HomeAbout SiteFavourites




                                  Cavy Care

Guinea pigs are very easy to care for. A guinea pig's cage should contain a layer of newspapers at the bottom, and then a layer of sawdust. The filling should be changed about once a week, though covering the sawdust with straw can reduce it to once in several weeks.

A guinea pig's cage should have a grain bowl (best if it's ceramic, so the guinea pigs can't turn it over), two hanging baskets for green food and hay,  a water bowl or bottle (see the 'Feeding' page), straw for the guinea pigs to sleep in, and something to nibble, like a piece of cardboard (like the card containers for milk, juice, and other drinks), a special nibble object sold in pet-stores, or a thin tree branch (of birches, carnefous trees, and other.) If the cage is big enough, you can have a small wooden house for the guinea pig to sleep in. But it' not a good idea at all to buy a house for the guinea pig that's new in your family, as it would hide in the house all the time, and only come out when it's sure no one is watching him.

The guinea pig's claws should not be allowed to get too long, they need to be cut from the side where they were growing originally, so that the cut side is pointing inward. It's easier with a guinea pig with white paws, as then you can see where the blood veins are in the claw, and don't cut where the claw is pinkish. With a black-pawed guinea pig, just cut off a little at a time. Another way is for one person cutting, and the other lighting the paw with a flashlight. If you don't cut the claws at all, then they might get all spiraled, curled, and it can cause paw inflammation.


If you fail and cut the claw in the wrong place, you need to disinfect the bleeding cut right away. Most stores sell special powders for that purpose, but if you don't have powder, just use iodine. Generally guinea pigs rarely hurt themselves, only during mating periods, when males fight each other.

 If you have only one guinea pig, then you must pay extra attention to the pet, to keep it from feeling lonely. But still, it's not a real substitute for the company of another guinea pig, so it's best if you buy another animal. If you have a female, you can buy a guinea pig of any gender. Two females usually get along well. If you have a male guinea pig, you can buy him a female, but it's not recommended to have two males. Male guinea pigs usually fight even if no female is or was around. If you're determined you want two males, it's best if buy them at the same time, at an early age, (but not as suckling,) so they can get used to each other before they fully mature.

If you want to breed your guinea pigs, you should know the following: Males become ready to mate about a month old, and females at about two months. The pregnancy lasts about two months in average. It's better not to breed a female more than a year old that has never given birth before. You can tell if the animal becomes pregnant  by their large, round sides. Soon you might even start to feel the babies inside. Take good care of the mother, handle her gently, if you do, but generally let her rest and don't disturb her. When it is about time for the litter to be born, put the mother in a separate cage, or a container (like a big box), supplying her with sawdust, straw, and food objects. She should be separated before birth because she can be mated again right after birth, and moreover, the male might trample the babies in excitement.

Important! Constant birthing can be fatal for the guinea pig, so make sure the female gets at least two months of rest after the birthing, away from the male. If you want  your guinea pigs to live a long life, only allow the female to be mated twice a year. Repeat: the male has to be separated about a week before the estimated date of birth. 

If you witness the birth, do not interfere. When the female is ready to give birth, she will sit back and help the baby out with her teeth. She will remove the amniotic sac, and lick the baby dry. Otherwise the baby might get overcooled and fall ill. However, sometimes the litter is too big (of more than five babies) and the guinea pig doesn't have enough time to lick out all of the babies. In that case, gently wipe the babies with a piece of soft cloth (like a bathroom towel). Remember that the baby's bones are very soft, and it can get hurt easily. Unlike other animals, guinea pigs don't mind a human helping out with the young.

Do not disturb the mother and the litter for at least a day. Baby guinea pigs are very lively, they start running around within an hour after birth. Baby guinea pigs are born with open eyes, developed claws and teeth, and a complete set of fur.

Guinea pigs, when living in groups, also have certain rules. One of the guinea pigs (usually a male) becomes the leader. When the guinea pigs have a walk in the house, the move in a single file, with the leader at the front. Conflicts between guinea pigs start if a male (who is not the leader) attempts to mate a female in the presence of a leader. The leader will challenge the offender to a fight by hitting his own teeth continuously to prouduce a threatening sound. The offender might raise his head high showing that he doesn't want to fight, and decline the challenge, or take it. The losing guinea pig will be cast away from the group, which means not allowing it to eat, sleep, and communicate with the guinea pigs in that group. It is always best not to let the guinea pig fight and to permanently move the obviously weaker guinea pig to another cage. Interfering during a fight is not recommended, as the guinea pigs will be highly tense, and can bite you if they take your hand for an opponent.





Copyright(c) 2003 Ekaterina Romanova. All Rights Reserved.