Recommendations for guinea pig care
The guinea pig is a rodent of the Cavidea family which also includes the chinchilla and porcupine! This little rodent is well known and loved due to its good temperament, socialbility, its peculiar look and its joie de vivre. This little animal who enjoys showing his affection towards his owner does require a little special attention in return. Here is some important information to know before adopting a guinea pig:
The guinea pig’s diet must be rich in fiber in order to maintain good gastrointestinal mobility as well as to maintain the balance of the bacterial flora of the digestive system. That’s why grass (the Timothy type) should be the main food on your guinea pig’s menu. In addition, he will require a feed adapted to his stage of life as well as about one cup of fresh vegetables per day. For example:
- Parsley, basil, coriander, mint, dill
- Romaine lettuce
- Swiss chard
Fruits and some vegetables such as carrots or peppers are to be given in moderation because they contain a high sugar content.
It is essential to give your guinea pig a vitamin C supplement daily. Vitamin C is often sold in liquid form. A guinea pig with a healthy weight of about 1 kg on average should receive 20 mg of vitamin C per day.
The guinea pig is a gregarious animal, that is to say it will be happier with one or more companions of its kind. The size of the cage should be adapted to the number of guinea pigs that live there. A cage inhabiting more than one guinea pig should measure at least 80 cm X 50 cm.
The cage must also provide hiding places where your pet can take refuge during moments of stress, because in spite of his social temperament, he is still reactive to the noises that surround him.
Toys, as well as apple tree branches will also be appreciated.
Guinea pigs urinate and deficate all over their environment so it is important that the absorbant substrate of their cage be cleaned regularly. Unscented aspen wood chips are a good option
- Fabric (ex: polar fleece): very inexpensive and ecological, because it can be washed and reused each time the cage is cleaned.
- Aspen and hemp: reasonably priced and they don’t release toxic fumes – unlike pine and cedar – that may cause some respiratory problems
- Plain shredded paper: more expensive, but has better absorption and no odor.
Like all other pets, an annual visit to your veterinarian is recommended to maintain good health and a proper diet. In fact, the main health problems encountered in Guinea pigs are caused by deficits in their environment and diet.
There are warning signs that your guinea pig is sick, for example:
- Decreased appetite, weight loss
- Itching, hair loss
- Irritation of the feet
- Dental malocclusion. A guinea pig’s teeth grow continuously which could cause dental problems.
Should you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to consult your veterinarian immediately as the condition of your guinea pig can deteriorate quite rapidly.
In conclusion, your guinea pig will remain happy and healthy if you provide him with the necessary care, consisting of an adequate diet and an environment adapted to his needs.
You will be able to tell that he is comfortable and content, through his squeaks, cooing, teeth chattering and much more!