Everything you need to know

Daily: Feed, check for signs of ill health and treat if needed, change water

Weekly: Handle, groom, clean out atleast twice, change toys/stimulation, check claws and clip if needed

Monthly: Check teeth, wash bowls and clean water bottle

Yearly: Check cage for loose bars etc. Treat for mites
Girl or boy...? Pair or group?
Well, personal preference really. Girls get on with less fights, and usually get on with piggies they don't know, so are easy to find friends if one dies. Males fight more, and usually get along best in pairs of brothers.

Guinea pigs MUST be kept in atleast pairs, as they're social animals and will pine away without company, even with everyday human attention. But, some piggies just don't get on in pairs.
With a rabbit..?
NEVER house a guinea pig with a rabbit! Guinea pigs need to talk to other guinea pigs, not rabbits! Often, guinea pigs are just bought as friends to 'play with' for a rabbit.

1) They have completely different diets. Guinea pigs don't make their own vit. c, and rabbits do, etc etc...

2) The guinea pig will be lonely- a rabbit is not company it can talk to.

3) The rabbit may look smaller than the guinea pig at the moment, but already it is so much stronger. A rabbit could easily kill a guinea pig by accident.

4) they may seem to be getting on, but what a rabbit sees as 'play' could potentially kill a guinea pig. :(

We once had a lady come to the door whilst the guinea pigs were in the run and tell us that she had once made the mistake of housing a guinea pig and rabbit together. One night, she went to feed them and found the guinea pig unmoving but breathing. Rushing to the vets, an x-ray revealed every bone in the guinea pigs body broken, and the guinea pig was put to sleep. So, thats why you shouldn't house a rabbit and guinea pig together!
Life span
With the right care, they have the capibility to live up to 9, though average is about 3 or 4. Its like saying humans can live up to 100, but most only reach about 80. The oldest guinea pig was 14 years and 10.5 months!

Inside piggies generally reach older ages because they're kept warmer, and it's easy to spot any health problems quickly.

Old piggies need to be kept warm, happy, clean and quiet.
Cages sold in petshops are often very small. C&C cages are cheap, and easy to built and clean out. They're squares of mesh that you can built to the shape you want, and are easy to make HUGE. Choroplast or laminate should be used as the floor, and no cage top is needed unless you have a dog or a cat. A downside is that they're very hard to source! If a C&C cage isn't an option, just shop around for the biggest cage you can find. Bear in mind that they aren't agile creatures, so cages with tubes and multiple layers are more often than not a waste of money. Indoor cages are very easy to clean. C&C cages cost about £30 to build a good sized cage, and a suitible sized shop bought cage is roughly £70, but even with the largest cage you can find, guinea pigs should be allowed to freely roam the room atleast weekly.

For bedding, you should use either hay, carefresh, or some kind of fleece material. Wood shavings aren't a suitable bedding because they've been linked to respiratory conditions.
Stuff you've got to have!
Every cage or hutch needs atleast two bowls- One for dry, pellet food (fill this bowl right up), and the other for treats and veg. You'll also need a water bottle (replace the water every day, even if they haven't drunk it all) to attach to the mesh, and some kind of stimulation to stop them dying of boredom! Hidey holes aren't perfect in hutches as they take up quite a lot of spcae, so leave them out unless you've got a big enough hutch. Loo rolls, mineral licks, tubes and chewtoys will all keep your piggies entertained, but remember that like humans, each guinea pig has its own favourites!

Just imagine yourself in your guinea pigs place. Would you be happy and stimulated?
Stimulation and claws
Guinea pigs need excersise (though not as much as other rodents) and stimulation, as do all pets. They should be allowed out in a large run on sunny days, with a hidey-hole to make them feel safe and secure, with a waterbottle. If your piggies an indoor piggie, then floor time is often fun. Cover up power cables and just let your guinea pigs run around and explore. This excersise should keep their claws short, but indoor piggies tend to suffer from overgrown claws. Use nail clippers, as specially designed rodent SCISSORS twist the nail and can be very painful. If you are unsure on ho to clip nails, you could always ask a vet to do it for you, or
look at this website. Guinea pigs will also need a toy, or hidey hole, to make their hutch or cage complete. Loo rolls, cardboard boxes, flower pots, salt/mineral licks, rodent treat balls, tubes and any other toy designed for rodents are fine. DO NOT give a guinea pig a running wheel as their spines aren't flexible enough and they can often become paralysed, so the same with running balls aswell.
Guinea pigs should be fed every day roughly 80g (depends on the brand of guinea pig food) of pellet food (such as Gerty guinea pig, Burgess or WAGG) per guinea pig, and an unlimited supply of hay (which is ESSENTIAL for their diet). I like to give guinea pigs dry food that has variety, as the pellet type is very dull. Guinea pigs will eat their food if they're happy and you're giving the right amount. They should also be given fresh water and fruit and veg (about a cupful per piggie) everyday. Pretty much any fruit or veg can be given to a guinea pig so long as its not potato, beans, spinach, or lettuce (romanian lettuce is fine). Brocoli and califlour leaves are also fine, aswell as the stalk. Their diets can also be supplimented with treats such as natures salad or guinea pig gronola bars.

To keep a guinea pig entertained, when you clean out its home, bury some veg and fruit in the bedding and have them rooting around for hours! you could also mix fresh grass in with the hay for a special dinner.

A guinea pig should weigh roughly 1000g, but 800-1400g is normal- any less or more and you'll have to fatten or put your piggie on a diet. We've had several adult guinea pigs come in at 400g, which is serious cause for concern. It's hard to put weight on a guinea pig thats never had weight on it in the first place.
Weight is a good indication as to your guinea pigs health. Weigh weekly to see if your piggy has lost weight, as this could be caused by severe illness.

Guinea pigs are prey animals, so naturally skittish. If you make a grab for it it will get pretty scared! If you want to pick up your guinea pig, get it used to being touched first, and slowly get it used to hands under its belly. Once its fine with that, you can pick it up. Wrap it in a towel to prevent your hands and wrists getting scratched, to make light work of clearing up 'accidents', and put it on your lap. They generally enjoy being stroked, but theres always exceptions to the rule. (ie. Herbie!)

To pick up a guinea pig, put one hand on its back to stop it struggling, and slide the other under its belly, and poke one finger inder its chin so its front paws are either side of your fingers. Guinea pigs never bite, only wiggle, and when they do wiggle, your in danger of being scrathed! Holding your piggie regularly will teach it that its no good wiggling.
A guinea pigs weight is a key way to check on your guinea pigs health, and should be monitered closely. Heres how to weigh a piggie...

1) Get some scales, digital is much more precise, and set it to grams.

2) Add a suitable guinea pig sized box, and add some distractions (parsely, grass, etc) Add the box to the scales and reset so that the weight of the box isn't added to the weight of the guinea pig.

3) Add a guinea pig! Make sure the guinea pig is settled happily in the box before you set it on the scales, because if it wiggles too much the box will fall.

How much should my guinea pig weigh?

Mature males (1-4years) 900-1400 grams

Older males (4+) 700+

Mature females (1-4years) 800-1400 grams

Older females (4+) 700+

Pregnant females Should put on about 200 grams

Anything above 1450 grams- diet your guinea pig!!

Anything below 650 grams, take your guinea pig to a vet IMMEDIATLEY.
Guinea pigs can be prone to certain things, like mites. Heres what to do! (alphabetical!)

Abcesses- Hard lump on your guinea pig, most commonly on the rump. These grow very large very quickly, and operating is vital because if it bursts, it will most likely become infected. Not to be mistaken for a cyst.

Bladder/kidney stones- Symptoms are squeaking when toileting, sometimes a lump can be felt in the urethra. An ex-ray will also reveal these calcium deposits. Surgery isn't essential. If your piggie is old, then best let it be, and get some painkillers from the vets. Remove carrots, seeds and artificial colours (like in 'gerty guinea pig feed')and all mineral or salt licks from your piggies cage and diet. Replace hay with timothy-hay if you don't already use it, and all these actions minimise the ammount of calcium entering your piggie, therefore preventing further deposits.  

Cysts- Soft lump usually on the rump or back. These often don't grow more than the size of a pea, and a piggie can live happily with them unless its causing it discomfort.

Cystitis- Crusty genitals, squeaking when toileting. Easily cured by vet prescribed anti-biotics.

"Jelly beans"- It's quite normal for your piggie to get lumps and bumps all over their body, about the size of a jelly bean, and sometimes these are neither cysts nor abcesses! Many piggies live normally with these, so unless you have any particular reason to worry, theres no need to take your piggie to the vets.

Mange-Mange is actually a mite. It irritates your guinea pigs skin, and is quite shocking to look at. Your beautiful, sheltie guinea pig could loose half its fur in a day, and the skin below be reduced to bloody scabs. Veterinary attention must be seeked, so antibiotics can be administered, and the scabs washed with anti-bacterial wash. It could be all over in a day, but it will take your piggie a few weeks to grow back its fur.

Matted fur-Sadly, quite common in long haired guinea pigs due to lack of coat care. Long haired guinea pigs tend to get matted around the rump, and the only way to get rid of these matts it to chop them off! You can easily do this yourself, and it will save you vet bills. A reguar brush should keep a guinea pigs fur in top condition.

Overgrown claws/spurs on pads- not a sign of ill health, and actually very common!! look at this website for advice on how to clip claws, or get your vet to do it. Spurs should also be clipped. Both spurs and long claws can be prevented by giving your guinea pig a wooden floor if it's in an indoor cage, or allowing it acsess to concrete a few hours a week.

Parasites- The symptom of having a parasite living in your piggies fur are pretty distinguised- Mange mites make your piggie bald and scabby, lice can be seen crawling through your piggies fur (and your piggie will also itch) and other mites leave behind black bits on your piggies fur. These can easily be seen on long haired or white piggies, especially around the rump. The mites can actually be seen crawling in the fur around the legs in a very bad case. Your piggie may also scratch the fur out of his/ her sides. No guinea pig owner has never not experienced mites once in a while, so don't panic if your piggie gets them!! Mange mites (see 'mange'), lice or mites are all very common, and can be caught from bad bedding or other animals. Ivermectin injections from your vet, parasite shampoo or pouches can all easily stop the parasites.

Shock- Guinea pigs can sometimes go into shock for one reason or another, and although its uncommon, and very unpleasant for you, it deserves to be mentioned here. Dogs are usually the cause of a guinea pig going into shock, because, unlike a cat, they are strong and very un-secretive about what they're trying to do. For example, putting the guinea pigs out one day, the runs didn't have their lids on, and the gate was open and two mastiffs appeared, jumped into lavanders run and snapped at her madly before I managed to drag the dogs out of the run. Lavander amazingly was unscathed apart from a broken toe- she could easily have died of a heart attack. She went into shock, and many people can mistake this for their guinea pig being dead. Just keep them warm and comfortable, and they should be ok the next morning if given the night to recouperate.
Long Haired

Long haired guinea pigs need slightly more coat care to keep their fur feeling smooth and looking healthy.

They'll need a monthly trim around the rump, and a groom with a soft baby brush once a week. If you have the time, some guinea pigs are quite partial to a bath in warm water and a shampooing with baby shampoo!
Short Haired/Medium

Short haired guinea pigs don't need that much care to keep their fur healthy.

It's usually a matter of stroking flat the hairs that stick out, and this hand grooming is also a great way to bond. They also enjoy a groom with a soft brush, and if they get particularly ruffled or muddy then they also can have a bath.
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