Guinea pigs are among the friendliest pets, and guinea pig care is not difficult to learn. A guinea pig is often a good first pet for children but should not be given to kids at too young an age. The child shouldn’t be less than nine years old and should be taught the responsibility of owning a pet and of proper guinea pig care. If you are a parent, you must make sure to provide proper supervision and the equipment and food necessary to keep a guinea pig healthy and happy.
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Guinea pigs do not do well if left to run free around the house and usually end up being hurt or killed. So, it is important to have all the most essential equipment for guinea pig care set up when you bring your guinea pig home. The first things they will need are shelter, food, and water.
Picking out the cage for your guinea pig is a simple task. There are all kinds of guinea pig cages available, and they can range from a small basic cage that holds one to a palace that holds several and has lots of room to run around. When buying a guinea pig cage, it is best not to get the kind that has metal, grill-type floors or raised floors. These can hurt the animal’s feet and cause foot infections and other problems. A nice, flat plastic or vinyl surface is perfect for the cage bottom. There should also be places to attach a water bottle. Also make sure that there is sufficient room for a box or other object in which your guinea pig can hide and/or sleep. A cage for one guinea pig should have at a minimum five to six feet of space.
Guinea pigs need bedding in which to sleep and a litter box in which to relieve themselves. Wood shavings are an excellent choice. Cedar shavings are OK for guinea pigs but not for some other pets, such as rabbits. Shredded newspapers work well as long as they have a soy-based ink—no colored inks. Some kinds of ink are toxic to animals. Hardwood chips are also available for guinea pig bedding.
Water bottles are much better to use with guinea pigs than placing a bowl of water on the floor of the cage. Your guinea pig can easily knock over a bowl of water plus it’s harder to keep it clean day in and day out. You might be surprised how often it gets dirtied with hay, food, and sometimes even excrement. A plastic water bottle with ball bearings and a tube for sucking is the best choice. Nothing can accumulate inside, and it’s easy to wash and fill.
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A big part of guinea pig care is feeding. Guinea pigs need to have fresh grass hay (can be bought in bags) to feed on at all times. They also need basic pelleted guinea pig food—don’t buy the kind that has added ingredients, such as dried fruit or seeds. A guinea pig can live totally on pelleted food, but that is not the healthiest choice. They should also have at least two cups a day of vegetables to eat. All dark, green leafy vegetables are good including mustard greens, dandelion greens, spinach, turnip and collard greens. They can have an occasional piece of fruit but not too many sweets, or they will want to eat nothing else.
Love and attention should be the highest priority for your guinea pig companion. Make sure to pet your guinea pig every day and let it out of its cage for play whenever possible. Check to see that your guinea pig is safe around any other pets you may have, and that any areas where he can wander have been pet-proofed—electric wires should be covered, all plants removed, and all poisonous substances put away where your pet cannot reach them.