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What to Know About Guinea Pigs – Snellville Pet Sitter

Guinea pigs, once raised as livestock in the Andes of South America, are now the most popular pet for North Americans, and for good reason.  Small, friendly, and highly social, guinea pigs are the perfect fit for either your first pet or an addition to a thriving pack of furry loved ones.  If you are in the market for a new friend this Spring, instead of chicks or a rabbit for Easter, try going the route of the guinea pig.  You might be surprised how friendly and easy to take care of they really are.

They Love Being Around People

Guinea pigs normally live in packs in the wild, with several females and submissive males being ruled by a dominant male.  They are highly affectionate and social, and, when socialized with humans early, learn to regard people as part of their pack.  They often suffer when kept as a single pet, so if you are getting one guinea pig be sure to get another of the same sex for companionship.

A healthy domestic guinea pig can live for nine years or longer, so a guinea pig pet can grow to have a very close relationship with their owner.  They are also highly entertaining; they have a very vocal communication habit full of clicks, chirps, squeals and purring.  Having a love of enthusiastic activity, they often love running in open spaces and will ‘pop-corn’, or hop up and down, when happy.

They Only Need a Small Space to Be Happy

Guinea pigs are very fastidious – they love a clean space.  Fortunately, their home does not require much equipment, and instead, they love to roam around the house with you.  A pen can be as basic as an open-topped cage with plenty of shredded paper, a covered hutch for sleeping, and a food and water bowl.  Not clean eaters, expect to have to do housekeeping duties every day to change the bedding and freshen up the bowls.  An exercise wheel is not recommended, as it can damage their delicate paws.  Likewise, their floor should be smooth plastic or metal and not grated.

Set Up a Wading Pool For Your Guinea Pig

For exercise, they love to run back and forth on an open patch of floor, but cannot jump higher than a few inches.  Many owners set up a children’s wading pool for them to exercise with a few toys, that way their antics are always viewable.  Enrichment is very important for a happy guinea pig, so be sure to give them plenty of new material to explore and climb, they will thank you for it in cuddles later.

Only a Few Rules When Caring for Them

When babies, a well-socialized guinea pig will grow up to be just as affectionate as a cat and comes in a smaller package!  They are also very easy to care for as well, with only a few guidelines to follow.

Guinea pigs are Herbivores

Guinea pigs are herbivores and do best on a diet of timothy hay and fresh fruits and vegetables.  Guinea pigs cannot make their own vitamin C, just like humans, so supplemental vitamins are very important for their health.  Their skin is also extremely sensitive to toxins.  Some bedding for small mammals, such as cedar chips, can cause problems from the oils present in the wood, so shredded paper is recommended.  Depending on the breed of guinea pig, you may need to do additional grooming for their hair, which can come quite long and get easily tangled.  Additionally, guinea pigs never stop growing their front teeth, so will always need to have something to gnaw on to keep them healthy.

To Breed or Not to Breed

Finally, breeding guinea pigs can be very dangerous as guinea have a lot of difficulties giving birth.  Even in a healthy young guinea pig, it is usually quite dangerous, but in a pig past eight months old their pelvic bones start to fuse together which making natural birth almost impossible.  Guinea pigs do not do well under anesthesia, so while de-sexing is possible, it is recommended to keep same-sex pairs to avoid problems.

Guinea Pigs are Extremely Rewarding Pets

Guinea pigs are extremely rewarding pets, especially for small children or first-time pet owners who have small spaces.  Naturally gentle and social, these delightful little fluff balls are content to snuggle with you on the couch or run laps around your living room.  One thing is for sure, these easy to care for creatures are definitely a good decision when looking for a pocket of personality with a small footprint.

If you like this article, please share. If you would like more information on Pet Sitting or Dog Training email barbe@2pawsupinc.com or call 770-695-3096.

 

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