How to Care for Guinea Pigs

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3 little guinea pigs on green grass chewing on a green stick vegetable

Guinea Pigs can make great little pets. They are social rodents, originally from the Andes in South America and are a domesticated descendant of a wild species of cavy. They were introduced to Europe in the 16th century and their social nature, docility and ease of care has made these affectionate rodents popular pets ever since.

Guinea pigs grow to between 700 and 1200 grams, can breed at 1-3 months old and live to about 4 to 8 years old. They are social creatures and should not be housed alone. Male guinea pigs will fight if kept together with females though may live at peace in all male colonies. It is not recommended to keep rabbits with guinea pigs as rabbits naturally carry diseases that guinea pigs are susceptible to. Females should not be bred for the first time after the age of 6 months as it is likely the fetus will not be able to be delivered naturally.

Housing should be a minimum of 0.5m square per animal. Housing should be predator proof and have a minimum of 2 drip waterers, with adequate shade and ventilation as guinea pigs are relatively prone to heat stress and respiratory disease.     

A good diet is based around a constant source of grass or grass hay (not Lucerne) as well as green leafy veges and herbs. Restricted amounts of pelleted foods, along with small amounts Kiwi or citrus to provide Vitamin C, complete the diet.

Regular handling, making sure to support the cavies whole length, will help grow the human-animal bond and allow regular inspection of teeth, ears, eyes and body condition as well as allowing routine grooming and nail clips.

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