Guide To Guinea Pigs
I always felt a connection to guinea pigs. They have such a kind nature, but they also will squeak to let you know what they want. I like an animal that has a sense of awareness. They are excellent communicators and let you know what they need (usually food) and when they need it (usually now). My father had always loved them and I have always had a guinea pig in my life.
I had gone to the humane society to adopt a guinea pig after being cavieless for a year. There I met a wonderful volunteer, Ilona, who had the same love for these furry creatures as I did. We formed a pretty fast friendship, and she shared with me her stories about meeting many guinea pig lovers. However, she also shared with me the ignorance of one woman’s question to her a few months ago. The woman was concerned why her guinea pigs were dying rather quickly. When Ilona asked about the guinea pigs diet the woman responded “Diet? Oh, I only feed her carrots.”
A guinea pig, like a human being, like any animal in our kingdom, needs a balanced diet. Many families also choose to have a guinea pig as a first pet for their children to “try it out and see how they can take care of it before a dog or a cat”. Guinea pigs may be experimented on in laboratories, but they certainly should not be used for your own family’s personal experiment! There are many advantages to these beautiful pets, as they have some of the brightest boldest personalities of a domesticated animal. I thought I would post the basics of caring for a guinea pig so that if you decide to get one, it would be the right choice for you.
Guinea pigs need a cage that has enough room that they can run around in. They are wonderful pets, but very gluttonous, and they will become overweight quickly if they cannot run around. They also have sensitive eyes and need a nice dark place, like a guinea pig dome, so they have a sanctuary to call their own. They squeak, sometimes very loudly, for food, and their beds should be changed regularly.
Guinea pigs teeth grow constantly. Unlike our teeth that eventually stop, guinea pigs teeth will continue to grow and not stop, causing the poor piggy to not be able to open its mouth for food intake. Giving your guinea pig hay regularly shaves down the teeth (including molars) and keeps them at a regular size. Guinea pigs nails also grow long quickly and should be trimmed regularly.
Guinea pigs cannot produce vitamin C on their own and should have regular vitamin C intake. This can include giving your piggy a slice of orange once a week or putting liquid vitamin C into his water supply. I prefer a slice of orange but both works just fine.
A guinea pig can be picky and each one likes different food. Along with seeds and hay for their fiber, cavies get regular fruits and vegetables, one little piece a day, for their diet. Here are approved fruits and veggies for your guinea pig: Red Pepper (or green/yellow pepper. Red has the highest vitamin C concentration), carrots, apples, oranges, parsley, cucumbers, broccoli (in small doses), bananas, grapes, and strawberries (in moderation).
When choosing a bed for your guinea pig please do not choose scented wood chips. Though it may give off a decent aroma, but if ingested it can be harmful to your guinea pig. It is also known to irritate their eyes to the point that they must see a veterinarian.
Guinea pigs are beautiful, energetic, and a great pet. They have distinct personalities and study your movements and sounds and begin to respond to it. I often open my refrigerator to hear the symphony of guinea pig squeaks, or when they are out for a run a simple “Go home piggy” will bring my cavy right back to her cage, waiting to be picked up (and fed her nighttime snack). Guinea pigs are great friends and if you treat them with love, you will receive a lovely and lively addition to your family.