Your pet guinea pig deserves all the best that you can provide for him or her. If you’re a new guinea pig parent, this top ten list may be beneficial for you and lead you to the path of guinea pig parenting greatness!
- Education: No worries, a PhD is not required take care of a guinea pig. Still, before you purchase your guinea pig, study up on what they need and the amount of dedication it takes on your part to care for a guinea pig. I can’t encourage you enough to look at care guides and internet resources and to ask questions before you purchase a guinea pig.
- Food: Please remember to feed your guinea pig. Your guinea pig needs food specially formulated for them, along with fruits and vegetables. We gave our boys fruits and vegetables in the morning and at night. I encourage you to keep the food dish full and replace with fresh food daily.
- Adequate Housing: Every guinea pig deserves a nice cage that he or she can call home. Your guinea pig needs toys, a place to be alone (pigloo or similar structure), chewing apparatuses and comfortable bedding. Please make sure that your guinea pig’s flooring on the bottom of its cage is a flat, solid surface.
- Clean and Sanitary Cage: Please clean your guinea pig’s cage on a regular basis! Daily, you must clean the bedding, check the food for poop and other nasties, provide fresh water by emptying out the water bottle and cleaning it out with a bottle brush, and replacing hay that’s gotten gross when on the cage floor. Bottom line, keep that guinea pig cage clean!
- Attention: Okay, human servants, your guinea pig(s) needs attention from you. Yes, you! Guinea pigs as pets rely on their human servants not only for food, but also for companionship and love. Please, scoop your guinea pig(s) out of its cage regularly and hug them. Once or twice a day we would take our guinea pigs out of their cage to run around our apartment while playing with them. Giving your guinea pig(s) attention will let them know they’re part of the family.
- Toys: Every guinea pig should have toys, but a guinea pig should never have an exercise ball as toy. Please DO NOT put your guinea pig in an exercise ball, they are made for rats, mice and smaller rodents! The exercise ball can damage a guinea pig’s spine and guinea pigs are not made for those balls. Head to your local pet store for chewing toys. Our boys liked to play and chew toilet and paper towel tubes; apparently, they’re good for guinea pig jousting.
- Playtime Out of Cage: Like any other pet, guinea pigs need time to run and play. Scoop up your guinea pig(s) and let them run around in an enclosed room. With this freedom comes great responsibility. Please make sure there are no hazards such as cords, wires, open doors, open windows, etc. While your pig(s) are out, please watch them carefully. You may purchase a playpen if you wish, but do what works for you.
- Social Skills: Guinea pigs need social interaction as they are naturally social animals. Guinea pigs live together in their natural habitats in large groups in which they thrive on the company of their group. A non-social guinea pig is an unhappy guinea pig. I recommend having two guinea pigs, but if you can’t, please interact with your guinea pig as much as possible. Treat your guinea pig(s) like a human; after all, they’re part of the family. Guinea pigs enjoy their caretakers talking with them, cuddling them and just letting them know they’re loved. Remember, a social guinea pig is a well-rounded guinea pig.
- Pet Carrier: To transport your guinea pig(s) outside of the home, your guinea pig(s) require a pet carrier. We bought our boys a carrier for trips to the vet and travels to the beach to visit family. We fit our two boys in there, but I would go with no more than two guinea pigs per carrier. Be sure to put a towel or blanket in there for a comfy travelling experience for your guinea pig(s).
- Vet Care: Like a dog or cat, guinea pigs need vet care. Guinea pigs have different veterinary needs from a cat or dog and should be taken to an exotic vet if possible. An exotic vet is more equipped to care for your guinea pig(s), more so than a regular vet. I’m not trying to say that a regular vet will not try to help your guinea pig(s); it may just be more difficult. We took our boys to a regular vet for nail trims but, when Rocco got sick, he was taken to an exotic vet. With treatment, he lived a year longer.
Written by Nikki Harbeston, Creative Stuff, for LAA Pet Talk. She resides in South Carolina with her husband and dog. Her blog features Diary of a Chubby Piggie and Into the Journey of Dog. Copyright August 2013-March 2014.
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