If your child comes in one day to discuss getting a pet they may already have their heart set on getting a guinea pig. If you have never raised a guinea pig you may think that it is actually too much to start out with for a pet. In reality guinea pigs are the best animal to start out with. It is very rewarding to raise a guinea pig and it’s not overwhelming for a kids to raise one as long as they know the responsibility that is involved.
General Information about Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs can weigh between two to three pounds on average and have a lifespan of five to seven years. There are three different breeds of guinea pigs, each with a different style coat. The first is the short fur with a glossy shine. This breed is called the smooth-coated guinea pig. The second type has fluffy fur all over the body and they are called Abyssinian. Finally, you have the Peruvian, which is the long haired with a silky feel to the fur. The long hair can go to the floor.
Purchasing a Guinea Pig
When looking to purchase a guinea pig, you need to find breeders in the area that will offer a comfortable environment and not one that allows guinea pigs to produce in order to make money. You may also want to check your local shelter about adopting a guinea pig through them. The cost of the guinea pig itself will vary depending on where you purchase it at. The cage needs to have a solid floor and no less than four square feet per guinea pig. You will need to purchase wood shaving to put down on the floor of the cage. You may also use grass to cover the bottom or even hay. Do not use cedar chips of pine chips because they can harm the guinea pig. Don’t consider glass fish aquariums to be adequate houses. Guinea pigs require fresh air circulating around and they cannot get that while in a glass aquarium.
What to Feed Your Guinea Pig
You can buy good quality guinea pig food at almost any animal supply store. Guinea pigs also need fresh fruits and vegetables. This includes a slice of an orange for vitamin C. Guinea pigs cannot produce their own vitamin C, and you will have to help them get their supply by giving them the right foods. Because guinea pigs have the knack to gnaw on things, you will need to put a small branch or twig in the cage for gnawing. You can also buy supplies at the pet food shop to assist them in gnawing. If you let your guinea pig out of the cage, keep this in mind as they run around. Be sure to keep them from gnawing on wires and other dangerous cords. Always provide clean fresh water every day. They will drink a lot of water and you will need to provide it daily.
Other Ways to Care for Your Guinea Pig
Keep the cage clean by removing spilled food and droppings on the floor. Guinea pigs like to be clean and will clean themselves regularly. You can train a guinea pig to use the litter box but this can take a lot of practice and it will not be easy. Lastly, take your guinea pig to the veterinarian for regular checkups. You need to watch out for any signs of illness and contact your vet as soon as you notice. Your guinea pig cannot tell you when something is wrong, so you will be its only communication.