Guinea pig health tips

Steps to keeping a Guinea Pig

 1. Guinea pigs quickly become independent. As precocial animals, they are born with hair and are fast developers. If you don’t have guinea pigs already, buy at least two animals. Siblings find it much easier to settle into their new home together.  Guinea pigs need the company of their own kind as they are socially gregarious creatures. Other pets such as rabbits, or people themselves, are no substitute for a guinea pig partner. Bear in mind that male guinea pigs will only tolerate each other when they can’t see, hear or smell a female. If you want to keep a pair, the male should be castrated in good time.

2. Avoid stress with guinea pigs – symptoms include a tendency to flee, frequent stiffening, aggression or fur or weight loss. The causes can be social conflict, bad cage location (draughts, cigarette smoke, cold, heat), illness – even light-coloured floors can stress them out.

3. Guinea pigs must eat incessantly – otherwise they can’t utilise and move the nutrition in the gastrointestinal tract. As well as constantly available, dust-free hay, you can offer them small portions of succulent feed daily, such as grasses, dandelions or vegetables. This should always be fresh, washed and dried so it doesn’t spoil. By contrast you should give ready-made food sparingly. One teaspoonful per animal per day is an ample sufficiency.

4. Don’t give rodents dry bread as it can lead to digestive problems. Better to give them unsprayed fruit tree twigs or specific products from specialist shops.

5. Has an animal stopped eating or got diarrhoea? Then it’s off to the vet! Illnesses can remain unnoticed for some time, which is why urgency is called for with obvious symptoms. Before your visit, clarify whether the vet also treats and knows about guinea pigs.

6. It’s precisely when you’re keeping several guinea pigs that it’s hard to take stock of whether each animal’s eating enough or which one has diarrhoea. That’s why you should scrutinise each animal regularly (once a week).  Check the eyes, ears, nose, teeth, the coat and the area around the anus as well as the caudal glands (scent glands) above the anus. Weigh each animal and note it down to be able to ascertain any changes.

7. Is your animal badly soiled, for example on the abdomen? You can clean such areas with a damp cloth and mild shampoo. Or dip the individual parts in water. After washing, rub the fur dry as best you can! You mustn’t ever bath a guinea pig completely, that would be too stressful for the creature and could make them very ill due to chilling!

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