If your child is asking for a pet, you may be wondering about caring for guinea pigs as pets at home. My kids have had several small animals as pets over the years. And, one of my favorites is the guinea pig. They look much less like rodents to me than gerbils and hamsters which is a plus for many people. Guinea pigs descended from the wild guinea pigs in South America. So, what do you need to take care of a guinea pig?
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Caring for Guinea Pigs
While guinea pigs do make a wonderful first pet for a child, they still require specific care to be happy and healthy. Like other small animals, they need to have a safe environment that is not accessible to your cat or dog. Even if your other pets cannot get into the guinea pigs cage, the constant menacing and watching will be stressful to your guinea pig.
Homes for guinea pigs
So, where will your guinea pig live? They will need to have a cage or an aquarium with a top to live in. The temperature should be between 65 and 75F to avoid respiratory illnesses. A cage that is roughly 18″ wide by 14″ high and 25″ deep will be adequate for one guinea pig to live in. You may see cages that are smaller than this, but a small cage will not allow your guinea pig enough room to be active which is important for their health. Be sure that the floor of their home is not wire or mesh because it’s easy for them to get their feet caught in those.
Guinea pig diet
Commercial guinea pig food has everything that your guinea pig needs to be healthy. However, they will also like fresh veggies like kale, cabbage, melon, and apples. Be sure that you remove the seeds in your apples as those are toxic. These extra fresh veggies help your guinea pig get added vitamin C which is important. Check with your pet store to see if they have a guinea pig care guide when you buy their food and bedding.
Cleaning and Grooming
Most guinea pigs are able to care for themselves easily without your help. However, if you purchase a long-haired guinea pig, they will need to be groomed so that their hair doesn’t get matted. You will also need to clean the cage since droppings will accumulate quickly. At least once a week, the cage should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected and fresh bedding should be added.
Access to Water
You will need to offer your guinea pig water through a special guinea pig dropper bottle. These gravity fed water bottles will allow easy access without any danger that they will be knocked over. The bottle will need to be thoroughly cleaned at least once a week to prevent the build-up of bacteria.
Guinea pigs are not toys. And while they may make wonderful first-time pets for a younger child, they will also require supervision and care from an adult. Your younger child should never be left alone with the guinea pig. Guinea pigs can become stressed very easily and will need to be handled gently.
If you are considering a guinea pig as a pet, speak to a veterinarian for more information about how to best care for them. I hope these guinea pig care tips have been helpful.
Do you have any questions about caring for guinea pigs as pets?