Lifespan – 5-7 years
Guinea pigs should live with other pigs as long as they do not have aggression
Guinea pigs are not nocturnal but they are crepuscular, which means they are most active during twilight hours (dawn and dusk)
Guinea pigs are vocal and energetic animals
To be ready for Guinea Pigs you will need
- Large Indoor Enclosure/Exercise area that is completely secure from other animals
- Timothy/ Orchard hay
- Quality Guinea pig pellets – We recommend Oxbow or Sherwood
- Fresh Veggies daily
- Vitamin C supplement
- Food/Hay Container (Do not use hay balls, pets have been known to become stuck inside and perish)
- Water dish/bottle
- Hides & Toys – there are Etsy stores with a lot of safe options, including ours!
- Chews – they need something to wear down their teeth
- Bedding – never use pine or cedar shavings!
- Nail Clippers
- Travel Carrier (cat carriers usually work well, I usually put some hay on the bottom).
- Small shop vac for cleaning up after your pig(s) – optional but useful
*Please understand that some items will need to be replenished monthly.
For 1-2 pigs, we require a large indoor space, at least 4-6 times the size of your pig(s). Cages should have solid bottoms and no wires for their soft feet. Recommended cages are the Midwest Guinea pig cage and custom C+C grid cages. For guinea pigs, there is no such thing as too big. Please note that most cages/hutches readily available at pet shops are too small. Guinea pigs are active animals and need a lot of space to run.
Guinea Pig Care
Feeding – Diet should break down like this:
Hay – unlimited timothy/orchard hay.
Pellets– A pig should eat ⅛ cup of quality hay-based pellets a day. For young guinea pigs, an alfalfa-based pellet is appropriate. Once a pig is around six months it should be transitioned to a timothy-based pellet. Mixes with corn, seeds, nuts, and dried fruit are not healthy because they contain too much fat/sugar.
Vitamin C – they need 10-30 mg/kg of vitamin C daily. This is because pigs cannot produce their own vitamin C. You can provide this through fresh veggies, fruit, and pellets but to ensure they get enough many owners buy supplements in the form of tablets or liquid.
Fresh Veggies & Fruits – a cup a day of vitamin-C-rich vegetables is important. Parsley, dandelion greens, and bell peppers are good choices. Avoid foods that are high in oxalic acid, as they can cause many health problems (such as bladder stones) in guinea pigs. Fruits like blueberry, cantaloupe, and watermelon are safe but should be limited to treats.
Chews – Guinea pigs should have access to multiple chews in the cage at all times to assist in keeping the teeth properly worn. Guinea pigs do eat a certain amount of roughage in the wild.
Bedding – We recommend paper-based bedding (free of scents or odor control such as baking soda) for your litter. Never use pine or cedar shavings. You can use fleece, or memory foam mats, please ensure your guinea pig isn’t ingesting it.
Social – Guinea pigs are social and typically enjoy living with others. For guinea pigs that have aggressive tendencies, it is best if they live side by side in separate enclosures with other pigs. This way they get the benefits of communicating with another pig.
Cleaning the Enclosure
You should spot-clean the enclosure and soiled bedding daily. A shop vac is very handy for picking up guinea pigs’ poops, as they poop more than 100 times a day and generally do not litter train. Do not wait more than 2-3 days without cleaning the cage. A build-up of feces and urine will cause respiratory and foot problems.
Guinea pigs are prone to health problems like scurvy, abscesses, tumors, urinary tract infections, respiratory disease, bumblefoot, skin problems, and parasites. Please make sure to thoroughly research these problems in order to recognize signs of illness.
If your guinea pig has fleas you will need to obtain Revolution from the vet. Do not use commercial shampoos, medicine, or spray as the ingredients are likely toxic to your pigs. Many items marketed towards pets are unsafe. It is important to check ingredients and do research.
It is wise to obtain pet insurance or create a savings fund for your guinea pig. They are considered an exotic species, which means vet care can be costly. We also recommend CareCredit, which allows you to pay off a vet bill over the span of a few months or a year with no interest.
Your pig will need a hard-sided carrier for trips to the veterinarian and when they come home with you. Adding some hay to the bottom for travel is a good idea so they aren’t slipping. For longer trips, please give access to water.
Socializing and Bonding
Guinea pigs generally do not love being held because they are prey animals. Lifting and holding should be kept to a minimum as many pigs will become stressed. Sitting down with them, petting them, and offering treats is the best way to interact with your guinea pigs.
When you first bring your pig home, you should put your hands inside the enclosure and allow the guinea pig to come to you on its own time. You may try to encourage your pig to come closer with some treats. Your pig may not want to come immediately, but they may be interested in sniffing you and checking you out. When moving things in your pigs’ enclosure it is recommended you speak to them while doing so, to not frighten them.
Although they don’t like to be picked up, most pigs do desire physical affection. Most find petting, snuggling, nuzzling, and sitting companionably beside each other pleasurable activities.
Keep pigs away from dogs. Even a very friendly dog with a low prey drive should never be left with guinea pigs. The dog may be playful and scare a pig.
We DO NOT recommend the following:
- Outdoor living
- Small Cages
- Cages with wire floors
- Plastic (hamster type) exercise balls aka death balls
- Poor Quality Food such as Kaytee Fiesta, All Living Things, foods with colorful pieces, seeds, etc.
- Cedar, Pine, Softwood, unknown woods.
- Cotton or fibrous bedding
- Snak Shaks or Logs
- Interactions with dogs
- Salt licks and vitamin/mineral stones
Further information on keeping guinea pigs.