Information on Guinea Pig Cages, Food, and Care
Guinea pigs are not really pigs at all, but rather rodents that come from the mountains and grasslands of South America. Also known as cavies, guinea pigs are generally quite social, performing for their owners and playing with other guinea pigs. In fact, you should consider getting more than one guinea pig from the very start, as they enjoy living in pairs or groups and may not welcome a newcomer once they've grown up and settled into their territory. Learn about feeding, caging and caring for guinea pigs to get your family and your home ready for your new pet.
Keeping a Guinea Pig Healthy through Diet
Feeding: Guinea pigs don't require too much care, but you will have to pay attention to their diet and preferences. For instance, be sure to buy good quality pellets and supplement with fresh fruits, veggies and hay.
Like any animals, guinea pigs can suffer from vitamin deficiencies without an adequate and varied diet, so it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the symptoms of common deficiencies. If you notice your guinea pig has become lethargic, has lost its appetite or shies away from your touch, there's likely an issue that will need to be resolved with a trip to the vet.
Water: One aspect of guinea pig care that's often overlooked is their need for fresh water. Many owners will simply fill the water bottle and leave it, only refilling when the water is running out. Unfortunately, this habit will breed germs and, in turn, affect the health of your guinea pig. Instead, you should expect to change the water bowl at least every day, if not several times over the course of the day.
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And remember, like pet rats and gerbils, guinea pigs love to chew on anything they can get their teeth around -- if you choose to use a bottle that attaches to the cage instead of a dish, remember to find one with a spout that can withstand nibbling!
Choosing Guinea Pig Cages
Cage Size: Space is important for your guinea pigs. They will need space to play, to run and to sleep, which means you should invest in the largest cage that your budget and home will allow. Always choose a wire cage rather than a glass aquarium, as your guinea pig will need good air circulation to stay happy and healthy, but be sure to add a wood or sturdy plastic insert for the floor.
Cage Design: Regardless of the specific brand of cage (some are better than others, so ask other guinea pig owners for recommendations), there are certain design elements you will want and some to avoid at all costs. For instance, you'll want a good area of floor space and sturdy materials, but steer clear of any cage with more than two levels. Cages built with three or four levels are generally meant for chinchillas or ferrets; guinea pigs are not known climbers, and they could injure themselves if they were to fall even a short distance.
In the end, avoid the temptation to buy a small "starter" cage for an animal that's as inquisitive and energetic as a guinea pig. Not only will they feel stifled, especially if there are two or more in the small cage, but they will likely become overweight with so little room to exercise. Another thing to keep in mind: a larger cage will be easier for you to clean out, so it's really in your best interest to opt for a big guinea pig cage!