7 Things You Should Know Before Buying A Guinea Pig

things to know before buying a guinea pig

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Guinea pigs are highly sociable creatures. This means that, as pets, they can be quite friendly. Guinea pigs also like to be around others of their own kind, ideally. The docile little guys spend most of their day feeding, grooming, or going to explore. With companions, they will also cuddle and play. Guinea pigs can be a delight to hold and interact with. 

This being said, as with any pet, buying a guinea pig entails some responsibility. Your animal friend will depend on you for their food and water daily. They also require socialization and exercise to be happy and healthy. What guinea pigs require -while important- is also quite simple, fortunately. 

To get you started, here are….

7 Things You Should Know Before Buying A Guinea Pig

1. Guinea Pigs Should Interact Socially

As mentioned above, guinea pigs are social creatures. They move about in herds naturally. This means a guinea pig is happiest with company. When they are on their own, guinea pigs tend to get lonely. Human companionship is great, but at night time, or when you are away at work, you may want at least one more guinea pig to keep them company. 

Guinea pigs are most content with attention from their human and guinea pig friends alike. They will also return the affection in plenty. 

guinea pig and child
Guinea pigs love interaction with their owners

Most guinea pigs possess an inherently sweet nature. They vary widely in personality, with some being bolder, some shier, some quieter, some more inclined to talk. Guinea pigs have many adorable habits. They will sit, jump, hop and hide. 

With companions of their own kind, they are also inclined to groom and cuddle. Their favorite way to spend time with their humans is with snacks or play. 

In fact, treats are a really effective way to entice your guinea pig to hang out with you initially. As with all animals, offering food is a way to show that you mean well, and are friendly. With a few treats to sweeten the deal, your guinea pig will learn to trust you more quickly. 

2. When Buying A Guinea Pig You Must Know How To Feed Them Properly

When buying a guinea pig, you will want to purchase their food at the same time, probably. There a few things that you should offer your guinea pig in order to feed them properly. The first of these is hay. 

Have Hay available for your Guinea Pig at all times.

In fact, hay is something that guinea pigs should have access to every day. This is because the meadow grass is a powerful aid in digestion, for one. Of what guinea pigs eat, fiber should comprise the bulk. A fantastic source of fiber is hay. 

Timothy hay, in particular, is a very good choice nutritionally. Just make sure that the hay you choose is clean, sweet-smelling, dry and mold-free. The hay should be of quality. 

Here are 3 Hay products we recommend:

Hay serves another vital purpose for guinea pigs that you should know. You see, the teeth of guinea pigs constantly grow. Chewing on hay and other foods is how they keep this growth in check, and their teeth the proper size. As grazers, guinea pigs should be expected to spend a portion of their days munching hay. 

Top Tip: Consider giving your guinea pig pellets rather than mix

Pellets are the next most important food for your guinea pig to have. These are always recommended over a mix. This is because guinea pigs can be quite naughty, and eat only the bits that are their favorite. While this behavior may be amusing, it can actually lead to malnutrition and obesity ultimately. Their favorite pieces are not always the healthy ones, you see. 

Pellets solve this risk nicely. Each pellet is compacted with fiber, vitamins and other necessities, to keep your guinea pig balanced nutritionally. Pellets are an especially good source of vitamin C. 

Of course, when buying a guinea pig, the pellets you feed them must be quality. As with any pet food, avoid fillers and the like. You need not get a kind that is overly fancy, but something in the middle, of reasonable price and quality. 

Here are 3 Guinea Pigs pellets we really like:

Pellets are pretty crunchy and, like hay, they aid in keeping guinea pig teeth healthy. 

Fruit and Vegetables for Guinea Pigs

Diet Tip: Feed your guinea pig fresh veggies as part of a balanced diet

Veggies are another excellent food for guinea pigs. In fact, they can have up to a cup of veggies a day. Some vegetables that guinea pigs can safely enjoy – in moderation are carrot tops and roots, broccoli, cabbage, and romaine lettuce. 

It is wise to work up to the cup a day slowly, so the digestive system of your guinea pig can adjust accordingly. 

As you introduce each new veggie, give your guinea pig a day or two to adapt as necessary. Keep an eye out for any signs of gastrointestinal distress, and if they show up, cease feeding the given vegetable. 

Diet Tip: Some fruits are great for your guinea pig but some can be harmful if fed too often.

Guinea pigs should have considerably less fruit than veggies. Rather than a snack or meal, fruit should serve as treats only. 

Guinea pigs can have a few small pieces of a guinea pig-safe fruit daily. 

Some nice options are kiwis, pears, apples (with the seeds removed), pears, strawberries, and blueberries, among others. 

3. When Buying A Guinea Pig You Must Be Aware Of Foods That Are Toxic

There are some foods that you should never feed your guinea pig under any circumstances. Unsurprisingly, chocolate is one of these, along with literally any kind of candy. Onions and garlic are also toxic. Any part of the potato plant can prove deadly.

Tomato fruit is usually okay, but any other part of the plant is poisonous and poses a serious risk. Keep these foods fenced off and out of your guinea pig’s reach to ensure their safety. 

4. A Guinea Pig Needs A Cage And Their Own Little Home Inside Too

If you are buying a guinea pig, you must first purchase a cage – the bigger the better, usually. While guinea pigs are rather sedentary, they do often have the whim to explore. As with all rodents, the cage of a guinea pig should not be made from a material they can chew. This means that most plastics won’t work. An extraordinarily hard plastic or metal cage should be used, ideally. 

The bars of the cage must be close enough together that your guinea pig will not get their head, arms or legs stuck. 

It is highly recommended to include a house inside of the cage, as this will make your guinea pig feel cozier and more secure. 

Guinea pig houses can be made out of cardboard boxes, old plastic containers and other recyclables, or you can purchase one online or at the store. Homemade guinea pig houses are thrifty, but will likely become chewed and soiled relatively quickly.

Those from online or the store are made from glass, typically. They are impossible for guinea pigs to chew. There are also a lot of cute guinea pig house designs out there. 

5. Guinea Pigs Require Good Bedding For Comfort And Hygiene

Choosing good-quality bedding when buying a guinea pig is imperative. A bare cage would certainly not be cozy. Good bedding should be soft and comfortable. The bedding should absorb odors and spills effectively. 

Two of the top bedding materials for guinea pigs are: 

Guinea Pigs Can Use Hamster Bedding 

7 Things You Should Know Before Buying A Guinea Pig 1

Paper is an affordable and reasonably effective bedding choice. White paper, free of ink, or brown paper bags can be used to make guinea pig bedding. Simply put the paper through a shredder or tear it up yourself. Paper is cheap, as well as soft and springy. It does require replacement somewhat frequently. 

Aspen Wood is Another Guinea Pig Bedding Choice 

When buying a guinea pig, you can also get some aspen wood shavings at the store or online. Wood shavings, as guinea pig bedding, are both absorbent and comfortable. We specify to purchase at the store or online because shavings from the lumberyard will not have been cleaned sufficiently. Wood obtained there will contain mites, bugs and the like. 

At pet stores or online, on the other hand, the wood will be sanitized properly. Aspen wood shavings from pet stores are also a lot less dusty.

Dust levels are something else you should take into account when making your purchase. The cheapest brands may be dustier comparatively. Brands like Kaytee Aspen Bedding are crafted with all-natural Aspen shavings specially processed to eliminate excess dust and wood debris found in other bedding.

Try aspen shavings that are priced moderately – nothing fancy is strictly necessary. 

Cleaning their home

1. At least once per week, remove all bedding and wash the enclosure with a mild soap solution. Rinse the habitat thoroughly with clean water to ensure the removal of soap residue.

2. Frequency of habitat cleaning depends on the size of your pet’s home and the number of animals.

3. Always replace bedding with fresh product

4. Maintaining a clean habitat will help your pet from developing respiratory problems due to ammonia build up in the habitat caused by urine.

6. When It Comes To A Happy Guinea Pig Exercise Is Key

As you can imagine, in the wild, guinea pigs are quite active little guys. They spend most of their day grazing, grooming, and will even explore. While guinea pigs are more sedentary in captivity, they will still need basic exercise.

An exercise wheel is not a great purchase for guinea pigs. These are not suitable as they are too unstable and can harm your guinea pig.

guinea pig and a bike
Okay, maybe a bicycle isn’t good for guinea pigs, but we love the image!

The best way to exercise your guinea pig is to give them the most exciting home to live in. Provide plenty of tunnels, caves and ramps to climb on. Safe but challenging obstacles are perfect for your guinea pig. It’s fun to watch them running around and having fun!

Along with this, you may pull treats around on a string for your guinea pig to chase. Room in the cage simply for foraging and exploration is also ideal. Try hiding non-perishable treats here and there. Playing games with your guinea pig is not only fun but it’ll stop boredom setting in.

7. Dust Baths Are Not Recommended For Guinea Pigs

A little-known fact about guinea pigs is that they are not suited to dust baths, unlike chinchillas who benefit from them.

The purpose of a dust bath is to dry the skin and fur by pulling oils out of chinchilla and other pets fur that otherwise stays trapped because of the density of their coat.

Guinea pigs can’t roll the way a chinchilla can to get their fur saturated with dust, nor does a pig have any natural desire or inclination to do so. It would also be very drying and irritating to their skin. 

They have sensitive respiratory systems and it made ours sneeze when we tried one. We opt for a water bath once every 2 months. They love playing in the water. Be sure to dry them carefully and fully.

Use a suitable tearfree pet shampoo like Arm & Hammer.

Why you shouldn’t get a guinea pig?

Guinea pigs aren’t an easy pet to take care of. They eat all day and have certain dietary needs, they don’t like changes; scenery, temperature, or smells, and they are develop illness easily.

How old should a guinea pig be when you buy it?

Guinea pigs should be at least 6 weeks old when you buy them. Wherever you buy the guinea pig from, make sure it has only lived with same sex guinea pigs. Guinea pigs reach sexual maturity by the age of 3 weeks, and if they are living co-ed, you might end up with more guinea pigs than the one you thought you were buying.

Can guinea pigs be left alone during the day?

Guinea pigs can be left alone for the day, or even for a weekend. They shouldn’t go much more than 48 hours without being checked on. If you are leaving for vacation, make sure someone stops in to make sure they have enough food, water, haven’t hurt themselves, and haven’t escaped from their cage.

What are the cons of having a guinea pig?

Guinea pigs are fragile animals for how stocky they look. They hurt themselves easily and are prone to illnesses.

How long do guinea pigs live?

Guinea pigs can live up to 10 years, but most of them live for 5-8 years.

Conclusion: 7 Things You Should Know Before Buying A Guinea Pig

Along with some fresh drinking water, of course, these are the main things that a guinea pig needs to be healthy and happy. When you buy a guinea pig, be sure to stock up on plenty of hay and a few fresh veggies (and fruits for a treat optionally).

Choose a sizable cage, a comfortable and absorbent bedding variety, and an exciting place to live, and a sand bath accordingly. Preparation will help the process of buying a guinea pig go more easily. Adopt a guinea pig the right way, and you will have a friend for their lifetime.

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