Caring for Guinea Pigs

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Feeding Tips

While surfing the web I found a great diet video for first time guinea pig owners, or people looking to gain more knowledge on proper guinea pig diet.  It gives a really good overview on all the things your piggy needs including hay, veggies, fruits, and pelleted foods.  My guinea pig loves carrots, tomatoes, and of course timothy hay.  I have also tried the grass she was talking about but I actually grew my own organic grass inside for him.  He really liked this but it started to get messy and smelly, so if you try growing your own organic grass, be ready for that.  The basic things to remember when feeding are:

  • Always have timothy hay in the cage
  • Try to feed veggies everyday, and a variety throughout the week
  • Don’t forget pelleted food and fruits
  • Use hay rather than alfala
  • Keep in mind their unique vitamin C needs

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Something guinea pig owners often have questions about is popcorning.  It can be alarming to see your cavy doing this if you do not know it is a normal behavior.  Here is a video example I found of an adorable guinea pig popcorning.  They do this when they are very happy or excited.  When my own guinea pig was young, he would do this so hard that he would often fall over on his side and sort of shake, as if he was having a seizure.  This was scary to watch sometimes especially since I had one of my guinea pigs die of a seizure.  But I realized he was just extremely excited and that is how he likes to show it. I find this to be one of the coolest and most unique things guinea pigs do.

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Origin and Biology of Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs are native to South American countries such as Peru, Argentina, and Brazil.  In the wild they burrow and hide most of the day, then feed at night.  Guinea pigs were first domesticated in the 1500’s when they were brought to Europe as pets.   There are a few specials things to consider when caring for a guinea pig.  First, their teeth are open-rooted which means they never stop growing.  Therefore you will need hard chew toys to keep your piggy’s teeth at a healthy size.  Another thing to remember is since they cannot retain vitamin c, you will need to either feed them lots of fruit and veggies or give them a supplement.  There is also some other basic info about guinea pigs you should know:

  • Average Lifespan of 4-5 years
  • Part of the Rodent family
  • Average daily food intake: 1/8 cup
  • Average daily water intake: 100-200 ml
  • They MUST have hay at all times
  • They are considered diurnal (active during the day)

For more information here’s a great site on the Biology of Guinea Pigs.