurt themselves.
10. When in doubt, consult your vet
If you’re not sure when and if you should bathe your precious piggy, do consult your vet. They will know if bathing is needed in the first place and they’ll give you some useful tips and recommend the shampoo.
How To Take Care Of A Guinea Pig For Beginners: Bathe A Guinea Pig (Step By Step)
If you decide on Owning a guinea pig for the first time, then make sure you read this part twice!
1. Fill the washing container with warm water
You should only fill your container with about one inch of warm water in height so that the water comes up to your guinea pigs feet. Any higher level of water brings the risk of your piggy inhaling the water into their lungs.
Don’t use hot water as cavies’ skin is sensitive but don’t use cold water, either in order to avoid the risk of your piggy catching a cold. Warm water is the safest and most pleasant option for your guinea pig.
2. Be gentle when placing your guinea pig into the bath
Allow your guinea pig time to get adjusted to the new, wet environment. Never leave your guinea pig unattended in the bath to avoid all safety risks.
Keep your guinea pig calm and give them a treat or two to entice them to bathe, and make them feel relaxed and safe.
3. Give your guinea pig a thorough soak with warm water
Soak your guinea pigs body until their fur is wet. Avoid water contact to the face and ears, especially the nose and mouth. Try using your hands to rinse your guinea pigs fur. This is a less stressful option to simply pouring a cup of water over them.
You can cup your hand behind your guinea pigs face to avoid getting water on their ears and face. If your guinea pigs face is extremely dirty, use a damp washcloth to wipe off the dirt but avoid wetting their eyes, nose, ears, and mouth. Never pour water straight over their face as they will become stressed and inhale the water.
4. Next step – shampooing your guinea pig
Pour a small amount of guinea pig –friendly shampoo into your hands and gently rub it into your guinea pigs fur. Make sure not to be too rough as their skin is sensitive. Again, avoid shampooing their face and ears. Carefully wash the rump and body, including the belly.
5. Last step – rinsing your guinea pig
Pour warm water over your guinea pig until all the shampoo has been completely washed off of your piggy’s fur. Dry shampoo left on their fur will cause skin irritation.
How to dry your guinea pig
1. Place your guinea pig on a clean towel
After you finish bathing your piggy, wrap them up so that the dry towel you have prepared before bathing absorbs as much of the moisture as possible and keeps your guinea pig warm.
Do not be alarmed if your guinea pig starts shivering – this is natural and they should stop shivering after they have been fully dried. Do replace your towel when/if it gets too wet to soak more water.
2. Wipe your guinea pigs face
You should gently wipe your guinea pigs eyes, ears, and nose only if required and if they are particularly dirty. Use a damp cloth to get rid of gunk collected on the face. If you haven’t done this before, ask your vet to show you how to properly clean your piggy’s ears, nose, and eyes.
Do it slowly, be gentle and take precautions. You should be blotching your piggy’s face, not rubbing it. Be extra careful with the eyes so as not to poke them.
3. Brush your piggy’s fur
This part is especially important if you have a long-haired guinea pig. You want to make sure to get all the tangles out of their fur to prevent matted fur from developing as matted fur will be much harder to untangle later and may need to be cut off.
4. Use a hair dryer to fully dry your guinea pig (if needed)
Although hair dryers are effective, they don’t have to be used to dry your guinea pig, especially if the noise and the heat cause them to freak out or become stressed. To use your hair dryer on your guinea pig, put it on the lowest heat setting and the lowest speed. Continue to brush your guinea pig while using the hair dryer.
Do not rely on a heating pad to keep your guinea pig warm or dry. Guinea pigs have sensitive feet along with their skin. Heat pads can also damage their tiny feet and you do not want that to happen after a successfully carried out bathing routine.
Even the best guinea pig cage won’t keep your piggies happy, clean and healthy unless you clean it thoroughly before bathing so that freshly bathed cavies go back into equally clean home!
Remember the cost of guinea pig care is very low so don’t skip any of the recommended hygiene and health checks above. Above all have fun!
Bathing your guinea pig is fun and is a great way to find out how to get a guinea pig to like you.
Guinea Pig Training
When training a guinea pig, always use his favorite treat. Give a reward the moment he performs the behavior you want. Ignore your cavy when he makes a mistake or gets it wrong but don’t scold or punish him. Instead, always give only positive reinforcement.
They can be trained to obey simple commands using treats. You can teach your furry pet to come when called. Simply say his name and then give him a treat. Yes, it’s that simple!
Do this repeatedly and one day you will proudly notice your guinea pig looking up at you when you say his name before you give him a treat. To further the training, say his name but hold out the treat from a few inches away and wait for him to come to get the treat.
Always make se sure to give a treat and praise your small pet and you can gradually move farther and farther away when you call his name. Eventually, they will come when called from reasonable distance.
Guinea pigs can also be taught to sit up and get food. Sitting up is a natural behavior for guinea pigs to check whether there is any danger.
To teach them to sit up, just offer them a treat by holding your hand a little above his head. When he sits up, give him the treat and he’ll be happy. Then add a verbal command of your choice once he starts responding by sitting up consistently. In the end, your guinea pig will sit up when you tell him to, waiting for a treat.
Can Guinea pigs be litter trained?
Guinea pigs can also be litter box trained although this cannot be 100% reliable.
Sometimes they will use a litter box and sometimes they simply won’t. If you place a litter box in the spot in the cage where he usually goes to the bathroom most often, add a handful of hay inside the box and a few fecal pellets.
When you see your guinea pig use the litter box, give a treat as praise. If he does it elsewhere, simply ignore him without punishing a poor little snoop. Don’t forget to reward your small pet when he correctly uses the litter box.
And if you move on to teaching cavies neat little tricks, make sure you never lose your patience. Just relax and enjoy the fun time spent with your pet!
How To Travel With A Guinea Pig
No matter what time of year it is many people are busy planning trips and vacations. However sometimes owning pets can make travel more difficult. If you decide on owning a guinea pig for the first time here are some things to keep in mind.
Remember to set up an adequate carrier for your guinea pig. Most small animal carriers will work fine for a guinea pig. Ventilation is key. You want your guinea pig to have access to plenty of air on the journey, and especially in stressful situations.
Additionally, security is also key for your guinea pig’s safety as well as his comfort. Make sure that your guinea pig cannot open the carrier himself, or escape it in any way.
You also want to make sure that your guinea pig feels secure himself within the carrier. It is best to provide plenty of bedding for your pet guinea pigs.
However, wood shavings and hays may be too messy for the trip. Old t-shirts make great travel bedding. To add a greater level of comfort to the travel environment, consider placing a couple of paper towels into the carrier so that your guinea pig can burrow or hide comfortably within the travel carrier.
(this is a good tip for pet lovers owning a guinea pig for the first time)
Always provide your guinea pig with a water bottle for the trip. If your guinea pig is used to drinking from a bowl, be sure to acquaint him to the bottle well in advance to any travel. And remember to keep your guinea pig inside of the carrier at all times when you are in a vehicle. It is very easy for your guinea pig to cause damage to the car or his own safety when he is not in his cage.
Keep in mind that guinea pigs do not always make the best travel companions. Talk to your veterinarian about boarding your guinea pig at a small animal kennel, or consider hiring a pet sitter.
Guinea Pig Breeding
Before you start to breed your guinea pig, you should research how to take care of your guinea pig both during and after its pregnancy as well as how to assist raising the babies.
Remember to factor in your guinea pig breeding age. Most guinea pigs can begin to breed from 3 Months and above.
When selecting guinea pigs to breed, it is vitally important that they you obtain a record of good health for both of the potential parents. It is also preferable if their parents have also lived a long and healthy life. Check for good eyes and coat, quick alert movements and a healthy appetite.
Between 5 and 6 months old is actually the ideal age to begin breeding guinea pigs. However, never attempt to breed a sow that is over 10 months old. When older sows are asked to breed, there is a possibility that her pelvic bone will have fused together causing a condition known as dystocia. This can be fatal for both the mother and their young. When a sow has a litter early in life, her bones never fuse – allowing her to reproduce past this 10 month barrier.
If you are going to breed your guinea pigs inside, they should have a pen that is approximately 1m by 1m with sides being around 30cm high. If they are to be housed outdoors, have a similar sized cage but try to accommodate it inside a shed.
Try to plan ahead so that the babies arrive in late spring or early summer. In the wild, there is far more food available at this time and pet guinea pigs are still in keeping with this breeding clock
Guinea Pig Breeding Cycle
The sow’s cycle is usually every 15 to 17 days but she is only fertile for a few hours of every cycle. Because of this, keep the pair together for about 6 or 7 weeks to increase the chances of success.
Do not handle the sow too much before birth. If you need to lift her, make sure you support her very well. The sow’s diet must be adjusted for her pregnancy: continue the normal diet but ensure that she gets enough calcium. Brown bread soaked in warm cow’s milk is a good way to provide this. Immediately after birth, make sure there is a bowl of warm milk and bread available to both mother and young.
The boar should be removed about 2 weeks before the young are due. Although he will not even think about harming the offspring, it is possible they may be hurt when he attempts to mate the sow a few hours after birth.
The average length of pregnancy is 65 to 75 days. Expect only 2 or 3 babies in the first litter and then perhaps between 3 and 6 in subsequent litters.
The babies should weigh between 3 and 4 ounces, and should be lively and alert only a few hours after birth. They should make characteristic noises and will want to eat the same food as their mother in a matter of days.
Introducing an Old Guinea Pig to a New Guinea Pig
A lot of Guinea Pig owners end up buying another guinea pig once they see how lovable guinea pigs are. Sometimes you will decide on owning a guinea pig for the first time and then very shortly after decide to get another one.
However before you introduce your new guinea pig to your old guinea pig, there are a few precautions that your should take.
If you already own an adult male guinea pig and are considering purchasing a new baby male guinea pig, then you will have no problems introducing them to each other. You should never introduce two adult males to each other as they will fight until one dies.
However, if you already own an adult female guinea pig, introducing a baby to an adult female is much easier to do. Although it will take much more patience, you can introduce two adult female guinea pigs.
Also, as long as your adult male is neutered, you will be able to easily introduce a female guinea pig to him, regardless of age. Although a single neutered male can live in a colony of females with no problems, you should never have two male guinea pigs living with a female or females as they will always fight.
Regardless of the sex or age of your two guinea pigs, you should have a neutral space available for them to be introduced in. Ideally, this space should be well away from other animals, small children or any other distraction.
Start by placing a few really nice treats in the middle of the neutral space. Pretty quickly the two guinea pigs will start eating the treats and will be forced to recognize each other over a positive experience.
At first the guinea pigs will sniff each other out and should therefore be supervised during the entire process. Once you are confident that they are comfortable with each other, you then place them into their cage together.
If your two guinea pigs do not hit it off right away, it would be best to keep them separate in different cages for a while. Place these cages side by side so your guinea pigs will be able to observe each other and get used to each other and always supervise their playtime together.
Hey, I’m Amy and I’m in love with my Pets! I have a diverse variety, including 2 cats, 1 dog, 3 rabbits, 2 guinea pigs, a rat and a beautiful macaw. I love writing about everything pet-related and spend as much time as I can sharing my personal experiences.