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Like all domestic pets, guinea pigs rely on their owners to provide them with the five essentials things so they lead happy and healthy lives. Firstly, they need a comfortable and safe environment to live in. Secondly, they need company. Thirdly, guinea pigs have to be fed a good balanced diet. Fourthly, they need to be kept busy and entertained and lastly owners have to ensure that any health issues are dealt with as quickly as possible.
People often ask lots of questions about keeping pet guinea pigs and one question that pops up again and again, is how large should a hutch be for their pets. Below is a list of questions and answers about setting up a nice environment for a guinea pig to live in. Q: What size hutch is ideal for my guinea pig? A : Hutches need to be raised off the floor and they must be large enough for guinea pigs to run around in. The larger the hutch the better so you need to buy the biggest you can afford. Hutches also need to be waterproof Q: Should I add a run to my guinea pigs' hutch? A : Guinea pigs love to run around on grass so they can nibble on it. They really appreciate a run but you you must ensure it is in a well shaded and sheltered grassy area that's safe from any predators and this includes cats! If the weather is cold, the run should be set up indoors either in a shed or an empty garage and ideally the run needs to be attached to hutches so the guinea pigs can go in and out as they please. Q : What is the ideal size of a guinea pig run? A : Ideally the run should be big enough for pet guinea pigs to run around in so they get plenty of exercise. Q : Where is the ideal place to keep a guinea pigs' run and hutch? A : Guinea pig hutches need to be placed out of any direct sunlight and sheltered from any strong winds. During the colder winter months, guinea pigs need to be kept indoors either in a shed or an empty garage – never keep your pet in a garage that's used by a car, the exhaust fumes are deadly to guinea pigs. When kept indoors, guinea pigs need access to an area where they can run around otherwise they might get too fat or even obese. They can also suffer from a condition called osteoporosis which is a brittle bone disease. Q : Can I leave my guinea pig hutch outside in very hot weather? A : Guinea pigs are delicate little creatures that do not do well in extreme temperatures. If the weather is very hot, then you need to make sure you move the hutch and run to an area that's cooler where air circulates well but out of any draughts. Guinea pigs can suffer heat stress when temperature reach over 27°C. Q : What is the best bedding to use in guinea pig hutches? A : The best bedding to use in a guinea pig hutch is either clean wood shavings or shredded paper. On top of this you should place some clean soft straw or hay. Any bedding you use in a guinea pig hutch has to be dust-free. Q : When should I clean out the hutch? A : Ideally, guinea pig hutches need to be cleaned out every single day. You should take out all the shavings and any other wet or soiled bedding you find in the hutch. You need to take out any uneaten fresh food too. Water bowls or bottles need to be rinsed out and refilled with fresh, clean water. Once a week, you should take all the bedding out of the hutch and then give the hutch a thorough clean - and this includes all toys, water dishes and food bowls. When the hutch is dry, you can then put new bedding in it and let your guinea pigs back into their hutch but avoid putting them in if the hutch is wet or damp.
Guinea pigs love company, in fact they need it and if left on their own can get very depressed because they get lonely. Q : What is the best companion to keep with a guinea pig? A : Guinea pigs love the company of other guinea pigs but you have to make sure they are the same sex as this will reduce the chances of them fighting. It is never a good idea to keep males and females together because they will breed and it can be extremely hard finding good homes for the young they produce. Q : Can I keep a rabbit with my guinea pig? A : It is not a very good idea to keep rabbits and guinea pigs together because a rabbit may bully a guinea pig. Guinea pigs need to be kept with other guinea pigs and they need to be the same sex. Q : At what age are guinea pigs mature enough to breed? A : Males can breed when they are about nine weeks old and females can have babies even sooner than that, at around four weeks old. This is why it is not a good idea to keep females and males together because if you let them breed, you could end up with too many guinea pigs. Females can have anything from one to six babies in each litter.
If you go away on holiday, you have to organise things so that either a trusted friend, neighbour or relative takes care of your pet guinea pigs. You need to let them know your routine and then ask them to stick to it. You also need to make sure you leave enough food, hay and straw for your pets whilst you are away. You should also leave your contact details and your local vets telephone number, so if anything does go wrong, the person looking after your guinea pigs can get in touch with you and the vet as soon as they can.
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