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Guinea pig husbandry

 

Is a guinea pig a good pet?

Guinea pigs are easy to keep and live for 4-6 years. They don't require a lot of care, but if they are not handled frequently they may be frightened of people and bite or scratch.

What sort of housing do I need for my guinea pig?

A guinea pig enclosure should:

  • Be big enough to allow the guinea pig to walk around and get some exercise
  • Be enclosed on all sides to keep predators such as dogs and cats out
  • Be made of wood and wire rather than plastic, since guinea pigs like to chew
  • Have a wire base to let the guinea pig eat the grass underneath
  • Have some shade, since guinea pigs are prone to heat stress
  • Have a warm, enclosed area lined with straw, sawdust or shredded paper for shelter from the cold

What should I feed my guinea pig?

The most important part of a guinea pig's diet is unlimited hay. Guinea pigs' teeth grow constantly throughout their lives, and tend to overgrow unless they constantly chew on roughage. You can also provide some sticks or untreated wood for your guinea pig to chew on.

Guinea pigs, like humans, cannot make their own vitamin C so they also need a supply of fresh fruit and vegetables. Citrus fruits and capsicum are rich in vitamin C. Some guinea pig pellets are okay, but should not compose the majority of the diet.

When should I breed my guinea pig?

Guinea pigs reach sexual maturity at 10-12 weeks of age, so it is important to separate males and females before then if you don't want to end up with more guinea pigs! If you are intending to breed your guinea pig, you should do this before the age of 6 months. After this, the two halves of the pelvis fuse together, preventing natural passage of babies through the birth canal. Pregnancy lasts 57–72 days and the average litter size is about 3 to 5. Baby guinea pigs are born with their eyes open and can eat solid food within a few days. If you don't want another litter, separate Mum and Dad immediately because they will usually mate about 24 hours after the birth.