For those pet lovers who have limited space, the guinea pig makes an ideal pet. Caring for your guinea pig is no different from caring for any other animal, in that they require love and attention, and some specialized looking after, that almost anyone is capable of providing. Guinea Pigs make fantastic pets for children. Also known as a “Cavy” (which comes from the scientific name Cavia Porcellus) they are social and very affectionate. Apart from a regular checkup with your local vet to catch any potential illness ahead of time, there is no reason for a Guinea Pig to be any more trouble than a cat or a dog.
Parasites can become a problem, but generally aside from lice and mites not many other bugs affect the furry little creatures. Caring for your guinea pig should be a loving activity. As they like to sleep in and under straw, hay, and other soft surroundings, new bedding can be a problem with mites and lice. Lice can be seen in some cases, and if they are present, they can cause intense itchiness for your little friend. Make sure to have some treatment on hand in case these nasties make their presence felt. Ask your vet for the best treatment.
Feeding your guinea pig, as they are neophobic, is dependent on what you feed them in the first few weeks of their life. They will take a fancy to whatever it is you feed them during this time, and that will tend to be their preferred diet for life. If only raising kids was the same! In the first few days of their life, feed them a good range of food, like grass, hay, fresh fruit and vegetables. Occasionally feed them pellets, but caring for your guinea means providing a good balanced diet, so don’t overdo the pellets.
Desexing your pet is a good idea if you don’t want them breeding. Of course if you only have one this is not a necessity, but it does encourage a calmer temperament and it also reduces the risks of some potentially nasty diseases in the future. If you have a male and female, they can start breeding at 6-8 weeks of age, but cannot be desexed until at least 5 months, so be careful during the early months. If you don’t want little babies running around, maybe keep the two separate until the time is right for desexing. If on the other hand you are okay with babies, then the mother should have her first litter prior to reaching 6 months of age. After this age problems can arise due to fusing of the pelvic bones.
Like their teeth, Guinea Pigs have ever growing nails. The nails should be clipped regularly.
Housing usually consists of a purpose made hutch. An indoor environment is best because of the risk of heat stroke in temperatures above 25 degrees Celsius. Around a quarter of a meter squared is suitable floor space for each Guinea Pig. Caring for your guinea pig involves providing them with enough space to feel comfortable in an environment that is relatively cool to warm and with shelter for those chill-out times. They are fairly timid creatures, and like to run and hide when the urge takes them.