Guinea pigs are wonderful animals – they can bring great joy to the humans they live with. But if this joy is to be shared by the guinea pigs too, their owners must take care to avoid some basic mistakes.
Cage is too small: Guinea pigs are very active animals, with a strong instinct to move about. They need plenty of space to stretch their legs, which means their enclosure must be of sufficient size.
- Our tip: Download our guides 'Keeping Guinea Pigs in Outdoor Enclosures' and 'Keeping Guinea Pigs in an Apartment'.
Keeping a guinea pig on its own: Guinea pigs need at least one companion of their own species. In the wild, they live in large groups.
- Our tip: Read our guide 'Putting Guinea Pigs Together.
Incorrect feeding: Guinea pigs must eat constantly for their digestive tract to work properly (peristalsis). They need a lot of food spread throughout the day – particularly food that helps their digestion, such as fibrous hay. Anything other than healthy food will harm them.
- Our tip: Read our guide 'A Balanced Diet for a Guinea Pig'.
Lack of stimulation: Like many animals, guinea pigs can get bored. Give them things to do. Frequently rearranging the objects in their enclosure is a good way to keep them stimulated.
- Our tip: Get creative! Make something that will keep your little friends entertained. For example, see our video 'Guinea Pig Food Tree'.
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Poor grooming: Owners often underestimate how important it is to look after their guinea pigs’ nails and fur – it promotes well-being and can prevent discomfort or pain.
- Our tip: Regularly check the fur and claws. Look out for any changes to the fur (e.g. bald patches), parasites, changes to the skin, and claws that are too long.
Incorrect lifting: Guinea pigs are delicate creatures. They must be picked up gently.
- Our tip: To pick up and hold your little friend correctly, slide one hand under its body and the other hand under its rear end. Using both hands in this way to lift your guinea pig will stop it struggling away and perhaps hurting itself. Now you can lift it up safely.
Neglecting the enclosure: Looking after your guinea pigs’ enclosure properly not only keeps it looking clean and presentable, but also helps to control bacteria, prevent urinary tract infections and limit unpleasant odors.
- Our tip: Have a set time each week to clean the enclosure. Even if you remove droppings, old food and wet bedding every day, the enclosure will still need to be thoroughly cleaned at least once a week