A guinea pig is a wonderful furry friend to have and if you are thinking of getting one or have recently brought one into your home, then you need to know how to care for it. Guinea pigs are very social animals and to have one as a pet means that you need to be prepared to give it the attention it needs. Guinea pigs also like to eat, so be ready to set up a feeding schedule and stick with it.
The first thing you should know is that guinea pigs are not actually pigs. They are a rodent and their native home is South America. There are three types of guinea pig that are kept as pets: the Smooth-coated, the Abyssinian, and the Peruvian. You can tell the difference between these just by looking at their fur. The Smooth-coat has short glossy fur, the Peruvian has long fur that hangs to the floor, and the Abyssinian has fur that falls between these two extremes and forms tufts all over the body.
Now it is time to consider where your guinea pig will live. As mentioned above, these are very social animals that like to live in small groups with other guinea pigs. Females will get along well with each other, males kept together should be from the same litter, and unless you want little baby guinea pigs, it is best not to keep males and females together at all. There should be about four square feet of cage space per guinea pig and the cage should have a solid floor as wire floors hurt their feet. You should line the bottom of the cage with something soft, such as hay or woodshavings, but stay away from pine and cedar chips as the oils from these types of wood can make your guinea pig sick. You can also place cardboard tubes or similar in your pet's cage as they like to hide when they play and a piece of clean untreated wood or other chew toy is good so that your guinea pig can sharpen its teeth. Now all you have to do is ensure that the cage is kept somewhere where the temperature is between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit so that your pet is comfortable and will not get heat stroke.
When it comes to food, you guinea pig would ideally just keep eating. You will find that every time you rattle a plastic bag or even walk near the cage your pet will start squeaking loudly. Despite this, don't feed you guinea pig every time it squeaks. Feed your pet twice a day, in the morning and in the evening. The ideal food is the commercial guinea pig food such as Gerty Guinea Pig Food that can be purchased at any pet store and this can be combined with hay and fresh foods. Your guinea pig may like a variety of fresh foods, which should be offered daily. These can include foods such as grapes, lettuce, spinach, apples, carrots, and peas. It is also important to know that guinea pigs are one of the few mammals that, like humans, cannot produce their own vitamin C. This means they must get it through their diet. You can feed them kale, dandelion greens, orange, strawberries, and other vitamin C rich foods and you can add a supplement to their food or water, which should be in an inverted bottle with a drinking tube.
While housing and food are the most important things on the list, there are a few last items that are important when it comes to caring for your guinea pig. You want your little friend to become accustomed to you. You can accomplish this by hand feeding treats to your guinea pig each day until it becomes comfortable with you. Then you should be able to pick it up by gently placing one hand underneath it and the other hand over its back. At this point you can let your guinea pig run around a small enclosed area so that it can get extra exercise. Just be sure to supervise the outing because guinea pigs will chew on anything they see, including wires. You can also brush your guinea pigs regularly, daily if they have long fur, and you can bathe them occasionally if you wish. Just be sure to use a commercial shampoo that is designed for pets.
Keep an eye on your piggie's health and take it to the vet right away if you see any lethargy, sneezing, coughing, diarrhea, or anything else that is out of the ordinary. When you care for your guinea pig in the best possible way you will have your friend for a long time. Guinea pigs generally live for between five and seven years so you will have much time to play with and enjoy your little guy. And will be able to rest assured that it has the best home possible.