What is a Guinea Pig?
Guinea pigs came from South America and were first domesticated by the Incas. It is believed that they are called guinea pigs because in England they were sold for a guinea, which is a coin. Some think it is because they were brought to Europe by Spanish sailors from a country called Dutch Guiana in South America. Either way they are a small furry animal that loves attention and likes to cuddle. Full grown they usually weigh 1-2 pounds and measure 8-10 inches from the tip of their nose to the end of their rump. They do not have visible tails; however they have a tail vertebrae. They come in a variety of colors and their hair may be long, short, or short and curly. They make a great 5-6 year member of the family and do recognize their owners and communicate through squeals, squeaks, chirps, and whistles.
With hygiene, teeth, hair and nails. Guinea pigs are a very clean animal and clean themselves thoroughly every day. However you should brush their hair once a day this will help the hair from becoming matted. Guinea pigs like to gnaw, so provide them with things to gnaw on such as our Timbo Smaks Cubes. Guinea pigs teeth never stop growing so you will want to provide them something hard to chew on constantly such as our Apple Sticks Smaks. Guinea pigs are not able to wear down their claws, they have to be trimmed every once in awhile. We recommend asking your veterinarian for assistance. If you rather do it yourself be careful not to hurt your guinea pig, there are nerves and blood vessels running into their claws.
Supplies you will need:
Guinea pigs are herbivore, which means they only eat plant material. Variety is key and it is best to feed a guinea pig small portions several times a day on a regular feeding schedule and to keep food moving constantly through their digestive system which is a requirement.
Guinea pigs like to eat pellets, like our Timmy Guinea Pig & Chinchilla Pellets or Alffy Guinea Pig & Chinchilla Pellets. They also thrive on hay which is vital to their digestive system and should make up a majority of their daily diet. American Pet Diner offers four varieties of hay; Timothy Gold, Timothy High Fiber, Mountain Grass, and Alffy Alfalfa. Feed a daily ration of Alffy Guinea Pig & Chinchilla pellets , which has 18% protein, an alfalfa based complete pellet ration for young, growing, gestating, lactating or mature guinea pigs. Feed Timmy Guinea Pig and Chinchilla pellets which has 14% protein and is a complete ration to animals that are adult, overweight, or with urinary track problems. Feed alfalfa hay only to young, growing , lactating or gestating animals. Provide adult or overweight animals with as much Timothy Gold Hay as they can eat.
Guinea pigs can not produce Vitamin C there for you have to provide it for them. Make sure the pellet ration you feed has stabilized vitamin C provided in it. Both the American Pet Diner Alffy Guinea Pig & Chinchilla (Alfalfa Based-High Protein) and the Timmy Guinea Pig and Chinchilla (Timothy Hay Based -High Fiber), Complete Pellet Rations have stabilized vitamin C in them.
American Pet Diner also offers, Critter Be Better Digestive Health Feed Pellet, and Critter Be Better Digestive Health Feed Powder. Probiotics help keep beneficial bacteria in your guinea pigs digestive system which will keep your guinea pig healthy and keep the bad bacteria which cause diseases out of the digestive tract.
As with all animals, always keep a supply of fresh water available. Veterinarians recommend supplementing Vitamin C in their water. These Vitamin C drops can be found at your local pet store.
Treats and Veggies:
Guinea pigs love to eat, and they are curious animals, so you can use Smaks treats in moderation to bond with your pet. They may purr when you hold them and might even show happiness by bouncing and moving quickly and repeatedly, referred to as "popcorning". Too many treats offered can lead to obesity and/or refusal of eating necessary food by your pet. Choose to use fresh vegetables and fruits that are high in vitamin C such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, pea pods, dark green lettuce (no iceberg), herbs, grass, apples, oranges, grapes, pears, peaches, strawberries, pineapple, papaya, and blueberries, (remove seeds) in moderation. Always introduce these items slowly as they can have adverse reactions including diarrhea. They love to be held and loved to create a bond between yourself and your pet. This makes for a loving and gentle guinea pig pet.
Be sure to create an environment that meets your guinea pigs needs of digging, chewing, and enough room for playtime. A guinea pig's cage must be well ventilated, so do not use an aquarium; rather choose one with mesh sides. Their cage should have a solid bottom and plenty of room to run around. Mesh bottoms cause foot injuries and sores so avoid being tempted to buy this style of cage. Provide a hiding spot like a small box or tunnel, so they can hide if scared or if they feel like they need to escape, sleep or be alone.
Guinea Pigs take time to adjust to a new home so it is best to talk to them in a calm voice while approaching them to help them feel comfortable. And be very gentle when picking up or carrying your guinea pig as they are fragile animals and rough movement can be harmful.