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What to Know Before Getting a Guinea Pig

guinea pig
Written by C Wolsey

Guinea pigs are one of the UK’s most popular furry friends and are often seen as an ideal addition for families with children or homes that are too small for a larger animal, such as a dog. However, as wonderful as guinea pigs are, they’re often misunderstood. That’s why it’s important to know as much as you can about your new guinea pig before you bring it home. Here are the top four things new guinea pig owners need to know to give their animals the best quality of life and form a strong bond with them.

They’re Active

Though they may be small, guinea pigs only sleep for short periods and are active for up to twenty hours out of the day! That’s why it’s vital to provide your guinea pig with ample room to run around and explore.

Your guinea pig’s home should be tall enough for them to stand up on their back legs and should allow them to display their natural behaviours such as tunnelling, foraging and chewing.

They Eat a Varied Diet

Whilst 80% of a guinea pig’s diet is made up of hay, they also need a varied diet to ensure they get the necessary nutrients, especially Vitamin C. As well as having high-quality guinea pig food, your guinea pig will also need some fresh leafy greens each day.

Safe fruits, such as apples, bananas and blueberries can also be given as a treat (but never give your guinea pig apple pips because they’re poisonous).

They’re Social Creatures

Guinea pigs are an extremely sociable animal. In the wild, they would live in large herds with at least five to ten other piggies, which means they’ll do far better if living in pairs or among a group of other guinea pigs.

Keeping guinea pigs in pairs or groups improves their mental and physical well-being, prevents the development of unwanted behaviours like aggression and helps them stay active.

It’s also more fun for you as an owner, as you’ll get to see their guinea-pig relationships develop and enjoy listening as they communicate with one another using their telltale squeaks and grunts. They may also ‘talk’ to you, especially around feeding time!

They’re Smart!

As well as being extremely active guinea pigs are also very smart creatures. This means it’s important to offer your piggy brain stimulation through fun activities or new toys.

Guinea pigs enjoy small toys, such as balls made from plastic, willow or dried grass. Avoid exercise wheels intended for smaller furries, like hamsters, and make sure any bridges or walkways are low to the ground and secure, to prevent them from giving way. The last thing you want is your guinea pig friend to have a nasty fall.

Guinea pigs love tunnels, mazes, tubes and obstacle courses, and although they enjoy burrowing and hiding, they also love climbing up to a good vantage point to survey their kingdom and scout for predators!