When thinking of adopting a new pet you are most likely feeling excited, perhaps even a bit nervous. This can make the process of welcoming that animal into the home slightly stressful. One of the best ways to fight this feeling of stress is to be as informed and prepared as is possible. For guinea pigs (Cavia porcellus), this means making sure they are going to be getting enough attention and enough cage space, among other important factors. It is very important for individuals thinking about buying a guinea pig to consider whether they have the right amount of responsibility to take care of this animal.
With this in mind, here are some important facts you should know before buying a guinea pig.
Guinea Pigs Need Lots Of Space
When shopping for supplies for a smaller rodent, it is easy to get caught up in all of the fancy designs for cages and accessories. However, most of these small animals need much more space than they could get within these commercially aesthetic cages. Guinea pigs need lots of space. In fact, just one guinea pig should have at least 7.5 square feet of space to explore. This can increase to 10.5 if you decide to adopt two guinea pigs instead of one however, the minimum still stays at 7.5 square feet.
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Guinea Pigs Eat A Lot
Space isn't the only thing your new pets will need a lot of. Guinea pigs also have an extensive diet. The advised amount of commercial food per day is 1/8 cup. Along with that is hay, which helps keep their teeth ground down and aids in digestion. This isn't all though, as guinea pigs enjoy many fruits and vegetables as well. They should be offered about one cup of vegetables per day. This cup of vegetables should include mostly leafy greens like kale and parsley. While guinea pigs do eat a lot, giving fruits only as a snack is advised. Fruit has an incredibly high sugar content and therefore should not be given as much as vegetables. A few slices of banana and several blueberries will be satisfactory, although they can eat other fruits as well.
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Cages Need Cleaning Regularly
There isn't usually anything a pet owner dreads more than having to clean out their animal's bedding or litter. While this may be a stinky and messy process at times, it is valuable and not something to put off. This is increased by almost three-fold when you are talking about guinea pigs. One reason their cages need cleaning regularly is they tend to be extremely tidy by nature and can become irritated if they are surrounded by filth for too long. Their cage needs to be spot cleaned at least once a day and even more if you have more than one guinea pig. This ensures that the guinea pigs have a clean home to live in. You should be thoroughly cleaning their entire cage once a week. This can also increase with the more guinea pigs you are keeping together.
Speaking of multiple guinea pigs, get familiar with another important fact everyone should be aware of before buying a guinea pig now.
Guinea Pigs Are Social
One strong point to look at when thinking of adopting a guinea pig is to think about how much time you have to tend for it. While it is possible to keep one guinea pig, it is crucial to note guinea pigs are inherently social animals, especially if they are female. In the wild, they tend to gather into groups of ten. This means if you are unable to spend a large amount of time with your guinea pig, they may begin to feel down. You should introduce two males before they are done weaning to avoid any issues while females can normally live together without any issues. However, it is not recommended to house a female and male together.
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Guinea Pigs Have Babies Young
The main reason most individuals do decide against keeping a sow and a boar (female and male guinea pigs) together is that guinea pigs can have babies young. Sows can reach sexual maturity at the age of only two months while boars mature around three months old on average. Most veterinarians do not advise attempting to breed guinea pigs in most cases, as it is easy to fall into overbreeding. Like many other animals, there are many guinea pigs who do not have homes and are waiting to be adopted. Another reason is the older the sow gets, the more likely it is that there will be issues with the birth. At eight months old, a female guinea pig's pelvic symphysis begins to stiffen. When the mother begins to give birth, it makes it exceptionally difficult for babies to pass through easily. This usually ends up requiring a c-section, a surgery with very low rates of survival for the babies.