Guinea pigs are sweet, easygoing and quite cute. However, before you go out and adopt one, make sure that you ask the right questions so that you know for certain whether you should.
How long do guinea pigs live as pets?
Guinea pigs have a longer life span than other small pets like rats, hamsters and gerbils. Guinea pigs can live five to seven years. If you are moving, this is definitely a good pet to transport, and much easier to travel with than cats or dogs. However, if your life is very on the move, keep in mind that five to seven years is a long time, and you have to be willing to commit to taking care of them that whole time.
What do guinea pigs eat?
To keep your guinea pig happy and healthy, you need to make sure that they have a well-balanced herbivore diet. You should be regularly feeding your guinea pig:
1.) Pellets: You can easily find veterinarian-approved commercial guinea pig pellets in your local pet store. They provide vitamins and minerals that your guinea pig will need to feels their best.
2.) Timothy hay: That's right, your guinea pig likes to have a little hay in their diet so that it gets the right amount of fiber. Hay also helps your guinea pig wear downs their teeth. (Fun fact: guinea pig teeth grow continually.) Just make sure that you are buying clean, fresh-smelling, high-quality hay that is free of mold, or you could make your cute little friend ill.
3.) Vegetables: The Humane Society recommends that you feed your guinea pig one cup of fresh veggies throughout the day in small individual amounts. Your guinea pig can eat:
- carrot tops
Just make sure that these vegetables are well-washed and not served cold (it might be too cold for those tiny tummies). Carrots and sweet potato can be added once to twice a week (since they are higher in sugar and might cause diabetes if eaten too often).
How much space do guinea pigs need?
Guinea pigs are not as into climbing and digging as their other rodent counterparts, and rely heavily on floor space. If you have one guinea pig, you should have a minimum of 7.5 square foot cage. 30" by 36" is a good size. If you have two guinea pigs, 10.5 square feet is the size you should get. You should give their cage an intense cleaning at least once a week, and do light cleaning every few days. Make sure that your guinea pigs' cage is located in a quiet, calm place in the house, and give them cozy items and soft wood chips to snuggle into. Overall, make a nice space for your guinea pig, since they have to live in it!
What are guinea pig personalities like?
Guinea pigs are social, active creatures. It is best to get two guinea pigs because if a guinea pig is alone a great deal of the time, it can get lonely. Just make sure they are the same sex, or you might end up with a whole new family of guinea pigs living with you!
Make sure that you have time to spend with your guinea pigs and that you take them out of their cage to explore, cuddle and stretch their little legs. Guinea pigs are generally pretty quiet but do make a whistling squeaking sound when they are excited or scared or... feel like it. So if you want a quiet home, know that a guinea pig will liven it up quite a bit with its squeaks and whistles.
Can you train a guinea pig?
You can train a guinea pig to do simple commands using treats. Guinea pigs can learn how to come when called, know their name, stand up, go in circles, or even jump through a hoop! Your guinea pig can even learn to use a litter box! So have fun using treats and gentle words of encouragement as you teach your guinea pig all these fun tricks.
How to bond with your guinea pig
Guinea pigs love to play and cuddle. You can gently stroke their fur and groom them. With short-haired guinea pigs, you can groom them once a week, but if you have a long-haired guinea pig they will need daily grooming, so be sure to incorporate that into your quality time. Make sure to have toys like balls, pet tunnels and other fun guinea pig toys you can find in your local pet store. You can also hand-feed your guinea pig treats to build trust.
Lay down on the floor next to your guinea pig and let them approach and crawl on you so that they know you and feels comfortable. Eventually you can hold your guinea pig, but give them time to adjust to you. Don't sneak up on a guinea pig from behind. Let them approach you and if they seem scared, do not try to pick them up. Use both hands and do not squeeze them too tight. Do not start by walking with your guinea pig, as that can be scary for them. To begin, pick them up while you are in a seated position. Then when you plan to carry them you can use a blanket to wrap them gently and make them feel safer. Most of all, never yell at or be too loud at your guinea pig, use a soft gentle voice. If you make sure to play with your guinea pig for at least half an hour a day, you and your guinea pig will be bonded.
If all of these answers seem like they would fit your lifestyle, then a guinea pig might be just the pet for you!