Guinea pigs are fantastic, furry, and loveable pets. However, there are some things you should know before you go out and purchase one.
They Need A Large Cage
Guinea pigs need plenty of floor space to move around, especially if you get two. Unfortunately, guinea pig cages are often sold too small for the typical guinea pig. The ideal cage should be at least 30" by 76", and the floor pan should be at least 4-6" deep for multiple guinea pigs. (Source: How To Choose a Proper Guinea Pig Cage, by Drs. Foster and Smith Educational Staff.) Be sure to get a wire cage like Midwest Interact Guinea Habitat Plus that's open for respiratory health, and has plenty of floor space.
They're Social Animals
Guinea pigs are very social animals. Therefore, they'll be happiest living with another guinea pig. When you go out to buy your guinea pigs, be sure to get two of the same gender. To avoid bonding issues, introduce the two while they're still young.
They Need Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an essential part of a guinea pig's diet. Unfortunately, guinea pigs don't naturally produce the vitamin, and they don't usually get enough of it from their food. To help your guinea pigs get the proper amount of vitamin C, provide a quality diet with a variety of fresh foods. You'll probably also have to supplement vitamin C. There are supplements available for your pet's water, which will need to be changed daily, but that might not be the best option for your pet due to the fact that vitamin C dissolves quickly. Consider giving your guinea pig a good vitamin C tablet supplement like Oxbow Daily C Chewable Vitamin Tablets For Small Animals, instead.
They're Skittish At First
When you first get your guinea pigs, they might be a little nervous and skittish. For this reason, they'll probably require a little taming, but that's fairly easy to do. Guinea pigs are very unlikely to bite, even if they're feeling nervous, so tame your guinea pig by careful and consistent handling. Your guinea pig will eventually learn that he's safe with you, and will stop feeling so nervous. If you let children handle the guinea pigs, be sure to supervise them.
They Require Commitment
Guinea pigs live for a long time, generally 5-7 years. Not only that, but they require lots of love and attention. Be sure to handle your guinea pigs for 1 or 2 hours each day, and never leave your children alone with them.
Think you're ready to own a guinea pig or two? If the answer to this question is yes, avoid the pet store, and consider adopting from a local pet shelter. Take good care of them, and have fun!