Skip to content Skip to navigation

Small pet month: Caring for your Guinea pig

Are you thinking of rescuing a Guinea pig? Like rabbits and ferrets, Guinea pigs require an environment and treatment distinct from dogs and cats. 

By understanding what your new Guinea pig pair need, you can help them feel comfortable and happy in your home!

Guinea Pig Fact File

Guinea pigs live for around four to eight years, so their care is a long-term commitment.

Males are known as boars and females are called sows. 

Guinea pigs need company of their own kind and should be kept in groups or in pairs.

TIP: Don’t forget, if you’re planning to keep a male and female together, it’s essential that the male is neutered to avoid unwanted babies. 

Guinea pigs live an average of four to eight years.

Do not keep guinea pigs and rabbits in the same hutch or run, as the guinea pigs may be bullied and injured.

TIP: Guinea pigs make a great first pet for children as they are usually much happier to be handled compared to other small pets.

It’s unclear where the ‘guinea’ part of their name comes from, as they were originally found in Brazil and Peru.

Settling in a new Guinea pig/pair of pigs

1. Don’t pass the Guinea pig around

When you take your new pet home, try not to pass it around from person to person in the first couple of days.

It will settle much quicker if just one person holds and cuddles the Guinea pig for a few minutes at a time so it can gradually acclimatise to its new surroundings.

2. Let the Guinea pig get used to the cage

Because it is in its new home, your new Guinea pig will need some time to get used to its new surroundings. 

Although tempting, try to find a balance between keeping it in the cage or hutch and being handled slowly.

3. Get used to handling your Guinea pig

Handle your Guinea pig gently two to three times a day. This way it can get to know you and become used to who you are and what you do.

After a few weeks, your new pet will soon come to the front of the cage to meet you when you visit.

Always go to handle the guinea pig with the intention of being gentle and never hold the guinea pig by grabbing the scruff of its neck.

Guinea pig shopping list 

Guinea pigs need a good sized hutch and indoor play pen where they can run around and enjoy their time together. One guinea pig should have a cage no smaller than 30" x 36" and two guinea pigs should have a cage no smaller than 30" x 50".

Other things include:

- Toys and knawing materials
- Tunnels
- Hidey houses
- Hay
- Sawdust
- Blankets
- Food and water bowls
- Water bottle
- Litter tray

What is it like to have a pet Guinea pig?

Guinea pigs are not very high maintenance and are generally easy to look after. They love to eat and are strict herbivores (meaning they only eat leaves and vegetables – no meat), they are very sociable pets and are usually very affectionate.

Although some smaller animals are nocturnal, Guinea pigs are awake during day, meaning they are up when you are! Scientifically, Guinea pigs cannot produce Vitamin C by themselves so they need fresh veggies morning and night.

Guinea pig cages must be cleaned daily and bedding should be changed every three days. They cannot use a ball or wheel like hamsters so need regularly exercise in a large cage or floor pen, you can buy these in stores or on online websites such as Amazon.

SEE MORE: Meet the Guinea pigs at our centres looking for loving homes

Add new comment