INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR NEW GUINEA PIG.
To help you get the most enjoyment out of your new family member we have provided some information on the following topics:
- General facts
- Handling and Grooming
- Signs of illness
Guinea pigs generally mature between 1.5-3 months.
59 – 72 days (63 day average)
SIZE OF LITTER:
They are called “Piglets” and born with their coat of fur as well as having have their eyes and ears open. They are able to eat solid food from day 1, but still rely on a good supply of milk until weaning.
AGE AT WEANING:
Approximately 6 weeks
750g – 1kg
Guinea pigs are social animal and should never be housed singly. Animals can be kept in mixed sex pairs or single sex groups depending on whether breeding is required. Female groups can be quite large, but males are best kept in pairs after they reach 3 to 4 months of age, when they become more aggressive to each other. They will become highly aggressive if they can smell a female in oestrus, so groups of males should be housed so that they cannot smell females.
If there is genuine scientific justification for single housing, the animals should always be able to see, hear and smell other animals of the same sex.
Guinea pigs are herbivorous and require a good dietary source of Vitamin C. Deficiency can result in Scurvy, fur loss, dental disease, swollen painful joints and lethargy.
COMMERCIAL GUINEA PIG DIETS:
Guinea pig Mueslis: look like muesli and are popular with owners. Choose a reputable brand (some are excellent, others are poor). The main drawback is selective feeding by the Guinea pig. They must be a Guinea pig mix rather that rabbit mix as a rabbit mix does not meet the Vitamin C requirement of guinea pigs.
The most natural life for a guinea pig would be to run around loose in the garden, grazing the lawn, sampling a wide variety of plants and vegetables and stripping bark from trees. Although this would suit most guinea pigs nicely, this is not ideal for most owners.
So a compromise of daily access to the lawn or a run on the grass is ideal.
The grass plays an important role in the diet as is:
*High in fibre- at least 20% * Moderate Protein- 12-15% *Low fat, starch and sugar *Abrasive action for the teeth
Unlimited, good quality hay (Sweet smelling with minimal dust) is the Foundation of a healthy diet for your pet guinea pig. As well as meeting their basic nutritional requirements it has many other benefits.
Hay also helps keep guinea pigs busy for hours, reducing boredom and helping to prevent behavioural problems. Chewing hay strengthens teeth and Jaws, helping to wear down the constantly growing teeth. All of this whilst providing lots of long strand fibre to maintain healthy gut movement.
Vegetables should make up a large portion of the diet. A variety must be fed daily to ensure a balanced diet. Suggested vegetable include carrots, carrot tops, parsley, broccoli, dandelion greens, turnip greens, cabbage leaves, romaine lettuce, kale and spinach., Iceberg lettuce has almost no nutritional value so should be avoided. Rhubarb should also be avoided for toxic reasons.
If a guinea pig is used to eating mainly pellets, the change must be made gradually to allow the guinea pigs digestive system time to adjust. Only add one new vegetable to the diet at a time so if the guinea pig has diarrhea or other problems it will be possible to tell which vegetable is the culprit.
Should be given as a treat in small quantities as they can develop a preferential sweet tooth. The following are some of the fruits they like; Apple, Blueberries, Melon, Orange, Papaya, Peach, Pear, Pineapple, Plums, Raspberries, Strawberries and Banana.
SO WHAT TO FEED?
A combination of fresh and prepared is the best combination for ease and health of the guinea pig. As the complete commercial diets provide the animal with the nutritional requirement.
Hay helps with boredom and teeth wearing. Fruit and vegetables give a variety and treat, whilst also offering something else to explore and play with.
Guinea pigs must have access to fresh water at all times. Their average water consumption is 10ml/100g. Those eating a mix of fresh vegetables will not require as much as those on a drier diet. Guinea pig bottles are easier to keep clean for hutched guinea pigs but some may prefer to drink from a ceramic bowl.
Guinea pigs may be kept indoors or in outdoor caging. If left uncaged outdoors, care will need to be taken to protect them from predators (and also to protect your garden!) They are also particularly susceptible to the damp
A guinea pig cage has certain requirements:
- Sufficient size – high enough for the guinea pig to sit or stand up on its hindlegs, wide enough to allow it to sprawl out on its side. For the average sized guinea pig, the floor space should be at least 0.2m² per adult animal.
- A retreat area for sleeping, comfort and security with the entrance just large enough to give a burrow-like feeling as well as a few other hidey holes
- Easy to clean & disinfect
- An area of solid floor – too long a time spent on wire net/mesh floors can cause “sore hocks”
- Well ventilated
- Made of non-toxic materials
- Provided with “furniture” (boxes and platforms) and toys ( cardboard tubes, Paper piles for shredding, pine cones, untreated branches, ramps and platforms, plastic rattles as well as commercially available toys for guinea pigs)
Handling and Grooming
To pick up your Guinea pig use both hands. It is important to support the hind legs, which are very powerful. Violent kicking can result in fractures or dislocations of their backs, potentially leaving them paralysed.
It is important to groom your guinea pig often (daily for long fur breeds and weekly for short fur breeds) to prevent the formation of fur balls in their stomachs.
Signs of Illness
Diarrhoea, lack of appetite, discharge from the eyes or nose, swelling anywhere, lethargy, fur loss not associated with nest building, overlong teeth, excessive scratching, foul odours, lameness, weight loss, any changes in urination, defecation, or attitude. If you see any of these signs, call your veterinarian immediately.