Owning a pet for the first time can be tricky, and you may struggle to know where to begin. There is a lot of information out there about more conventional pets like cats, dogs, and birds; however, a guinea pig is a very different animal. Many people will avoid them as first-time pets for this reason; however, they are great animals to keep if you have small children. They also make the perfect animal for a couple’s household due to the minimal amount of space they take up.
So, let’s look at everything you need when you own a guinea pig so that you can make it an addition to your family.
First things first, every animal needs food to survive. Guinea pigs eat a variety of foods, and you may be grateful to know that they provide the perfect disposal for the ends of vegetables that you do not want. That’s not to say you should give them rotten vegetables, just give them the food that you know will go to waste otherwise. These types of food will be the perfect treat for them to enjoy and can save you money in the long run.
However, when they aren’t munching on your odds and ends, you can feed them specifically tailored guinea pig food. The right brand of food can be found at your local pet store, and it mainly consists of dried fruit and grains. You may find yourself thinking that guinea pigs and hamsters are very similar, so can guinea pigs eat hamster food? While their foods may appear the same, it is not a good idea to do this, and you can find out here why this is the case.
Guinea pigs are only small creatures, which is why most people are often deceived by how much space they need. The average guinea pig will live in a hutch that has space to run around in and a separate compartment to sleep in. However, this is just for when they are kept inside, as they can also live outdoors.
You may also want to build or buy a guinea pig run for the garden, some people even choose to mix them with rabbits, but you should check if this is possible for you ahead of time. This only needs to cover a small area of around eight square feet, but it allows them to expend their energy and chew some grass. Remember that every guinea pig is different, so what will be enough for one may not be enough for another.
Guinea pigs are not fussed by mess, but you will need to make two distinct areas in their hutch. One of these should be for sleeping, the other for pooing. Their bedding should be placed in the darkest area of the hutch you can possibly reach, and it needs to be filled with dry wood or dust-free hay.
Next, you need to establish a separate toilet area as far from their bed as possible to prevent them from becoming ill. You can use cheaper hay for this or shredded newspaper. The idea isn’t teaching them to go to the toilet, but rather encouraging them not to defecate where they sleep. Once they get used to this routine, you should find it easier for you to clean, and also more comfortable for them too.
While guinea pigs can be social creatures, they are quite nervous. Therefore, you should make sure that they have plenty of places in their run that they can hide. A plastic box or tunnel is perfect for this, and they will slowly emerge once they establish that you and your family are not a threat to them. Tunnels are not only useful for the guinea pigs, but they are also fun for you, to see them play in these areas.
A guinea pig may require more equipment than other pets, but they are definitely worth it. Their gentle and curious nature makes them great to have around, so make sure that you care for them with the right tools.
It’s important to remember that because guinea pigs are quite social creatures, it may be worth getting more than one. This will be especially true if you are buying guinea pigs that are already bonded together in some way. Speak to the people you are purchasing from, whether that’s the pet store or someone else, so that you can find out exactly what you need for them, from their needs to wants.