Pet Care Articles

Guinea Pig Guide

Read this Guinea Pig Guide if you’re looking to add one of these little critters to your family or if you have questions about how to care for your new friend.

Where Can I Adopt a Guinea Pig?

Many local animal shelters and animal rescue organizations have guinea pigs. Sometimes you can find people looking to rehome them on Facebook and Craigslist so look here before you go to a pet store. If you’re on Facebook you could even write a ‘I’m looking for a guinea pig’ post and maybe someone you know has one they’d like to rehome!

guinea pig
Read this Guinea Pig Guide if you’re looking to adopt or if you have questions about caring for them!

How Much Does It Cost to Keep One?

Typically you’re looking at around $200 to buy all of the supplies (bedding, water bottle, food bowl, toys, treats, cage/habitat) and around $30-40 per month to restock bedding, hay and food. Keep in mind too that you’ll need a broom and dust pan and vacuum to clean around their area because they tend to drop food and hay outside of their cage.

Guinea Pigs are Social Animals

To make sure your pet has the greatest life possible it’s best if they have a playmate. Two of the same sex is ideal (unless you want to have little babies squeaking soon). With two, you’ll likely see more interaction and activity. Leaving a guinea pig by itself in a small cage or habitat certainly is not the most ideal living situation for these lovely animals since they are social animals.

How Much Room Do I Need for My Guinea Pig?

Ideally they should be able to be taken out of their habitat and given floor space to run around on, daily if possible.

Many experienced guinea pig guardians set up a playpen area or use short fencing to keep them in a specific area. You can be creative and even create cardboard box fencing to keep them safe. Placing toys and treats in that area will encourage them to play and run around. When they’re really excited they’ll jump up in the air and spin around, this is called popcorning. Exercise balls often don’t work for guinea pigs so we suggest you skip that and go with something more appropriate.

What Size Cage Should I Buy?

The bigger the better! If you can find one that has multiple levels that is wonderful. Guinea pigs need space to run around and shouldn’t be confined to a small cage, glass or plastic aquarium. However, these work great for transporting your piggie to the vet or other location.

Guinea pigs generally aren’t escape artists and many people will build their own enclosure. Just make sure to use materials that aren’t toxic!

What Items Should Be in Their Cage?

Ready to go shopping? Setting up a cage takes a little time and money. Here is a list of things your guinea pig would LOVE to have in their cage…

  • Water bottle
  • Hay rack (can be suspended or mounted on side of cage)
  • Food bowl (low and wide)
  • Bedding
  • Chew toys (bamboo sticks are great)
  • Toys (to toss around)
  • Two different hiding spots (huts or houses)
  • Timothy hay sticks

Let’s talk about bedding for just a minute. You should have bedding material of some type in their area, they can’t just stand on their wire bars. Plus, the bedding allows them to borrow down and hide.

Fleece bedding is a popular choice, as is shredded paper, aspen shavings and wood pellets. It just really depends on what you prefer. Remember though, the bedding needs cleaned out at least once per week for one guinea pig, more frequently if you have multiple critters.

How Long Do Guinea Pigs Live Normally?

Guinea pigs usually live from 5 to 7 years. Some can live even longer if they’re given the right food, vitamins and have plenty of social interaction.

Do Guinea Pigs Bite?

They can. We suggest you handle your guinea pig as much as possible, especially if you adopt a baby or young one. The more handling you do when they’re younger allows them to be used to humans and will accept being held and carried.

Are Guinea Pigs Good Pets for Kids?

They can be. However, being that they’re small, we encourage you to monitor your child with their pet. Small animals like this can be injured easily and if the guinea pig isn’t used to being handled. They may squirm around and nibble on fingers.

If you want to get a guinea pig for your child keep in mind that the habitat needs cleaned out often and the food and water bowls kept clean. Young children can’t be responsible for this so if you don’t want to actually be hands on with cleaning and removing bedding, etc., maybe a different pet would be better.

Any Specific Vitamin Requirements?

Yes! Guinea pigs along with us humans cannot manufacture their own vitamin C. Because of this, they need to be given fresh produce daily for their vitamin C and roughage and they can also be given chewable vitamin C treats.

What Do Guinea Pigs Eat?

In the wild their diet mainly consists of fruits, vegetables and fresh hay. They’re herbivores and don’t eat meat, dairy, eggs or insects. While there are a host of guinea pig pellet food on the market we suggest you go with the highest quality brand if you want to feed this way. Also, only give small amounts, the main portion should be raw and fresh fruit, vegetables and hay as pelleted food isn’t the greatest food option.

Do Guinea Pigs Require Veterinary Care?

guinea pig

Small animals, like guinea pigs, are susceptible to health issues and we recommend you find an exotic veterinarian to have routine check ups. If you notice any lumps, bumps, sneezing, watery eyes or other health or behavior issue please contact a veterinarian immediately.

Furthermore, there’s a debate on the topic of spaying and neutering. While it’s true spaying and neutering rabbits, dogs and cats can help them live longer and healthier lives, the same can be said of guinea pigs. However, many vets don’t do these surgeries and that’s why we suggest you find an exotic vet because they’re typically more experienced with this.

Do Guinea Need Nail Trims?

Yes, most definitely! If you’re in the Muncie, Anderson, New Castle or Greenfield, Indiana area we host monthly pet nail trim events and encourage people to bring their piggies out for regular trims. We also make house calls if you aren’t wanting to go into public stores yet.

We can even teach you how to do it if you’d like to learn. Their nails can become extremely long and can get caught or broken off and cause pain. Regular trims will prevent this.

guinea pig nail trims

Are There Guinea Pig Pet Sitters?

Yes, for sure!

Guinea pigs make wonderful pets and if you do adopt one, be sure to think ahead and plan for their care when you travel or go out of town. Contact a local pet sitter and just as you’d plan for visits for a pet like a dog or cat, you can do the same with a guinea pig.

sit-stay-play In-home pet sitting & more.LLC takes care of guinea pigs. If you’re in the Muncie, Anderson, Yorktown, Indiana area, give us a call at 765-744-5688 to set up visits or go here to request services.

Thanks for taking the time to read this guinea pig guide. If you have any questions or need care for your baby be sure to contact us; we’d love to help!

Take care,

Kelley Stewart, CEO|Pet Sitter

sit-stay-play In-home pet sitting & more.LLC

“Your pet sitting, dog walking, poop scooping specialists!”

P.S. Didja know we have a free pet birthday club you can sign up for? Go here and fill out the form and watch your mail for a special birthday gift for your pet.