Sometimes, people who live in apartments cannot keep dogs and cats as pets because of space constraints. A guinea pig can be a great option in such cases. These pets don't need much space, food, and exercise - points that work for you perfectly if you have space constraints. Just like other pets, guinea pigs come in several breeds, giving you great options to choose from. Guinea pigs live, on an average, for 3-6 years and weigh around 1 kg. Other things you need to know when you choose guinea pigs as pets are mentioned below. Read through these points carefully before taking the final decision.
Housing: Guinea pigs can be kept in cages, in fact, it is best to keep them in cages as they love to nibble and gnaw at stuff. Special cages are made for guinea pigs and are readily available in pet shops. You will find a large variety of cages and it can be daunting task to zero in on one. So, while deciding on the accommodation for the guinea pig, you should keep in mind that they require a lot of space to run around, hide, and rest. If you are bringing two guinea pigs, the space obviously needs to be doubled. For a single guinea pig, a cage of about 7.5 feet is ideal, and for two guinea pigs, a 10.5-feet cage is perfect. Bedding is also an important part. You don't have to spend much on their bedding, hay or paper bedding works just fine. Aspen shavings are also a good option. What you should never use as bedding is cedar shavings as they are toxic. Also avoid pine shavings.
Diet: Though we take it for granted that guinea pigs can consume anything, especially chicken and stuff, this is far from the truth. Guinea pigs are pure vegetarians! So, remember to keep their food simple. The things that you can feed them, are pellets, hay, fresh vegetables, fruits, etc. Vitamin C is very important for guinea pigs; the lack for vitamin C can make them sick. Try to include foods containing vitamin C in their diet. Food stuff like pellets contain vitamin C and so guinea pigs should be fed with pellets everyday. Fresh veggies like spinach, bok choy, cauliflower, kale and fruits like oranges, tomatoes, strawberries, carrots, bananas etc., are rich in vitamin C.
Grooming: Not much of grooming is required for guinea pigs, however, it differs from breed to breed. Guinea pigs with short coat require brushing just once a day; however, if it is suffering from shedding (hair loss), brush every alternate day. For long-haired breeds, everyday brushing is necessary. You don't have to bathe your guinea pig, unless it is suffering from the problem of lice.
Keeping Them Entertained: Just like us, guinea pigs also need to be kept entertained. Talking about their temperament, guinea pigs are extremely social animals! Though they do not seek constant attention, they do need frequent pampering. Though guinea pigs do not need rigorous exercise, they do need some exercise. Simply open their cage for an hour and let them play.
Tips to Choose Guinea Pigs
- Look for a healthy guinea pig. It will be active and there will be no discharge from its eyes or nose.
- You can buy a guinea pig from a pet store or from guinea pig breeders and rescuers.
- Take your piggy for regular checkups to a vet.
- If you are planning to buy two guinea pigs at a time, then buy the same sex as their litter interval is of just 96 days or less.
With these points considered, you'll be in a better position to make a decision. Don't hurry. Consider all the points mentioned above, talk to a few people who have or had guinea pigs as pets, and also consult a vet. This way, you make a well-informed decision.