Guinea Pigs – Part 1

guinea americanGuinea pigs make great first pets and are relatively easy to look after. Before getting a guinea pig make sure that you have the time, budget and knowledge to meet all his needs.

Different breeds

There are many different breeds of guinea pigs on the market. Some of these breeds include the Coronet, Silkie and Teddy. The most common of all the guinea pigs are the Abyssinian, Peruvian and American.

Housing

When housing your guinea pig, remember that one guinea pig will require a minimum cage size of 100 x 50cm. Most guinea pig cages that pet stores sell are way too small.

Where will your piggy be kept?

  • A tank
  • A rabbit run
  • An indoor cage

Choosing the housing and cage for your guinea pig is very important to get right as this is where your guinea pig will be spending most of his time when you are not around. You have to choose a cage that your guinea pig will not be able to get his head stuck in.

An outside rabbit run

The benefits of having your guinea pig in an outside run are that your piggle will have access to a bigger area to run in and will have fresh air constantly. The more movement you allow your guinea pig, the happier and healthier he will be. Although an outside run gives your piggle ample room to run around in, it does leave him vulnerable to the elements, such as extreme sunlight and heat or freezing temperatures, rain and wind.

A plastic-bottomed bar cage

Plastic-bottomed cages allow your piggy to see outside his cage and are much easier to clean. Having an indoor cage allows you to have easy access to your piggy whether rain or shine, and allows your piggy to be a part of the household movements without having to leave the comfort of his cage. If you want your indoor guinea pig to be happy you will need a large indoor cage which will require you to give up a large area of your lounge, living room or bedroom.

Bedding

When choosing bedding it is important to remember that your piggle will be standing on it most of the day, so bedding should be soft and sturdy. You want bedding that is absorbent to both liquid and smells. Bedding such as recycled paper sucks up moisture and swells up, alerting you to a mess that needs cleaning. Pine shavings can be used but are not recommended. A popular option is fleece. Fleece is soft on your piggle’s feet and makes for simple cage cleaning.

guinea cageCage accessories

Your piggle will need a water bottle or water bowl. A water bottle is more desirable for your piggle than a bowl. Your guinea pig will also need a hay rack and food dish that cannot be tipped over.

Your guinea pig should have some toys to keep himself entertained. Wooden blocks make good toys as they also allow your pet to grind down his ever-growing teeth.

Text: Jessica du Preez

The full article appears in the May issue of AnimalTalk.

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