The Guinea Pig

Guinea Pig Eating
a guinea pig eating grass

Our household guinea pig descends from (Cavia aperea f. Domestica) in the South American wild pigs and in the wild guinea pigs live in family groups eating mainly grasses.

Guinea Pig
Guinea Pig

In South America, guinea pigs are kept primarily for their meat for over 5000 years.

In the 16th-century guinea pigs came to Europe and Europeans started to breed guinea pigs with different coat and color variations.

Today there are significant differences in the behavior of wild and domesticated guinea pigs; household guinea pigs are much more tolerable towards humans and other guinea pigs than their wild cousins.

 

Sex differences

In the female, the urine, sex, and anal opening are close together and form a “Y”; in the male, the penis and the anal area lie apart and form an “i.” In the case of non-neutered males, the testicles are also clearly marked.

 

Behavior

Guinea Pig Group
A group of guinea pigs

Guinea pigs are very social animals, and it is not wise to keep them individually. It is possible to get by with a pair but, ideally, they do best in groups of more than three animals.In addition to keeping one or more females with a (spayed) male, pure female groups are also possible.

For two Guinea pigs, the enclosure size should be at least 120 x 60 x 50 cm (L x W x H), The floor area should be at least 20% larger for each additional animals.

Note: Large grid cages are better suited and generally larger cages offering more room.

Aquariums or terrariums are not suitable as a home for the animal; Guinea pigs are susceptible to poor ventilation and the resulting gases (ammonia) and increased humidity this shelter creates.

Two Guinea Pigs
A Pair of Guinea Pigs

Since guinea pigs are easily frightened, the enclosure should be in a place as quiet as possible, and the temperatures should be between 18 and 24 ° C.

Guinea pigs react particularly sensitively to high temperatures (above 28 ° C) and sudden temperature fluctuations as well as to high humidity.

Sufficient hiding areas (guinea pigs like to sleep alone) in the form of shelters and wooden houses (at least one per animal shown below) with entrance and exit are important.

Guinea Pig Hiding
a guinea pig hiding under shelter

Tubes, flat ramps, and elevated levels are enthusiastically accepted. Soft materials (e.g., natural branches, no conifers) are suitable as a soft base for ground bedding as well as offer a dust free litter area.

Guinea pigs require a lot of movement and if possible should be allowed to roam around. all potential sources of danger, such as electric cables, house plants or other domestic animals, must be considered before releasing your guinea pigs.

During spring and fall, it is possible to let your guinea pigs go outside into a sufficiently large frost-free area protected from any predators.

The animals can spend hours in a protected area outside, as long as at least half of the enclosure is shaded to provide sufficient shelter from and the sun and there should also be adequate food and water.

Note: If the animals are on grass, they must first carefully get used to it in their diet first as it may cause diarrhea.

 

Nutrition

Guinea pigs are pure herbivores and have a complex digestive system, and they must be nourished accordingly to avoid digestive problems. One of the most important aspects of a healthy diet is clean water provided daily and good hay.

Guinea Pig Eating
a guinea pig eating grass

Hay has to be continuously available in a feed frame since the animals eat small amounts throughout a day. Also, hay promotes the wear of life-long growing teeth.

A healthy diet should also include a mixed portion of fresh food from grasses or meadow weeds.

When these are not available, salads, peppers, and other vegetables, as well as small amounts of fruit, can be given twice a day.

Compound feed or pellets (both grain, Low-sugar, and low-calcium) and other treats should only be offered in small quantities.

(1 cup per animal per day) to prevent animals from becoming overweight and causing tooth and digestion problems.

Since guinea pigs cannot form vitamin C, a supplementary use of vitamin C can be useful as well.

 

Maintenance

Thorough daily cleaning and disinfection of Food, drinking containers, feces, and urine should be performed, and cleaning the enclosure once a week.

The general state of health of the animals should be checked daily. weight, fur, claws and soles, incisors and the neither-region at least once a week.

Frequent signs of disease in guinea pigs are fattening, weight loss, skin and coat changes, diarrhea and bloating. If any abnormalities occur, consultation with a veterinarian is required.

 

Handling

 

Caution: Guinea pigs can transmit skin fungi. Thoroughly wash hands after each contact.

Guinea pigs are shy by nature, and you will need a lot of patience to be able to train one.

Guinea Pigwhen first brought home guinea pigs need a lot of rest to get used to their new environment, and by feeding small amounts of feed from the hand, the owner can build a relationship with the animals.

The “language” of the guinea pigs will “tell you” when the animal feels claim and comfortable, where high whistles are a sign of excitement (stress, anxiety, food), but deep “chuckle” indicates satisfaction.