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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  • We want to take a moment to remember all of your pets who have gone to Rainbow Bridge 🌈 We especially remember our vet Jennifer's bunny Ellie, who passed away unexpectedly yesterday. We also remember Macy, Digit & Pinky, Pebbles and Toyson who all gained their angel wings this week 💜 #Gonebutnotforgotten #RainbowBridge #pets #petsofinstagram #dublinveterinaryclinic #dublinveterinaryhospital #dublinvet #dublinvets #palmerstown #dublin #weloveourjob #weloveourpatients

    pvhvets: "We want to take a moment to remember all of your pets who have gone to Rainbow Bridge 🌈 We especially remember our vet Jennifer's bunny Ellie, who passed away unexpectedly yesterday. We also remember Macy, Digit & Pinky, Pebbles and Toyson who all gained their angel wings this week 💜
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    pvhvets: "More cuddles for Harold 💜 #puppy #puppiesofinstagram #colliesofinstagram #pets #petsofinstagram #dublinveterinaryclinic #dublinveterinaryhospital #dublinvet #dublinvets #palmerstown #dublin #weloveourjob #weloveourpatients #dogs #dogsofinstagram #dogs_of_instagram #dogsofdublin #dogsofpalmerstown"
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  • ☎️ Please call us on 01 6237044 if you cannot attend our hospital for your pets appointment. We are working at a reduced capacity right now so every appointment slot is valuable, as there are other pets in need of veterinary attention. Thank you and Stay safe 💜 #pets #petsofinstagram #dublinveterinaryclinic #dublinveterinaryhospital #dublinvet #dublinvets #palmerstown #dublin #weloveourjob #weloveourpatients

    pvhvets: "☎️ Please call us on 01 6237044 if you cannot attend our hospital for your pets appointment. We are working at a reduced capacity right now so every appointment slot is valuable, as there are other pets in need of veterinary attention. Thank you and Stay safe 💜 #pets #petsofinstagram #dublinveterinaryclinic #dublinveterinaryhospital #dublinvet #dublinvets #palmerstown #dublin #weloveourjob #weloveourpatients"
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  • We are still open for your pets 💜 We ask ALL CLIENTS TO READ THE FOLLOWING GUIDELINES and as always we run by APPOINTMENT ONLY. 🐾 If you have any symptoms of the coronavirus, or have likely been in contact with a confirmed case, please inform our staff before your appointment time. We can still treat your pet but this will allow us to take extra precautions. 🐾 For now, we will be postponing most of our nurse clinics and some non-essential vet appointments and surgeries. 🐾 Please be patient with our staff, we are working very hard to maintain our high standard of care during these unprecedented times. 🐾 We apologise for any inconvenience and we thank you for cooperating. We are doing this for everyone's health and safety. Stay safe 💜 #staysafe #coronavirus #covid_19 #pets #petsofinstagram #dublinveterinaryclinic #dublinveterinaryhospital #dublinvet #dublinvets #palmerstown #dublin #weloveourjob #weloveourpatients

    pvhvets: "We are still open for your pets 💜
We ask ALL CLIENTS TO READ THE FOLLOWING GUIDELINES and as always we run by APPOINTMENT ONLY.
🐾 If you have any symptoms of the coronavirus, or have likely been in contact with a confirmed case, please inform our staff before your appointment time. We can still treat your pet but this will allow us to take extra precautions.
🐾 For now, we will be postponing most of our nurse clinics and some non-essential vet appointments and surgeries. 🐾 Please be patient with our staff, we are working very hard to maintain our high standard of care during these unprecedented times.
🐾 We apologise for any inconvenience and we thank you for cooperating. We are doing this for everyone's health and safety. Stay safe 💜 #staysafe #coronavirus #covid_19 #pets #petsofinstagram #dublinveterinaryclinic #dublinveterinaryhospital #dublinvet #dublinvets #palmerstown #dublin #weloveourjob #weloveourpatients"
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    pvhvets: "It was puppy cuddles for Paula yesterday, when Mowgli visited us 💜 Just look at that face #puppy #puppiesofinstagram #goldenretriever #goldenretrieverpuppy #pets #petsofinstagram #dublinveterinaryclinic #dublinveterinaryhospital #dublinvet #dublinvets #palmerstown #dublin #weloveourjob #weloveourpatients #dogs #dogsofinstagram #dogs_of_instagram #dogsofdublin #dogsofpalmerstown"
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