December 2016: The Basics of Guinea Pig Care

By Abbey Lashley

Guinea pigs. They are probably the cutest rodents on the face of the planet! Their adorable little snouts and small, furry bodies just makes them more desirable pets! Guinea pigs are friends, not food.

Since piggies need to constantly eat to keep their stomachs moving, Timothy Hay should always be available for them. Hay is about 80 percent of a guinea pig’s diet. However, don’t confuse straw and hay, they are different. Another reason guinea pigs need to constantly eat hay is to grind down their teeth. Since a guinea pig’s teeth are open-rooted, which means their teeth never stop growing, it’s vital to keep them under control.

Another very important food group is vegetables. A guinea pig should be given one cup of vegetables per feeding. You can include red or green leaf, but try to stay away from romaine lettuce and absolutely no iceberg lettuce. Another good veggie is radicchio, which is large enough to divide between eight pigs. Bell peppers are also a popular food in the guinea pig realm. You only need to use one-eighth of the pepper for one pig. Be sure to remove the stem and seeds as it can be a choking hazard. All in all, vegetables are about 15 percent of a pig’s diet.

The last five percent of a guinea pig’s food agenda is pellets. In the first six months of life, they should be fed alfalfa based pellets, which includes more calcium. After those six months, feed your Timothy based pellets. Your pig should be fed one-eighth cup of pellets every morning. Try to steer clear of seeds, nuts, and/or colored bits.

Since cavies hide illnesses very well, they should be given weekly checkups at home. Keep a log of their weight because a drastic change in weight is a sign that they are sick. Also, be sure to pick the same time and day to get an accurate record. Check their eyes, guinea pigs are notorious for getting eye injuries. Sunken eyes could mean that they have something in it, hay poke, or another eye injury. Examine their ears and make nothing is stuck in them. Survey their feet and maybe even clip their nails.

I haven’t even covered half of what you need to know about guinea pigs, but I am limited. So it’s your choice: guinea pig, or teacup pig?

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