Guinea pigs are plant-eating rodents from South America that are lively but gentle pets. They are naturally social, living in large groups in the wild. Guinea pig pairs will mate for life, however, and when adopted by a human, will become its “mate.” In fact, if guinea pigs are socialized from a young age, they will consider their human companions members of their “herd.”
Housing for guinea pigs should be at least 2 square feet per pig with flooring of shredded paper, straw or non-aromatic wood shavings. Wire should not be used as it can cause serious foot injuries. Pigs also like to burrow into a hide box or shelter. Since they produce a copious amount of feces, often in their food and water dishes, their cages should be cleaned often. Care should especially be taken to monitor their water bottles since they are known to inject the ends of the tubes with plugs that could result in life-threatening dehydration if undetected.
It is very important to feed your pig an appropriate diet. Guinea pigs require Vitamin C in their diet because they cannot produce it. The majority of their diet should be either timothy or grass hay (offered free-choice) and dark leafy greens supplemented by Vitamin C-fortified guinea pig pellets (discarded after 90 days). Also rich in Vitamin C are kale, parsley, cabbage, beet greens, chicory, spinach, broccoli, bell peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, oranges, kiwi and blackberries.
Guinea pigs have teeth which continually grow throughout their lives. They must have routine dental exams for proper alignment & wear. If teeth become improperly aligned or develop points, a pig can starve to death. South County Animal Hospital has special rodent dentistry equipment which allows us to provide very special care for these very special animals. Since guinea pigs try to hide any symptoms of disease, they are often seriously ill before caretakers realize it. Once they become ill, they must be treated early in order to recover. Your guinea pig should be examined at least once per year or whenever there is any sign of illness. Call us for an appointment for your furry friend today.