In the Wild: Though their name may indicate otherwise, guinea pigs are neither related to actual pigs, nor do they hail from Guinea. Despite having close cousins in the wild, the domestic guinea pig no longer roams free anywhere around the globe. This is due to the fact that they were long ago captured and domesticated as livestock, and used as a food source in South America. Because of this, the domestic guinea pig is genetically distinct from any of its wild relatives, and therefore is not considered a wild animal. Guinea pigs became popular household pets around the 1500s, and have continued to be a favorite among small animal owners ever since.
Feeding: It is important to feed your guinea pig foods that contain Vitamin C, in order to keep up with their nutritional needs. Vitamin C can be found in various veggies, such as broccoli and bell peppers, as well as pellets that have been supplemented with Vitamin C. Be sure to feed your guinea fresh produce in addition to pellets. Like other small rodents, your guinea pig’s diet must include an unlimited supply of fresh, premium hay. For adult guinea pigs, high quality Timothy hay and Timothy hay-based pellets are recommended for daily consumption over alfalfa or other types. American Harvest has a wide selection of premium, natural Timothy hay that is perfect for your guinea pig’s dietary needs.
Housing: When it comes to choosing a home for your guinea pig, bigger is always better. As guinea pigs are social creatures, it is often recommended that they are owned in pairs or groups. For a single guinea pig, the recommended size for a cage is 7.5 square feet, while 10.5 feet is the standard recommendation for a pair. Wire flooring should be avoided when selecting cages. Don’t forget to fill your guinea’s home with a nest box, bedding, water bottle, and the toys of your choosing!
Cleaning: Guinea pigs have minimal cleaning needs, outside of cage maintenance and nail clipping. All guinea pigs need their nails trimmed once a month, which can be done using human nail clippers. Be sure to avoid cutting the nails too short, for risk of clipping the sensitive quick of the nail. In terms of cage maintenance, you should aim to clean out the cage and bedding at least once a week.
Be sure to talk with your vet about further guinea pig health advice, or to answer any questions you may have.