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.