Guinea pigs can make wonderful pets for adults and children alike.
Not only are they small, gentle and interactive, they’re adorable too.
However, a guinea pig isn’t the sort of pet you can feed and forget about – they need a fair bit of care and attention each day.
Before I got my guinea pigs, Jake and Finn, I don’t think I realized how much time and work goes into their maintenance.
So, to help you understand exactly what goes into looking after a guinea pig, here’s a brief rundown on their daily care.
Is Caring for a Guinea Pig Hard?
Guinea pigs are not a complicated animal to look after, but they still require time and attention like any pet.
You’ll need to feed your guinea pig daily and make sure they have access to fresh water.
You’ll also have to exercise and interact with them every day, and clean their cage every 3 to 7 days.
Guinea Pig Care in Five Easy Steps
Step 1. Space
First thing’s first, you’ll need to select a suitable enclosure for your guinea pig.
There are a couple of options when it comes to guinea pig housing – you can use a commercial cage or make your own.
Many guinea pig owners choose to create their own cage using coroplast and cube grids as the materials are a lot cheaper than most commercial cages.
Store Bought Cages
A lot of commercial enclosures fall under the recommended minimum cage size.
My guinea pigs used to be housed in a store-bought hutch, but since I moved them to a larger coroplast and cube grid cage, they’ve been a lot happier.
A single guinea pig needs at least 7.5 square feet of space, but a pair requires a minimum of 7.5 square feet to 10.5 square feet of space.
Try to get or make the largest cage you can as bigger is always better.
Last but not least, try to keep your guinea pig as comfortable as possible at all times.
This means avoiding stressors or anything that could upset them.
Guinea pigs like quietness, so place your guinea pig’s cage in a room or outdoor space that’s away from noise.
Where To Place Hutch
The cage should also be away from direct sunlight, heaters, draughts, and vents.
Don’t let any other animals get near your pet.
If you have a dog or cat, use a cover or top on your guinea pig’s indoor cage to be on the safe side.
An outdoor hutch could be made more secure by installing fencing around it, helping you keep your guinea pig safe from predators.
Step 2. Get a Little Closer
When you first bring your guinea pigs home, they’re likely to be quite timid and nervous, especially if they’re not used to humans.
To tame your guinea pigs and win their trust, you’ll need to interact with them daily.
Speak to your cavies in a calm and gentle voice, and offer them a treat like a slice of carrot every time you approach their cage.
During free range time, sit in the same room as your cavies and let them sniff and investigate you.
With time and patience, your guinea pigs will start to associate your presence as a positive.
My piggies were very wary of me when I first brought them home – they used to dart into their hideaway as soon as they saw me.
But, over a number of weeks with daily interaction, they started to trust me and come out of hiding.
Fast forward to today and my guinea pigs adore attention.
Each time they see me approach their cage, they rush to see me and squeak excitedly. During free range play, they’re much more interested in me than they are playing!
Pair Them Off
Guinea pigs are social animals, so they prefer to be kept in pairs or groups.
A single guinea pig will need a lot of interaction and attention to prevent them from getting lonely or bored.
If you can, try to get a pair or small group of guinea pigs (as long as you have the space!).
Males can be kept with other males, and females can be kept with other females.
If you want to keep a male and female together, you’ll need to neuter the male first to avoid being overrun with pups
Step 3. Exercise
Exercise is important for guinea pigs as it helps keep them fit and healthy.
It also provides your small pet with a way to blow off some steam and have fun.
Guinea pigs need around 3 to 4 hours of exercise each day, so make sure you offer your cavy some time outside their cage.
Fill their play area with toys and activities like tunnels, hideaways, and chews. You could even create them a maze or obstacle course to navigate!
You can use an enclosed outside run or a play pen, or even a room that is guinea pig proof.
If doing the latter, block off any holes or crevices your guinea pigs could squeeze into, and tidy away any cables or belongings you don’t want chewing.
Step 4. Green Vegetables for Your Guinea Pig
Good nutrition is critical for your guinea pig’s health and for ensuring they live long and happily.
Guinea pigs require grass hay like Timothy hay, pellets, and leafy green vegetables/herbs (like kale, parsley, and romaine lettuce) every day.
Guinea pigs can’t make their own vitamin C, which is why you need to feed them foods enriched with it.
High-quality guinea pig pellets should be enriched with this vitamin, as well as certain fruits and vegetables such as kiwi, spinach, and asparagus.
Step 5. Cleanup Your Guinea Pig
Keeping your guinea pig’s habitat clean is another vital step in their care.
An unclean environment can contribute to mold buildup urinary tract infections, fungal and mite infections, respiratory distress, and many other unpleasant issues.
You should aim to do a full clean of your guinea pig’s cage every 3 to 7 days.
The frequency will depend on the size of your cage and the number of guinea pigs you own.
Personally, I like to spot clean my guinea pigs’ habitat every day to keep their surroundings cleaner for longer.
It also reduces the amount of time I spend doing a full clean, so it’s a good habit to get into.
Spot cleaning involves removing visible droppings and sodden bedding, and generally just keeping the area tidy.
As you can see, caring for a guinea pig does require a bit of work, but it’s an incredibly rewarding experience.
Having a special bond with your cavies is truly heartwarming, and makes even the more dull tasks of their care more than worth it.
I like all parts of my guinea pigs’ care as it’s all part of the joys of owning them, and I know they appreciate what I do.
I hope I helped you understand more about what goes into guinea pig maintenance, but let me know if there’s anything I haven’t mentioned that you’re unsure of!
If you’re looking for more helpful guides on how to take care of this adorable rodent, then be sure to check out our other posts.