Guinea Pig

How to take care of your pet guinea pig

These species were first domesticated in South America about a thousand years ago, now they are beloved pets all over the world. Highly social animals, so should be kept in breeding pairs or single sex groups (females after mating immediately change to aggressively defensive). They are crepuscular in nature (ie feed at dawn and dusk) and coprophagy (eating certain parts of their faeces several times daily-termed caecotrophs) is very important for certain vitamins. They do not jump or climb, and their response to danger is either freeze or flight (this behaviour is contagious). They love their food (have been observed excitedly squealing when fridge door is opened!) but do not take well to changes in diet. Guinea pigs do not like loud noises, and will get severely stressed if exposed to them. Sense of smell is really important, they recognise individuals via nose to nose contact, and you may see them rubbing against surfaces, this is a process known as scent marking, and is something they do to mark their territory. You will get to know the several different kinds of vocalisations your new pet will make, the ‘chut’, ‘purr’ or the ‘chutter’- if he/she squeals or screams however they are in pain or very stressed.

Fact sheet

Life expectancy    4-7 years

Weight                  Females: 700-900g, Male: 900-1100g Reach full size by 15 months

Gestation              60-72 days (shorter if small litter)

Size of litter          2-6   (can have 4 litters a year)

Weaning                3 weeks old

Puberty                  Male : 8-10 weeks / Female : 4-5 weeks

Feed                       ~40g a day / 100 mls water

Housing

Can house outdoor or indoor. If outdoor, ensure wooden hutch is raised off the ground to avoid damp, and place indoors in winter. Hutches should be at least 25cm height and well ventilated. Wire mesh floors can lead to foot and leg injuries. 2 compartments are ideal, one mesh fronted for ventilation and the other solid for nesting. Suitable bedding material include wood shavings / hay / straw. Cardboard boxes can be used as a hidey hole but these may be chewed so plastic best. They should have access to a run for exercising and grazing (should be protected from predators). NEVER KEEP WITH RABBITS, as bullying occurs by the rabbit and can carry diseases that will not show in the rabbit but will severely affect your guinea pig ie respiratory infections or abscesses. Keep at a temperature of 18-26 degrees, as guinea pigs are very susceptible to heat stroke, esp if pregnant. Cage should be cleaned out once weekly to prevent build up of bacteria

Diet

MUST CONTAIN VITAMIN C (at least 10mg/kg/day but 5 times this if pregnant or sick). Most species make their own, guinea pigs however need it in their food. Commercial guinea pig diets are supplemented with it, but their shelf life is short and the vit c content depletes with time, and it must be kept in a cold dark place. If supplementing with human products ensure only vit c present as multivitamins contain too high levels of other things ie vit D. Vegetables high in vit c include kale / parsley / spinach / red and green peppers / tomatoes, fruits include kiwi and oranges. All veg must be removed after one day.  Can also put rubex (a small piece of dissolvable vit C tablet) into water but this must be changed after one day as it also degrades quickly. Good quality hay and lots of green foods ie grass / dandelions / broccoli are also essential for fibre, intestinal motility and tooth wear. Avocado is highly toxic so avoid this. Guinea pigs develop their tastes early in life and find it difficult to change – even a different brand of food may be refused. Water bottles easily plug with food remnants from the guinea pigs mouth-check daily while changing. In general it is better to have a water bowl as they will drink more from this and so keep their gut contents hydrate-important to avoid gut stasis which is a common problem in herbivores. Avoid sugary treats like apples or carrots as these can predispose to diabetes

Things to watch out for

Handling – hold around the chest and support the hindquarters, then reposition fingers so one or two support the collarbone, remaining ones support the chest and thumbs wrap around the shoulders. Bring him/her into your chest and allow to acclimatise before moving again

Hair pulling and nibbling are signs of stress, along with vocalisations mentioned earlier. If a guinea pig ever goes off their food for more than 12 hours, something is wrong, bring to us for assessment immediately.

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  • Introducing the amazing Blue Skye (and Paula aka @thepurrfectnurse ) 😻 How amazing is this little guy 🐾 He was with us last week for surgery and is just about the snuggliest, softest cat we have ever met 💜 #pets #petsofinstagram #dublinveterinaryclinic #dublinveterinaryhospital #dublinvet #dublinvets #palmerstown #dublin #weloveourjob #weloveourpatients #cats #catsofinstagram #cats_of_instagram #catsofdublin #catsofpalmerstown

    pvhvets: "Introducing the amazing Blue Skye (and Paula aka @thepurrfectnurse ) 😻
How amazing is this little guy 🐾 He was with us last week for surgery and is just about the snuggliest, softest cat we have ever met 💜 #pets #petsofinstagram #dublinveterinaryclinic #dublinveterinaryhospital #dublinvet #dublinvets #palmerstown #dublin #weloveourjob #weloveourpatients #cats #catsofinstagram #cats_of_instagram #catsofdublin #catsofpalmerstown"
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    pvhvets: "We like to take a moment on Sunday evenings to remember your pets who have gone to Rainbow Bridge 🌈

We especially remember Benson, Wendy, Winkie, Sam, Roxie and Stevey who all gained their angel wings this week 🐾 Our thoughts are with their families at this difficult time 💜 #RainbowBridge #SundayThought #pets #petsofinstagram #dublinveterinaryclinic #dublinveterinaryhospital #dublinvet #dublinvets #palmerstown #dublin #weloveourjob #weloveourpatients"
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  • Happy Caturday 😻 Caitriona's kitten Enzo was neutered last week and enjoyed lots of cuddles and TLC afterwards 😻 He is back to his normal bouncy self now 🐈 #caturday #pets #petsofinstagram #dublinveterinaryclinic #dublinveterinaryhospital #dublinvet #dublinvets #palmerstown #dublin #weloveourjob #weloveourpatients #cats #catsofinstagram #cats_of_instagram #catsofdublin #catsofpalmerstown #happycaturday

    pvhvets: "Happy Caturday 😻
Caitriona's kitten Enzo was neutered last week and enjoyed lots of cuddles and TLC afterwards 😻 He is back to his normal bouncy self now 🐈 #caturday  #pets #petsofinstagram #dublinveterinaryclinic #dublinveterinaryhospital #dublinvet #dublinvets #palmerstown #dublin #weloveourjob #weloveourpatients #cats #catsofinstagram #cats_of_instagram #catsofdublin #catsofpalmerstown #happycaturday"
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    pvhvets: "Throwback Thursday to this supercute trio 😻 #TBT
Taco (Paula's kitty), Lily (Caitriona's kitty) and Peter (our lovely client Liz's kitty) were all about 3 months old in the pic 💜 #pets #petsofinstagram #dublinveterinaryclinic #dublinveterinaryhospital #dublinvet #dublinvets #palmerstown #dublin #weloveourjob #weloveourpatients #cats #catsofinstagram #cats_of_instagram #catsofdublin #catsofpalmerstown"
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    pvhvets: "Make sure you add your message when you visit us 💜 #valentines #valentinesday2020 #loveisintheair #pets #petsofinstagram #dublinveterinaryclinic #dublinveterinaryhospital #dublinvet #dublinvets #palmerstown #dublin #weloveourjob #weloveourpatients"
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  • When a patient is under general anaesthetic at PVH, there is always a qualified nurse closely monitoring your pet 🐾 When your pet has a general anaesthetic they have an E.T. tube (endotracheal tube) placed, in order to provide the anaesthetic agent safely 💜 We thought this video was pretty cool......can you see the dogs breath moving through their E.T (endotracheal) tube #pets #petsofinstagram #dublinveterinaryclinic #dublinveterinaryhospital #dublinvet #dublinvets #palmerstown #dublin #weloveourjob #dogsofinstagram #dogs #weloveourpatients #generalanaesthesia #generalanaesthetic #endotrachealtube

    pvhvets: "When a patient is under general anaesthetic at PVH, there is always a qualified nurse closely monitoring your pet 🐾 When your pet has a general anaesthetic they have an E.T. tube (endotracheal tube) placed, in order to provide the anaesthetic agent safely 💜 We thought this video was pretty cool......can you see the dogs breath moving through their E.T (endotracheal) tube #pets #petsofinstagram #dublinveterinaryclinic #dublinveterinaryhospital #dublinvet #dublinvets #palmerstown #dublin #weloveourjob #dogsofinstagram #dogs #weloveourpatients #generalanaesthesia #generalanaesthetic #endotrachealtube"
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    pvhvets: "Calcifer is a Russian tortoise 😍 he is so small but moves quite fast for a little guy ☺️ #tortoise #russiantortoise #exoticpets #exoticpet #exoticpetsofinstagram #exoticsvet #exoticsveterinarian #exoticsvetdublin #pets #petsofinstagram #dublinveterinaryclinic #dublinveterinaryhospital #dublinvet #dublinvets #palmerstown #dublin #weloveourjob #weloveourpatients"
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  • We are delighted to announce that Julian has gained a new qualification 💜 He now has a Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice in Zoological Medicine (ZooMed) 🐾 Wow...he is super talented and an expert with all exotic species 🐍🐢🦔🦜🐁🐠🐀🦎Join us in congratulating him on this amazing achievement 👏🏻 #exoticpets #exoticpet #exoticpetsofinstagram #exoticsvet #exoticsveterinarian #exoticsvetdublin #pets #petsofinstagram #dublinveterinaryclinic #dublinveterinaryhospital #dublinvet #dublinvets #palmerstown #dublin #weloveourjob #weloveourpatients

    pvhvets: "We are delighted to announce that Julian has gained a new qualification 💜 He now has a Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice in Zoological Medicine (ZooMed) 🐾 Wow...he is super talented and an expert with all exotic species 🐍🐢🦔🦜🐁🐠🐀🦎Join us in congratulating him on this amazing achievement 👏🏻 #exoticpets #exoticpet #exoticpetsofinstagram #exoticsvet #exoticsveterinarian #exoticsvetdublin #pets #petsofinstagram #dublinveterinaryclinic #dublinveterinaryhospital #dublinvet #dublinvets #palmerstown #dublin #weloveourjob #weloveourpatients"
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