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Is a Guinea Pig Right for Me

Is a Guinea Pig Right for Me 1

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The guinea pig is one of the new popular pets. Every year, many households fall in love with this adorable furball! It’s hard not to melt in front of the cute face of this little rodent. But are you truly ready to adopt a guinea pig? In this article, we will discover all the characteristics of this somewhat mysterious animal…

Summary

  • Who is the guinea pig?
  • Adopting a guinea pig under the best conditions
  • Choosing the right cage for your guinea pig
  • What do guinea pigs eat?
  • How to play with your guinea pig?
  • How long do guinea pigs live?
  • Should you adopt one or more guinea pigs?

Who is the guinea pig?

The guinea pig, also known as the cavy, is a rodent belonging to the family Caviidae. This funny little animal was first discovered in South America, in rocky areas, some time after Christopher Columbus’ arrival.

Throughout history and different cultures, guinea pigs have been used by humans in various ways. They were sometimes raised for their meat thousands of years ago in Peru and are now one of the favorite pets of Western inhabitants.

Currently, there are different species of guinea pigs. You can find long-haired and short-haired guinea pigs. Despite their small aesthetic differences, all guinea pigs have continuously growing teeth, small claws, and big round eyes.

They usually weigh between 900 grams and 1.5 kilograms as adults. You will undoubtedly be surprised by their way of expressing themselves. Guinea pigs make adorable high-pitched sounds to communicate with you.

Is a Guinea Pig Right for Me

Adopting a guinea pig under the best conditions

Choosing the right cage for your guinea pig

A guinea pig needs to roam freely for several hours a day. However, when you’re not around, it should stay in its cage. Therefore, it’s important to choose a comfortable habitat where it feels completely safe.

The larger the cage, the more your pet can thrive. Ideally, opt for the largest cage possible. There are even large houses made specifically for guinea pigs. This option is interesting if you have enough space. In any case, your guinea pig’s cage should measure at least 1 meter long by 1 meter wide.

Guinea pigs may tend to chew on the bars of their cage, so it’s important to avoid choosing materials or paints that are toxic. Metal cages are recommended as they are both sturdy and safe. Avoid wooden cages or aquariums that don’t allow enough airflow.

Unlike many other rodents, guinea pigs don’t particularly enjoy climbing. They may even be afraid of heights. Therefore, it’s preferable to choose a cage without levels and with a large surface area on the ground. However, it’s ideal to place the cage at a higher level so that your little companion can have a view of the entire room.

Being timid and fearful by nature, guinea pigs absolutely need a place to hide. It’s recommended to buy a small wooden hut where they can take refuge if needed. This will allow them to observe the environment while feeling protected.

You can also choose various fun accessories such as tunnels and chew toys. Guinea pigs are curious animals that enjoy discovering new things regularly.

Is a Guinea Pig Right for Me

What do guinea pigs eat?

Guinea pigs are herbivores. They primarily feed on plants. They will undoubtedly enjoy a wide range of fruits and vegetables. You can give them eggplant, broccoli, cucumber, carrot tops, arugula, tomato, willow leaves, banana, apricot, strawberry, pineapple, or even clementine on a daily basis. Don’t hesitate to vary their diet!

It’s particularly important to provide them with foods rich in vitamin C. Just like humans, guinea pigs cannot synthesize it, so it needs to be present in sufficient quantities in their diet. Otherwise, you will need to consider supplementation.

Your little companion should also have access to quality hay at all times. Hay is essential for their digestive well-being and is one of the staple foods for guinea pigs. However, be cautious with farm hay as it may contain certain bacteria…

It’s also best to avoid commercial pellets that can damage the animal’s teeth. Guinea pigs cannot be solely fed with these store-bought pellets. They need fresh food above all. Some products can also be poorly digested at best and toxic at worst. For example, dairy products, alcohol, coffee, meat, or certain plants like acacia, aralia, or white garlic should be avoided.

How to play with your guinea pig?

Guinea pigs are timid animals. They need time to adapt to a new environment. It’s perfectly normal for them not to come out of their hiding spot during the first few days. You’ll need to be patient and gentle to approach them.

During the first 3 days, do not attempt to touch the animal. Let it settle in calmly. The cage should be placed in a quiet location. When you enter, avoid sudden movements.

Afterwards, you can start opening the cage at regular times every day and place your hand inside. This will allow the animal to become familiar with your scent. You can also leave a cloth that belongs to you in the cage.

Gradually, you can offer them a treat. It’s not certain that your little companion will dare to come and get it right away. However, with time, it will eventually come to eat from your hand. Once this step is achieved, you can try to pick them up and let them roam the house under supervision.

Keep in mind that a tamed guinea pig is a very sociable and affectionate animal. It will enthusiastically greet you with loud cries of joy as soon as you enter the room. It will also enjoy being petted and exploring the surroundings.

How long do guinea pigs live?

It is said that the lifespan of a guinea pig ranges from 3 to 8 years. While some rare guinea pigs can live up to 9 years, most live an average of 5 or 6 years. Genetics play a part in the lifespan of your guinea pig, but lifestyle also plays a major role. A guinea pig that lives in a suitable environment with a healthy diet has a much better chance of living longer…

Regardless, it’s important to understand that adopting a guinea pig is a serious commitment for several years. Adopting an animal, no matter how small, is not a trivial act. You become fully responsible for its well-being. It’s important to carefully consider it.

Unfortunately, some guinea pigs may face health issues. These problems can sometimes cause premature death. Among the most common health issues in guinea pigs are respiratory infections, vitamin C deficiency, digestive problems, diabetes, urinary tract diseases, and tumors.

Should you adopt one or more guinea pigs?

In nature, guinea pigs are social animals. Used to living in groups, they can quickly get bored when alone and even develop behavioral issues. Therefore, it’s always preferable to adopt two guinea pigs instead of one.

Ideally, two females are recommended. Females generally get along without difficulty. However, two males may enter into conflicts.

Be aware that if you choose a male and a female, the male must be neutered. Guinea pigs reproduce extremely rapidly. Not only can you be overwhelmed by litters, but the female may also die from exhaustion due to repeated pregnancies.

mahatma gandhi portrait

- Mahatma Gandhi

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

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