Guinea pigs are endearing little creatures that make superb children's pets and if well cared for can live anything up to 9 years or sometimes even longer. However, the average lifespan of a cavy is between 5 to 7 years. If you are new to keeping guinea pigs, you need to think about it carefully, because it is a long-term commitment although a very worthwhile and enjoyable one.
Your new pet will depend on you for everything and this includes giving them the right type of food, fresh clean water and companionship. You also need to make sure your cavy is taken to the vet regularly so they can be examined to make sure they are nice, healthy and happy.
Guinea pigs needs to be fed a good quality, well-balanced diet which includes lots of top quality hay, specifically formulated pellets and some good quality vegetables. Cavies are vegetarian which means they need to get all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients they need to stay healthy from the grasses, weeds, hay and pellets they are given in their diets.
They need to have a constant supply of Vitamin C, calcium and phosphorus as well as other valuable nutrients which means you need to ensure all of these are present in their diets.
You would need to invest in the largest cage your budget allows for because the bigger the space, the less chance your pet will have of getting too bored. You also need to ensure you buy top quality bedding for your pet and you should clean out their cages on a daily basis and every month, you should give is a good once over, making sure you use guinea pig friendly disinfectants when you do.
What About Your Pet's Health?
There are four things you need to do to make sure your guinea pig stays happy and healthy which are as follows:
Weight watching – you need to weigh your pet when you first get them and then weigh them every week to make sure they have not put on too much weight or lost any either
Careful and regular handling – you need to learn how to pick up and handle your cavy so they get used to you doing this. The more you interact with them the stronger the bond you'll form with them
Exercise, both mental and physical – you need to ensure your pet gets enough exercise and this includes mental stimulation as well as physical!
The importance of quarantining a new cavy – if you already have a guinea pig and are getting another one to keep them company, remember you must quarantine the newcomer to ensure they don't pass on any illnesses or diseases to your existing pet
You need to do your research on how often to shampoo your pet and how often you need to check their grease gland. The other thing you need to regularly do is trim their nails because they do grow quite fast and need to be cut back when necessary. If you are at all unsure, you should take your cavy to the vet and either a veterinary nurse or the vet would be able to do this for you.
If you are thinking about getting two guinea pigs, it's crucial you get same sex cavies otherwise they will mate and you could end up with babies which is something you need to avoid at all costs because unless you are a breeder, this is never recommended. Remember, females are sexually mature at around 4 weeks old!
You need to take your time when getting to know your new pet and never force them to do anything that might frighten them. It's a very good idea to do your research on guinea pig behaviour so if there's anything wrong, or your pet is frightened, you will pick up on it sooner rather than later.
You need to spend as much time as you can with your new cavy because they love interacting and playing with people and it prevents boredom setting in. Guinea pigs are social creatures and do enjoy the companionship of another cavy, but you have to be sure they get along before leaving them on their own just in case they start fighting and injure each other.
Owning guinea pigs is a long-term commitment so you have to be prepared to take care and spend time with your pet for years to come. Cavies are adorable companions that keep owners amused for hours which makes all the care and attention you give them so very worthwhile and enjoyable.
If you are thinking about getting a guinea pig as a pet, you need to make sure you have the time to take care of them and that you will be able to spend as much time as you can with them. It would be very unfair to leave a pet cavy in their cages for long periods of time because they are very social little creature that enjoy interacting with people and others of their kind. You might like to consider getting two cavies so they keep each other company when you are not around. You also need to invest in the largest cage your budget would allow for because the more room your pets have to run around, the happier they would be.