Guinea pigs (Cavies) originate from Peru where they roam about the countryside in family groups, usually consisting of one male and a group of females and their young. They are naturally nervous animals, but they soon become used to gentle handling and rarely bite. They can be vocal to get your attention, and the average life span is 6 - 8 years
They need at least a 4ft hutch for a pair, with a run on the grass during the summer.
They should be moved under cover in, say, a shed, or even indoors, during the coldest part of the winter. It is safest to keep them on hay with a thick layer of newspaper underneath, for ease of cleaning as shavings or sawdust can cause skin problems.
Two un-neutered males can be kept together, but they must be kept away from females, or they will fight. Should one die the remaining boar is best paired with a young boar of between 6 and 8 weeks. Two or more females or a neutered male and female can be paired and kept together at any age. To pair up guinea pigs, clean the hutch thoroughly, pile in lots of vegetables and fresh hay, then place the guinea pigs in the hutch. Alternatively place them in a run on the grass together if the weather is nice.
Guinea pigs cannot make their own vitamin C, so they need lots of fresh vegetables daily, give a variety to prevent boredom and to provide different nutrients, along with a good quality pellet food to prevent selective feeding. It is essential to give plenty of hay, to help with the absorption of vitamins, and for roughage.
Do not feed Potato, rhubarb, or citrus fruits, but they can have lots of grass, dandelion, clover, and sow thistle in summer.
Guinea pigs are prone to skin problems. Advice, medications and shampoos are all available at Fido's. We can also advise you on guinea pig savy vets in the area. Their nails can be clipped in Fido's for a donation in the charity box. Please ring first.