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Bringing Home a Guinea Pig

August 07, 2008  |  Difficulty: Easy

 
Check out this pocket-pal, the perfect child’s pet!

Small, domesticate mammals that are gentle and kind and can easily fit in a pocket are aptly named “pocket pets!”  The guinea pig is a great pet because it responds to you with sounds you’ll learn to recognize and he is easily trainable, a pleasure to hand feed and easy to care for.  Here are a few things to consider before bringing home a guinea pig.

CHOOSING A GUINEA PIG
  • Read up on guinea pigs and their care before bringing one home. Familiarize yourself with the different types of colors and coats you can choose from:  long hair, short hair, different colors, solid color, and whorled hair or even hairless. Be sure you’re aware of the care necessities of the different types so you can plan accordingly.
  • Find a vet who will treat guinea pigs because not all of them will and you’ll want to be prepared.
  • Be sure your guinea pig is at least six weeks old before you bring one home. Choose one from the litter who is not too skittish and one that melts you with his bright eyes and sniffing nose.
  • If you’re getting more than one guinea pig, be aware that they can breed as young as six weeks, so you’ll either need to always keep them separated or get one spayed or neutered at your vet’s office.

CREATING A GUINEA PIG HOME
  • Guinea pigs are social animals so you’ll want their home to be near you so you can talk to them and play with them every day.
  • Make sure his cage is at least 18 inches high, 24 inches wide and three to six feet long to provide lots of space to run, jump and play.
  • Cages should not be solid so they are very well-ventilated and your guinea pig can see everything around him. Keep the cage away from extreme heat, fumes or drafts.
  • The bottom three inches should be solid, however to keep bedding and shavings and food from being scattered all over the floor.
  • Use some sort of bedding like shredded newspaper, which is easy to come by and very inexpensive. Other dust-free guinea pig bedding can also be purchased, however never use sawdust which can clog guinea pig’s delicate airways.
  • The cage should have a roof to it. If not, it should be at least high enough that the guinea pig cannot jump out. And that it is not where any other pet or babies can knock it over or get into it.
  • The cage should be easy to take apart and clean regularly. A guinea pig cage needs to be cleaned every week because rambunctious guinea pigs scatter food, waste, water and bedding all together creating a breeding ground for bacteria.
  • Guinea pigs like to have a hiding spot, so be sure and supply him with one. A plastic “igloo” shape or box is most suitable because guinea pigs love to chew and can shred a shoebox in a day.
  • Guinea pigs can live together with other guinea pigs provided they are properly spayed or neutered and that you have separated hide huts for each to rest or sleep in. Don’t mix male guinea pigs with young pigs because of aggressive behavior.
  • Look out for “barbering” where guinea pigs chew on each other’s hair. This habit can be the result of boredom, nutritional deficiency, excitement or stress of some sort, so pay attention to guinea pigs behavior on a daily basis. If barbering becomes aggressive or abusive, you’ll need to separate the pigs.

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