Also known as a cavy (singular) or cavies (plural).
Did you know?
Guinea Pigs do not originate from Guinea and... they are not pigs either! They are actually tailess rodents that first appeared in the andean region of South America during the time of the Inca Empire. Domesticated almost 5000 years ago for their meat (apparently it is tasty), Guinea Pigs are still considered a popular delicacy in Peru and Bolivia today!
Luckily for Guinea Pigs, the rest of the world would rather keep these furry animals as pets!
Guinea Pigs are small lightweight animals who can be handled with care by anyone, including children. Their body is rotund and stocky with the tail barely visible. It is possible to feel a few vertebrae from the non obvious tail underneath their fur. They usually are 26cm in length and weigh 1-1.5 kg.
Breeders love showing off their stylish pets! Check out the Peruvican Guinea Pig on the left who is sporting a cute pink bow tie to boot.
Cavies thrive on having company and it is generally recommended to have more than one to prevent loneliness. Another bonus with having a couple of cavies? The more furry pets to lavish and love, of course! Although, avoid having one of either sex as you could end up having lots of tiny guinea pig babies! A couple of females is preferred as two males are more inclined to fight each other.
Guinea pigs make grunting and squeaking noises when communicating with one another or with you. They tend to make higher pitched sounds when they are hungry or they excitedly see food is coming towards them.
Guinea pigs, at first, can be a bit skittish and hesitant of being handled. If you have adopted one from a rescue shelter this is more likely the case. Continue to be supportive and provide your new guinea pig with treats to gain their trust. If handled improperly, cavies will scratch and perhaps bite. If you have any small children, be sure to supervise them carefully to ensure your pet feels safe and secure.
Each cavy you own should have a space that is at minimum 70cm x 70cm in size. The enclosure should be sturdy and protect them from any predators (or other pets you have in your home). Their bedding is best to consist of softwood shavings. Do not use treated pine shavings as it is highly toxic to guinea pigs if they chew on it. Although not as dangerous, sawdust shavings and cedar shavings can cause breathing difficulties and irritation. If you are unsure on how to set up your guinea pig enclosure, you can discuss this with your local pet shop/breeder/veterinarian for further advice. Their hutch should be cleaned and their bed shavings replaced at least weekly. You can also place some toys for entertainment in their hutch.
Grooming your pet depends on the type of guinea pig you have. The shorter hair breeds are easier to maintain and only need to be combed twice a week at the most. The longer haired breeds would need to be combed regularly (daily even) to prevent their fur matting and tangling.
Guinea Pigs can live from 5 to 10 years. Their life expectancy means that you should be in for the long haul if you decide to adopt one (or several)!
Cavies should be fed a hearty combination of vegetables, grass (or hay is fine) and pellets. Costs may start from $10 a week to feed your guinea pig(s). Although do take into consideration that if you feed your pet an excess amount of lettuce it may cause them to get diarrhea.
Keep their water container clean, fresh and topped up regularly to prevent your cavy from dehydration.
Please note that the following foods are highly toxic to cavies: rhubarb leaves, potatoes and potato peelings. If you are unsure on what to feed your guinea pig, definitely contact us for further advice!
Guinea Pigs usually are healthy rodents with minimal problems. Although they are adverse to:
- Extreme temperatures (either hot or cold). If pregnant females overheat, they can end up suffering from toxaemia.
- Grass seeds in their fur. Can cause their eyes to become irritated and bloodshot.
- Fleas and ticks which could cause your cavy to suffer from skin irritation (referred to as mange). Regular grooming is required to keep these annoying insects at bay!
Is a Guinea Pig an ideal pet for you?
Guinea Pigs are a perfect pet for any type of household whether it be a family with small children, person living their own or older couple. Cavies are petite beings that are relatively low maintenance. Just ensure to keep your cavies in a safe location in the home if you have other pets (such as cats or dogs) that might harm them. From what we hear, owners of guinea pigs say they are lovely cute furballs that make wonderful companions. Guinea Pigs are also frequently used for many hilarious demotivationals and memes. Your cavy may well be the next internet sensation! What's not to like?