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Guinea Pigs

Diet: Guinea pigs, like humans, require vitamin C from their food. They are unable to manufacture it on their own. They should be fed a combination of commercially available guinea pig pellets and high quality oat or timothy hay. Rabbit pellets are not fortified with vitamin C and should not be fed to guinea pigs. The pellets should be used within two months of the mill date and stored in the refrigerator to preserve the vitamin C as much as possible. Do not rely entirely on the pellets to provide your guinea pig with vitamin C. They should also be offered small amounts of dark leafy greens, carrots, carrot tops, and other vegetables and fruits. Introduce the fresh food slowly to help prevent your guinea pig from developing diarrhea. Guinea pigs need to have food moving through their intestines at all times. Therefore, pellets and hay should always be available to them.

Water: Water is required for all living animals. A clean source of water should always be available. Water bottles should be cleaned daily with soap and warm water.

Temperature: Guinea pigs are extremely sensitive to heat. They should be kept at mild temperatures (mid 60's to 80's) away from drafts and heat ducts. During the hot summer months, they should be provided with shade if outside. Ice bottles may be necessary to keep them cool enough.

Cage: Guinea pigs are very curious creatures, and need to be kept in a cage when they are not supervised. A wire cage with a tray is the best. Ideally the cage should be as big as space allows, but at least 2 feet wide by 4 feet long by 2 feet high. This will allow for a play area, feeding area, and a sleeping area.

Litter box training: Some guinea pigs can be trained to use a litter box. This will require patience.

Sleeping Area: Guinea pigs like tight places to sleep. This is easily accomplished with a small box and a towel. The towel should be washed frequently.

Play Area: Guinea pigs love to play and are extremely curious. They should be allowed to have free time outside of their cage daily in a protected area. Do not leave your guinea pig outside the cage unsupervised for any period of time.

Grooming: Guinea pigs should be groomed regularly. Hair balls can form in their stomachs or intestines. They occasionally cause life-threatening obstructions. Long fibers from hay help to prevent serious problems.

Health Care: Healthy guinea pigs need yearly exams. They should be examined regularly for mites and other external parasites. Also, they should have their teeth examined regularly. Overgrown teeth are very common and can cause serious health problems. Guinea pigs that do not eat for 6 hours or longer should see their veterinarian IMMEDIATELY. Anorexia can be caused by many health problems and can become fatal if not treated quickly.

Spaying and Neutering: Guinea pigs are social animals. Females can be bred as early as eight weeks and should not be bred any later than six months. The pelvic girdle fuses in older animals if not bred early, making it impossible for the female to deliver the pup without a C-section. Females housed alone or with other females do not need to be spayed. Males should be neutered if housed together or they will fight once they reach sexual maturity. Males should not be housed with females without first being neutered unless breeding is intended.