Most often, the question of having a pet arises in families with small children. As a rule, they ask for a kitten or a puppy, but as an alternative, parents offer the child slightly different options for animals, among which guinea pigs are very popular. These unpretentious animals do not take up much space, do not require a lot of attention. And most importantly, children in the process of caring for them are instilled with a sense of accuracy and responsibility.
According to average indicators, the life expectancy of a guinea pig living at home is 3 years. With maximum care and quality care, its life cycle has a duration of 5 to 8 years. In the wild, the animal easily lives 9 or even 10 years.
Despite the familiar name, this kind of pets cannot swim. When keeping an animal, this factor must be taken into account.
In the zoological sphere, three types of guinea pigs are known.
- Shorthair. The length of the hairline throughout the body is no more than 3 cm.
- Longhaired. These animals can boast of incredibly long hair, which is 15 cm long throughout the body. On the muzzle, the hair is slightly shorter, the approximate length of the hairs is 7 cm.
- Rare. This type of guinea pig appeared relatively recently. Their distinguishing feature is the absence of hair on the body, except for the head and legs.
Before you get a guinea pig, you need to familiarize yourself with the habits of this animal. According to its characteristics, the animal belongs to the daytime inhabitants, they are active only in the first half of the day. In the morning, the pet eats food, after which it is happy to make contact with its owner. At lunchtime and in the evening, the activity of the animals noticeably decreases. At night, the animal sleeps.
When purchasing several guinea pigs at once, it is important that they live together in the same territory until the moment of purchase.. Otherwise, conflicts may arise between unfamiliar animals. Of course, their fights proceed without bloodshed.
The maximum that the warring parties are capable of is to try to scare the opponent with their movements. It is very interesting to watch this process. The two conflicting parties stand opposite each other, raise their heads high and begin to gnash their teeth. The time of “fighting” is unlimited, but in the end the weak animal will retreat. Quite serious conflicts arise between males dividing the territory or the female.
If guinea pigs are brought up together from early childhood, their mood will always be friendly and will not lead to fights.
When keeping guinea pigs in large numbers, you can see how vividly this species of animals expresses herd feeling. Each individual male constantly has several groups of females. They do not like strangers and drive them away very quickly.
Guinea pigs are naturally indifferent to other pets. They have enough communication with their team. Unfortunately, this fact can play a bad role in the life of a rodent, especially if other types of animals live in the house. For example, having met a cat, a frightened animal will try to hide in the darkest corner and burrow underground. And realizing that it will not work to escape, he presses against the wall and freezes in one position. In this case, the guinea pig can get a heart attack.
By their nature, guinea pigs are similar to many types of pets in that they engage in coprophagy, that is, they eat their own feces. The only explanation for this fact is the need for the body of the animal to take important trace elements and vitamins that are not absorbed the first time.
Many parents worry that a guinea pig may bite their child. This is only possible if the child treats the animal carelessly. In fact, guinea pigs are very friendly to their owner. They allow you to stroke your muzzle, knock on your nose.
But as mentioned earlier, they can “turn on” a little aggression, showing dissatisfaction with their actions. For example, if the animal is uncomfortably grabbed, it begins to push the human hand away with its head, after which the paws will be used. If the owner does not respond in any way to the demands of the animal to let him go, the guinea pig begins to click his teeth. Only after the last hint can she lightly bite her finger. Thus, rodents report that they are tired of the manifestations of human feelings.
When caring for a guinea pig, it is important to understand the language of the animal. If she begins to lightly bite the skin of her fingers, then she asks to return to the cage.
It is strictly forbidden to beat animals. Otherwise, she may be frightened and lose confidence in her owner.
Content pros and cons
Before getting a pet, each person weighs all the pros and cons of caring for an animal. This applies not only to dogs and cats, but also to small rodents, including guinea pigs. To begin with, you should consider a list of advantages in keeping this type of rodent.
- Guinea pigs will become good friends for a small owner. Firstly, they do not take up much space, and secondly, the child develops a sense of responsibility.
- By nature, guinea pigs adapt very easily and quickly to a new environment. In a short period of time, they get used to a new nickname and begin to respond to the owner’s conditional signal.
- Guinea pigs are non-aggressive animals. Only with light snacks do they show that they don’t like something.
- These rodents do not pay attention to other pets.
- Guinea pigs are picky eaters. To feed them, there is no need to purchase special delicacies or cook gourmet dishes.
- Unlike dogs, which many children dream about, guinea pigs do not need to be walked. In addition, these rodents do not need physical activity.
- It is this type of rodent that is considered the most hypoallergenic pet.
Having familiarized yourself with the positive aspects of keeping guinea pigs, you should also study the negative aspects.
- Guinea pigs are not always trainable. But even the most wayward individuals can learn a few tricks.
- Quite often they can be intrusive. This is how pigs beg for food and attention.
- Guinea pigs are quite noisy. Throughout the day, they can make many different sounds, such as whistling, screeching or grunting. Moreover, each individual sound made by the animal has a certain meaning.
- Animals are very active in the morning. They are ready to scatter sawdust and food around the cage, which will have to be cleaned daily.
- When letting a guinea pig go for a walk, the owners need to be prepared for gnawed wires, furniture and other things.
- During a walk around the apartment, a guinea pig can defecate anywhere.
- Guinea pigs are afraid of cold and intense heat, and even with a slight draft they can catch a cold.
- By nature, marine rodents are herd animals. They do not tolerate solitude, so they require several relatives nearby.
- These are very shy rodents. With frequent fright from their owner, they may lose confidence in him.
Most of their time, rodents living at home are on their own territory, where they feel a sense of comfort and safety. It is advisable for them to purchase a separate dwelling.
- Cell. The most common option for housing a guinea pig. The selected cage should be spacious in size. The rodent dwelling tray must be made of plastic. The bottom of the dwelling should not have a lattice base, the small foot of the animal can fall into the slot, due to which the animal will be damaged. When choosing a home, there is no need to buy two-story models. Guinea pigs do not jump or climb to heights. Even if the animal manages to climb onto the second tier, it will not be able to go down. And jumping off, can damage the foot. Thanks to the lattice walls, the cage is ideally ventilated. Separate locks on the doors do not allow the rodent to get out.
The only drawback is the daily cleaning of the area near the cage, as guinea pigs throw sawdust, food and garbage through the grates.
- Terrarium. Pretty good option for keeping a guinea pig. The main thing is that the sides of the container are made of metal mesh, and not glass. An important advantage of the terrarium is the absence of debris around. It is strictly forbidden to use a terrarium made entirely of glass. In them, the animal will be uncomfortable due to insufficient oxygen circulation, and the litter at the bottom will always be wet.
- Aviary. Some apartment owners who can afford the living space prefer to use this version of the house for rodents. The main thing is that the height of the walls should be at least 40 cm, otherwise the guinea pig will easily get out for a walk.
It is important to remember that this kind of housing is not suitable for houses where, in addition to a rodent, cats or dogs live.
- Dune. It is used quite rarely as a dwelling for rodents, mainly used for their transportation. Zoologists also do not recommend using this kind of container for keeping small animals. The dunes are very small and cramped in size. The air inside is very limited, which is why rodents experience discomfort.
Where to place?
After purchasing a home for a guinea pig, it is very important to determine the right place for him. It should be light, because it is very important for a guinea pig to get enough light. But in natural light, it is important to remember that Guinea pigs do not tolerate direct sunlight, especially in the warm season.
In winter, it is strictly forbidden to place rodent dwellings near the battery. Guinea pigs are very sensitive to hypothermia and drafts, so their homes should not be placed at the front door and in ventilated areas.
In order for the rodent not to be bored, its dwelling must be located in the room where people are most often located. If noisy evenings often take place in the room, it is necessary to put a decorative box with a roof in the rodent’s cage, where the animal can hide and take a breath.
How to arrange?
Quite often, when purchasing a home for a small rodent, sales assistants offer to purchase a number of additional accessories, which, in their words, are essential for the animal. It will be difficult for a novice owner to navigate the need for this or that thing on the spot, so they can purchase completely useless goods. To create the necessary coziness and comfort for the animal, you will need to purchase only a few things.
- feeder. Store shelves are lined with floor and hanging models of food tanks. Guinea pigs should choose hanging containers.
- Sennitsa. Hay is the main food product for small rodents, and it is necessary to put it in a separate container, rather than scatter it along the bottom of the dwelling.
- Drinker. Hanging models will be the most suitable option, otherwise the entire bottom of the cage will be wet, and the animal will be wet.
- Decorative house. A guinea pig, like any other pet, needs to have a secluded place where she can hide and take a break from excessive attention.
In addition to the elements that the guinea pig cannot live without, there is an additional range of accessories that allow the animal to train or just play:
- cubes and balls;
- tunnels and shelter;
- hanging hammock;
- salt stone.
It is strictly forbidden to install a running wheel in a cage and purchase a walking ball.
Guinea pigs are not naturally adapted to move around in these accessories, when using them, they can break their legs and even damage their spine.
Quality care for guinea pigs largely depends on their nutrition. Unfortunately, inexperienced owners pay too little attention to this issue. Therefore, they purchase only dry food for rodents, assuming that the elements contained in its composition are ideal for guinea pigs. Only few people know that these charming animals prefer to eat hay.
Next, it is proposed to familiarize yourself with the main products that should be in the diet of guinea pigs.
- green herbs – dandelions, nettle, burdock, lettuce and chamomile.
- Fresh vegetables. Guinea pigs are very fond of pumpkin and zucchini. They are not averse to eating carrots, cucumbers, beets and tomatoes.
- Small branches. It is better to choose raspberry and blueberry bushes. Sprigs of apple and pear will be a special delicacy for this rodent.
- Berries and fruits, but exceptionally fresh. For example, bananas, cherries, strawberries, apples.
In a detailed examination of dry food for rodents, experts have not been able to determine its usefulness for guinea pigs, although many owners include this top dressing in the animal’s diet. The main thing is to remember that dry food is quite high-calorie, and with frequent use of it, guinea pigs begin to gain a lot of weight, which negatively affects their health. The animals themselves will not be able to lose weight on their own, as they lead a sedentary lifestyle.
If you wish, treat a small rodent with a delicacy you can give him nuts, but no more than three times a week.
It is strictly forbidden to give guinea pigs pasta, dairy products, fish, sausages, potatoes, sweets, pastries, eggs and mushrooms.
The feeding procedure itself also has certain rules.
- Under no circumstances should an animal be left without food. If the rodent remained hungry for 20 hours, irreversible processes begin to occur in its body, which can lead to the death of the animal.
- Fresh hay should always be located in a certain place in the cage. If it ends, you need to put a small bundle.
- Vegetables and fruits are given to the animal no more than twice a day.
- The diet of a guinea pig, like any animal, should be varied. Therefore, it is recommended to alternate different types of vegetables in its menu.
- In winter, due to the lack of fresh grass, the guinea pig needs to eat cereals.
- Guinea pigs should not be overfed. Their daily rate is 30% of their own weight.
- The introduction of new foods into the diet should be done gradually, constantly monitoring the condition of the animal.
- Guinea pigs drink little water. But, despite this, the liquid in the drinking container should always be cleaned and boiled.
Hygiene and bathing
The main part of guinea pig care is daily brushing. This procedure allows you to keep the hairline of the animal clean. It is enough to wipe the soiled paws with a damp cloth. It is also necessary to carry out daily cleaning inside the rodent’s house, to get rid of uneaten food.
Bathing a guinea pig is necessary only in the most extreme cases. Water procedures cause a lot of stress in the animal. But if you still had to resort to them, it is important that the water in the bathing tank is warm. And the procedure itself should be carried out in a heated room, where there are no drafts. Shampoo for cats and dogs is suitable as a detergent. For bathing, a small container with a minimum amount of water is used.
It is impossible that extraneous noises occur during the bathing process, otherwise the animal may be frightened and scratch the owner.
After washing the animal, wrap it in a soft towel and hold it on your hands until the coat is completely dry. It is strictly forbidden to use a hair dryer, as a loud sound can scare a helpless rodent.
It is important for novice breeders to remember that Guinea pigs under the age of one year are strictly forbidden to bathe. Their fragile body may not withstand this procedure.
Diseases and vaccination
Proper maintenance of guinea pigs at home helps to avoid various diseases. If suddenly the care does not meet the required standards, the animal may face digestive problems and a cold. Here are some of the symptoms of the development of the disease:
- strong thirst;
- matted wool;
- cough and difficulty breathing;
- sluggish state, long lying with closed eyes;
- the appearance of parasites in the coat;
- sores on the skin;
- loose stool.
When the first signs appear, the guinea pig should be seen by a doctor.
Based on the knowledge and experience of breeding dogs and cats, novice rodent breeders are wondering if gilts should be vaccinated. In fact, guinea pigs are not vaccinated. Only in some cases, veterinarians can offer to vaccinate an animal against bordetteddiasis. Vaccination does not protect the rodent from infection, but it mitigates the disease process itself.
It is important to know that when buying a new guinea pig, it is necessary to place it in a quarantine zone for several weeks, and only then transfer the animal to a common cage with other pets.
Training and games
Do not believe the arguments that guinea pigs are boring rodents that only know how to eat and sleep. In fact, they are quite active and ready to play with their owner. By their nature, these rodents are quite smart, easily trained to do different tricks.
Before starting to actively engage with a guinea pig, it is necessary that she gets used to the new owner, begins to trust him. To do this, the owner will need to devote a lot of time to the small pet so that he begins to trust the owner.
- For several days, the owner of the animal should calmly approach the cage with the guinea pig and talk to her affectionately, thanks to which the animal will begin to get used to his voice.
- The next stage of taming is a treat from the hand. If a guinea pig begins to trust a person, she calmly approaches him and takes food. The main thing is not to make sudden movements at this moment. After a few days, the rodent itself will begin to run up to its owner and check if he brought a tasty treat.
- After the first two steps, the owner can try to take the guinea pig out of the cage and hold it for a while. If the animal is frightened, it is enough to stroke him on the back, while talking to him gently. After the rodent is convinced that there is no danger, he will relax and enjoy contact with a person.
Guinea pigs are very fun to play with. Having fun in many ways resembles the development of babies. The animal with great pleasure will get pieces of goodies hidden in different parts of the cage. A ball made of rustling paper will attract the attention of a rodent, thanks to which it will be possible to play a kind of football with it.
Feeling the friendly connection between the guinea pig and its owner, you can start training the animal. As a reward, like any other animal, it is proposed to give a favorite treat.
With the right approach, it will be possible to teach the guinea pig to respond to its name, as well as roll over from side to side.
Many people, having decided to get a guinea pig, assume that the rodent does not require special care. But, despite this, it requires a certain amount of care, warmth and attention, which should be provided as much as possible by the owner. A novice owner needs to know a few basic rules, thanks to which a guinea pig can feel cozy, comfortable and safe.
- Before purchasing a home for an animal, it is necessary to determine its permanent location in the house.
- If other types of pets live in the house, you should carefully consider the choice of housing for the rodent. Aviaries and terrariums immediately step aside.
- For beginner breeders, it is important to remember that guinea pigs prefer room temperature, they do not like abundant heat and severe frosts.
- Properly keeping a guinea pig is quite difficult. In order not to go astray, it is best to schedule an hourly schedule for caring for her.
- By nature, guinea pigs are herd rodents. They don’t like being alone. Therefore, it is best to acquire several relatives at once. Of course, for starters, you can start one individual, but the internal state of the rodent will improve significantly when you see a fellow next to you.
- Guinea pigs at home feel extremely light and free, but you can not limit their space to only a cage. Every day, the rodent needs to walk around the room.
- While walking a guinea pig, the owner must carefully monitor the animal, otherwise it may be frightened by sharp sounds and even get hurt.
- A guinea pig needs to be looked after every day – combing its hair, cleaning the territory of the animal and be sure to feed it with fresh food.
More information about guinea pigs awaits you in the video below.