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5 Common Mistakes Guinea Pig Owners Make

Thinking about getting a guinea pig? Be sure to avoid these common pitfalls.
Thinking about getting a guinea pig? Be sure to avoid these common pitfalls. | Source

Tips for a Happier, Longer-Lived Cavy

A guinea pig, or cavy, is a very fragile pet that requires more care than most people think. Many new guinea pig owners are guilty of some or all of these five common mistakes. Before you bring your little ball of fur home, do some research and use this article as a guide to make sure you are fully prepared. Although some of these misconceptions can seem harmless, they actually can lead to a less happy, even shortened, life for your pig.

Things to Avoid

1. Buying Your Cavy From a Pet Store

Unfortunately this is a huge mistake that happens far too often. You go into a pet store and see a piggy that makes your heart melt, and then see that it's crammed into a small aquarium with four other guinea pigs. Your initial thought is that if you buy this special pig, you'll be rescuing it, and therefore it's a good thing you chose to buy a guinea pig at a pet store. Really, the best thing you can do is to actively avoid supporting that pet store so that hopefully some day it won't exist and those animals won't be treated that way, especially when there are literally thousands of guinea pigs in shelters that need homes.

Supporting pet stores that mistreat animals is the perfect example of an easily avoidable, but all-too-common mistake for new owners. The "cages" they use are usually aquariums that aren't big enough for even one pig, but often house three or more at a time. These practices are no secret and have been a problem for years.

If you are interested in owning a guinea pig, the best thing to do is to adopt. A rescue that is specific to small pets like guinea pigs will know how to care for a cavy more than any pet store will, guaranteed. Guinea pigs that come from pet stores aren't cared for as well, and are likely in a worse state of health. Your local rescue will also be able to answer any question under the sun regarding your newfound pet, which might not be true of the 17-year-old working at the pet store.

Another good thing about adopting? You can easily find cagemates, so it eliminates the entire "introducing a new pig" dilemma. My guinea pigs are brothers who have been cagemates for life, and I received a two-for-one special because the woman who rescued them knows how important it is for cagemates to stay together. Her husband was a vet, so I knew that when I adopted these two baby boars, they would be at optimal health. After over three years, we still stay in touch and she asks how they are doing from time to time. You can't find that kind of care in a store.

But what if you want a young guinea? Don't worry, there are thousands of guinea pigs of all different ages waiting for homes at shelters and rescues (and don't rule the mature pigs out until you meet them). If you assume that you can only get a fresh new guinea at a pet store, you might want to think again.

2. Assuming That Guinea Pigs Are Fine Without Cagemates

I can't imagine how it would be if I had split these two up.
I can't imagine how it would be if I had split these two up.

This is another common misconception about guinea pigs. A lot of people think that owning just one pig is fine, and that it doesn't need a friend. This may be true if you have enough time to give it the attention it's lacking from a cagemate, but most people have jobs or school. Imagine if you were left to spend an entire day in a confined space. Would you survive? Of course, but it'd be a lot better if you had a friend with you.

Guinea pigs are very social animals. They are also a prey animal, so no matter how many hours you spend hanging out with your guinea pig, I'm sorry but your guinea pig would still rather hang out with another guinea pig. Humans are scary to piggies, while other piggies are protection.

"Ew but two guinea pigs would smell so much more!"

No, not really. If you have an appropriately sized cage for two pigs, your cage will not smell any worse than your current cage does. I've owned one pig; now I own two, and I don't notice a difference in odor at all. What I did notice is that it is much more fun to have two pigs than just one. Why? Because watching them interact, seeing their differences in personalities, and catching them cuddling together is much more rewarding than looking at one pig with a blank look on its face who is terrified of me.

3. Buying a Cage That Is Too Small

If you bought a cage from a pet store, it's probably too small. Even if you splurged on the biggest cage in the store that cost over $100, not only is your cage probably still not big enough, but you also wasted a ton of money.

The best way to ensure that you are getting an appropriate cage for your cavy is to build your own guinea pig cage. This is much easier than it sounds and much more cost effective than trying to buy a cage that is big enough. For the price you paid for your cage from the pet store, you could have built what's known as a C&C cage triple the size. The C&C stand for cube (the wire storage cubes you can assemble with plastic connectors) and coroplast (corrugated plastic).

Some may look at an appropriate cage for a guinea pig and think that it is way too big, but if you look at how an average-sized guinea pig compares to the size of an average store-bought cage, you can see it'd be like keeping a hamster in a shoebox. Would you keep a hamster in a cage the size of a shoebox? Just because it can turn around and take five steps doesn't mean it's an acceptable size. Exercise is a necessity for the longevity of guinea pigs, just as it is in all other living things. If a Labrador was kept in a pen that was only big enough for it to take a few steps each day, most would consider it animal abuse, so why is it okay to give that same treatment to a guinea pig?

An Example Of A Bad Cage

Petsmart says this cage is a "perfectly sized home for your guinea pig". Not only is this cage less than half the size it should be, the $60 you would have spent buying it could have built you a C&C cage in the right size, with cash to spare.
Petsmart says this cage is a "perfectly sized home for your guinea pig". Not only is this cage less than half the size it should be, the $60 you would have spent buying it could have built you a C&C cage in the right size, with cash to spare. | Source

An Example Of A Good Cage

Choosing to build a C&C cage means the sky's the limit to all different types of customizations. This is a 2x4 C&C cage that my piggies Wilson and Apollo currently share.
Choosing to build a C&C cage means the sky's the limit to all different types of customizations. This is a 2x4 C&C cage that my piggies Wilson and Apollo currently share. | Source

Cage Size Guidelines

# Of Guinea Pigs
Minimum Size Acceptable
Preferred Size
In C&C Grids
1
7.5 Sq Ft
more
2x3 grids
2
7.5 Sq Ft
10.5 Sq Ft
2x4 grids
3
10.5 Sq Ft
13 Sq Ft
2x5 grids
4
13 Sq Ft
more
2x6 grids

If you have male guinea pigs, the preferred size acts as more of a requirement than a suggestion. Boars often tend to fight more, and therefore require more space to have alone time. A rule of thumb is basically the bigger the cage, the happier the pet.

4. Neglecting Nutrition

This is probably the most important thing to get right when raising a guinea pig. As with any other living thing, nutrition for guinea pigs is not something to take lightly. Follow these guidelines to ensure you're doing everything you can for your piggy's diet:

  1. Pellets: Dry food, or pellets, come in all different types, brands, and prices. Most of the pellets you will find in stores are ones that should be avoided. This article gives an in-depth discussion on what to look for, and what not to look for in guinea pig pellets. Popular brands used by guinea pig experts include Oxbow Cavy Cuisine (my favorite, which can be found cheaper online than it can in stores), and pellets sold by KMS Hayloft.
  2. Hay: Your guinea pig needs an unlimited supply of hay at all times. Oh, the wonders of hay—guinea pigs need it for many reasons. Their digestive systems require a high-fiber diet in order to keep things running smoothly, if you catch my drift. Not only that, but their teeth are constantly growing, and chewing hay keeps the growth of their molars under control. Piggies love to eat hay, sleep in hay, play with hay—everything. If a guinea pig made a Valentine's Day card, it would be to hay. When you purchase your pig's new best friend, look for second-cut Timothy hay. Second-cut means that it's the second cut of the season—the first cut tends to be tough, so you want the second, more tender, batch—and Timothy hay is a type of grass grown specifically for hay. You can get hay in stores (not the best option), online (much better option), or from a trusted local Timothy-hay farmer (the best!). Start stocking up and spoiling your pig with ample amounts of hay; it will be greatly appreciated.
  3. Fruits & Veggies: Guinea pigs should get a wide range of different fruits and vegetables every day. It can be fun to see what different fruits and vegetables your pig prefers. My pigs' absolute favorite vegetables are carrots. Follow this detailed nutrition chart from a popular guinea pig website to see what vegetables and fruits are acceptable, as well as appropriate serving sizes.

A Few Additional Tips

  • Sugar-filled, wacky-flavored, colorful guinea pig treats are not good. There are probably appropriate treats through brands such as Oxbow, but a general rule of thumb is that if you aren't positive about how good it is for your pig, don't buy it.
  • Some people try to sell hay balls that go in your cage and act as a movable hay rack. These have been known to be very dangerous to pigs because piggies get their little feet stuck inside them.
  • If a pellet food looks delicious to you, it's most likely bad for your pig. Look for plain pellets. Avoid any with mixes of seeds, nuts, and weird-colored shapes.
  • Never feed your pet iceberg lettuce. It is not nutritious and can cause diarrhea. The greener the leaf, the healthier the lettuce.
  • Salt wheels = bad. If you feed your pig high-quality food such as Oxbow, it already has enough sodium in its diet.

5. Using the Wrong Guinea Pig Bedding

One of the most common types of bedding used in guinea pig cages is in the form of wood shavings or paper-based bedding. This is completely fine if you are using the appropriate kind (not pine, cedar, or sawdust). However, wood shavings may not be the best choice for the health of your piggy. Small bits of wood, paper, or dust inhaled by a guinea pig may cause respiratory problems or bother its sensitive eyes. Wood shavings and paper-based bedding can be kicked around easily, and isn't the cleanest option because your guinea pig will be living in its own waste until you completely clean the cage. Although many people use wood- and paper-based bedding, it isn't a very eco-friendly choice, and it can get crazy expensive.

This leads me to my next tip: the magic of using fleece bedding. Fleece is a newer bedding option that has been sweeping the cavy nation. It is cheaper than any other option and more eco-friendly. Using fleece allows you to "spot clean" your cage daily, so your piggy can literally live in a poo-free world if you want. Instead of absorbing urine like paper or wood bedding would do, thus becoming soggy, fleece allows it to pass straight through (underneath the fleece, you should have two layers of a towel or something similar that you will have to wash periodically), so the top layer is left completely dry to the touch. It doesn't hurt that cleanup's a snap and your cage looks better either.

Wilson Loves to Catch Z's on Soft, Homemade Pillows

Another added bonus to fleece? Your pigs will love it! Having a clean dry cage means you are free to make small pillows and beds for your pigs to lounge around on, without having to worry about them getting filthy in minutes.
Another added bonus to fleece? Your pigs will love it! Having a clean dry cage means you are free to make small pillows and beds for your pigs to lounge around on, without having to worry about them getting filthy in minutes.

Best of Luck to You and Your New Pets

This was written in the best interest of the health and longevity of cavies. It is information every new owner needs to know, but unfortunately is not always taken seriously. I hope that with these tips and guidelines, you will be able to start off on the right foot with guinea pig care. Guinea pigs are precious little pets with unfortunately short life spans, but by giving them optimal care we can hopefully give them longer, happier lives.

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Comments 106 comments

GUINEABLOB 2 hours ago

I don't understand the difference between getting a guinea pig in the pet store and getting your piggie at a rescue. Buying a guinea pig at the pet store is saving it from the life it is having their and bringing it into a good home where it will get lots of attention. It's literally the same thing as getting guinea pig from a rescue. Plus there are more choices to choose from at the pet store, because there aren't very many at the rescue. So my point is to tell you that it is okay to buy a piggie in either place, because the pet store workers along with the people who work at the rescues take good care of their animals.


logic 6 days ago

How is saving a pig in a shelter any different to saving one from the Terrible, Crowded and Unhealthy conditions of a pet shop?


Emily 9 days ago

Hey! I was wondering about fleece bedding, when I used it, It was impossible for me to get their hair out! Do you have any tips for that?


Alyssa 11 days ago

I would hope no pet store keeps guinea pigs in an "aquarium" because they would drown


PopPipHooray 13 days ago

I have not found very many guinea pigs in shelters.


Shirley 2 weeks ago

I have a guinea pig that won't let me hold him when I touch him he wants to bite. I noticed he has red places on him and his hair is coming out. Do you think he has mites? Help Please what can I do for him.


Mexican Food 2 weeks ago

You are a complete and total moron


PipPipHooray 3 weeks ago

My parents finally agreed to let me have some piggies,and I feel so bad for the ones in the pet store,and want to get them there all though it might be a bad idea.I don't know whether or not to get my piggies from a pet store or a shelter.Any suggestions?


Hunt 3 weeks ago

@pipi you need one like now!


Pie guy 3 weeks ago

Thanks so ,much all this information it was very helpful!!!!!!


Cami 3 weeks ago

I thought fleece bedding was a new type of shavings. Not like a fleece blanket. Nevermind! Haha. I understand now. Very nice. I will try it for my new babies.


Cami 3 weeks ago

Am I reading this right? Put a towel down and and sprinkle the fleece on all over? I'm confused how the towel would get wet but the fleece wouldn't. It seems like that would stink too? Sorry, I'm new to this. I just found 2 pigs in the park that someone dumped there. They're very skiddish. Any tips would help!


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wymyczak66 4 weeks ago from Buffalo, NY Author

I have an article explaining how to prepare fleece for guinea pig cages. If you succeed in preparing the fleece so that it properly wicks the pee through the layer of fleece onto the towels below, it won't smell like pee and it's much much much easier to deal with than shavings :D


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wymyczak66 4 weeks ago from Buffalo, NY Author

I would recommend you check out guineapigcages.com and show your parents the cage size requirements that are on the front page, especially if you are adding a second to your piggy family :) There is a forum on that site where you can have answers to any question under the sun, I would trust the users' instruction more than my own on all of your questions. Hope this helps!


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wymyczak66 4 weeks ago from Buffalo, NY Author

2x4 is recommended for two pigs, but I believe I had heard somewhere that if they are two girls they can get away with a 2x3. Boys need at least a 2x4 for certain though. Hope this helps!


Elaina Marcum 5 weeks ago

Hi! Could you please help me and my piggies

I have a 2x5 C&C cage for my 3 female guinea pigs and they love it!

My problem is that because I use wood shavings, one of my piggies is always sneezing :( I sewed some fleece liners also with a layer of fabric made of recycled denim (I know sometimes people use it to wrap around furniture for moving) and it was very easy to sweep up the piggy poop with a small dustpan. The downside is that it smells like pee and is hard to wash Is there a better way to do this? :)


MacyPiggy 5 weeks ago

I have a guinea pig, and her cage is too small, but my parents don't believe me, but the largest cage I have a CHANCE of getting is 47x23, and I let her run around the house pretty often (with supervision of course). So is that okay? She gets love and attention everyday. Also, I know I'm supposed to have 2 (I am getting a second one soon but we moved across the country so we are settling down) but she acts perfectly happy without a second guinea pig, are there signs of depression that I'm missing? Lastly, she is about 3-5 months, would introducing a baby be better, because my animal shelter has no babies.

Please help


Guineahope 6 weeks ago

It also has a 2x2 additional level???????????????does that make it any better??????????▫️


Pipi 7 weeks ago

I would love to have a guinea pig :) :)


Guineahope 7 weeks ago

I'm getting a 2x3 grid cage. It's not from a pet store website but it says it's suitable for 1-2 Guinea pigs. I'm getting 2 Guinea pigs can I use the cage??? Is it too small????

Please help


Rose 2 months ago

There was recently a Health issue regarding my other Guinea Pig and unfortunately she's not with us anymore so I only have one Guinea Pig, I am getting another soon, is it okay for her to wait a bit longer for a buddy or do I need one like NOW


Ingrid Lacoste 2 months ago

Love your article and yes you right about it would be better to adopt we have our Guinea pigs for over a year now they are fine but there do take a lot of your time cleaning petting and the fresh stuff they need daily


Lisa 2 months ago

Great article I wish more people would understand the needs of a Guinea Pig.


stuart 2 months ago

hello to those that want to adopt,baby boy and girl needs a loving family,if you want to adopt a new born (2months old) baby boy/girl, location is novara. PM me directly now or email to :federickagency @ gmail .com

or PM me with your request and email to adopt this lovely child. COME AND COLLECT him or her NOW.(federickagency @ gmail. com)

regards

sir federick


Random 4 months ago

I'm trying to convince my parents to let me and my brother buy 2 guinea pigs as of now. This gave me more info for my very compelling argument.Thank You!!!!


Victoria 5 months ago

Hey, Suzi!

You should try introducing your guinea pig to each other in a more organized manner. First, put their cages near each other for a few weeks. Then, I would recommend putting them in the same area, but keep a close eye on them. If they do not fight for 2-3 hours put them in a cage together. Keep a very close eye on them, but do not remove one from the other unless blood is drawn.


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wymyczak66 6 months ago from Buffalo, NY Author

It would depend on how big it is, but a standard rat cage you would find in a store would not be big enough.


lilly 6 months ago

I recently just lost my two pet rats and I am now thinking about getting a guinea pig or two. Would my big rat cage be good for them?


Jane 7 months ago

I have had a Guinea pig for 2 and a half years. She has always lived alone, but I have recently been thinking about getting her a friend. She already has a 4 by 2 grid cage (I got it about 2 months ago for her) so there would be enough room. Would it be too late to get her a friend or would she ultimately be happier?


Susi 7 months ago

I bought two guineapigs, both females, called Bellatrix and Ollie. They have lived together since they were born, but unfortunately, Bellatrix died. We decided to get a new friend for Ollie, since she looked sad, but in the pet shop they were pretty stupid and gave us a male. We tried to see if they could be together, but they were always screaming and yelling, and Ollie got really stressed. We named him Marvin. We are to attached to him to give him back or sell him, so we are keeping him. Do you think I should get another guineapig to be Ollie's friend? Or maybe I can try to get Marvin and Ollie together? Please answer, I don't want to keep seeing my baby this sad.


Erika 7 months ago

I bought all of my pigs from a pet store called Seven Seas, they made their own cage for pigs (very large) and they only get 2-4 at a time and the same sex. My babies love the paper bedding. I once bought them something fleece and they started eating it so it had to go.

One piggy lives in a large cage by herself, near the other babies, because she would constantly bite the faces of the other pigs. They are all females. She just doesn't want a cage mate, it happens.


Anne 7 months ago

I'd love to build a C&C cage but wonder how I can put some type of roof on it to make it cat proof


Veer 7 months ago

I have bought a cage from the petstore and it is 15 Sq Ft, so not all cages are small. I have 3 pigies ;)


Lily 8 months ago

This such great advice.Maybe i should start doing this things so,my guinea pigs will live a happier life.


elain 8 months ago

This article did not say ONE thing about vitamin C. Pigs don't make it themselves and they need it to survive. My vet said the bottle vit C from the pet store is crap. Don't bother. Find a list of fruit & veggies high in vit C. Guava is the highest. Red pepper, green pepper, Kale. No lettuce because there is too much water, even green leaf. Vit C is very important!!


Han 8 months ago

Ah! Thank you! I used to have 2 but now I have 1 :( .

I really love small animals, but Guinea Pigs the most!


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delancooper 9 months ago from Australia

Thanks, Jessie. This content helps a lot for people who want to have guinea pig. I want one, but I have no time to take care of them. :P


Fox 9 months ago

I live in Europe and I have 11week old gunieapig and


Kyndal 11 months ago

Does the fleece help with odor control from the urine?


Elyot 12 months ago

Good start. I can think of plenty more, mainly the belief rabbits and guinea-pigs can live together.


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wymyczak66 14 months ago from Buffalo, NY Author

Thank you for your feedback, and best of luck with your new piggies!


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wymyczak66 14 months ago from Buffalo, NY Author

Thank you for your feedback!


Piggy 15 months ago

Im working on getting guinea piggies im thinking of 3-4. And i cant wait.Thank you very much for writing this, you did awsome.

Unfortunately i think im going to have to get them from a petstore like petco or petco. :( ......but i still cant wait.


Alanna 16 months ago

When i first got my guinea pigs i put them in a cage with cedar shavings and it burt there poor feet and you dont have to build a cag they do great in a rubber maid box. Dont worry about iceberg lettuce it is healthy and they love it. No diarrhea.


CatG 17 months ago

This was an interesting and fun read. I did have one problem that bothered me but I am, in no way, upset with anyone. I have worked at three different pet stores in the past five years. I currently work at PetSmart and can tell you, the majority of employees at my store are very educated on all animals. I have done my own personal research over the years and am able to answer most questions pertaining to fish, reptiles, birds, small animals, cats, and dogs.

I have been to PetCo and other PetSmarts and many ma and pop shops that have misinformed me (thank goodness I already had the knowledge). So I guess what I want to mention on the side is that if you are serious about buying a new pet of any sorts, do your research first and then come to the store. Ask the employee many questions and if they hit a point where they don't know how to answer your questions or are clearly uneducated on the subject, leave that store and find another. Also, at PetSmart, the only reason there are so many animals in one cage, is because they only stay in that cage for a week tops. And PetSmart changes the bedding daily and takes care of these animals. If you think their cage size is bad, you'll really hate how any distributor ships them!

I only say this because I am a friendly and knowledgeable employee of one of these stores you say must be boycotted. I have spent the past year trying to change the way our store does many things for the benefit of the pet. So instead of boycotting the stores, complain to corporate about the living conditions and do your research and test the employee. Those employees who do care and are good at their job rely on those paychecks and need the employment at their store.


Vi 19 months ago

Oh, and i tried the fleece thing...didn't work out. It smells like pee all the time and they don't really like it, they prefer wood shavings.


Vi. 19 months ago

Great advice but i have some issues with some of the points.

1. There isn't a rescue center or stuff like that in my country for guinea pigs, no other way to get them except pet stores.

2. I have 2 of these guys that i had to separate and are waaaaay happier alone then with each other, even if they are father and son. They fought ALL the time.


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wymyczak66 19 months ago from Buffalo, NY Author

I agree, I don't think pet stores will ever stop carrying them and I also don't think people will stop buying pets from them. I have to put the message out there though, maybe someone will come along who didn't know that guinea pigs are readily available at rescues :)


Alexandria 19 months ago

Honestly I agree, I've seen how many pet stores neglect certain animals, and don't give them the space they need or proper care. However I don't think not buying from pet stores, and hope they stop selling, etc would work. I believe instead certain laws should be passed to insure the safety of animals in pet stores. If people get fined or worse for not taking care of their pet. So should pet stores and breeders.


anon 20 months ago

Vitamin c requirement ?


anna 21 months ago

I can not buy another guinea right know now because my dad says I need to do good wit one


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wymyczak66 21 months ago from Buffalo, NY Author

I assume that there may be a small percentage of pet stores out there that take proper care of guinea pigs but I have yet to see one. I'm already giving them the benefit of the doubt by assuming they exist.


Hannah 21 months ago

This loses its credibility due to the excessive pet store bashing.


Oliver 22 months ago

I'm a vet and honestly I recommend burgess nuggets they are nutritional and stop selective feeding.


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wymyczak66 2 years ago from Buffalo, NY Author

Unfortunately guinea pigs cannot be potty trained, however they usually go to the bathroom where they eat. What I like to do is make a "kitchen" area in the cage with something like a shallow cat litter box. I fill the bottom of the box with yesterday's news (a brand of recycled paper cat litter), and i also put their food bowls, water, and hay in that section. It really helped to keep the mess at bay. You can also look at the forums on guineapigcages.com for unique diy "hay dispensers". While you're there, I would also do some research on how to properly introduce a new piggy. Boars can tend to be territorial so there is a process that people recommend. I'm not incredibly familiar with how to do it because my boys were brother cagemates, but you can find any answers you need at that forum, there are some serious guinea pig experts there! Best of luck to you and kudos for giving your little guy a new friend :D


Suzanne 2 years ago

We have a 7mo old male pig named Arrow. He lives in his cage in the kitchen and loves to run around the living room and chase the dogs and cats :). We are in the process of looking for a pig-BFF for him. We switched from paper bedding to fleece a few months ago, however we are concerned that the hay will cause our washing machine pump to clog. We shake out and brush the fleece as mush as we can but there is always as. Good amount of hay left on it. Do you have any advice? Should we get a deeper thicker kind of fleece? I feel like they hay is the hardest part of clean-up...it gets everywhere! also! how can you get your pig to use a certain area for the bathroom?


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wymyczak66 2 years ago from Buffalo, NY Author

Thank you for your kind words :) You've made my day!


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DC Ziese 2 years ago from Virginia, USA

Great hub... Thank you for your time and effort in writing this. I am so glad to see that many people have read your hub and have put the information to use. All too often, people give in to their children's whims and/or arbitrarily decide to obtain a pet without doing the necessary research and preparing for the commitment. Hence, most of the animals end up in shelters and rescues, or completely abandoned. I am a lifelong lover of all animals, and for many years have fostered, rehabilitated and re-homed strays and surrendered animals (even wildlife). Therefore, I am also an advocate for obtaining pets via shelters, rescues or foster homes (and classifieds) versus pet stores or mills.

I'm glad that you mentioned KMS Hayloft as a food source for guinea pigs (also great for rabbits and chinchillas). In my personal experience, and that of my two rescued/adopted guinea pigs, the quality of hay and pellets from KMS Hayloft far, far, far exceeds that of any retail brand. And, pound-for-pound, the cost is equal to, or cheaper than, retail--including shipping costs. My Vet is astounded that my guinea pigs have exceeded their "average" life expectancy, and appear to be in great health and temperament. They were rescued/adopted at approximately one-year-old, and are now about eight years old. I attribute their longevity to the quality hay and fortified pellets from KMS Hayloft, a daily assortment of organic vegetables and fruits, filtered water, adequate cage with necessities and natural bedding, frequent play-time in a large playpen with obstacle course and toys, lots of love and affection, and occasional Reiki sessions. (-:

Previously, I was clueless about caring for guinea pigs, and prior to accepting the pigs, I had to do a lot of research and preparation. You offer some great info and resources in your hub. I would like to mention one resource, of many, that provided me with vital information during my research years ago, and that is GuineaLynx.info. Hopefully, people will take an initiative to educate themselves on the care of guinea pigs before committing to acquiring one (or two), and your hub will be part of their research to help them make an informed decision. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience. ~D


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wymyczak66 2 years ago from Buffalo, NY Author

No worries, Nicole. I don't believe that every pet store doesn't care for their animals, but I think it's safe to say that if you were going by true guinea pig standards of cage size to guinea pig ratio, nearly every pet store fails. Plus, I've got to support all the piggies that are waiting for homes at rescues and shelters ^_^ I'm glad to hear your pet store gives the pets there the love that they need!


Nicole 2 years ago

I work at a big name pet store, and we take great care of our guinea pigs. I enjoyed reading this article so I can provide the right information to new pet parents. (But don't judge all pet stores the same. All the girls love our animals, when they are sick we take them to the vet and do whatever it takes to keep our animals healthy.)


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wymyczak66 2 years ago from Buffalo, NY Author

Great! Good luck with your new piggies! :)


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Shelley Wiersma 2 years ago from Idaho

Yep! I found a couple of females on craigslist. I'm getting them on the 21st! Thanks for the advice! :)


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wymyczak66 2 years ago from Buffalo, NY Author

I would check out petfinder.org to make sure there aren't any guineas around first, there are a lot of people who aren't technically "shelters" but more foster homes that take in small animals and find good homes for them. That's how I found my boys :) They were about a half hour away.

I'd also check craigslist, because maybe someone was giving theirs away and even if that pig came from a pet store it's still better than just going straight to the pet store.

I think you have the right idea for going to a local pet store rather than a big chain though, if you do end up having to go to a store. You sound like you obviously care a lot and that's what really matters the most in the end :) Best of luck to you!


Shelley 2 years ago

Hi, I know that we are not really supposed to buy the guinea pigs from pet stores, but there are no shelters near me that have guinea pigs. What else should I do? Is it ok if I buy from a small pet store? Not a big name one, just a small one in my town?


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wymyczak66 2 years ago from Buffalo, NY Author

Thank you for sharing, Kellielam. You are absolutely right! Research is a must, and not enough pet owners think before running to the pet store. Your girls must be ecstatic with their piggies :^)


kellielam 2 years ago

I am not an advocate of pet store cages either, BUT if you think about it, pet shop in malls especially, don't have the space to sell their animals, that's why they are put in such small cages, and yes, sometimes inhumane cages with no ventialtion. (like fish tanks) If you go out to a pet store warehouse, you will find that they have plenty more space, and hence will have adequate "runs" to house their rabbits, guinea pigs etc. This SHOULD be common sense but not everyone does it unfortunately, if you are thinking of buying a pet, any pet, it should be fully thought out, discussed with household members, housing thought out, all necessary things bought, and lots of research done, so when u do finally go out to get it, you are not ignorant and gullible to everything the owner (pet store or private) is telling you. They sell them how they have to, but that does not mean you have to house them in the same way they did. Prepare, be knowlegable, make your own choices and don't let any pet seller tell you something you shouldn't already know. Pets should not be a spontaneous decision, because if they are they are usually put up for adoption in the near future. Pets should be kept for their whole lifetime. My 5 and 7 yr old daughters asked me for guineas last yr, I told them if they were good and researched with me on the net for the next yr, Santa would get it for them the next Christmas. They did that, and when I did buy them at ages 6 and 8, I bought 2 guineas, one for each, not coz they asked for 2, but coz we read up that they were social animals and needed to live in packs. If I bought a guinea when they asked I wouldve only gotten one due to my ignorance and no knowlegde of them. Hope you like my story and may your guineas have a long and happy life!!!!


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wymyczak66 2 years ago from Buffalo, NY Author

Scraps of fleece are left around for them to move around and burrow into. There is absolutely nothing harmful or cruel about using fleece, and in the wild they wouldn't be stuck in the same place sleeping in their own pee and poop for a week straight, at least with fleece you are giving them a warm dry place to sleep. You can also handwash or use a laundromat if you don't own a washer or dryer, that's what..$2.50 per load at the most? Still by far cheaper than using bags of shaving, not to mention more earth friendly, "treehugger". Feel free to roam the forums on guineapigcages.com, you clearly have no idea what you are talking about.


treehugger 2 years ago

By completely removing bedding that can be moved around like shavings you are denying your pigs the ability to act naturally. Guinea pigs create their own beds, they need to forage, they need to have the ability to bunker down into their bedding like they would in the wild to hide from predators. You said humans are scary the pigs. Then why deny them these basic instincts. What does fleece do on a psychological level? Denying guinea pigs to act on their instincts is equally cruel. Also C&C cages themselves may be cheaper but if you don't have a washer and dryer, fleece bedding can easily and quickly become very expensive to maintain. Also if guinea pigs are terrified of humans


Kayleigh 2 years ago

Yay I got all of this right :))


just piggie! 3 years ago

my guinea pigs live in a hutch out side because it is quiet and peaceful. I still spend a lot of time with them though.


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wymyczak66 3 years ago from Buffalo, NY Author

Thank you for the feedback!

It's true not every single pet store is bad, but a large majority of them are. The guinea pigs are in cages that aren't big enough for a baby guinea pig and yet they're with 4 other guinea pigs, I once saw a guinea pig and a rabbit sharing a cage at a pet store at the mall and that is definitely a no-no. I really only stress the no pet store idea because almost all of them could be considered worse than going to a rescue, yours might be good and that's great, but a lot of them not so much.


:) 3 years ago

Excellent information!

Except the pet store information. I work in a pet store that sells small animals, birds, reptiles, and aquatic life. And honestly these animals are treated with the uttermost care. I don't know why it is that people tend to dog on pet stores. We check the animals hourly. We play with the animals (if they're able to be handled). Our policy at my work is to think adoption first. So we also have a petfinder for customers who are interested. We all have experience with certain animals. Like myself for instance! I adopted my guinea pig Squeakers and I bought my other from my work. They're as happy and healthy as can be! So before one speaks ill of pet stores work at one first. I am passionate about animals or I wouldn't be putting myself through all these years of schooling to become a veterinarian.

Not all pet stores are bad. Trust me.


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wymyczak66 3 years ago from Buffalo, NY Author

Oh thank you so much! That's so great to hear! :D


edgfvlviwl 3 years ago

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lola 3 years ago

ok it seems if as if everything that you do is perfectly right because my guinea pig hates to be around other piggies it only fights and chatters (and she's a girl) and even though at first she may be slightly frighted of me in the beginning, by the end all she does is hang all over me


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wymyczak66 3 years ago from Buffalo, NY Author

C&C cages are actually much less expensive if you consider the space that your pig is getting for the price you pay. In the meantime, make sure your piggy is getting lots of time outside of the cage daily to run around :)


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wymyczak66 3 years ago from Buffalo, NY Author

Check out petfinder and see if there are pigs around your area. I would be very shocked if you didn't find one there. You really shouldn't buy guinea pigs from pet stores, for multiple reasons. Pet stores mistreat their animals, they put them in cages that are WAY too small, they don't feed them the proper foods, etc. I've went to a petstore and saw a rabbit in the guinea pig cage. That is so dangerous! Not only that but a shelter will know more about how to take care of guinea pigs and the chances of you adopting a healthy pig are much higher. My pigs came from a guinea pig rescue. They were already cagemates since birth, and the woman's husband was a vet. They were constantly handled and given attention, and the rescue felt so strongly about keeping cagemates together that I got both pigs for the price of one.

Please keep trying to find pigs to adopt, you sound like you have a great new home for them! Try craigslist too, that could be a potential option.


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wymyczak66 3 years ago from Buffalo, NY Author

Visit www.guineapigcages.com and check out their forum, they have a lot of very helpful piggy experts who you can answer any question under the sun. I wish I could help more but I've never had that happen before so I don't want to give you wrong advice, you know what I mean? Good luck, hope your pig gets better!


help 3 years ago

My.guinea pig had a little cut on his forehead is healing but he seems to scratch it and it bleeds again . Not a lot but it worries me


legoking09 3 years ago

Someone please help me! I'm getting a guinea pig. I have a nice big c&c cage, fleece bedding, all waiting to open my arms to one or two piggies! I have 6 hours of freetime to spend with my pig(s). I want to get one from a rescue or adoption shelter, but can't find one that has guinea pigs! if anyone wants to help, I live in Illinois. But the one I saw at the petstore was a beautiful Abbyssinian/Peruvian, (couldn't tell, but it had a front flip on the edge of it's head), the other ones in different cages were running around, sprinting, having fun, and everything else, but this one, (with 2 others), was shy I think. When I came over to look at the pigs, him and his 2 pals decided to hide in their Pigloo. They eventually came out, but weren't running too much. For a scale of un activness, I would say he was on a 2-4, I don't know. He wasn't too active. Normally I would think he was sick or something, but the fact he was in his cage, makes me think he was just shy. Help PLEASE?


Rambo96 3 years ago

OMG. That's my cage under the bad example. :( I didn't want to make a c &c cage because their expensive. So i was gonna do that over the summer and get a hamster to take his original cage


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wymyczak66 3 years ago from Buffalo, NY Author

Hi Donna,

I've actually never had any experience with baby guinea pigs, but if you check out www.guineapigcages.com in the forum, there are some serious guinea piggers on that site who could answer any question under the sun. It's a great site to be a part of as a guinea pig owner, there are tons of topics covered in the forum and there might even be an entire section for guinea pig babies and how that all works. Definitely check it out! I wish you the best of luck and congrats on your new grandpiggies! :)


Donna 3 years ago

My guinea pig Ralphie just had babies. They are about 1 week old and doing great. I noticed that the mom was either licking or chewing them (couldn't tell) . Is this part of grooming? Is this normal? I don't want the babbies to get hurt.

I'm a first time owner so your advice would be greatly appreciated.


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wymyczak66 3 years ago from Buffalo, NY Author

I'm sure your pig is eating enough, it will probably eat more as it gets older and more used to its environment.

You might want to switch brands of food next time, avoid anything with the colorful pieces because you're right, they aren't good for the pigs! Glad to help, you will be a great piggy parent!


Hapsaiy 3 years ago

Thanks for the help :). It's good to hear that bonanza is the right brand, though it has it's fair share of colorful (Probably unhealthy) pieces. And as to my question about the food, I was wondering if my piggie was eating enough?


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wymyczak66 3 years ago from Buffalo, NY Author

It's not surprising that a Petco employee gave you bad advice. Next time get a piggy from a rescue, the rescuers will be much more helpful and the piggies will have been better cared for ^_^

The Bonanza pellets I believe are alfalfa based which is right for a baby guinea pig, however better brands to be looking for in the future would be oxbow and kaytee. Oxbow Cavy Cuisine is what I feed my piggy, and I think they have a version made for young guinea pigs. Might be hard to find, but you could probably find it online without a problem. Pellets that are appropriate for guinea pigs are going to be more expensive, that's one way you can tell if your food is good for your pig or not. The cheaper the food, the worse it probably is.

Your cage will probably be fine for now, although the door does sound obnoxious! In the future maybe look into what's called a C&C cage. Guinea pig enthusiasts are all about them. It's hard to find a cage that is truthfully the right size for your pig, they need much more space than you would need. C&C cages are ways to give them plenty of space at a fraction of the cost.

The paper bedding should be fine. Is it that pink or blue kind? I forgot the name of it..the only thing I remember about that kind was it smelled funny lol. You can always use fleece for bedding too, this works great if you have a C&C cage. I have an article about how to make a C&C cage and how to prepare fleece to use for bedding. Using that combination guarantees saving money and helping the environment.

Also, if you didn't know already, there's a great site that you should check out. www.guineapigcages.com is primarily based around C&C cages and all about them, but there's a very popular forum that you can join and browse. Literally any question you may have will have already been answered, and if not there are hundreds of guinea pig experts to help you! It's pretty cool, they have a thread that's just meant for showing off users' C&C cages. It's amazing what some people do for their pigs!

Hope I helped at least a little, and as for your food question, you should always have hay, pellets, and water in abundance. Especially hay and water. Never let any of these run out, and give your piggy some fresh veggies & fruits twice a day to mix things up. That forum has a great nutrition post with a big list of all fruits & veggies that are safe for pigs, and how often they can eat them, as well as a list of dangerous foods to avoid!

Good luck and have fun!


Hapsaiy 3 years ago

I was also wondering how much my guinea pig should be eating or drinking, because I usually only find the water bottle a fraction drunken, and similarly for the hay (out of a hay suspender) and the pellets (ceramic bowl)


Hapsaiy 3 years ago

Hi wymyczak66, I got my guinea pig (Butterscotch, female, age unknown, but she is a baby.) at petco under a week ago and I'm furious at how misinformed I was by them :o. For one, I was told to buy Bonanza pellets. Thankfully, the cage I bought seems to be just about fine except for its closed top with a door design making it near impossible to take my piggie out, but I was also told to buy paper bedding, and that having a lone guinea pig was fine.

Also, I was wondering whether her being a baby guinea pig changed any of the above advice, and how.


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wymyczak66 4 years ago from Buffalo, NY Author

@Ashley Unless the guinea pig in that picture is the size of a dog, there's no way that cage is 5 ft long. Perhaps that brand makes a cage in bigger sizes, but the problem that I'm trying to point out is that pet stores will try to recommend a size like the one in the picture to a guinea pig owner, when that size is WAY too small.

Good for you if you're using a size that's appropriate, although you could have saved a lot of money and had an even bigger cage if you chose C&C.


Ashley 4 years ago

I have the exact cage that is used as a "bad" example, it's demonsions are 5 feet by 3 and the second level is 11 inches from the bottom of the cage and 13 inches away from the top... It's a wonderful cage for my guinea pig and he loves it.


ellie-may edwards 4 years ago

i have a ginny pig that is 3 week old


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wymyczak66 4 years ago from Buffalo, NY Author

@2uesday thank you for your feedback!


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2uesday 4 years ago from - on the web, I am 2uesday.

The thing that seems to surprise people who have not kept guinea pigs is the range noises that they make. It is good to see an article by someone who has experience of keeping their own guinea pigs. They do make wonderful pets and they deserve to be cared for well.


guineapig123 4 years ago

I am getting a guinea pig


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wymyczak66 4 years ago from Buffalo, NY Author

@Danielle, introducing two piggies is a big process that you need to research about. There are a lot of things to consider and steps to take (such as quarantining the new pig) before you can plop a new guinea pig into your old guinea pig's cage. I hope that your current pig is a girl, if not you would need to have one of the pig's fixed. I applaud you for getting your guinea pig a friend, but my pigs have always been siblings and cagemates from birth, so although I know a few things about introducing pigs, it'd be best for you to research about that topic and find an in-depth article that explains the process in detail.

Take a look at this article, I just quickly searched something for you, but definitely read more than one to compare and make sure that this one isn't missing something:

http://jackiesguineapiggies.com/Companionship.html

Hope this helps, and good luck with your new friend!


Danielle 4 years ago

Hi i have been a guniea pig owner for about three months. My neighbors had a guniea pig who was pregnant and she birthed two babies. One boy and one girl. They gave me a girl for my guniea pig to have as a playmate. How do i get them to like each oher. Ps the new guniea pig is a baby whos 4 weeks old


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wymyczak66 4 years ago from Buffalo, NY Author

@CorneB It's great that you're considering getting a cagemate for your pig! As far as introducing one pig to another, two boars are more difficult than two sows would be, but not impossible! Make sure that you do research beforehand as to all of the proper steps you have to take beforehand.

I don't know off hand how to properly introduce two pigs because I have always owned piggies who were cagemates from birth, but I know that there are a lot of suggestions for boars, such as introducing it to a baby rather than an adult, or introducing it to a neutered female.

Your piggy will take a few days to adjust to his new home. Guinea pigs are prey animals, and therefore will always be hesitant around other animals as well as humans, so it will be normal for your pig to appear skittish throughout the duration of his life. The important thing is to approach him quietly with a friendly voice and careful hands. My guinea pig Wilson (r.i.p.) was very comfortable being around humans and came out of the hidey box the first day we brought him home, but his brother Apollo hid and only came out to eat for at least an entire extra day, and was more skittish overall than Wilson was. It varies by pig, but one thing I think that helped with having two was that they encouraged each other to be braver or try new things. If Wilson was weary about trying a new fruit or vegetable he would start to walk away, but if he saw Apollo try it, he'd suddenly give it a chance, so it was kind of funny to see that interaction going on.

Sorry for the ramble, but I hope I helped at least a little! I also hope that you get your piggy a friend and that it all works out for you!


CorneB 4 years ago

We got our first pig yesterday. This is all new to us. We did some research on them before we decided to get one. I wasn't too sure on the option of getting 2, but after reading some of the mistakes I am open to getting another as a playmate. Will it cause any problems if its 2 boars?

How long does it normally take for these pigs to settle in and get comfortable in their new environment? Any advice given by other pig owners will be great.


Akarime31 profile image

Akarime31 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

Thank you for responding, I will try to re-introduce the pellet food and get him a brother.


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wymyczak66 4 years ago from Buffalo, NY Author

Hi! That's great that you are doing your best to take care of little Shelbie. Pellets are necessary as they are the basic staple of all guinea pig nutrition so you really should try to introduce it back into his diet. Use timothy pellots and don't buy the kinds with any colored shapes inside them, although they look better tasting to us they are very unhealthy for pigs and you should stick to the plainest pellet mix you can find. One of the best brands you can get as far as nutritional value goes is cavy cuisine made by the brand oxbow. Try different brands until you can find one that he will like, but note that any brand that is cheap is most likely poor in nutrition as well.

I would definitely consider getting a cagemate, as guinea pigs are social creatures and should really have a friend unless you are able to give him a large majority of your attention during the day. I found this article for you to check out about introducing guinea pigs to one another, as it is difficult especially for boars.

http://voices.yahoo.com/how-properly-introduce-gui...

Hopefully that url will work, but if not just do a little research beforehand ok? I hope that I helped answer all of your questions, and good luck! :)


Akarime31 profile image

Akarime31 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

Hello wymyczak66, great hub! I have a lovely guinea pig named shelbie. I got him about three years ago, he was a gift and I had no idea how to take care of him. Now I've learned so but I struggled in the beginning because Shelbie was my first pet ever!!! I want to adopt a brother for him but I've heard that Shelbie can become territorial and hurt the new guinea pig and if I get a female one that he can get her pregnant. What do you think? Also, Shelbie never liked the pellet food but he eats plenty of fresh fruits and veggies and lots of hay and grass. Is is necessary for him to eat the pellet food?


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iiimusicfreak27 4 years ago

Well whew! That's great to hear:D


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wymyczak66 4 years ago from Buffalo, NY Author

I found mine on petfinder.com, there are rescues that are specific to guinea pigs and small animals. My rescue also had rabbits, rats, and hamsters, but the majority of it was guinea pigs : )


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wymyczak66 4 years ago from Buffalo, NY Author

@iiimusicfreak27 it sounds like you are doing everything you can and giving it lots of attention so that's okay. When I first had guinea pigs when I was younger I had just one, and he was a perfectly happy pig who lived to be 7 years old. Having a cagemate isn't a requirement, it's just a suggestion for those who won't be home all day, but your pig sounds pretty happy : )


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iiimusicfreak27 4 years ago

Great hub! I just got my little Adelphia about 3 months ago and love being a Guinea parent:)

Of course everything here seems to tell me I'm doing okay with her... only thing is, I only have her:/ I do spend a ton of time with her though and for bedtime she has a home like 3 times bigger than the example of a good cage so I guess we're good. I know she needs a play buddy but my mom won't give in... hopefully I'll convince her or move out soon enough to get another little buddy for her. Till then, she seems pretty content popcorning like usual.

Again, great hub!


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Pollyannalana 4 years ago from US

I use to have guinea pigs years ago and they are adorable, I have never seen any in shelters though, I will check around.

Great hub.

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