How to Care for Guinea Pigs
The average life expectancy for a guinea pig is around four to eight years. To help your guinea pig live a long and healthy life make sure he gets plenty of good-quality hay for all that excellent calcium and to keep those teeth trimmed down. Good question! To turn it on its head, female guinea pigs very easily get pregnant and can do so from as young as four to six weeks of age, and remain reproductively active their whole life. Guinea pigs are strict herbivores and should never be given meat.
Do not give a guinea pig human foods such as chocolate and biscuits. Always act quiet around the guinea pig, avoid sudden movements, and always speak in a reassuring voice. Avoid carrying your guinea pig in your arms as they dislike being off the ground. You will need a safe, spacious area for the guinea pig to live. Guinea pigs develop a dewlap as they age: soft, loose skin under the chin.
Guinea pigs are happiest when they have at least one other guinea pig to socialize with. Exercise wheels and balls shouldn’t be bought, as they aren’t designed for guinea pigs and can hurt their backs. Don’t use any wooden toys that splinter, remove all labels and tags from the new toy, and ensure it is safe to chew on, as guinea pigs tend to chew on just about anything!
How to Clean your Guinea Pig Cage
One of the nice things about the Cubes and Coroplast cage is the ease of cleaning. Or, you could give them floor time during cage cleaning time. Or, you could remove them to a temporary bin during cage cleaning time. Or you could give them to another household member for lap-time during cage cleaning time. Toss the bedding in the garbage, or your compost heap if you are using appropriate bedding, or spread on your garden, or put in your green recycle bin.
If you use bleach, use only a maximum of 10% bleach and 90% water and rinse VERY WELL. If you are using the proper amount of bedding in your cage and changing it often enough, you should rarely have even damp spots on the bottom of your cage. If you do, you need to clean or spot clean more frequently or add more bedding or change the type of bedding you are using. Generally, the dirtiest part of the cage should be on the sides. Ideally, you should give the pigs floor time while you are cleaning their cage.
We must present a model of cavy care and our home must never ever smell like a cage or a barn. Some people use towels in a portion of a large Cubes and Coroplast cage and regular bedding on one end. Please see the Bedding page for more bedding ideas and suggestions.
The Lowdown on Guinea Pig Poop
If you’re thinking of getting a guinea pig for the first time, you probably want to know how much poop a guinea pig makes in a day. If you already own a guinea pig, you might want to know more about this coprophagia behavior you might have observed your guinea pig doing. For those who are curious, I’ve had both guinea pigs and rabbits, and I don’t think guinea pigs produce nearly as much poop as rabbits do. Some people clean a cage once a week for a single guinea pig, but that’s too much poop for me, so I prefer every 3-4 days. If a guinea pig has impacted stool, he needs a vet to manually get up in there and extract the poop.
Guinea pigs are vulnerable to stress, and changes in environment are a stressor to some guinea pigs. As a general rule, guinea pig poop is safe to be around. Some people have successfully trained their guinea pig to poop in a litter box, although it’s often not a 100%-of-the-time behavior. Guinea pig poop makes a great fertilizer and can be used in compost bins and piles, as well. You can also use guinea pig poop to make a liquid fertilizer.
Put your guinea pig poop in a bucket or can, then add water in a 2:1 ratio. There’s a town in Peru called Pachacama where they use guinea pig poop to make energy.
When The Pig Stops Eating
Several times a week we get a call or an E-Mail talking about the pig that has quit eating. A healthy pig loves to eat! That is the rule they live by. Sometimes it’s a big problem, sometimes a small one, but it is the first indication to you that all is not right with that pig. Pneumonia: The most common problem we have seen is pneumonia: Pig will stop eating and will run a fever usually in the 102 range at the beginning and can increase quickly if untreated.
Common pig pneumonia usually shows no symptoms other than the pig refusing to eat and running a fever. Giving a pig with a blockage a laxative can cause major damage to the pig. Pain: A pig that is in extreme pain from an injury or illness will not eat. The pig shows no symptoms at all until they quit eating. There is no fever and no symptoms beyond the pig refusing to eat.
The problem we seem to be seeing with these last two major problems is reluctance by some vets to open the pig up. It is not normal for a pig to go without eating for long periods of time!! Our thinking on this subject is if nothing stands out on any tests and this pig is still not eating than its time to take it to the next step and find out why.