Deciding which pet you want to get is definitely the easy part. The hard part is figuring out everything that your pet needs in order to be happy, healthy and safe. That’s why we’re going to go over how to take care of guinea pigs.
What does your guinea pig need in order to be healthy? What do they need in order to be happy? How can you set up your cage to keep them safe and comfortable? Do guinea pigs need toys and a lot of attention to be happy?
These are affectionate and loving creatures, if you know how to treat them properly. So let’s take a look at what you’ll need in order to get started.
- What You Will Need to Follow This Tutorial
- Setting Up the Cage
- Cleaning the Cage
- Feeding and Watering
- Providing Attention
- Grooming & Bathing
What You Will Need to Follow This Tutorial
- Wire cage
- Plastic tray
- Timothy hay
- Food dish
- Water bottle
Setting Up the Cage
Step 1: Choose a Wire Cage
Look for a cage that is at least 7.5 square feet in total size for a single guinea pig. This will give them enough space to move around and also makes sure they don’t feel too closed in. The wire cage will make sure you can see them and they get plenty of air flow throughout to stay a comfortable temperature.
Step 2: Add a Tray
You’ll need a tray in the bottom of the cage that provides some support. A wire cage on its own has holes that can cause your pig to get stuck or hurt themselves. They also allow the bedding to fall through, making the space around the cage dirty. A tray takes care of each of these problems and makes the cage easier to clean.
Step 3: Add Bedding
Next, lay down a layer of newspaper over the tray. This provides a protective layer between the tray and the actual bedding. It keeps the tray clean and provides more softness. On top of the newspaper, add timothy hay for bedding. This is safe for your pet to eat as well as providing comfort. Avoid any pine or cedar which is toxic for pigs.
Step 4: Provide Food & Water Dishes
Put out a food dish that’s large enough for a single feeding (at least) as well as a water bottle. The water bottles that connect to the side of the cage are generally the easiest to use and keep the water from being spilled onto the bedding. This keeps you from having to clean the cage as often.
Pro Tip: Get More Space
More space is definitely going to be best for your guinea pig so don’t be afraid to get a larger cage. This is especially true if you can get multi-level cages or ones that have different ‘rooms’ or areas for them to play in.
Cleaning the Cage
Step 1: Scoop the Hay Daily
Soiled hay should be removed daily. Keep in mind that your pig may be eating the hay. They’re also laying, moving and playing in it. Soiled hay could make them sick even just from being around it. Removing hay daily keeps this from happening.
Step 2: Wash the Dishes Daily
Food and water dishes should be cleaned every day. You don’t want anything sitting in these containers so remove the old food and water, wipe out the dishes and put them back. This will keep your guinea pig much healthier.
Step 3: Remove Everything Weekly
Take your guinea pig out of the cage and put them somewhere safe. Then remove all of the hay as well as toys and dishes from the cage. Dispose of all of the hay, put toys and dishes aside to be cleaned or wiped down.
Step 4: Wipe Down the Cage
Use a little diluted white vinegar on a cloth to wipe the tray and the cage bars. This will get rid of any debris, any bad smells and any bacteria. You also want to rinse these things off again with water so your pig doesn’t get into the vinegar.
Step 5: Wipe Down Toys
Wipe down the dishes as well as the toys that you keep in the cage. This will make sure they’re clean and haven’t absorbed any debris or bacteria. You want them to be safe for your pet to use again in their clean cage.
Step 6: Replace Everything
Wait for the cage and tray to dry completely then add new newspaper and bedding. Add the food dish and water bottle back into the cage and the toys that your pig likes. Now it’s time to let them back into their freshly cleaned cage.
Pro Tip: Spend Time Playing
This is a great time for you to play with your guinea pig, while the cage is drying. They might feel a little uncomfortable watching you change out their bedding and remove all their stuff, so spending time with them and giving them attention can help relax them.
Feeding and Watering
Step 1: Use Commercial Feed
Make sure the feed is designed for guinea pigs. This makes sure they’re getting the right nutrients throughout the day. You also want to feed them only about 1/8 cup of food for the entire day and that you remove the old food. They’re food can go bad overnight so don’t leave it and just add new food.
Step 2: Supplement the Food
For calves it’s important to supplement with Timothy hay. This type of hay helps keep the pigs teeth ground down where they need to be. Make sure the hay used as bedding is cycled out frequently to make sure they’re only chewing on clean hay. Also, supplement their diet with fresh vegetables frequently. This keeps them healthier. A cup of greens daily and a few carrots weekly provide the right balance.
Step 3: Keep Water Supplied
There should always be water supplied in your pigs cage. They aren’t going to drink more water than they should have so don’t feel shy about refilling the water bottle. If it seems to get low or it’s empty make sure that you make it available immediately.
Pro Tip: Add New Veggies
Carrots and other veggies can be great treats for your guinea pig. They shouldn’t be added to the daily diet but once a week or so they can be a great addition. Your guinea pig is definitely going to like them.
Step 1: Make Sure You’re Calm
If you or your guinea pig aren’t feeling calm then picking them up is going to make them even more uncomfortable. Keeping your movements slow and easy will help them stay relaxed and will prevent injury to your pig.
Step 2: Provide Proper Support
Your pig needs to be held from underneath, which means putting a hand under their chest and one under their bottom. Use your fingers around their belly to support them and make sure to lift them straight, rather than pulling them toward you.
Step 3: Keep Them Close
If you hold your guinea pig close to your body they feel safer. The body heat and the closeness actually keeps them from getting scared rather than making them feel claustrophobic. If you hold them too far out they may try to run, which could result in injury.
Step 4: Get the Toys
Guinea pigs actually like to chase things. Get them tennis balls to play around with or use tubes that they can crawl through. These types of games keep them active and make sure they’re really enjoying themselves as well.
Pro Tip: Encourage Play Together
Encourage your guinea pig to play with you and roll the ball for them to chase or pull out those tubes. If you have multiple guinea pigs encourage them to play together as well.
Grooming & Bathing
Step 1: Brushing Your Pig
Brushing should be done regularly. As with a cat you’ll find that your pig likes to clean themselves. Brushing a couple times a week or even every day will keep them free of matting. Wiping them down with a dry cloth also helps remove some dirt and debris.
Step 2: Keep the Space Warm
A cold room after a bath can make your pig sick. Turning off the air conditioning or fans as well as turning up the heat can help protect from this. Make sure the space is going to be warm enough for them to dry quickly and not get chilled.
Step 3: Use the Right Shampoo
Your vet should be able to help you choose the right shampoo. You’ll want something designed for small animals rather than dog or human products. These can actually be dangerous to your pet. Be mindful of medicated products for certain pigs as well.
Step 4: Keep the Water Warm
Just like you want the space around the bath to be warm you also want the water to be warm. This keeps your pig more comfortable. They should be washed as quickly as possible and you should make sure to remove all of the shampoo from them before taking them off.
Step 5: Dry Them Off
Don’t put your guinea pig into their cage when they’re still wet. Try to avoid blow drying them as this can cause burns or scare your pig. Instead, wrap them in a warm towel. Rub their fur gently with the towel until they are fully dry.
Step 6: Clip Their Nails
Only cut the tip of the nail as there are blood vessels further down. Keeping the nails cut makes sure they don’t get caught anywhere. It also makes sure your pig can move around more comfortably and freely in their cage.
Pro Tip: Be Gentle
Your pig wants to be clean but they also want to be comfortable and a bath is definitely not going to make them feel that way. Be careful of how they might feel and try to keep them calm during the bath. Don’t give them a bath anywhere high as they could get hurt if they try to run.
So, what did you think? Do you think that you can take care of your guinea pig the way they deserve by following each of these steps? By providing them with the love, care and attention that they need, you’re definitely going to create a friend for life.
Your guinea pig is going to know that you’re doing your absolute best for them. They’re also definitely going to appreciate a clean cage and general grooming. So, what do you have to lose by treating them the way they should be treated?
What’s your best tip for taking care of your guinea pig? Do you have something special that you do from these steps or entirely different? We want to know all about what your guinea pig likes best and what helps endear them to you in the comments below.