Guinea pigs make good pets for children as they are friendly and easy to handle. They are very social animals and like to live in a small group, preferable a single sex group to prevent large numbers of offspring!
There is a great variation in colors, markings and coat types. The three main breeds are:
- English, which have a short smooth haired coat.
- Abyssinian, which have a rough wired coat.
- Peruvian, which have a long-haired.
- Heart rate 130-190 beats/minute
- Body temperature 38.6 °Celsius
- Life expectancy 4-8 years
- Sexual maturity: Females 4 weeks, Male 3-5 weeks
- Pregnancy 60-72 days
- Litter size 3-4 puppies (maximal 8)
- Weaning 4-5 weeks of age
A hutch with run is the most common used one. The hutch should be dry with a bedding of wood shavings, straw or hay. During summer months the housing should be placed in partial shadow as temperatures of above 27C (32 Fahrenheit) can cause a deadly heatstroke. In winter months it is advisable to move them into a garage or outbuilding.
Every cavy needs daily:
- Vitamin C - they can not produce their own Vitamin C
- Fresh Water - daily changed
- Quality Pellets
- Unlimited Grass or Hay - beneficial for their teeth and digestion
- Fresh Vegetables - Green leafy vegetables, small amount of carrots, dandelion leaves.
Give only small amounts of cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts as they can cause gas. Do not use mineral/ vitamin blocks.
•MalesWe advise you to castrate your guinea pig if:
- he lives together with a female to prevent breeding.
- he fights with other guinea pigs.
Castration is possible from the age of 4 months.
Females are generally only spayed when problems develop like ovarian cysts.
Vaccination and worm control
Guinea pigs don't need to be vaccinated or wormed.
Mange is a tiny parasite which lives in the skin. It is characterized by dry, scaly skin, open wound and scratching. It is treated with a spot on preparation.
Most of the time diarrhoea is caused by eating spoiled/moldy hay or vegetables, to much fruit or suddenly food changes. Probiotics or antibiotics are used as cure.
Not eating for more then 24 hours can be dangerous and therefore your guinea pig must be seen to determine the cause and to start treatment immediately.
Their nails can grow surprisingly fast and are often curved. Some guinea pigs need regular nail clips.