Shopping List –
- Bedding – Animal Dreams Dust Extracted Shavings or Back 2 Nature Dust Extracted bedding
- Food – Harringtons Optimum Guinea Pig Food, Burgess Excel Feeding Hay
- Cleaning – Johnsons Small Animal Disinfectant
- Housing – Outdoor, Lazy Bones Rabbit Hutch with Double Run. Indoor, Lazy Bones Indoor Cage & Hay Rack 118cm.
- Toys – Ancol Just4Pets Treat Ball, Boredom Breakers
Keeping your guinea pigs clean
Regularly clean out your guinea pigs to make sure their home is healthy and hygienic.
- Get rid of any wet or dirty wood shavings and bedding.
• Throw away any uneaten fresh food so it doesn’t go mouldy.
• Wash the food and water containers before refilling them.
Clean the hutch/ cage more thoroughly once a week to keep it hygienic
Is your home and garden safe for guinea pigs?
There can be hazards around our home that spell trouble for curious pets. Give your home and garden a quick guinea pig safety check and look out for:
• Potential predators. Check your guinea pigs’ hutch and exercise run is escape-proof and secure from prowling predators like foxes and cats.
• Electric cables. Keep your guinea pigs well away from any electric cables – they might chew through them and get a shock.
• Poisonous plants. Some common garden plants – like poppies, tulips and daffodils – are toxic to guinea pigs and other pets. If in doubt, keep your guinea pigs away from flower beds so they can’t nibble anything that might harm them.
• Herbicides and pesticides. These garden chemicals are poisonous to pets. Keep your guinea pigs well away from any areas that have been treated with them.
What to do in summer and winter?
Summer heat or stormy winter days can be a danger to your guinea pigs. You’ll need to make sure they’ve got suitable shelter:
• Guinea pigs are sensitive to hot weather and can get stressed if they temperature goes above 27°C. In hot weather, move the hutch into a shady area and make sure your pigs have some shade in their run.
• Protect your guinea pigs from cold winter weather by bringing them indoors. You could also keep them in a warm shed or car-free garage. Give them extra bedding when the weather gets really cold. They’ll need a large indoor exercise area, or they could develop brittle bone disease from not being active enough.
A daily health checks
By watching your guinea pigs’ behaviour each day, you’ll quickly learn what’s normal for them. This will make it easier for you to spot any signs that they’re unwell.
Visit your vet straight away if you see any of these signs:
• Big weight loss or weight gain over a short time
• Not eating
• Drinking much more or less than normal
• Lack of energy/sleeping more than usual
• Unusual swellings or lumps and bumps
• Skin conditions
• Unusual bleeding
• Signs of pain, like not wanting to be touched
• Runny eyes or nose
• Overgrown teeth
• A change in their usual behaviour, as this could be because they’re feeling poorly.
Looking after your guinea pigs’ teeth
Your guinea pigs’ teeth will keep growing throughout their life. They need plenty of things to chew as this helps wear down their teeth and stops them getting overgrown. You can help keep their teeth in good shape by:
• Giving them a constant supply of hay. It’s a really important part of their diet and helps keep their teeth in good condition.
• Give them gnawing blocks and plenty of things to chew on.
• Avoid sugary treats like ‘honey sticks’.
If your guinea pig’s teeth do get overgrown, your vet will be able to help.
Stopping your guinea pigs from getting bored
Boredom can cause health problems for guinea pigs. If they don’t have enough to do, they might overeat and put on weight. You can keep them occupied with the right enclosure and lots of things to explore and play with:
- Cardboard boxes and untreated logsgive your guinea pigs things to explore and hide in.
• You can also buy toys instore.
• Guinea pigs can get scared easily so give them large tubs, pots and tunnels where they can hide.
• Keep some toys stored away and swap them around regularly – this will stop your guinea pigs getting fed up of the same old toys and gives you a chance to clean them.
• Let them search out their food. Scatter food around their enclosure and hide it in boxes and tubs. They’ll have loads of fun sniffing it out.
Your guinea pig’s diet
Guinea pigs are herbivores – meaning they only eat plants. Their ideal diet will include:
- Aconstant supply of good quality feeding hay or grass. This should make up at least 80% of their food – it’s really important for their teeth and their digestive system. You can buy feeding hay instore.
• A teacup sized amount of fresh greens per day. Fresh greens are a great source of vitamin C which is important for your pigs. Try to give your guinea pigs a different mix of fresh veg each day.
• Introduce new foods to your guinea pigs slowly over a week – any sudden changes to their diet could upset their stomachs.
Safe fruit and veg for guinea pigs
Fresh greens like broccoli, cabbage or spinach are great things to feed and carrots make a satisfying occasional treat. However, not all fruit and veg is safe for your guinea pigs. Don’t feed potatoes, tomato leaves or rhubarb to your pigs.
Make feeding fun
Making feeding more exciting is a great way of keeping your guinea pigs active and happy. In the wild, they’d spend a lot of their day grazing and searching for food. You can replicate this for your pet guinea pigs by hiding food around their enclosure for them to sniff out.
You could give them:
• Hay balls or hay tunnels to chew on and hide in.
• Gnawing toys or treat kebabs.
• Paper bags filled with hay – they love working out how to get through the bag to eat the hay.
• Scattering treats and food in their hay for them to sniff out.
Do guinea pigs need vitamin C?
Like humans, guinea pigs can’t make their own vitamin C. They need to get it from their food. Leafy greens and fresh veg are also a great source of vitamin C, especially:
- Salad peppers
• Tomatoes (the fruit but not the leaves)
You can also add a vitamin C supplement to your guinea pigs’ drinking water. It means they’ll definitely get enough of the vitamin but if they take in too much it’ll harmlessly pass in their wee. You can acquire these instore
My guinea pig is eating its poo – is this normal?
Don’t worry if you spot your guinea pig eating their poo it is normal. In fact, it’s really important for their health and digestion. Guinea pigs produce two types of poo:
- A shiny, smell pellet called ‘caecotrophs’. This is the kind they eat, often straight from their bottom. This means they get the full goodness out of their high-fibre food.
- A hard-dry pellet. They don’t eat this kind of poo and it can be cleaned up and thrown away.