Guinea pigs make great caged pets. With a lifespan of up to nine years, they can become valuable members of your family. Like all pets, guinea pigs need clean cages, healthy food and veterinary care. But these lovable creatures can also get bored with the same routine. It's great to pick them up and cuddle with them, but guinea pigs are also smart and tame enough to enjoy playing games.
Find a Guinea Pig
If you haven't yet added a guinea pig to your household, the first thing you need to do is find one you like. Local animal shelters often get unwanted guinea pigs because, as members of the rodent family, guinea pigs are prolific breeders. If you can't find one there, check online or at a local pet store.
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When choosing your new pet, be sure to pick it up and hold it close to your body. This helps the animal feel more secure, and you'll also get an idea of how it reacts to being picked up and held.
Consider getting two of the same gender because they do better with others. If you get two males, it's best if they were already housed together.
When you bring them home, give them a couple of days to get used to your household before holding them. After you've started socializing them, it's time for the fun to begin.
Fun and Games
Now that you and your guinea pig know each other pretty well, it's a good idea to start letting it out of the cage to play in a secure area. Be sure there are no holes for it to squeeze through to escape, and watch out for electrical wires (they will chew them).
Guinea pigs love to hide and go through tunnels. Some ideas that build on this instinct include cutting the tops and bottoms off of facial tissue boxes, paper bags or small cardboard boxes. Try putting them in different "maze" arrangements. PVC tubes or ferret-sized tubes are another option. They may be more expensive, but they're also more durable.
You can also cut strips of paper and interlock them, making a large chain. Your guinea pigs will enjoy crawling in and out of each circle.
Another easy game involves balling up a piece of paper for them to roll around with their noses.
Treats are a great way to play with your pet. Once you find out what treats your guinea pig loves, hide pieces of it in a bundle of towels or in a maze of blocks.
You'll know your animal is enjoying itself when it starts "popcorning" or whistling with glee. Popcorning guinea pigs jump, hop and sometimes do half spins in the air. Try a variety of things so that no game becomes too boring.