Pet Care
March 1, 2024

Your Guide to Guinea Pig Care: Nutrition, Housing, and Enrichment

March is Adopt a Guinea Pig Month! This guide will help set you up to welcome a new guinea pig into your home. It covers everything from what to feed your new guinea, importance Vitamin C supplementation guidelines, to the best kind home and bedding, and gives you lots of fun ways to keep your guinea pig physically and mentally engaged.

Guinea pig in a cage

Guinea pigs, with their charming personalities and endearing squeaks, make wonderful companions for both children and adults. However, providing proper care for these delightful rodents requires a good understanding of their specific needs. From nutrition to housing and enrichment, here's everything you need to know to ensure the health and happiness of your guinea pig.

Guinea Pig Nutrition

A well-balanced diet is crucial for the overall health of guinea pigs. Here's what you need to know about their nutritional needs:

Hay: Timothy hay should make up about 80% of a guinea pig's diet. It's essential for maintaining healthy digestion and wearing down their constantly growing teeth.

Pellets: Choose a high-quality pellet diet specifically formulated for guinea pigs. These pellets should be supplemented with fresh produce daily to ensure a diverse nutrient intake.

Fresh Produce: Offer a variety of fresh vegetables and leafy greens daily, making sure to remove any seeds or pits. Guinea pigs should have about 1 cup of leafy greens and a small amount of vegetables daily. This provides essential vitamins and minerals, including the crucial vitamin C, which guinea pigs cannot produce on their own.

Vitamin C: Like humans, guinea pigs require vitamin C in their diet to stay healthy. Since vitamin C breaks down quickly, it's important to provide fresh sources such as bell peppers, tomatoes, and leafy greens. Additionally, vitamin C supplements may be necessary but since Vitamin C breaks down rapidly in water and can alter the taste, vitamin water additives should be avoided. Guinea pigs should instead receive a vitamin C tablet or liquid vitamin C directly by mouth every day but consult with your veterinarian for proper dosage. Vitamin C is vital for the normal development and maintenance of skin, joints, and gums, and it plays an important role in healing wounds. Swollen joints, poor mobility and/or skin infections can be a sign of a Vitamin C deficiency.

Guinea Pig Housing

Creating the ideal living environment is essential for the well-being of your guinea pigs. Here are some key considerations for their housing:

Cage: Choose a spacious cage with one solid surface and wire sides for proper ventilation. Avoid cages with wire bottoms to prevent foot injuries.

Size: Guinea pigs are social animals and thrive in pairs or small groups. Ensure the cage is large enough to accommodate their needs, with additional space for exercise and exploration.

Substrate: Opt for an absorbent substrate such as paper pellets or paper pulp products to maintain cleanliness and prevent odor. Avoid wood shavings, straw, or corncob, which can be harmful if ingested.

Temperature: Guinea pigs are sensitive to temperature extremes. Keep their environment between 65°F to 75°F and avoid placing their cage in drafty areas or direct sunlight.

Accessories: Provide hiding spots, toys, and chewable items to keep your guinea pigs mentally stimulated. Ensure toys are safe and non-toxic, with no small parts that could be ingested.

Guinea Pig Enrichment

Keeping your guinea pigs mentally stimulated is vital for their happiness and well-being. Here are some enrichment ideas to keep them entertained:

Toys: Offer a variety of toys for mental stimulation and dental health. Homemade options like stuffed socks or cardboard boxes are inexpensive and effective.

Chew Toys: Provide chewable items such as twigs from non-toxic trees or PVC pipes to help wear down their teeth naturally.

Tunnels and Hideouts: Create tunnels using PVC pipes or cardboard tubes, and offer cozy hideouts where your guinea pigs can retreat for privacy.

Environmental Enrichment: Rotate toys regularly to prevent boredom and introduce new items to keep them engaged.

By following these guidelines for nutrition, housing, and enrichment, you can provide your guinea pigs with a happy and healthy life. Remember to monitor their health closely and consult with a veterinarian for any concerns or questions regarding their care. With proper attention and love, your guinea pigs will thrive as cherished members of your family.