Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Ontario, Canada
• Horses: 0
I've had guinea pigs and other pocket pets all my life growing up. I'm also a technician in a small animal clinic. I adored having them in my life.
You have been given two excellent reference websites in terms of guinea pig care. Guinealynx.com and guineapigcages.com are both excellent websites and I would def book mark them as a reference.
Store bought cages are simply too small and too expensive! They do not provide guinea pigs enough space to exercise. C&C cages are very easy and inexpensive to build and provide a lot more space for your furry friends. Guinea pigs need to exericse on their own clocks - even you provide them with floor time every day. They are going to be most active at times that are probably not very convenient for you - so the bigger the cage, the better.
Diet is important. Fresh, cold water, changed daily is important for any pet. Vitamine C is a dietary reuirement for guinea pigs and can be provided through a high quality guinea pig pellet and fresh foods (Guinealynx has excellent lists and charts of fresh foods that can be fed). I do not recommend adding it to the drinking water because its broken too quickly in the water, as well it may alter the taste resulting in he pig drinking less.
Guinea pigs older then 6 months of age should have unlimited grass hay (Timothy and Orchard grass hay are popular) to keep their digestive systems moving and to keep their teeth worn down to prevent dental problems. Alfalfa hay is only recommended for young, pregnant or nusing pigs and is NOT recommended for adult pigs as it is very high in calcium and can contribute to bladder stones. If you can learn how to identify good quality hay, and if you have a place to store it, you can try buying a small hay bale from a horse boarding facility which is usually a lot cheaper then smaller bags at the pet store.
For pellets, look for a timothy hay based pellet for pigs older then 6 months. Most pellets are alfalfa based (these should only be fed to pregnant/nusing or very young guinea pigs) a timothy based pellet provides less calcium. Avoid any pellets mixes or treats that contain seeds, nuts or dried fruit bits, meat and dairy (ie yogurt drops) as these are choking hazards and guinea pigs are herbavores (so no meat or dairy). Oxbow Cavy Cuisine and KM's and I believe Mazuri are high quality brand pellets.
There is generally no need to use a salt or mineral wheel.
It's also a good idea to find a veterinarian specializing in exotics before any problems arise. Guinealynx has a good quick reference for illness, as well as a list of safe and dangerous medications. There are veterinarians who mean well but pocket pets like guinea pigs can be tricky to treat - it's best to find one with guinea pig experience early before a problem arises.
There has already been good advice regarding nail trimming. A handy tip for pigs that are more difficult, a thin flat rock at the base of the water bottle helps wear down the front nails.
You may find your guinea pig(s) may not chew on store bought toys or chews. Providing unlimited hay is the best way to avoid dental problems. There are lots of things you can provide in the cage: large tubes, hammocks, cozies, hiding houses, safe rampts etc. Generally bar chewing is a sign of boredom and is not a good way of wearing down teeth. Another reason to provide unlimited hay and a larger cage then something store bought.
I will again recommend Guinealynx and Guineapigcages. They are the best websites for guinea pig care you will come accross.
Good luck with your pig(s) and be sure to post lots of pictures!