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Guinea Pigs as Pets

Beautiful Guinea Pig

Guinea pigs are one of the cute rodent species from South America. They are also called Cavies and they belong to the Caviidae family. Earlier only in the highlands of Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru, Guinea Pigs are kept as pets, and popularly, are considered pets all around the world.

Owning a single guinea pig is illegal. Guinea pigs will be happy if they are with another species of their own. So if you wish to pet a Guinea pig then you should have to own at least two.

Guinea Pigs

Like other rodents, Guinea Pigs have robust bodies with short limbs in which they may grow from 8-18 inches and may weigh about 1-3 pounds. The hind limbs are longer than the front limbs. They have 4 toes on the front limb and 3 toes on the hind limb in which each toe has a sharp claw.

They have eyes on the side of their head and are capable of seeing forward and backward, but they have difficulties having a direct view. They have small ears on their blunt head also they don’t have a tail. Instead, they have hair all over their furry body, but the fur and body color also differ according to the Guinea Pig breed.

They have 20 tiny teeth in their mouth to chew the grass and veggies and they tend to grow throughout their lifetime. So it is necessary to give them enrich vitamin and nutrient content food to support their growth.

Beautiful Guinea Pigs

Guinea Pigs as Pets

Yes, guinea pigs are the most adorable pets you can have. They also love to socialize with you. You can handle them every day and they will be affectionate if you handle them. They feel lonely on their own so you should house another guinea pig of the same sex with them.

But when they come in contact with other pets, they panic and may even get injured. Never try to introduce them to other pets like dogs or cats.

Guinea pigs love to be handled and doing so will make them more affectionate. You can even allow them to freely roam in your house but you have to be cautious as they are easily injured. All the types of Guinea pigs costs between $10 – $40 and some of the types of Guinea Pigs are,

Types of Guinea Pigs Origin  Size Life span
AMERICAN GUINEA PIG/ AMERICAN CRESTED South America, particularly in the Peruvian Andes. 8 to 9 inches 4 to 7 years
HIMALAYAN GUINEA PIG South-East Asia 8 to 12 inches  5 to 7 years
RIDGEBACK GUINEA PIG America 5 to 12 inches 4-7 years
TEDDY GUINEA PIG Not specific because the breed was found via genetic mutation 8 to 12 inches 4 to 5 years
REX GUINEA PIG South America 8 to 17 inches 5 to 6 years
ABYSSINIAN GUINEA PIG South America 8 to 12 inches 5 to 8 years
SHEBA GUINEA PIG  Australia 7 to 12 inches  4-7 years
SILKIE GUINEA PIG UK (the result of crossbreeding) 7 to 10 inches  5 to 7 years
TEXEL GUINEA PIG England  7 to 12 inches  4 to 7 years
CORNET GUINEA PIG England 7 to 12 inches  6 to 8 years
PERUVIAN GUINEA PIG Paris 8 to 12 inches 4-7 years
ALPACA GUINEA PIG Originated from English Peruvian Guinea Pigs 6 to 11 inches 5-8 years
MERINO GUINEA PIG Originated from the English Peruvian Guinea pig 4 to 11 inches 5 years+
LUNKARYA GUINEA PIG Sweden  4 to 12 inches 5-8 years
SKINNY  GUINEA PIG Canada 8 to 11 inches 4 years +
BALDWIN GUINEA PIG California 8 to 11 inches 4-6 years

Do they bite?

Guinea pigs are docile creatures and they bite only if they are threatened to protect themselves. Sometimes when you handle, they try to eat your fingers just to see whether you are edible or not. Their bite doesn’t hurt and they are not aggressive at all.

Diet of Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs are herbivores and they love grass hay. Grass hay should be available all the time at their enclosure. Apart from that, they eat all greens, vegetables, and fruits. You can also provide them pellets, but those pellets should be free of animal byproducts and low in corn content.

Most of their pellets are rich in alfalfa content. We can give those pellets to young and gravid Guinea Pigs. Pellets which are rich in timothy are best suitable for adult Guinea pigs because they are low in calcium content. Use the pellets which are only formulated for Guinea Pigs.

Always have a dripper at a fair height with a bowl under that dripper. The water should be changed every day and never use distilled or any mineral water.

Enclosure for Guinea Pigs

Guinea Pigs love to live in groups so much that people prefer to pet more than two guinea pigs. It is not recommended to have a plastic, or glass, or wired enclosure for guinea pigs. Use an enclosure that is made from cubes and coroplast, a corrugated plastic also known as C&C cages.

They solely depend on the flooring of the cage because they don’t climb. The top of the cage can be open but the length of the cage should be maximized because Guinea pigs are very active pets so they love to roam and explore their cages.

Guinea Pig Wandering

Reproduction of Guinea Pigs

Both the male and the female guinea pigs become sexually mature and fertile after 2-3 months. Female guinea pigs (after 2 months) undergo estrous or fertile periods for 16 days, during which they are fertile and will be ready to mate by nighttime.

Personally, I would not recommend breeding the guinea pigs because females have a shorter lifespan while giving birth. Their pregnancy is quite complicated because their pubic symphysis becomes rigid and won’t be flexible enough to give live birth. At that time Cesarean can be kept as an option but the female won’t survive even the surgery is done by a specialist.

The lifespan of Guinea Pigs

If properly cared for, guinea pigs will live 5 – 8 years. They won’t survive if the temperature is too hot or too cold. Their preferred temperature is about 65°F to 75°F and the humidity level should be below 50%.

Common diseases in Guinea Pigs

  • Diarrhea
  • Dental Disease
  • Vitamin C Deficiency (Scurvy)
  • conjunctivitis (pink eye)
  • Ear infections
  • Hardening of the Organs (Metastatic Calcification)
  • Pregnancy Toxemia (Ketosis)
  • Pneumonia
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica Infection
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae Infection

Final Thoughts

Guinea Pigs are the cutest and the most amazing pet you can have. Like cats and dogs, they love to cuddle and play all the time. They can express their love towards you by hopping up and down whenever they see you. You should take care of them properly by providing a proper nutritious diet to them because they can easily be prone to many kinds of diseases.