Guinea pigs are great pets that have character, are extremely sociable, enjoy the company of humans and are a great way of introducing young children to pet ownership.
Guinea pigs can be left alone during the day and are therefore suitable for people who work or are away from home. A predator-proof enclosure to ensure their safety is essential. An appropriate enclosure is a hutch that is divided into two connecting compartments, one a wire mesh to allow access to natural light and fresh air, while the other is enclosed to provide protection against weather and a secure sleeping place. The floor of your guinea pig's hutch should be covered with newspaper, with a layer of bedding material like straw, grass, hay or shredded paper for warmth, comfort and to prevent pressure sores on your guinea pig's feet. Consider extreme weather conditions and ventilation when choosing a location for your hutch. Guinea pigs are extremely sensitive to the hot summer temperatures we experience in Australia and may die of heat stroke if their hutch is not in a cool, shady position.
Feeding and nutrition is the most important factor in making sure your guinea pig stays healthy. Many commercial foods don't contain enough fibre (18 - 20% is required) and are too high in fats and sugars. Guinea pigs are herbivores so their diet should consist almost entirely of vegetable matter. Grass or hay [not lucerne] is an essential dietary component to ensure your guinea pig's health. Apart from providing a high fibre diet, chewing hay wears down their continuously-growing teeth and keeps them occupied, preventing boredom. Ideally, feed your guinea pig ad lib hay [not lucerne] and fresh green veggies such as Asian greens, spinach, bok choy, broccoli, herbs, sprouts, carrot tops, snow peas, brussel sprouts, or endive [lettuce and cabbage can cause diarrhoea]. Treats such as fruits, root veggies (carrots), capsicum and pellets should only be offered in small amounts. Guinea pigs cannot synthesise their own Vitamin C so it is important to feed then vegetables high in Vitamin C such as spinach, capsicum, tomatoes, parsley and some fruits. Non breeding adults need 10mg/kg Vit C and this increases up to 30mg/kg for breeding adults.
Fresh water should always be available using both a drip feed bottle and an open container.
It is important to know that female guinea pigs should be bred for the first time before 12 months of age as at 12 months their pelvis fuses and they will then require a ceasarian to have babies. Entire female guinea pigs can get a high incidence of ovarian cysts so sterilisation of a non breeding female should be considered. Entire male guinea pigs can be very aggressive so sterilisation of non breeding males is strongly advised.
Routine veterinary care for guinea pigs includes regular dental,nail and health checks and desexing.
We welcome you to book an appointment with us to discuss how to keep your rabbit in optimal health.