DCSPCA's Top 5 Tips
Guinea pigs are some of the smallest furry friends that we have at DCSPCA’s shelter, but they have gigantic personalities. They are charming, playful, friendly, and chatty, making adorable squeaky vocalizations. Guinea pigs have a reputation as being pets for children, but the truth is that they require proper care and attention just as any pet would. In fact, these small and delicate animals can require more attention than a cat or dog. If you’re considering adopting a Guinea pig, please be sure that an adult will be responsible for overseeing their care, and keeping an eye on these little beings when young people are handling them.
If you’re looking for a pet to fill your house with love without taking up a lot of space, a Guinea pig might be just the right match for you.
Here are our top 5 tips for taking care of Guinea pigs:
1. Be gentle
Guinea pigs are small and sensitive. Always use a gentle touch with them, and be sure to hold them close to your chest when you pick them up, supporting their undersides (or holding them in your lap). Talk to them softly and let them come to you, rather than chasing them. They are delicate beings and should be treated accordingly.
2. Make sure they have proper nourishment and water
Guinea pigs are strict herbivores who require lots of fiber. Fresh Timothy hay should account for approximately 75% of their diet. They also need vitamin C, lacking the enzyme needed to synthesize it. Be sure that your adult Guinea pig receives 10-30 milligrams of vitamin C each day. Your veterinarian can advise you on how to meet your pet’s vitamin C requirements. Feed them approximately 1 cup of vegetables each day. Some Guinea pig favorites are lettuce, carrots, clover, dandelion greens, and parsley. Avoid fruits and treats as these may cause intestinal issues. Guinea pigs should have access to plenty of fresh water at all times. A sipper bottle attached to their enclosure is a great way to give them the water they need.
3. Provide your Guinea pigs with enrichment
Just like cats and dogs, in order to be happy and healthy, Guinea pigs need things to keep them occupied. Scattering pellet food in their enclosures, hiding it so they can dig it out, is one way to provide them with the enrichment they need. You could also use a cardboard paper towel roll to hide some goodies for the little guys or girls to dig out. They can also have fun with paper bags, and commercially available Guinea pig toys.
4. Give your Guinea pigs things to chew
It’s also very important to provide Guinea pigs with things to chew so that their teeth don’t overgrow. You can give them hardwood tree branches (untreated) such as apple wood, hickory wood, maple wood, or oak, or give them chew toys and chew sticks made especially for Guinea pigs.
5. Double the love with a pair
Guinea pigs are social animals who generally prefer to be around other Guinea pigs. Though occasionally a Guinea pig will not want to be with others, most will thrive with company. Consider adopting a pair or more Guinea pigs so that they won’t be lonely. Be sure they are the same gender (or that any males are neutered), so that you don’t risk your female pets becoming pregnant.