Guinea Pigs Care & Husbandry
Guinea pigs are unique and quirky pets that require routine veterinary care. They are highly intelligent and social animals that thrive in a herd environment. Therefore, guinea pigs are often housed in pairs or small groups. Be aware that guinea pigs that are unfamiliar with each other may display signs of aggression when first introduced. This is more common between male guinea pigs (boars). This can be avoided by slowly introducing newly acquainted guinea pigs over a period of time or alternatively castration (desexing) can help reduce inter-boar aggression.
Similar to rabbits, good husbandry practices are vital for keeping your guinea pigs healthy and happy. Guinea pigs are often kept in large hutches either indoors or outdoors. A minimum floor space of 60cm x 100cm per guinea pig is recommended. If housing outdoors, make sure your guinea pig’s enclosure is protected from extremes in weather such as heat, wind and rain. It is important to keep your guinea pig’s enclosure dry and clean to prevent disease. Bedding substrate such as hay should be cleaned regularly to prevent build-up of faecal and urine waste products. Hiding places should be provided such as hide away castles, plastic tunnels/pipes and cardboard boxes for enrichment.
Guinea pigs have very specific dietary requirements to maintain gastrointestinal and dental health. Guinea pigs are at high risk of developing vitamin C (ascorbic acid) deficiency because they cannot produce it themselves. Therefore, vitamin C is an essential daily requirement in your guinea pig’s diet. Vitamin C deficiency can cause a number of serious health problems such as poor hair coat, delayed wound healing, painful or swollen joints, dental pain, lethargy, gut stasis, infection and inappetence. Deficiencies can be prevented by feeding vegetables high in vitamin C (e.g. parsley, broccoli (stem and flowers), kale, asian greens, spinach, capsicum and silver beat) or by supplementing good quality pellets (e.g. Oxbow, Vetafarm or Burgess). The average daily vitamin C requirement for guinea pigs is 10-50mg/kg depending on their health status (e.g. growing, adult, pregnant/lactating, old).
Please refer to the Rabbit information page for more dietary information for your guinea pig.
The following veterinary services are available at Lynbrook vet for guinea pigs
- General health checks
- Basic emergency, medical and surgical treatments
- Male desexing (castration)
- Nutritional and husbandry advice
- Nail trims
- Referral to exotic pet specialist