First, congratulations! If you're deciding or have recently brought a guinea pig into your life, this is an exciting time. You'll soon see what fantastic pet guinea pigs make with their unique and interactive personalities.
Second, let's ensure you have all the information and know what you need to care for your new addition. I say this because products on the market are not appropriate yet marketed for guinea pigs.
Over the years, I have learned a lot about guinea pigs. As a result, I can recommend what they actually need—not what the manufacturer wants you to buy.
Everything on this list is essential, but the correct cage is always at the top of my list. What I'm going to say may surprise you—almost all the cages sold in pet stores are not suitable.
We have come to recognize that cage size is everything and so extremely important. For example, guinea pigs are supposed to walk a lot every day. Unfortunately, most commercial cages do not allow for this—the days of tiny cages that fit on the bookshelf or the small table in the corner are over.
A cage needs to be an absolute minimum of 47 x 24 x 14 inches. When measuring a cage, make sure you measure the inside, not the outside, since that's the actual living space.
Get pelleted food. That's about all there is to say about that. I always opt for plain pellets and avoid the colorful kind with dried fruit and nuts. Instead, try Premium Guinea Pig Food pellets.
And hay! Your piggy will need nutritious hay with plenty of fat and protein. Try 3rd Cutting Timothy Hay.
Yes, treats–they will be begging for treats all day long!
Nothing gets them more excited than the prospect of a yummy snack. Of course, you can feed vegetables as snacks, but try these delicious Healthy Snackers if you want to get fancy.
Guinea pigs love hay! It should make up about 65% of their diet, and they should have access to it 24/7. Some folks do not use hay racks, and others can't live without one. We love a good hay rack—it reduces waste.
If you're one of that latter, make sure your rack is large enough to hold a whole day's worth of hay. Then, even though you filled it earlier in the day, you should refill both in the morning and in the evening.
I recommend you fill your hay rack with Small Pet Select's fabulous 3rd Cutting Timothy Hay, high in fat and protein.
Guinea pigs need to have access to water 24/7. Typically, you will see water bottles hanging in a cage, but I have yet to find one that doesn’t leak. It’s hit-or-miss with water bottles.
Quick tip—Try hanging the bottle sideways and leaning down slightly.
Another quick tip is to put a small brick under the drip to absorb the water without saturating the bedding.
You're going to need dishes to feed your guinea pig Premium Guinea Pig Food Pellets. I'm not a fan of ceramic bowls because they're easier to tip over and spill. If you didn't know, guinea pigs like to stand on the side of the bowl while eating.
Spill-proof bowls are the way to go! In fact, I used to get mad about all the spilled and spoiled food, so my brand, Piggies Choice, created a bowl (designed by me!) that is almost impossible to tip over.
Bedding is what you cover the bottom within a cage to provide a soft and comfortable environment. It also absorbs urine to keep the area dry.
Stay away from Cedarwood shavings, and make sure wood flakes are large and do not contain dust. You can use fleece, washable cage liners, but the highest quality and most effective bedding on the market is Soft Paper Bedding.
Guinea pigs aren't as keen on toys as you might think. But, just like their personalities and food preferences, they will also have toy preferences.
I would suggest getting a few toys to see what your piggy likes. Small Pet Select has a lovely collection of handmade artisan toys for guinea pigs and a Guinea Pig 8 Toy Sampler, so you can try a variety.
More important than a toy is a hidey house. I usually tell people to forego the toys and make sure there are plenty of hideys—guinea pigs love hideys!
They love jumping on them, sleeping inside, or just hanging out in them. There are so many designs and styles available that are more functional and not easy to flip over, like the old plastic igloo type. Those have had their "hay-day."
Want to save time and money? Try our Guinea Pig Starter Pack! You get everything in both pigtures!
Guinea pigs are highly social little creatures and absolutely need at least one same-sex or fixed friend. In nature, they live in large groups with many friends to "talk" to and interact with.
When considering adopting a guinea pig for your family, please research the responsibility (and reality) of guinea pig ownership, along with common diseases and proper nutrition. Guinea pigs aren't the right fit for everyone, and an unprepared owner can unintentionally contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle. Sometimes, a pet the whole family can enjoy, like a dog or cat, may be a better option, but adopting is always better than buying.
Much *wheek* *wheek* love,
Founder/Director, Los Angeles Guinea Pig Rescue
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