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San Diego Humane Society

Guinea Pig Care

BACKGROUND 

ALSO KNOWN AS: Cavy

WEIGHT: Up to 2 pounds

LIFESPAN: 5-7 years

FUN FACT: A happy guinea pig will jump straight up in the air—this is called popcorning!

Please check out Wee Companions small animal rescue for more information and resources on guinea pigs: Weecompanions.org

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FOOD

  • Grass hay and fresh, clean water should be available to your pet at all times.
  • 1/8 cup of timothy hay-based pellets daily. Avoid pellets made with nuts, seeds, dried fruits and corn products.
  • Alfalfa hay and pellets may be given to young guinea pigs.
  • Offer a handful of fresh leafy vegetables daily and limited fruit/treats.
  • Avoid: Iceberg lettuce, potatoes, cabbage and broccoli.
  • Guinea pigs cannot manufacture vitamin C, so make sure you provide this nutrient daily in foods, such as a slice of orange or bell peppers.

HOUSING & ENVIRONMENT

  • A living space of 7 square feet for a single guinea pig and 1-2 square feet for each additional guinea pig. Most cages sold for guinea pigs in pet stores do not meet the recommended size. “C&C Cages” has a variety of appropriate cages for sale online: https://www. guineapigcagesstore.com/
  • Line the bottom of the cage with paper-based bedding or fleece.
  • Spot clean the cage daily and deep clean at least once a week using vinegar and water or mild soap and water. • Keep the cage indoors, away from drafts and extreme temperatures.
  • Provide a cave or “igloo” for sleeping and hiding.
  • Some guinea pigs will do well with a friend, especially if they were raised together.
  • Provide safe toys to help wear down teeth, which are continuously growing, including cardboard tubes and untreated wood blocks.

BEHAVIOR & HANDLING

  • Guinea pigs are known for their expressive vocalizations.
  • Guinea pigs rarely bite but they can nip if mishandled or fear a threatening animal. Pet your guinea pig gently to get them used to handling before picking them up.
  • Pick up carefully, bringing the guinea pig close to your body and using both hands for support.

SIGNS OF ILLNESS

  • Bring your guinea pig to a small pet/exotics veterinarian annually for check-ups. Seek help immediately if you notice signs of illness, including sneezing, crusty eyes, dirty ears, diarrhea, dental issues, hair loss, weight loss, change in behavior and bloody or gritty urine.

GUINEA PIG SUPPLY CHECKLIST

  • Spacious cage
  • Grass hay (timothy, orchard grass, bluegrass)
  • Timothy- based pellets
  • Paper-based bedding
  • Water bottle
  • Small, heavy food dish
  • Nail clippers (trim their nails 1-2 times per month)
  • Untreated wood or cardboard toys
  • Fresh leafy vegetables (romaine lettuce, radicchio, cilantro, parsley), bell peppers and oranges

 

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