Guinea Pigs are fantastic companions; great for a snuggle and a sharing a snack. Here are some important facts to consider before you bring one into your home.
Feeding and Housing are Critical!
Guinea Pigs are herbivores (vegetarians), and their traditional diet is grass. They are unable to synthesize Vitamin C from their food, so need it to be easily available from their diet.
- Vitamin C: Be careful that you are not giving too little! Vitamin C loses potency over time and is light sensitive and water soluble, it should be used within 90 days of being manufactured, should not be mixed with water, and should be kept away from sunlight. Make sure to mark your calendar and get a new bottle of Vitamin C supplements every 3 months to make sure your piggy doesn’t get sick from lack of Vitamin C. Adult Piggies need 20-25mg/day.
- Diet should consist of fresh hay (timothy best), dark leafy greens, and veggies with some fruits. Pellets are OPTIONAL, and should consist of no more than ⅛ cup per day as pellets have limited nutritional value and are the leading cause of obesity in GPs.
- Check out a list of good snack foods here.
- GPs should be kept on paper bedding, fleece blankets or pee pads. Wood shavings, especially Pine and Cedar, can make Piggies very ill.
- Cage flooring should be solid and easily cleaned, with no wire mesh or sharp edges that can damage paw pads.
- All GPs (boys, girls, intact or spay/neutered), mark their territory by urinating and defecating on it. People and other GPs can be consider territory… so prepare to be peed and claimed by your Guinea Pig!
Important Facts Before you get a Piggy:
- Adults weigh between 1.5-2.5 pounds.
- GPs live on average 4-5 years, but some have been reported to make it to 14!
- They are social and can live in large groups, but are picky as to who they live with. They prefer to live in a one male and multiple female family, or alone with their people family. Picking the wrong family can lead to horrible fights. Some piggies need to live alone.
- They love to hide during the day, and are most active at dawn and dusk (diurnal).
- They become sexually mature at 3-5 weeks. Pregnancy lasts for 59-72 days. Pups (babies) are born looking like little adults (altricial births). Average litters have 3 pups (1-6+), and they can have 5 litters per year!
- At 4-10 months females can have a calcification of their pubic symphysis (pelvis), which leads to deadly complications when attempting to give birth
- Males and females can be surgically sterilized, but females have more complications post-surgery. It is recommended that all males be castrated at 3 months of age to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
- GPs can produce a milky-white eye substance that is normal.
- They are cute, cuddly and excellent pets!
Written by Moncton Animal Clinic