What Is A Guinea Pig? Guinea pigs, also called a cavy, are rodents that are not in the pig family, nor are they from Guinea. They come from the Andes and are the descendants of a closely related species of cavy that no longer exists naturally in the wild.
Domesticated guinea pigs are also known as cavies. Guinea pigs are generally gentle animals, and make good family pets, especially for children over six years of age. As with all other pets, small children, should be supervised by an adult while handling a guinea pig.
Guinea pigs may live as long as 10 years, so the decision to adopt one must be made carefully. Guinea pigs require daily care including feeding, watering, cage cleaning, exercise, and companionship. They are social animals, and will definitely want to be a part of your family.
There are 13 breeds of guinea pigs, differing in hair types, colors, and markings. The variety certainly is remarkable.
In most cases, the process of adopting a guinea pig, or any animal, involves an application process and an application fee. Shelters and rescue organizations want to be sure you understand the commitment and appropriate care guinea pigs require:
Housing: Guinea pigs enjoy play and are capable of jumping 12 inches high. Therefore, ideally, the enclosure should provide a minimum of 7.5 square feet (30 inches by 36 inches) for one guinea pig. More space should be provided for additional guinea pigs. If wire-bottom cages are used, wood, grass mats, or other materials should be placed on a portion of the floor to protect their feet. The wire floor mesh should be fine enough to prevent feet from getting caught. Glass aquarium enclosures should never be used because they do not allow proper ventilation. Cages should be located away from direct sunlight, drafts and temperature extremes. Always line cages with bedding such as sawdust or wood shavings.
Toys: Guinea pigs love to hide, so include cardboard or PVC tubes, or other types of hide boxes in the cage. For playtime, you may also use a large indoor exercise run, or “guinea pig-proof” a single room. Always supervise playtime outside the cage.
Diet: Feed a diet that provides quality timothy hay at all times. In addition, provide fresh, quality, commercial pellets made especially for guinea pigs every day. Guinea pigs require daily vitamin C, which rabbit pellets do not contain. Fresh vegetables and clean fresh water should also be provided daily. The water should be provided in an inverted bottle that attaches to the enclosure.
Grooming and general care: Guinea pigs’ teeth grow continuously, and they need to chew to keep their teeth the proper length. Provide pigs with a piece of wood to gnaw on. Use a pesticide-free tree branch or an unpainted piece of wood that has not been chemically treated. There are also a number of chew toys that are available commercially.
Brush your guinea pig regularly to keep his coat smooth and to remove loose hair. Long-haired guinea pigs should be groomed daily to prevent tangles and matting.