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January 08, 2024 7 min read

How to Care For Guinea Pigs: Everything You Need to Know

Guinea pigs, also known as cavies, are charming and social pets that make wonderful additions to households around the world. If you're considering bringing these adorable small pets into your home, it's crucial to understand their needs and provide a suitable environment for their well-being. In this guide, we'll explore everything you need to know about keeping guinea pigs - from essential supplies to proper care and feeding.

How to Care for Guinea Pigs

Choosing the Right Cage

If you’re curious about how to look after guinea pigs, the first step is to provide them with a spacious and secure living environment. A proper cage is essential for their physical and mental health. Guinea pigs are active creatures that need room to explore, exercise, and play. Aim for a cage with a minimum size of 0.70 meters for one or two guinea pigs, and add an extra 0.09 to 0.18 square meter for each additional cavy.

Make sure the cage has a solid bottom to protect their sensitive feet and consider using bedding material such as hay or shavings. Additionally, provide hiding spots and tunnels to create a stimulating and enriching environment.

Indoor Options

Bonofido Small Animal Cage 56in: The Bono Fido Cage 46715 combines spaciousness with functionality to create a comfortable and enjoyable environment for your small animal. With its easily cleanable plastic base and a secure, robust wire exterior providing ample ventilation, your pet's comfort is a top priority.


Outdoor Options

Hutches:  If you're blessed with a spacious backyard, consider a guinea pig hutch. Ensure it's predator-proof, well-ventilated, and provides shelter from the elements.

Portable Runs:  For a bit of outdoor playtime, invest in a secure run. These allow your guinea pigs to graze on fresh grass while staying safe. 

Pet One Small Animal Hutch N Run Timber:  Pet One Small Animal Hutches provides protection, shelter and comfort for your small animal. Featuring a private enclosed sleeping area and ample ventilation, your small animal will find enjoyment and security in their new home.

Nutrition Matters

What do guinea pigs eat?

Did you know that 80% of a guinea pig's diet should be made up of hay? Guinea pigs have specific dietary requirements to stay healthy. Their diet should consist mainly of high-quality hay, which provides essential fiber for proper digestion and helps wear down their continuously growing teeth. Fresh vegetables like leafy greens, bell peppers, and carrots should also be part of their daily diet.

Commercial guinea pig pellets are available and should be fed in moderation. Avoid mixes with added seeds, nuts, and dried fruits, as these can be high in fat and sugar. Fresh water should always be available through a guinea pig friendly drip water bottle, and vitamin C supplementation may be necessary since guinea pigs cannot produce this vitamin on their own.


What foods should guinea pigs NOT eat?

Guinea pigs are adorable and social pets that require a balanced and nutritious diet to thrive. While there are many vegetables that make excellent additions to their meals, it's crucial to be aware of foods that can be harmful to these small animals. Here's a list of foods to avoid when it comes to feeding your guinea pig:

  1. Iceberg Lettuce: Although lettuce is generally considered a safe option, iceberg lettuce should be avoided as it lacks the essential nutrients found in darker leafy greens and can sometimes cause digestive issues.

  2. Potatoes and Skin: Potatoes contain high levels of starch and should be avoided. Additionally, the skin can be tough for guinea pigs to digest, so it's best to steer clear of both raw and cooked potatoes.

  3. Cabbage: While cabbage is rich in nutrients, it can lead to gas and digestive discomfort for guinea pigs. Limit the intake of cabbage to prevent potential digestive issues.

  4. Broccoli: Despite being a nutritious vegetable, broccoli can cause gas and bloating in guinea pigs. It contains certain compounds that may be hard for them to digest, so it's best to offer it in moderation.

  5. Onion: Onions, in any form, should be avoided as they contain compounds that can be harmful to guinea pigs and may cause digestive upset.

  6. Garlic: Similar to onions, garlic contains substances that can be harmful to guinea pigs. Avoid feeding them any foods that contain garlic, as it may lead to digestive problems.

  7. Mushrooms: While some mushrooms are safe for humans, it's best to avoid giving any type of mushrooms to guinea pigs. Certain varieties can be toxic to them and may cause serious health issues.

Ensuring a well-balanced diet for your guinea pig involves providing a variety of fresh vegetables, hay, and high-quality guinea pig pellets. Always introduce new foods gradually and monitor your pet for any signs of discomfort or illness. Consulting with a veterinarian can also help create a suitable and safe dietary plan for your furry friend.

How often should you feed your guinea pig?

Feeding guinea pigs involves providing a consistent and balanced diet to ensure their health and well-being. Here are some general guidelines on how often to feed guinea pigs:

Hay: Unlimited access

Hay is a crucial part of a guinea pig's diet. It aids in digestion, helps wear down their continuously growing teeth, and provides essential fiber. Always make sure fresh hay is available to them.

Pellets: Once a day

Pellets are a concentrated source of nutrients. Choose high-quality pellets designed for guinea pigs and offer them in moderation. One-eighth to one-quarter cup per guinea pig per day is usually sufficient.

Fresh Vegetables: Twice a day

Fresh vegetables are an essential component of their diet, providing additional vitamins and minerals. Offer a variety of veggies such as leafy greens, bell peppers, carrots, and cucumbers. Make sure the vegetables are washed thoroughly, and remove any uneaten portions to prevent spoilage.

Fresh Fruits: Occasional treats

Fruits can be high in natural sugars, so they should be offered as occasional treats. Provide small portions of fruits like apples, strawberries, or melon a few times a week. Remove any uneaten portions promptly to avoid attracting pests.

Water: Always available

Fresh, clean water should be provided at all times. Ensure they have access to a water bottle or bowl, and check it regularly to make sure it's clean and filled.

Social Creatures

Guinea pigs are social animals and thrive on companionship. Part of taking care of guinea pigs is making sure they have at least two guinea pigs together to prevent loneliness and boredom. Ensure that they are of the same sex or have been neutered to avoid unintended pregnancies.

While guinea pigs may be initially shy, they can become very affectionate with regular handling and gentle interaction. Spend time petting and talking to your guinea pigs to build trust and strengthen your bond. Be patient, and allow them to explore their surroundings at their own pace.

Healthcare Essentials

Regular veterinary check-ups and healthcare supplements are crucial to monitor your guinea pigs' overall health. Keep an eye on their weight, teeth, and fur condition. Guinea pigs are prone to dental problems, so make sure to provide them with chew toys and monitor their eating habits can help prevent issues. Dental chews like Pet One Small Animal Mineral Chew are essential for guinea pigs as they aid in natural tooth wear, jaw muscle exercise, and mental stimulation. By providing a suitable outlet for their chewing instinct, dental chews prevent inappropriate nibbling on cage bars and promote overall dental health, preventing issues like tooth spurs and infections.

Maintain a clean living environment by spot-cleaning the cage daily and performing a more thorough cleaning at least once a week. Regular grooming, especially for long-haired breeds, is essential to prevent matting and discomfort.

Keeping guinea pigs can be a rewarding experience with the right knowledge and care. Providing a spacious and stimulating environment, a proper diet, social companionship, and regular veterinary attention are key elements to ensure the well-being of these charming rodents. By investing time and effort into understanding and meeting their needs, you'll be rewarded with the joy of happy and healthy guinea pigs as delightful members of your family.

Ready to make your guinea pig care routine a breeze? Shop online of visit us in-store for all your guinea pig care needs. Shop our massive range of high-quality products to keep your piggies happy and healthy. From cozy bedding to nutritious pellets and a variety of guinea pig toys to keep them entertained, our carefully curated selection has everything you need to provide the best for your adorable companions.

How to care for guinea pigs in heat

Guinea pigs, like other small animals, are sensitive to extreme temperatures, including heat. It's essential to take special care of them during hot weather to ensure their well-being. Here are some tips on how to care for guinea pigs in heat:

Provide Adequate Ventilation:  Ensure that the guinea pig's cage is well-ventilated. Good airflow helps prevent heat buildup in their living space.

Keep Them Indoors:  If the temperature is too high, it's advisable to keep your guinea pigs indoors in a cool and shaded area. Indoor beddings offer a blend of comfort, durability, and style to ensure your furry friends stay cosy and content throughout the day.

Avoid Direct Sunlight:  Place the cage in a shaded area to avoid direct sunlight exposure. Guinea pigs are prone to heatstroke, and direct sunlight can quickly raise their body temperature.

Use Cooling Devices:  Animal ice packs are a great way for keeping our fur babies cool in summer, it is very important as they can easily over heat and go downhill very quickly. Animal ice pack covers are made from a fabric which is soft on the inside and waterproof on the outside. This allows the cool to get through without soaking the material.

Frozen Water Bottles:  Freeze water bottles and place them in the cage. The guinea pigs can lean against them to stay cool. Replace the frozen bottles as needed.

Provide Fresh Water:  Ensure a constant supply of fresh, cool water. Guinea pigs can become dehydrated quickly in hot weather.

Offer Refreshing Vegetables:  Provide vegetables with high water content, such as cucumber and lettuce, to help keep them hydrated.

Monitor Eating Habits:  Keep an eye on their food intake. If they're eating less, it might be a sign of discomfort due to the heat.

Cooling Mats:  Place cooling mats or ceramic tiles in their cage. Guinea pigs can rest on these to help regulate their body temperature.

Limit Exercise:  Avoid strenuous exercise or playtime during the hottest parts of the day. Save these activities for cooler mornings or evenings.

Regular Health Checks:  Monitor your guinea pigs for signs of heat stress, such as lethargy, heavy panting, or difficulty breathing. If you notice any of these signs, contact a veterinarian promptly.

Grooming:  If your guinea pigs have long fur, consider giving them a trim to help them stay cooler. However, be careful not to cut their fur too short, as they can get sunburned.