Guinea pigs make ideal pets, which can be kept either indoors or outdoors. They can be kept on their own but as they are herd animals, it is preferable to have two or more together. It is not advisable to house a guinea pig with a rabbit as there is a danger that the rabbit could harm the guinea pig and they have very different diets. The average life span of a guinea pig is 4-8 years.
If you have more than one guinea pig, before housing them together, ensure that they have been sexed correctly otherwise you could end up with many more!
Female guinea pigs can mate from only 4 weeks old so it is advised that male and female babies are separated at 3 weeks old when they are weaned and your vet can advise you on neutering.
Diet should consist of a guinea pig commercial pellet together with additional hay and green food. It is important that they are fed a specific guinea pig diet and not a rabbit diet, as guinea pigs need to have a high level of vitamin C in their diet. They cannot store Vitamin C in their bodies so need to have an adequate level in their daily rations.
If keeping a rabbit and guinea pig together, it is better to feed them both on a guinea pig diet.
Pellet foods are preferable to mixed grain for 2 reasons – mainly it stops the guinea pigs from being selective feeders. The pellets will give them all the nutrients they need rather than just picking out their favourite bits from the mixed grain. The other reason is that the grains are often high in carbohydrates and can cause diarrhoea. It is important for the guinea pigs to have hay for roughage and so that they are constantly eating, which helps stop tooth problems.
Guinea pigs can get digestive upsets from too much fresh food so a small amount of carrot, cucumber, tomato and green leafy vegetable per day is sufficient.
Guinea pigs are generally very healthy pets but they do suffer from a few problems. One of the main ones is skin mites, which they can pick up from the hay. This causes them to become very itchy and develop scabs and sore areas, usually over the back. It is easily treated at the vets with a course of injections to kill the mites but it is important to recognise the problem early as they can become so itchy that they go into an epileptic fit.Image
Teeth problems can develop from a poor diet such as not eating enough roughage. In addition, an inadequate balance of vitamins and minerals can cause jaw and teeth deformities.