Guinea Pig Basics

Average Lifespan = 5 to 7 years

Guinea pigs need exercise, so the largest cage possible is best. The cage bottom should be solid plastic or stainless steel, though never wire mesh. Bedding should be a paper pulp product or newspaper but wood chips should be avoided. Guinea pigs can be nervous animals that frighten easily so always be very gentle and use two hands when picking them up and try to avoid excessive or loud noise and over-handling. When children are handling them, make sure they are supervised by an adult to prevent injury.

The majority of the diet should be composed of unlimited timothy hay with access at all times, with a smaller amount of timothy-based pellets and low-calcium greens as supplement and treats fed sparingly. Fresh water should be available at all times, and it is important to clean the water bottle or bowl daily. Vitamin C needs to be supplemented daily; the most reliable way to make sure the pig is getting the proper dosage is to give a commercially available vitamin C tablet or liquid supplement by mouth daily for life.

A wellness exam is important in a newly acquired animal to ensure he or she is healthy and cared for properly, with yearly physical exams recommended as the guinea pig ages. Animals showing any of the following symptoms should seek veterinary care: decreased appetite or feces production, drooling or difficulty eating, sneezing, difficulty breathing, weight loss, or any change in attitude or behavior.