Understanding your guinea pig
Guinea pigs originate from South America and there are eight species of the sociable rodent, with the ‘cavy’ species commonly kept as a domestic pet.
And, as every Northampton guinea pigowner knows, there’s no one perfect way to keep them happy – they’re individuals, after all. Nonetheless, Animal Medical Centre has put together a handy checklist to help you meet your guinea pig’s needs.
1. Be gentle and consistent
Guinea pigs can be easily stressed if there’re sudden changes to their environment or routine. Be careful when handling them and always pull them close to your chest or lap so that they feel safe.
They can also feel anxious if there’re sudden changes to their water, food or bedding, so try to keep their environment consistent.
Guinea pig stress manifests itself in similar ways to other mammals: they can become irritable, aggressive or depressed and less active.
2. Keep their friends close
Guinea pigs are always happiest when living with their friends; if you’re a guinea pig owner it’s worth having at least two. If you just want one, you’ll need to give it extra love and attention to prevent loneliness.
3. Give them routine
Keeping a routine is important with regards to the type of food you select, the time you feed them and time spent handling them. If you plan on making any changes to their routine, introduce them gradually.
4. Feed them greens
These herbivores require plenty of vitamin C, so nourish them with nutrient-rich veg like kale and cabbage. You could also treat them to fruits like melon slices ad apples – just be sure to remove the seeds, which are toxic.
5. Pick the right toy
Guinea pigs are not particularly agile and don’t climb well. They love chewing, though and do so to file their sharp teeth. Bear this in mind when buying toys for your beloved rodent. Try treating them to seesaws, ramps, run-about balls and pipes.