Tips on looking after guinea pigs
Guinea pigs need company of their own kind and can be kept in same sex groups or in pairs. It’s a good idea to phone around and find a vet who has experience of neutering small pets like guinea pigs. Animal charities like Blue Cross have guinea pigs that need good homes. Each hutch should have a separate sleeping area where the guinea pigs can retreat out of sight to get some peace and quiet. Do not keep guinea pigs – or any other animals – in a garage used to keep vehicles because the fumes can kill them. As guinea pigs are naturally grazing animals, it’s important that they always have quality, bagged, non-dusty hay to keep their digestive systems working, along with a small amount guinea pig mix. Female guinea pigs reach sexual maturity at four to five weeks old and males at eight to nine weeks. Male guinea pigs should be neutered so they can live as a pair with a female without breeding. Provide your guinea pigs with as much floor space as possible – a hutch for two should not be less than 1.2m long by 60cm wide. Never keep guinea pigs in the same hutch or run as rabbits, as there is a risk the guinea pigs will be bullied and seriously injured. Guinea pigs can make good pets for adults or children. Guinea pigs are gentle animals and make good children’s pets but you need to think about the fact that they have quite a long lifespan. Don’t forget… Guinea pigs have a long lifespan compared to other small animals Guinea pigs need company of their own kind, either in a pair or in a small group of the same sex. Do not keep guinea pigs and rabbits in the same hutch or run, as the guinea pigs may be bullied and severely injured. Make sure your guinea pigs always have dust-extracted hay to keep their digestive systems working and, a constant supply of clean water.
Health Risks of Owning Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs are easy-care pets, requiring little beyond basic food, water, cage cleaning and handling. Sometimes guinea pigs come with diseases contracted from unclean conditions at a breeder or other specimens at the pet store. Disease also may also enter your guinea’s world via food, water, other pets or handling. Only a few diseases can be passed from your guinea pig to you, but they can leave you quite ill and be devastating for infants. Avoid catching a disease from your guinea pig by instructing the entire family in safe handling guidelines. Bacteria found on the guinea’s fur will easily transfer to your hands and cross-contaminate anything you touch. Teach children not to kiss guinea pigs or put them up to their faces, not to rub their nose or eyes when handling a guinea pig and to thoroughly wash their hands as soon as the guinea pig goes back in his cage. Guinea pigs carry toxoplasmosis, a protozoan known to infect unborn children. Do not clean a guinea pig cage while pregnant if you can have someone else do it, and wear rubber gloves if you must do it yourself. House mice are the most common carriers of the disease, but guinea pigs can contract the disease when they come in contact with the droppings of infected mice or rats. The disease causes mental retardation, hydrocephalus and chorioretinitis in unborn children. A guinea pig’s sharp nails can scratch your skin, making it vulnerable to infection by guinea pig-borne staphylococcus aureus. While most staph infections cause redness and swelling at the infection site, immune-deficient people may contract pneumonia, sepsis or other serious bacterial infections. Guinea pigs also contract salmonella from contaminated food. Keep guinea’s cage clean and remove uneaten food daily to prevent salmonella from developing.
Guinea Pig Health
Weigh each of your guinea pigs weekly using a small kitchen food scale. Put a small, open box on top of the scale, tare the scale to remove the weight of the box, and then put your guinea pig in the box to weigh him/her. Why weigh your guinea pigs?Weighing your guinea pigs helps spot illness. A weight loss of 10% or more is when you should become concerned and take the guinea pig to the vet even if you see no other symptoms of illness. Signs of illness?If your guinea pigs have symptoms suggestive of illness, have lost weight, have begun to refuse foods normally eaten, and/or are not behaving normally, take them to an exotic vet with experience in treating guinea pigs right away. If your guinea pig is not eating, talk to your vet about providing Critical Care. Guinea pigs should go to the vet once a year for a well-check. It’s important to take them to an exotic vet with experience treating guinea pigs. Prescribed antibiotics by the vet?If your guinea pig was prescribed antibiotics by the vet, ask your vet about probiotics. Most guinea pigs will immediately latch onto the tube of Bene-bac and take the dispensed dose. Need help administering medications or Critical Care prescribed by the vet? Watch our video and see us administer medication to a guinea pig. Did you know that guinea pigs can die from too much gas building up in their digestive system? Guinea pigs can develop bloat for a variety of reasons, including eating foods that cause gas, not eating, etc. It is a medical emergency if your guinea pig appears swollen and the stomach appears distended. In both cases, take your guinea pig to the vet immediately. You can consider providing Simethicone for infants to help alleviate mild gas pressure but still should take the guinea pig to the vet immediately.