Your Guinea Pig

Your Guinea Pig

Did you know that guinea pigs….

  • have 20 teeth which grow throughout their lives! You can usually only see the front four as the molars are hidden behind cheek pads
  •  have four digits on their front paws and three digits on their back paws
  •  need their nails trimmed from time to time. Your vet can do this or show you how to do it yourself
  • make a variety of sounds to communicate -“vee-vee-vee” for food -“brr” to show displeasure -burbling when content
  • have a lifespan of about 5-6 years
  • were originally native to Peru
  • cannot make their own vitamin C (just like humans)
  • are called boars if they are male and sows if they are female
  • have babies called pups, born with their eyes open, all their teeth, and a full coat of hair
  • can be sexually mature as early as 3 weeks old. So keep boars and sows apart by this time to avoid larger families!

Things to do

  • Clean you guinea pig’s accommodation daily
  • Provide plenty of fresh hay (not straw) daily
  • Provide fresh drinking water daily
  • Wash salad before feeding. Most guinea pigs enjoy carrots, chicory, greens, baby sweet corn, tomato and occasional dandelion and parsley (but avoid lettuce)
  • Put salad in warm water first (to take off the chill)
  • Clear away uneaten food at the end of each day
  • Feed a dry mix with vitamin C to promote good health
  • Guinea pigs thrive best when kept indoors
  • Offer fresh grass or supervised time on the lawn
  • Keep a weekly record of your guinea pig’s weight
  • Keep boars and sows housed separately, unless the boar has been neutered

THINGS NOT TO DO

  • DON’T leave you guinea pig in direct sunlight, in a draught, outdoors on wet grass or alone with cats/dogs.
  • DON’T keep your guinea pig in the garage as the fumes from a car could kill.
  • DON’T keep your guinea pig in a wire-floored cage.
  • DON’T keep your guinea pig on sawdust or woodchips.
  • DON’T feed your guinea pig evergreens, onions or anything that grows from a bulb.
  • DON’T feed food straight from the fridge.
  • DON’T offer limp, mouldy, stale or yellowing food.
  • DON’T house your guinea pig with a rabbit.
  • DON’T give your guinea pig rabbit food. It won’t have added vitiman C.
  • DON’T offer your guinea pig wheels or balls as toys. These could damage their spine
  • DON’T feed lawnmower clippings.

You must visit your Village Vet if your guinea pig…

  • won’t or can’t eat or drink
  • has trouble urinating, constipation or diarrhoea
  • shows blood from anywhere
  •  has trouble breathing
  • is sitting hunched up
  • has a sudden loss of weight
  • loses hair
  • is constantly itching and scratching
  • is having fits/seizures you need to contact your vet URGENTLY. Ask your vet to check the sex of your guinea pigs to avoid unexpected litters.

Don’t worry if….

  • you see your guinea pig eating their own droppings (faecal pellets) – this is a normal part of the digestive process
  • a milky secretion is seen in the eyes after grooming – this is natural and harmless
  • your guinea pig has bald spots behind the ears and on the “wrists” of the inner forelegs – this is normal.