Guest Post: The Many Ways Guinea Pigs Feel

Emotions are part of our everyday lives. We are sometimes happy, sometimes sad, or bored. Unless you’re a robot, you’re going to have emotions. Today I’m going to talk about guinea pigs and their emotions.

Stock photo, Wikimedia
Stock photo, Wikimedia

Boredom: Is your guinea pig starring at you? Watching your every move or wheeking as loudly as possible trying to get your attention? If your piggy is less active, chewing its fur off or biting on its cage, then your pig is bored and would like some toys or some of your loving attention. If your pig is alone, please interact with it as much as possible, or get it a fellow guinea pig if finances allow. Fun fact: It is actually illegal in Switzerland to only own one guinea pig due to the nature of these sociable animals.

Stock photo, Wikimedia
Stock photo, Wikimedia

Sadness: Unfortunately, guinea pigs do feel sadness. Normally, they’ll go into a corner of its cage or some form of hiding spot. A guinea pig will attempt to hide it’s sadness, which can prove difficult. Sometimes, a guinea pig will be sad because it is sick. If you suspect that this is the case, please take it to see an exotic veterinarian.

Stock photo, Wikimedia
Stock photo, Wikimedia

Fear: Being considered an entree strikes fear into the heart of a guinea pig. When a guinea pig is scared, it’ll freeze in place, show the whites of its eyes, or shiver. If your guinea pig shows fear, approach it cautiously, since it may begin to “chut-chut” as a sign that it may bite. Talk to it in a soft voice to try to make it feel better.

Stock photo, PXHere
Stock photo, PXHere

Anger: Whenever a guinea pig is angry, watch out! An angry guinea pig will chatter its teeth together quickly, making a “chut-chut” sound. Other guinea pigs know that this is a sign of anger and will tend to stay away. Also, angry guinea pigs may sometimes make themselves appear larger by puffing out their fur.

Stock photo, PixaBay
Stock photo, PixaBay

Happiness: When guinea pigs are happy, they tend to purr, kind of like a cat. They’ll also “pop-corn” by jumping straight up and then run around. Guinea pigs are usually happiest when their owner is petting them. When guinea pigs are relaxed and chilled out, they’re a state of happiness.

There you have it, the top 5 emotions of guinea pigs. They may be small, but their minds are anything but! Guinea pigs make great pets and remember, “Adopt don’t shop!”

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.

If you are a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you are interested, please post in the comments and we’ll be in touch.

Guest Post: A Guinea Pig Thanksgiving!

Just as I’m preparing the watermelon appetizers, Aunt Martha bursts in the door yelling, “You’re doing that all wrong!” Welcome to a guinea pig Thanksgiving–complete with drama, food, and all around family time.

Mom has prepared all the food. She is serving an extra special dish, a hay casserole in a hollow pumpkin. It took time to hollow out the pumpkin to get it just right. Mom spent three days on the hay casserole due to the order the ingredients were placed; some are a secret.

Just as she pulls the casserole out of the oven to cool, my brother flips the pigloo in a burst of boredom. It lands in the casserole, which splatters everywhere. Meanwhile, Grandma Petunia’s dentures fall out as she demands a squash martini with a kale twist.

Ding dong goes the doorbell! It’s Uncle Buddy. He’s brought his famous pumpkin pie in a pellet crust, but has forgotten to bring the whipped cream. As he turns around to head out to the store, Bobby Kitten, Eclipse, and Max zoom past. The pie becomes airborne. Dad happens to walk into the kitchen and catches it…… square in the face.

Pixabay, Stock Photo
Pixabay, Stock Photo

Luckily, the veggie platter was purchased at Piggly Wobbly Bottoms! I go to open the fridge to fetch it but the platter is gone! If we don’t have a veggie platter, Thanksgiving is ruined! The veggie platter is the “turkey” of a guinea pig’s Thanksgiving. Frantically, I run around the house trying to find the platter while Grandma Petunia continues to play with her dentures. I hear “munch, crunch, munch, crunch” coming from under the stairs, it’s Max and he’s eaten the entire veggie platter! His cute, furry cheeks are full of carrots, parsley, and cucumbers!

I look around in dismay. There’s pie, veggies, casserole, and dentures in various areas around the house. There’s also a house full of hungry family members ready to eat whatever they can find. Eclipse has figured out a way to climb up to the ceiling to lick the remnants of the hay casserole, while Aunt Martha criticizes Eclipse for standing on the cabinetry to reach the casserole. Grandma Petunia continues to use her dentures as entertainment, and Uncle Buddy is passed out in front of the TV while the football game continues on.

Ding, dong! It’s the doorbell again! Grandpa Rocco is here and he has the complete Thanksgiving guinea pig meal! Knowing our family well, he had a feeling that we’d need some help. We all sit down around the table and share what we are thankful for. Most of all, we’re thankful for another year of shenanigans and family. Happy Thanksgiving!

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.

If you are a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you are interested, please post in the comments and we’ll be in touch.

Guest Post: 10 Birthday Celebration Ideas For Guinea Pigs

Happy birthday to all guinea pigs celebrating turning another year older! If it’s your guinea pig’s birthday, throw a confetti shower of parsley over it and sing “Happy Birthday” to your little pal. Here are ten ideas to help you get started in planning a birthday party.

A birthday cake is a must! Purchase a red, green, orange or yellow pepper. Hollow it out by getting the excess seeds out of the inside and cutting the top off. Stuff the pepper with only guinea pig friendly fruits and veggies, then stick a baby carrot on top like you would a birthday candle. Credit for this idea goes to Percy’s Mom from Guinea Pig Cages.

Buy your guinea pig a present! It’s your guinea pig’s birthday, it must have a present. No present is too big or too small; your guinea pig will appreciate the present. If you’re on a tight budget, wrap a toy your guinea pig already has in newspaper or a paper bag; your guinea pig will be in awe over its “new” toy…. Munch munch, crunch, chutt, chutt…

Throw your guinea pig a birthday party! Invite all of your friends and family, along with your guinea pig’s friends to celebrate your guinea pig’s special day. Decorate your home and your guinea pig’s home with streamers, banners, and low hanging oranges for the guinea pigs to nibble on.

Fruity's Birthday, Photo by Allison
Fruity’s Birthday, Photo by Allison

Create a piñata! Fill the piñata with all kinds of fruits or veggies that are approved for guinea pig consumption. I suggest making the piñata from a tissue box or paper towel tube. Tie the piñata to the cage with string or just dangle it in front of the guinea pig crowd and watch those piggies go.

Every birthday party needs games! The human and guinea pig guests will have fun with pin the tail on the donkey, Timothy hay eating contests, and don’t forget cornhole! If your guinea pig and piggie guests want to play cornhole, make sure there’s a set of boards and that cornhole bags that are appropriately sized. If the human guests are not into eating Timothy hay, please provide them with carrots to gobble down in a hurry. 😉

Take home party favors! Make sure to fill a treat bag with fruits and veggies for both the human and guinea pig guests! Once the piñata is busted and the piggies have enjoyed their fill, make sure to send home the leftovers! Perhaps, for the humans, you could send them home with a slice of human friendly cake?

Provide a bounce house! Bounces houses are all the rage at children’s birthday parties. The guinea pig’s would love to practice their popcorning skills in the bounce house, while getting some major height. Please supervise your guinea pig(s) while in occupation of the bounce house.

Dog rides, instead of pony rides! I know a few dogs that would love to let a guinea pig or dozen ride on their backs! The dog would be equipped with a saddle and handles attached to the saddle, so the guinea pigs could hang on while the dog moves about. It’s each and every guinea pig’s choice if they want the dog to run and jump while giving rides.

Hire live entertainment! Humans and guinea pigs alike can shake their groove thang with the musical tunes of a live band. If you really want a happening time, hire a band that plays swing music–guaranteed to make your guests move. A magician is always a great idea at parties. The magician can make a strawberry appear out of nowhere and turn a car into a pumpkin! Most magicians will let the birthday piggie perform a magic trick for the party guests too.

Create a hay buffet with all of the flavors! Orchard grass, Timothy hay, and Bluegrass are few of the hay offerings you could present to the guinea pigs at the party. With all of that munching on hay, make sure there are plenty water dispensers. If you’re having a large party, I recommend getting large bales of hay for the guinea pigs to munch on. Don’t worry if you have leftover bales; just send them home with the guinea pig guests!

Once again, happy birthday to all of the guinea pigs celebrating their birthdays! I hope that you have the best birthday party, ever! If you’re looking for a pet guinea pig, please contact your local rescues to see if you can become a guinea pig parent. Wheek, wheek!

eclipseWritten 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.

If you are a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you are interested, please post in the comments and we’ll be in touch.

Ten Human Gizmos Guinea Pigs Enjoy!

I’m Hamlet, a short haired guinea pig who lives his life on the edge. While my mom is out of the apartment I like to see what kind of mischief I can get into. The dog helps me obtain human objects that we find oh so fascinating! Thank you, dog, for making this guinea pig’s life fun and adventurous!

The orange peel: Us guinea pigs love to use the orange peel for many things. An orange peel can constitute as a butt freshener, rocking chair, hammock, or parachute! I like to start my mornings off with a quick chomp of the orange. I use the peel to parachute over to the dog to ask her about all of the happenings in the human household.

Spoons: Spoons are just not for eating that gruel you humans call food! The dog will toss a spoon into my cage, so I can launch fruits and veggies to her mouth. The dog loves food–and I love launching delicious supplements into her dog belly. I prop the spoon against the hay buffet, place the desired fruit or veggie onto the spoon, and then jump on it to initiate the launch sequence.

Hairbrush: Oh, hairbrushes are awesome! I use my mom’s hairbrush as a back scratcher for that mid afternoon scratch. Sometimes the dog will use it to groom her fur, but I find this odd. I thought dogs liked being unkempt and stinky?

The sink: The dog will never join me in doing laps in the sink. I’m assuming it’s because she’s large or because she hates baths. When I know that mom is going to be gone for a while, I fill up the bathtub and practice my backstroke. The dog stands by with her stopwatch to time my laps. Some days I like to fill up the sink and use my rubber duckie float and just relax.

Toilet paper rolls: Who needs Lincoln Logs when you have toilet paper rolls? The dog and I are currently in the process of building a fortress out of toilet paper rolls, complete with a moat. When mom is away, we go into the laundry room and spin the toilet paper off of the roll by using the dog’s tail. Paper flies everywhere! The dog thought it’d be a great idea to use peanut butter to hold together the rolls, but then kept licking the peanut butter off of the rolls. We’ve now resorted to using the vanilla frosting that was supposed to be for mom’s birthday cake.

The kitchen table: The kitchen table makes a great stage for singing and being a big star! A couple of days a week, the dog opens the door so my guinea pig friends can come over to sing and dance! We pretend that we are on Guinea Pig Idol and the dog is the judge. The dog is very hard to impress. I don’t think she can understand what we are saying with our wheeking.

Pillows: Mom refuses to buy me a trampoline, and so I use the pillows on the bed and couch to achieve my gymnastic goals. I have the dog move the pillows into a square shape and then I begin my flips and flops. The dog acts as a spotter to make sure that I don’t fly into the wall or bounce into the garbage disposal.

Television: When the humans are not home, the dog and I switch on the television. Sometimes we watch Netflix, sometimes cartoons. The dog loves to watch cooking shows, but I like to watch documentaries.

The freezer: One thing I’ve always wanted to do is climb Mt. Everest! The dog opens the freezer for me, picks me up and places me into the cold abyss. I forge the mountains of pizza boxes to get to the ultimate prize, the glaciers! According to the dog, glaciers are the ice cubes that mom puts in her iced tea.

Pens and pencils: My dreams of being an Olympic champion in pole vaulting are getting closer each day,! The dog knocks the pens and pencils off of the desk with her big tail, so that I can practice my pole vaulting. I get my running start from the bathroom that connects to a hallway, which leads right to the bedroom. The bedroom contains the bed that I use for a soft and nice dismount. Yesterday, I was able to make it to the other side of the bed. Sigh, some days I don’t get to the bed because the dog has her big butt in the way as a hurdle.

In closing, life as a guinea pig is great! I have a great dog companion that does a lot of things for me and a human that takes care of me. If you are considering getting a guinea pig for a pet, remember adopt, don’t shop! Wheek!

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.

If you are a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you are interested, please post in the comments and we’ll be in touch.

Guest Post: Guinea Pig Bathroom Needs

While at the grocery store, I was approached by a guinea pig inquiring which toilet paper was easiest on the fanny.  The guinea pig had three of the most popular brands of toilet paper in his cart and couldn’t make up his mind on which to buy.  I was about to tell the guinea pig which brand to buy and then I woke up.  It was all a dream!

Bumblebee, photo by Allison
Bumblebee, photo by Allison

Did you know that a guinea pig eats its poop?  It’s called Coprophagy and it’s essential to a guinea pig’s diet, but that furry poop eating cutie pie also helps keep the cage clean by eating the poop.  I decided to do some research and found that Chewy.com has a litter pan for your rodent friends.  If you decide to get a litter pan for your guinea pig, make sure it’s one that will clip onto the cage, otherwise it will get flipped over with poo flying everywhere.  You could just fill it with either Carefresh bedding or newspaper.

If you are not going to have a designated potty area for your guinea pig, that’s fine.  Make sure that if you use bedding like Carefresh that you change the bedding out once or twice a week depending on how many guinea pigs you have and often they dazzle the cage landscape with their poops and potties.  When we used Carefresh bedding, we cleaned out sections throughout the week where the guinea pigs would go to the bathroom the most.  This type of bedding became very costly.  Upon switching to fleece bedding it was so much easier and cheaper to keep their cage clean.  We removed sections of the fleece that were dirty and replaced with clean fleece.  Using fleece was super easy, and to clean it, all you had to do wash and dry it.

Bumblebee, photo by Allison
Bumblebee, photo by Allison

Make sure that you line the bottom of the cage with newspaper or some kind of lining.  Having a lining on the bottom of the cage makes it so much easier to clean.  When we were using Carefresh bedding, we would just remove a section of the bedding along with the newspaper, clean that area, then replace the newspaper.  With the fleece bedding, we were able to remove the fleece that was soiled and usually did not have to replace the newspaper.  The fleece bedding was very absorbent and our guinea pigs loved the softness of the fabric.

Have you thought about making an outhouse for your guinea pig?  Some guinea pigs like a little bit of privacy when they take care of business, so why not give them the privacy they deserve?  We had box from Build A Bear that looked like a little house and it was made of cardboard, perfect for chewing and privacy.  Once or twice a day we would lift the cardboard house out of the cage to find piles of poop.  Our guinea pigs loved to hide and go to the bathroom in there quite a bit.  Perhaps your guinea pig(s) would like a secret place to use the bathroom?

eclipse

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.

If you are a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you are interested, please check out our Author Guidelines.

Guest Post: Adopt a Guinea Pig Month

max_roccoMarch is a time for spring, flowers, and guinea pigs! It’s also designated as “Adopt A Rescued Guinea Pig Celebration Month.” If you’ve done your research, bring your luck of the Irish to your local animal shelter and adopt a cute guinea pig. Remember, adopt don’t shop!

Most everyone knows that dogs and cats have adoption shelters and rescue groups, but did you know that there are guinea pig adoption shelters and rescue groups too? Until a few months ago, I didn’t realize that guinea pigs end up in shelters and that many of those shelters can’t keep guinea pigs and so they end up being euthanized immediately. This article will give you some resources to help you save a guinea pig.
Guinea Lynx

This is a great website for information on on guinea pigs, it’s like the guinea pig bible!  Jackie Smith-Burns wrote, “So You Want To Adopt A Guinea Pig.”  Here’s some helpful advice if you want a guinea pig from a rescue or a shelter:

  • What should you expect?
  • Why do they ask the questions they ask?
  • Why do they not allow me to breed my guinea pig?
  • Why do they charge adoption fees and not give them away?

Petfinder

This website reports that guinea pig purchases are often unplanned and not researched.  Before getting any kind of pet, please research the pet!  Some pet stores are required by law to provide care sheets with the purchase of each pet.  An average of 10,000 guinea pigs are listed on Petfinder yearly. Petfinder recommends adoptions for a few reasons:

  • You know what you are getting
  • The shelter or rescue group can help you can for your guinea pig
  • Some guinea pigs are spayed or neutered

Interested in adopting a guinea pig? Let’s talk guinea pig facts! Guinea pigs are adorable, but like every other pet you need to have a better reason to adopt that just they’re cute. Guinea pigs are living, breathing creatures that can’t be tossed away because they’re not wanted anymore. I can’t stress enough that guinea pigs require a lot of care and research on how to take care of them.

Time for the cold, hard guinea pig facts:

  • Guinea pigs live 4-8 years on average
  • Guinea pigs have a strict daily diet:
    • Fruits high in Vitamin C (some fruits are harmful to guinea pigs)
    • Vegetables (some vegetables are harmful to guinea pigs)
    • Timothy Hay
    • Guinea pig chow

Vet care for a guinea pig is a little different for guinea pigs. Guinea pigs are considered exotic animals and exotic animals need to be taken to a vet that has experience with exotic animals. Guinea Lynx recommends calling 5-10 vets who don’t practice on exotic animals to see what they would recommend for a guinea pig.  When you talk to these veterinarian offices, you should ask the following questions:

  • What antibiotic do you use on guinea pigs? (Penicillin based drugs are deadly to guinea pigs)
  • Have you used Critical Care or suggested it for your rodent patients?
  • Can Baytril be used on young guinea pigs?  (No, it’s not safe for young guinea pigs)
  • What types of foods do you feed a guinea pig on a daily basis?

According to Guinea Lynx, rabbit vets are also good for guinea pigs. Never assume that a vet is a equipped to take care of your guinea pig. Ask questions and go with your gut instinct. If you adopt a guinea pig from a rescue or shelter, they can help direct you to a specialty exotic vet. A good rule is, if you can’t afford vet care for a potential guinea pig or pet, please don’t get one, it’s unfair to the animal.

Many people don’t understand how much money and effort it takes to keep a pet.  Daily, animals of all types are surrendered to shelters or rescues because of various reasons.  Sometimes people get a pet with the best intentions of taking care of them and something out of their control happens, they are not able to care for or afford the pet anymore. Unfortunately, sometimes people get a pet and then decide they just don’t want it anymore, that’s unfair to the pet! Please think and research before getting a guinea pig or any kind of pet. They deserve it!

As a guinea pig owner, it was an interesting experience having them as pets.  Guinea pigs are loving, fur balls that make great pets.  Our guinea pigs had personalities that made us laugh most of the time, especially when Rocco would flip his pigloo out of his cage.  Max always was the “motor boater,” the head guinea pig, but was an affectionate cutie pie.  The best part about having guinea pigs as pets is the fact they are full of interesting noises, you have a cat, dog and bird wrapped up in one animal.  If you’re able to adopt or rescue a guinea pig, you’re in for a wonderful treat!

eclipse

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.

If you are a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you are interested, please post in the comments and we’ll be in touch.

Guest Post: Your Guinea Pig’s Grooming Needs

Have you taken your guinea pig to the barber or the beauty shop lately? The gossip that your guinea pig could engage in could be quite juicy, but would he or she get the proper grooming needs essential for their health? Instead of focusing on fancy hair and who’s having a litter of little piggies, let’s talk about important grooming needs.

Bumblebee, Photo by Allison
Bumblebee, Photo by Allison

To brush or not to brush your guinea pig, that IS the question. Daily brushing is advised for optimal guinea pig performance. Brushing helps reduce shedding and promotes cleanliness for your guinea pig and the cage. Longer-haired guinea pigs require daily brushing to keep their fur from becoming matted and nasty. For safe brushing, use a baby brush, the soft bristles are guinea pig friendly.

A guinea pig’s nails if left untrimmed will cause significant mobility problems. If a guinea pig’s nails are not trimmed, they will grow long enough to curl under their feet, producing pain in every step. We took our guinea pigs to the vet for nail trims, because we were afraid we would end up cutting the quick. The quick grows as the nail grows, therefore the longer the nails the easier it is cut the quick. A bigger challenge is having a guinea pig with dark nails, it’s much harder to see the quick. If the quick is cut, gently place your guinea pig’s nail directly into a bar of soap. If a guinea pig’s nails are trimmed once a month, the quick will not be as much of an issue. Please remember to keep your guinea pig’s nails trimmed and be careful if trimming them yourself.

Your guinea pig can develop skin problems such as mites and fungus, which if left untreated the guinea pig can become very ill. Keeping the cage clean will help prevent mites and fungus from appearing. Signs of mites on a guinea pig include scratching, biting, hair loss and even seizures. If you notice your guinea pig displaying these behaviors, get him to a proper vet immediately! Fungus in a guinea pig can be caused by factors such as environment, age, or even genetics. To prevent fungus from attacking your guinea pig, keep your guinea pig and its cage clean. If your guinea pig has any external parasites, have them removed and begin treatment right away.

Fruity, Photo by Allison
Fruity, Photo by Allison

Unlike a human, guinea pigs have teeth that keep growing. If not given proper ways to grind down their teeth a guinea pig will suffer terribly. A guinea pig with overgrown teeth cannot eat, therefore it will starve to death. Malocclusion in generic terms means the teeth are overgrown and are not worn down properly. In most cases, the front and back teeth are overgrown, some guinea pigs are predispositioned to malocclusion which needs to be treated soon as it’s noticed. Please provide plenty of materials such as wooden chew sticks from the pet store, toilet and paper towel tubes (please remove the paper), cardboard boxes and egg cartons.

For more information, check out GuineaLynx. It contains articles on fungus, mites, grooming, malocclusion, and nails. Petcha also has a good article on Common Guinea Pig Health Issues.

eclipseWritten 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.

If you are a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you are interested, please post in the comments and we’ll be in touch.

Guest Post: Top Ten Essentials for Guinea Pigs

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!

  1. 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.
  2. rocco_hayFood: 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.
  3. 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.
  4. rocco_cageClean 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!
  5. 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.
  6. rocco_toyToys: 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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).
  10. 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.

eclipseWritten 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.

If you are a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you are interested, please post in the comments and we’ll be in touch.

 

Guest Post: Building the Best Castle in Guinea Pig Kingdom

Guinea pigs love open space to run around in. They just want to be free piggies. As a guinea pig mom or dad, you have the power to see that your guinea pig has the best castle in the guinea pig kingdom.

nikki_guineapigcage

For one guinea pig a cage size of 30” x 36” is recommended and for two guinea pigs 30” x 50” is recommended. Keep in mind, these sizes are the bare minimum. From personal experience, I strongly suggest a larger cage. My husband and I built a cage out of three materials:

  • Coroplast: This material was used for the flooring in the cage. It’s corrugated plastic sheets that can be found at Amazon, Home Depot, or Lowe’s. I want to stress that guinea pigs need a smooth solid flooring. Flooring that’s not smooth and solid will hurt their feet, causing blisters and messed up toes.
  • Wire shelving: These were used to form the structure of the cage. We found these at Target a long time ago. My suggestion is to use google to find these.
  • Zip ties: These can be found at Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart, etc. The zip ties help bind the cage together.

The size of the cage we built was 13 feet long and 3 feet wide. It took up one side of our whole kitchen wall! At the time we built this cage, we had a very long table that we used as our kitchen table and decided for our boys, we would use the table for their cage. When the cage was first built we used bedding from the store, that proved too expensive, so we switched to lining the cage with towels. Towels were able to be swapped out as needed and the boys were happier. (They sneezed a lot from the bedding previously.) To make your own guinea pig castle, here’s a video to get you started:

Now that the guinea pig fortress is complete, let us move on to decorating and renovating fortress guinea pig. Your guinea pig(s), like humans, need to customize their dwelling. May I suggest starting with a hay buffet, food dish, water bottle, and a shelter that they can carry out their plans for world domination in?

Our guinea pigs had us wrapped around their little paws, so their cage was filled with the basics, but also with two cuddly cups, two pigloos, two water bottles and tons of toys. I do suggest that you get some toys for your pig(s), especially something for them to chew on. Our boys had plenty of luxuries. Rocco (my spunky boy) would take his head and flip the pigloo out of the cage for attention purposes. Please remember that toys cannot take the place of the human servant for your pig(s).

Let us talk about renovations! Our boys loved when we would change things around in their cage, popcorning and wheeking ensued. We would move their pigloos around for them and without fail every time they would move them to where they wanted them. In my opinion, cleaning out their cage would count as renovations. Our boys loved a fresh and clean cage, but also liked to stink it up as fast as possible. Before stinking up their clean cage, they would run around, knock over the pigloos and then potty on the bedding. Some guinea pigs may not like renovations in their home, so move the belongings carefully!

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.

eclipseIf you are a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you are interested, please post in the comments and we’ll be in touch.

Guest Post: Essential Foods for Your Guinea Pig

You’ve just purchased your guinea pig and when you bring he or she home, it starts to “wheek” and “chirp”. It’s hungry!  You go through your cabinets and offer it a Pop­Tart, popcorn, even chips, but it refuses to eat, a problem is brewing. Guinea pigs need essential foods for their survival and some foods just don’t cut it. Please put your guinea pig in its cage and go to the store, right away!

max_rocco Once you’re at the store, head to the produce area and get some leafy green veggies for your guinea pig. Guinea pigs thrive on leafy greens. Some leafy green veggies are high in Vitamin C, which your guinea pig needs on a daily basis in order for its survival. Lettuce is a great option. Do not buy iceberg though, because it lacks nutrients. I also recommend parsley and green peppers. Make sure to not let them have the seeds from green peppers as they can choke on them. Always, wash your veggies before you give them to your guinea pig.

Next head over to the fruit section! Guinea pigs need a daily dose of vitamin C. Without it, they’ll develop scurvy. So pick up some apples and oranges. These are a significant Vitamin C boost! Please use sparingly though because excess fruit consumption can possibly cause diabetes. You might also consider a vitamin C supplement.

Once you are done at the grocery store, head to the pet store. The pet store has your Timothy Hay and chow that your little guinea pig demands. Timothy Hay provides the fiber that’s essential to your guinea pig’s digestion and helps keep their teeth from growing too much. Guinea pigs love to eat, play, poop, and nest in Timothy Hay. Provide tons of this hay on an unlimited basis. When we had our guinea pigs, we purchased a hay buffet than was attached to their cage, so they could stretch and move around to get it. They would tear all of the hay out and do whatever they wanted with it.

For the chow, I recommend Kaytee brand guinea pig chow. However, there are conflicting ideas on guinea pig chow. Some people say that the guinea pig chow should contain no seeds or colorful cereals and some people say that it’s okay. Our guinea pigs did quite well with the Kaytee brand guinea pig chow, but you may choose what works for your guinea pig the best. I do recommend that when selecting a guinea pig chow, make sure it has a good Vitamin C content and store in a cool, dark, and dry place.

Are you home with all of your supplies? Get to the kitchen and chop some green peppers. Remember to wash them! While you distract your guinea pig with the green peppers, pour some guinea pig chow into a small animal sized pet dish, and place it in its cage.

Did you notice that I forgot a crucial piece of information in this article? Please make sure your guinea pig has an unlimited supply of water, day and night! Now that your guinea pig is all settled in, kick back and watch your little guinea pig adjust to its new home.

eclipseWritten 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.

If you are a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you are interested, please post in the comments and we’ll be in touch.