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How to Choose and Care for Your Guinea Pig (Cavy)

Cindy Is a cavy-crazy writer who loves to share her passion for pet guinea pigs with folks around the globe.

" Aren't I Cute!"

" Aren't I Cute!"

History of the Guinea Pig (Cavy)

The Guinea Pig, Latin name Cavia porcellus (usually abbreviated Cavy), was first domesticated by the Inca tribes as an additional food source around 4000 BC. In Peru, Guinea Pigs are still used as a food source and are considered a delicacy. This is a fact we may find hard to understand, having only ever known them as popular pets or for their use in laboratory experiments.

Early traders brought Guinea Pigs back to Europe where they soon became popular as exotic and unusual pets. Somewhere along the way, they picked up the name Guinea Pig, although they aren't closely related to pigs. The proper term used by most professional breeders is cavy, but the average pet owner often doesn't realise this and continues to call them by the commonly used name of Guinea Pig.

A Texel Guinea-Pig

A Texel Guinea-Pig

Why Get a Pet Guinea Pig?

Cavies make perfect pets for children and adults alike. They are sociable little creatures that enjoy being handled and rarely bite. Their enthusiasm for feeding time or time for them to have a cuddle is usually very vocal, with a range of squeaks, whistles, purrs and grunting. Owners soon learn to recognise what the different sounds represent and find it highly amusing to hear their pet talking to them.

How Long Do They Live?

The average life span of a Guinea Pig is between 5 and 7 years, although they have been known to live a lot longer. Indeed one of my own Cavies lived to be 13 years old, another one lived to 11 years, so it is not uncommon for them to surprise you by outliving your expectations.

What Do They Need?

A Guinea Pig is inexpensive to feed, and so long as you are willing to provide it with a nice warm outdoor hutch (ideally with a run attached), or an indoor cage of a suitable size, there are few other expenses to worry about. If you are considering taking on a Guinea Pig as a pet you may want to think about adopting two of them, preferably of the same sex to avoid unwanted babies. They do like to have company of their own kind, and I do not recommend keeping them in a hutch with a rabbit, as the Guinea Pig will tend to be bullied by the larger rabbit and often end up with torn ears or other injuries.



Feeding Your Guinea Pig

Feeding your Guinea Pig the correct diet is very important. There are specific dry foods available for Guinea Pigs, but even though these state they contain vitamin C, they don't tend to explain that this will not remain in the dry food mix for long and quickly degrades.

The Importance of Vitamin C

As Guinea Pigs are unable to synthesise Vitamin C in their bodies, (the same way humans can't), it is essential to ensure they frequently have fresh vegetables, fruit and grass. In the winter months it is worth putting a normal human vitamin C tablet into their water bottles each time you refill them, as these will dissolve into the water and ensure your pet is getting enough Vitamin C in it's diet. Do not worry that you may overdose your pet by using a human Vitamin C tablet, as vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin and the body will expel any it doesn't need.

Fruits and Veggies

Safe fruits and vegetables to feed your Guinea Pig include carrots, parsnips, cabbages, sprout leaves, lettuce (not too much though as it can act as a laxative), celery, apples, oranges, pears etc. Do not feed them potatoes under any circumstances.

They will also enjoy dandelions (both leaves and flowers) from your garden, (again, not too many due to the laxative effect, no more than 2 or 3 a day), and fresh grass. Always make sure that any grass or leaves you take from your garden have not been growing in an area where they may have been urinated on by other pets, or an area which may have come into contact with pesticides or car exhaust fumes.

Water and Hay

A Guinea Pig should always have fresh water available, ideally from a bottle rather than a dish. Dishes tend to get knocked over and wet your pet's bedding, the other obvious problem is the dish is harder for a Guinea Pig to access due to the fact they have very short necks.

Hay is another must, as this provides important roughage in their diet and aids digestion. Fresh hay also contains a certain amount of vitamin C, so always try to buy the best quality hay you can find.

Routine Care

The general care of a Guinea Pig (Cavy) is fairly easy.

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They will need a suitable pet bedding that you can buy from most pet stores. If kept outdoors hay or straw tend to make the best bedding's. In the house a wood shaving floor covering with a sleeping box full of hay or a pet store bedding will be ideal. Shredded paper is also good because it provides a lot of warmth. It is important to clean your pet out at least once a week and give him fresh bedding. You may need to do this more often depending on the size of cage/hutch he is in and how many Guinea Pigs are housed together.


Guinea-Pigs nails need cutting every couple of months or so. This is not difficult to do yourself if you use small animal nail clippers, but can be harder in darker coloured Cavies as the nails will also be dark and you will not be able to see where the nerve ends. With light nailed varieties of Guinea-Pig check for where the pink nerve can be seen within the nail and clip just in front of it to avoid bleeding or hurting your pet. With the darker varieties only cut off the very tips of the nail.

The easiest way to clip their nails is to gently cradle the Guinea-pig on it's back in the crook of your left arm whilst clipping the claw with your right hand, (reverse this if you are left handed). If you are not comfortable doing this yourself most vets will perform the clip very cheaply for you. Usually you will find the front feet nails do not grow too long, and mainly it will be the back feet nails that need to be clipped.

Tooth Care

Keep an eye on your Guinea Pigs teeth and always make sure they have a nice piece of untreated wood to gnaw on, as well as plenty of fresh crispy veg such as carrots. Their teeth can easily overgrow making it hard for them to eat, so if your pet goes off it's food check it's mouth carefully or take him to your vet so he can do so.

Dealing With Scratching and Hair Loss

If your Guinea Pig is seen to losing hair or scratching a lot he may have picked up mites from his hay or other pets. Your vet will be able to provide you with either a special medicated shampoo to kill these mites, or injections of a drug called Ivermectin . After treatment your pet should soon return to normal. Scratching and hair loss can also be a sign of Scurvy, which would indicate your pet is not getting enough Vitamin C in his diet.

Dealing With Impacted Rectums

In later life your male Guinea Pig may develop a condition that results in an Impacted Rectum. This results in him no longer being able to expel faeces easily, so you may need to get into a daily routine of turning your Guinea Pig gently on to his back and parting the entrance to the rectal sack with your fingers. Introducing an oil such as mineral oil will help to soften the build up so you can carefully removed it with cotton wool, cotton buds or tissue. Your vet can demonstrate the technique if you are concerned about performing it the first time.

Breeding Your Cavy

If you do decide to go ahead and breed your own Guinea Pigs it is important to make sure you do have good homes available for the babies. You may have decided you want to begin showing your Guinea Pigs and intend to only keep the likely champions, or you may simply want the experience of seeing your very own baby cavies, either way the ones you don't wish to keep will need to be re-homed somewhere where they will be well looked after.

Facts About Breeding

Whatever the reason you decide to breed your pets there are certain useful facts you should know.

  1. Guinea Pigs can be quite reluctant to breed, so don't be surprised if it takes a while before your female (Sow) gets pregnant.
  2. The male Guinea Pig (Boar), should be unrelated to the Sow to avoid problems with inbred stock.
  3. The Boar will show great enthusiasm when you put him in with a Sow and will follow her round the hutch making purring and chattering noises, this is nothing to be concerned about.
  4. A Sow will come into season approximately every 14 days with each cycle lasting 24-48 hours. The best way to ensure she gets pregnant is to leave the boar in with her until you see signs of her getting a fat and firm belly, a sure sign she is pregnant. If in doubt you can gently palpate her sides, and you will probably be able to feel small marble sized babies within her. Once you know she is pregnant the boar should be separated as he may trample and kill the babies if he is left in with the sow when she has given birth.
  5. It is vitally important that your sow is not mated too young or too old. Around 6 -8 months old is ideal, as any older there is a risk that her pelvic bones may have already fused together and she will most likely have great difficulty, or will die giving birth.
  6. The gestation period of a Guinea Pig is 68- 72 days which is a long time for small mammals. As a result of this the babies are born fully formed, with hair and their eyes open. They will drink milk from the sow, but are also capable of eating solid food at birth.
  7. The babies should be sexed as soon as possible after birth, although it can be tricky for a novice breeder to determine the sex until the babies are a few weeks old. Once they reach around four weeks of age any male babies should be weaned and removed from the sow's hutch to avoid them impregnating her. The female babies can either be left with the sow or separated into hutches of their own. They will be ready to go to new homes around the age of 6 weeks.
  8. A sow will usually give birth to an average of three babies, although she may give birth to as few as one or even as many as four.
  9. If your sow seems to be struggling to give birth you can try lubricating your little finger with some mineral oil and gently inserting it into her birth canal. If you can feel a baby stuck in the canal attempt to hook your little fingernail under it's top teeth and very gently ease it out. If you cannot achieve this take your pet to a vet as soon as possible.


There are many breeds of Guinea Pigs to choose from, especially if you are choosing a specific breed to concentrate on for showing purposes. I shall try to cover the main ones in this section, but there are other varieties out there, some more work than others.

If you only require a normal pet Guinea Pig then your local rescue centre is always a good place to start, or ask around to see if any local breeders have a surplus of non champion Cavies that they need homes for. As a last resort you can buy them in pet shops, but this is a route I discourage as it only ensures the pet shop buy in more Guinea Pigs to sell, often with no thought as to whether they are going to a good home or not.

The Long-Haired Varieties

There is no doubt that these varieties are beautiful, but unless you are willing to groom them every single day with a soft brush you will quickly find you have a matted mess as a pet, often with skin problems caused by the mats pulling at the skin and moisture building up underneath.

How to Keep Their Hair Clean

The easiest way to keep their hair clean and tidy is to make a wrapper either out of cloth, or out of brown paper folded over itself to make a three sectioned single strip. The top of the central section should then have a small piece of cardboard about 0.5" long by 1.5" wide taped to it as a support.

Once the wrapper is then folded into a single strip again the resulting strip should be folded up in alternative directions, (much like a concertina), to form a small package. The idea is that when you have groomed your Guinea-Pig you lay the hair down the middle section of the opened wrapper with the cardboard strip nearest to the guinea-pig's body.

You then fold the side sections over the hair, and using the concertina of folds, package the hair back into the small parcel shape. The resulting parcel can then be secured with an elastic band. Depending on how long your cavies hair is determines the size of the wrapper required. Bear in mind the long haired varieties can easily end up with hair over eighteen inches long and may require several wrappers to secure all of it.

Be very careful not to put the wrappers in so tightly that the Guinea-Pig finds it is pulling at the roots of his hair. If this happens they will quickly begin chewing the wrapper off and will ultimately permanently ruin their showing chances as the hair never grows back the same once chewed. Judges will notice chewed hair and mark you down for it.

If your cavy does develop any small mats do not cut them out with scissors as this too will ruin them for showing. It is far better to grasp the small mat firmly between your fingers and pluck it out quickly, as this will leave no blunt ends and will grow back from the roots.

Can I Keep Them Together?

Long-haired cavies should be kept alone, or in adjacent hutches to each other, as if you put them together in the same hutch they will tend to chew each other's coats and ruin themselves for the purpose of showing. This will not be an issue for a pet Guinea-Pig though as you can keep their hair short.

Show Tips

If you are showing your long haired Guinea Pig you will need a small stand to display them on. I used to use ones around 12" square made of wood and covered in hessian cloth for grip, but anything similar will do, and size may need to be varied according to how long your cavies coat has grown. Two small strips of wood screwed underneath the board will act as legs to raise it up an inch or so. Most people make these themselves at home, and I have never seen them for sale ready made.

It is important to teach your long haired Guinea Pig to stand still at an early age if you intend to show him.The best way to do this is to introduce him to the show board as young as possible and begin to groom his hair. Every time he goes to move off the board keep gently picking him up and returning him to the centre of the board. By the time he reaches showing age he should happily allow you to groom his full coat out for judging and will hold his position until you wrap his hair up again and return him to the show pen.

It will also be essential to bathe your pet a couple of weeks before the show, (no later or the natural oils will not have returned to the coat and you will lose marks). Only use a shampoo designed for small animals, or if absolutely necessary use a mild baby shampoo. Gently wrap your Guinea Pig in a towel for 15 minutes after his bath, and then blow dry him on a low heat using a conventional hairdryer and following the direction of the coat to ensure the cuticles of the hair lay flat and his coat maintains a healthy glossy sheen. Do not return him to any outdoor pen until he is thoroughly dried off or you will risk him catching a chill.

If you do intend to make showing and breeding a hobby then you will be faced with a difficult decision when it comes to breeding your longhairs. The problem is they will need to have their hair cut short to facilitate breeding, which means you will be unable to show them again and can only keep them as breeding stock.

This is a hard choice to make when you know you have a potentially prize winning Guinea Pig, but you also know that you need to mate her before she reaches a year old to avoid any complications of the pelvic bones having set. The boar is also a problem, as to facilitate mating you will need to clip him and keep him purely as breeding stock. Ultimately you will need to decide either to hold out for one show winning cavy, or to hope they reproduce their good characteristics in multiple babies so you get more chances to produce further champions.

Clipping Their Hair

Finally, if you are determined you want a long-haired Guinea Pig as a pet then it is probably best to keep the hair clipped short as a matter of course. This will still mean they look cute and long-haired, but they won't be trailing it around after themselves, urinating on it and getting it matted. They will still need regular grooming, but without the need for wrappers.

Self Breeds

Self breeds are essentially Guinea Pigs of all one colour. There are a range of colours such as Self Blacks, Self Whites, Self Reds, Self Golden's etc. These are smooth coated Guinea Pigs, the most popular of which is the Self Black. In preparation for showing they will need the longer guard hairs grooming out of their coats to ensure a glossy appearance. This is easily done by dampening your finger and thumb and gently working your way through the Guinea Pig's coat using the ball of your thumb to rub the body hair against the ball of your forefinger. This will leave the short glossy hairs behind and take out the dull guard hairs, try to do this every few days to avoid a build up.

A good bath two weeks before the show will also benefit shine, and a polish with a piece of real silk adds to the reflective quality of the coat.

The judges will be looking for a blunt nose on your Cavy and therefore it is a good idea to make a habit of training your Self Cavy to not only stand still, but also keep gently pressing his nose back towards his body until he learns to sit like this naturally when being judged. They will also be checking for tears in the ears, evidence of mites, bright eyes and general health being good.




Abyssinians come in a variety of colours which don't seem to matter for the purposes of showing. What is important is the layout of the various rosettes of hair on the body, which should be evenly matched, with a rosette on each shoulder, four around the middle, one on each hip and two on the rump. The rosettes should be well formed and have a small pinpoint centre. The coat of an Abyssinian should be harsh, and not silky as in most other breeds.


Himalayans are much like a Siamese Cat. They are born totally white, and then over the next few weeks their full dark coloured points come through around their ears, nose and feet. It is said that hot weather or shocks can fade their points which is not a good thing if you intend to show them. The Himalayan has bright pink eyes. If you are breeding them for showing you will have to be patient and wait for their points to appear before you will be able to tell you have any potential prize winners.


Agoutis come in a number of colours, mainly gold and silver, although they can be found in chocolate, cinnamon, cream and lemon. The markings of the coat closely resemble the wild cavies of South America and have what is described as a ticked appearance. Each individual hair is made up of two colours which depend on which type of Agouti you choose. Like the Self coloured Guinea Pigs they have a smooth coat that also need the guard hairs grooming out.




Dutch Cavies are a notoriously difficult to breed to a show standard. They look much like a Dutch rabbit and come in a wide variety of colours. Their markings need to be symmetrical with a good white saddle on them and evenly matching cheek patches and foot stops as well as a decent sized central blaze of white on the face.

American Crested

American Crested

American Crested

American Crested come in a variety of colours. Each is a smooth coated Guinea Pig with a solid body colour and a contrasting white rosette situated in the middle of the forehead. It is important when breeding these for showing that the crest is well rounded with a central pinpoint and the colour of the crest fills the rosette perfectly without bleeding into the areas outside the rosette.

Tortie and White

Tortie and White

Tortoiseshell or Tortoiseshell and White

Tortoiseshell or Tortoiseshell and White are again a hard to breed to a show standard. The patches of colour on the body need to be as equal and symmetrical as possible without the colours bleeding into each other. Many of these end up simply being pets due to bad markings. Ideally they should have around six to ten alternate coloured patches throughout the body.





Rex and Teddies

Rex and Teddies are not dissimilar so I have categorised them together. The main feature of these unusual breeds are the fact their hair grows upright rather than backwards or in rosettes as in other breeds. The hair on a Teddy is straight and thick, but on Rex it is more coarse and slightly wavy. These breeds are both very cute and cuddly to look at. They come in a number of different colours.




Dalmatians as their name implies look much like a Dalmatian dog, white with black spots, (although they can come with a variety of different coloured spots). The spots for showing should be very distinctive and evenly spread throughout the body. The feet should be totally the same colour as the spots and not white. Dalmatians have red eyes.

Dalmatians should never be bred together due a gene they possess that can cause the resulting babies to be stillborn or without eyes. If you do intend to breed them you should try to breed a Dalmatian with a Self coloured Cavy that has been bred from a Dalmatian parent. Ensure the Self coloured Cavy is the same colour as the spots on the Dalmatian you are using as the mate.

Best Wishes With Your Guinea Pig!

I hope this article has been helpful in advising you of caring for your Guinea Pig / Cavy, and that if you do decide to take up breeding and showing one of the above types of Cavy you will have years of enjoyment and pleasure. Even if you only keep them as pets most shows do have a pet section that can be fun to enter. Obviously I am unable to cover the vast range of breeds here, but there others you might want to consider if none of the above appeal to you.

One thing is for sure, whatever the reason you decide on these cute little pets you won't regret it. They will give you hours of entertainment and love, and once you have one you will want more.

You might also enjoy my article called "Can I keep my guinea pig outdoors?"

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.


PipPipHooray on November 08, 2016:

This article was very helpful.I have convinced my parents to let me get some piggies and I don't know where to get them.I feel so bad for the guinea pigs at pet smart I want to get them there. Should I get my piggies from a shelter or pet smart.

nan on September 06, 2016:

I was wondering is it easy to take care of a guinea pig do you have any tips

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on December 29, 2012:

Just another thought Jacob,. You must be very sad right now and not sure how to cope with the loss of Cinnamon. I wrote an article last year on How to Get Over the Loss of a Much Loved Pet. This might help a little at this very tough time. The link to the article is:

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on December 29, 2012:

You might want to take Cinnamon's body to the vets in a separate box too, as the vet might be able to check out why she was 'straining' and confirm if it was only constipation, or something else that could be a danger to Spice.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on December 29, 2012:

Oh dear, I am so sorry to hear this. I am afraid your post crossed with my last one. You might want to get your other guinea-pig (Spice) checked by a vet in case it was anything contagious that she might have picked up.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on December 29, 2012:

Hmm, if you got her from a pet store there are two things that would worry me. One is that although she might have been in a pen that said the guinea-pigs were 'all females' mistakes do get made and young guinea-pigs can be quite tricky to tell the sex of. However, if she was literally a baby then she probably wasn't sexually mature yet anyway so you may well be okay (unless a mistake has been made with the sex of 'Spice' of course). The other problem with pet stores is you often end up with sickly pets because they house a lot together, and if one isn't in the best of health illnesses can quickly spread. Far better to adopt from rescue centres or breeders who are considered reputable.

If she is 'straining' and she is potentially constipated, then you might try giving her a few drops of liquid paraffin using an eye dropper. Your vet or rescue centre should be able to give you some of this (do not try using paraffin fuel from your home though). Honestly I would suggest getting her to a vet, because when I have had guinea-pigs go lethargic in the past they tend to go very fast, and don't seem to try very hard to survive. As a small creature the bill should not be too high in my experience.

Jacob on December 29, 2012:

its too late she just died

Jacob on December 29, 2012:

Shes had a constant supply of hay since I got her and all the guinea pigs at the petsmart I got her from were females. Her veggies have also all been washed.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on December 29, 2012:

I know this is unlikely, but is there any chance she was pregnant when you got her? They have a gestation of 68-72 days, so if you have had her less time than that, and depending on if she was a baby or an adult, she could be pregnant and struggling to deliver the babies. Also I wonder if she could be constipated, as in spite of the vegetables you have been feeding her she still needs roughage e.g. hay in her diet. Were all the veggies washed properly too, just in case they had been sprayed with crop spray in the fields?

A vet might be your best bet based on your description of her symptoms, as guinea-pigs can go downhill very fast if left untreated.

Jacob on December 29, 2012:

Besides being lethargic she also seems to by trying to push something out or something. Is she really sick?

Jacob on December 29, 2012:

Shes eaten broccoli, green bell peppers and carrots over the past few days.

Jacob on December 29, 2012:

HELP, Cinnamon was fine this morning but now she is really lethargic. She allowed me to touch her and I picked her up and she barely resisted.

do you know what could be wrong with her?

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on December 13, 2012:

Hi Jacob, please don't worry about this, you have only had them 24 hours and they need time to settle in. A water bottle is better than a bowl because Guinea-pigs don't have much in the way of a neck, therefore it is harder for them to use a bowl. A bowl also tends to end up full of bedding etc. For now just make sure they have fresh water in their bottle, and plenty of fresh veggies such as carrots, cabbage, apple etc which will naturally contain plenty of water (clean freshly cut grass is also good, but make sure it is not from an area where dogs etc could have urinated, or from a verge where heavy traffic could have polluted the grass with fumes). Give them some privacy too, and this will allow them to relax and take a drink without feeling they are the centre of attention and constantly being watched.

Jacob on December 13, 2012:

My guinea pigs dont seem to be drinking anything, but I have a water bottle and a water dish for them. How do I make them drink?

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on December 11, 2012:

Congratulations Jacob, and I love your choice of names, so cute. If you have anything you need to ask or are ever concerned about, feel free to come back and leave me a comment and I will answer it as soon as I can. I am sure you are going to love your new pets :)

Jacob on December 11, 2012:

I got my guinea pigs today! They are both american females and I named them Cinnamon and Spice. Cinnamon is white and light brown and Spice is a Tortoiseshell and White.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on December 09, 2012:

Hi Jacob, the breeds won't matter, they will either get along or not regardless based on their personalities, but generally you won't have a problem with two females (sows) or two males (boars), although if you choose males (boars) you will need to be sure they cannot smell any females nearby or they will fight.

Jacob on December 09, 2012:

I plan on getting a teddy and an american, do they get along well?

Jacob on December 09, 2012:

Thanks, but my mom said i can only get two. :(

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on December 09, 2012:

Hi Jacob, 10 square feet is plenty of space for three guinea-pigs so you have no worries on that score, (and at 10 square feet I think they are very lucky to have found such responsible caring owners).

Good Luck, and if you have any further questions feel free to come back to me.

Jacob on December 09, 2012:

Hi, im planning on getting two female guinea pigs in a few days but i was wondering if i have enough room for three. The cage my dad and i made is about 10 square feet and im not sure if thats enough room for three guinea pigs.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on June 01, 2012:

Excellent Daniel, you are clearly responsible owners and I admire that. Sounds like your only worry now is the 'sticky up ears' in which case my earlier comment should alleviate your concerns :)

Daniel on June 01, 2012:

Thank you for the info. On the boars there should be no risk of them breeding. My girlfriend and I worried about this as well seen as all eight have the same father (two mothers). We got them fixed a few months back and kept them separate before that. We didn't want to get them fixed but we felt we had no choice if we where going to keep them.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on May 29, 2012:

Interesting question Daniel. Firstly I would warn you about the risks of having more than one boar with any number of sows as there is a high risk of fighting between the boars, especially when the females come into season. Also you risk a lot of unwanted babies as if each sow averages 3 babies every 68-72 days then that is potentially 18 new babies every two and a half months, all of which need good homes and that you cannot keep yourself or you risk inbreeding occurring in the kind of set up you have. Right now you might not have a problem, but under a year old is still quite young so a problem could soon become apparent unless you get one or both of your boars castrated.

With regards to the ears sticking up on the boars, this is normal in many young cavies, and they will most likely begin to droop as your males grow older. In the event they don't it could be something they have inherited genetically from their parents and they may well stay like that.

Daniel on May 28, 2012:

Hello I was wondering if you might be able to help me out with a question I have. First of all let me say that I have eight piggies with a room size multilevel cage. Six sows and two boars. All very happy. My question is about my boars. Their ears stick straight up. Is this normal? All of my sows have the fold over or drippy appearance. All eight are approaching one year or have just hit that mark.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on May 23, 2012:

LOL, I am looking forward to seeing the pictures. He sounds like a really cute little fellow :)

Gapeachy on May 23, 2012:

I Definitley agree lol. He is spoiled already. I will send you a quick note and then I can upload some pictures tomorrow for you to look at. He is a very active little guy and just squeaks when he's out. It's nice to hear him talk a little. I say a little now and soon enough he will be yelling at me. He really seems to enjoy the climbing in my cloths and the nibbling as well. :)

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on May 23, 2012:

LOL, he must be very active for a guinea-pig then as 'jumping into the air' is pretty active for them. I don't think he will do this as he gets older because they do become quite chunky and heavy and I doubt they would manage this so easily.

Re-climbing up into your shirt sleeve, this is very normal. All mine used to do this and we used to laugh that they looked like a big bicep muscle at the top of our arms. Sadly all my jumpers ended up stretched out of shape as a result lol.

You will need to email me using the link before attempting to send the photo as the Hubpages system will not give you the option to send me a photo using the contact icon. Once I get your email I can email you back and you then have my actual email address to send the photo to. The only reason I need to do it this way is so I can avoid publishing my actual email address here.

In time Lenny will probably let you lift him out of his hutch, but right now it is probably a bit of a game to him to make you work for it :)

Gapeachy on May 23, 2012:

Popcorning is when they jump into the air. The only thing I do know it means is that they are happy. He will not let me pick him up out of the cage he prefers to climb out into my waiting shirt :). If we need to get him out he we usually flip his hutch and he will climb in to be lifted up so we can pull him out, I think he's just playing the lazy card at times. I will try and send you a picture of him. He is fascinated by climbing into the sleeve of my shirt and upto my shoulder. It hurts with his claws but he seems to love it... It a little strange but I guess whatever makes him a happy camper.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on May 23, 2012:

It is a good idea to move him into the living room as he will feel more part of what is going on. I am not sure of the meaning of the term 'popcorns' as it is not one we use in the UK so you might have to explain that one to me. I don't really know what you mean about a 'bald spot' on his paw either, as I never noticed it on any of my cavies (guinea-pigs), but it is hard to say for sure I understand what you are referring to without seeing it. If it isn't bothering him I wouldn't worry about it unless it spreads.

Regarding his breed I can only assume he is a bit of a mixture of breeds as none I am aware of have both long and short hair. The colouring sounds like a Tortoiseshell and White breed, but the longish hair could fall into any of the long haired breeds e.g. Peruvians, Shelties etc. If I could see a photo I would be more sure, but the only way you could show me a photo would be to use the 'contact' icon (looks like an envelope under my profile picture at the top of the article) to email me. I can then email you back, at which point you will then have my actual email address and can use it to send me a photo to look at.

The affectionate nature will continue, but as for being playful, well that will probably calm down, but this is normal in most young animals. He will still be loving and fun to be with. Glad he is getting used to you now.

Gapeachy on May 23, 2012:

That's good to hear in a sense. I seem to notice him doing the bar chewing when he wants out or wants me to give him a treat. We just moved his cage from our room to the Livingroom so he could be around us more. He seems to be happy when he is around u more. He popcorns and runs as well as stands on his legs to see what we are doing. I did notice a bald spot on his front paw on the inside. He doesn't bother it or even itch it at all. Is that something that is normal? I have seen it before on healthy piggies. He also loves when my daughter brushes his hair. He is a different breed then what I see. He has short hair but patches of long hair expcially around his ears and bottom. What kind of breed could he be? He is a Carmel brown white and black. He has the black around his eyes and part of his ear as well. Thanks again for all the information. He really seems to be coming around and is very playful. Is this just a young thing or will it continue?

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on May 23, 2012:

Nibbling on the bars could be a sign he is looking for something to keep his teeth worn down, and actually it is also one possibility for why he is nibbling stuff in general. Try providing him with some of those wooden chew sticks sold in pet shops or the ones covered in appropriate seeds and grains for guinea-pigs, and make sure he has plenty of hard crunchy veg like carrots to gnaw on. If it continues you might want to get a vet to look in his mouth and make sure he has not got any obvious problems with his teeth.

Guinea-pigs are not really known for 'jumping' anywhere, as their legs are so short and their bodies so squat that they aren't really the right build to jump. They are good at falling though, and because they are top heavy they tend to land on their heads which can kill them.

A guinea-pig will happily settle on your lap for a long time once it is used to you (I recommend putting an old newspaper on your lap first though as when you get a sudden 'warm' feeling' on your legs it is usually a sign they have urinated on you). When they relax completely you will notice they kind of 'ooze' outwards because they are no longer standing on your lap, but lying on it.

The nibbling on clothes could be so many things. 1) it could relate to teeth problems and he is looking for something to gnaw on. 2) It could be a sign of affection and 3) It may stem back to when he was a baby suckling on his mother.

Right now any signs of wanting to sniff you or his surroundings is a healthy sign of him being curious and getting used to his environment. The squeeking is also perfectly normal and you will quickly identify the various squeaks and what they mean, e.g. I'm hungry, I'm scared etc.

Gapeachy on May 23, 2012:

Thanks, I'll try that. Last night Lenny decided he was going to chew on the bars so I opened his cage an he stuck his he's out and was just acting really sweet. The next thing I knew he was jumping into my arms. I carried him over to the floor and sat with him in my lap and he was just very curious as to sitting there and chewing on my cloths. He seemed content to have it his way. Is it normal for them to want to jump into your arms to be held? What about the nibbling on the cloths. He seemed really comfortable and was so curious as to everything. He was even squeeking a little. He wantedto climb up my arms and sniff at my neck as well. Is this normal?

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on May 22, 2012:

Hi Shelby, you will definitely find guinea-pigs more fun than hamsters so I am sure you will be delighted with your new pet. I strongly recommend you get a companion for him as soon as possible though because guinea-pigs are creatures that are very sociable, and as you can't be with him 24 hours a day it is important he has a full time companion. I hope you will spend plenty of time reading up on guinea-pig care (as you already are doing by being here). I emphasise this because things like the importance of them having Vitamin C in their diet can be missed by new owners otherwise, and tragedy can be avoided by providing plenty of veggies as well as their dry food.

Good Luck, and you know where to find me if you have any problems or questions :)

Shelby on May 22, 2012:

I love Guinea Pigs. I Have had 2 hamsters. and now that they have pasted it am going for a guinea pig. I am getting one for free. And its a baby, great with kids, and i am gald because I am a kid i am 12 years old going to be 13 and i woold love one. I am geting him tomorrow

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on May 22, 2012:

Getting him castrated does carry an element of risk, mainly due to the anesthetic, but usually it goes fine, and it may even help him to calm down a bit. The pain relief they are given at the time of the operation will last several days, so he is unlikely to feel any pain and should quickly be behaving normally again. The only real personality change would be the calming down one.

I don't like the idea of 'not giving them a hutch until they are more comfortable with you' because this is likely to push their stress levels too high. It is important they know they have a safe haven to escape to if they want a break. Forcing them to interact with you on a constant basis is not fair on them, they need a rest too, and a hutch is the best place to have one. Stick with the plan of petting him regularly for about half an hour at a time, then put him back in his cage for a rest of at least the same duration.

Gapeachy on May 22, 2012:

I've never considered getting him castrated. Is this dangerous for him? What can I expect from something like that? Will he be in any pain at all? Does it change their personality at all? I've heard that a way to make your guinea pig more domesticated and use to the humans they suggest not giving them a hutch until they are more comfortable with you. Is this true?

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on May 22, 2012:

I recommend a cage of at least 36" x 24" for one guinea-pig Gapeachy, so although I think 50" is a lot to expect of a new owner in terms of the length of their cage, it would probably be not far off what would be required for two guinea-pigs kept together. They can grow quite large, especially the males so you might need to upgrade your existing cage when you do find him a friend.

With regards to getting a second guinea-pig, did you consider maybe having Lenny castrated and getting a female as a companion, as she will be smaller and he will also readily accept a female even if she is older than him?

With regards to the rescue centres, naturally I don't know where you are in the world exactly, but do you have an SPCA nearby, as although they specialise in dogs and cats etc, they also rescue smaller creatures and need homes for them too. Online of course they are unlikely to be as easily found if you are simply searching for 'Guinea-Pig Rescue Centres' as this is not specifically what they do.

Good Luck and I hope all goes well for you. Feel free to contact me again if you have any further questions.

Gapeachy on May 21, 2012:

Thank you again for all the help. I did find a rescue place locally after some searching on the web. However they have specifics should you adopt on such as needing a much large cage aprox. 30-50. Also they had adults and not as many young ones and the young ones they did have already have Cage mates and need to be adopted together. I will keep a look out in hopes I can find a single male close to Lenny's age. I will continue to work with him on the handling. Hopefully he will come around. He is still young an I'm hoping with sometime and attention until we find a cage mate he will start to come around. Thank you so much I really appreciate all the help.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on May 21, 2012:

If you introduce them on neutral ground first they should be fine. Guinea-Pigs only tend to fight when they can smell a female nearby, and to be honest I kept mine in 'block hutches' where they could still smell females nearby, but I never had a problem with fighting between males. You could also get one of the males castrated if you experience a problem. The cage should not need to be much larger at all, and from what you say the cage you have may well already be large enough for two. As for the behaviour copying, it is difficult to tell who might copy who until you try them together, but hopefully it will work the right way around, or Lenny will start to relax and change his own behaviour anyway once he has a few weeks of handling and a companion to influence his behaviour.

If you are keeping two the risk of mites and lice is no different to keeping one. In other words if one gets them the odds are both will, but if you treat both for mites etc regularly you should not have any issues. Just bathe them every month or two in a veterinary approved and medicated shampoo and this will avoid any problems. If kept indoors you may not even need to do this at all.

Gapeachy on May 21, 2012:

Thanks again. Im not sure if we have anything like that around where I live but I will definitely look into it. My only concern Is that introducing another guinea pig (male) will cause fighting. I don't want that but I also remember years ago we had 2 and they were pretty good together. Will they fight being that it will be 2 males together. What can I expect from the two of them and will we need a much larger cage? The cage we have now is big. How do I introduce them and if Lenny is like he is will another copy his actions or will vice-versa? I regret getting him from the pet store but I'm glad he is healthy. With two what an expect as far as mites and lice etc. don't they pass these things between them?

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on May 21, 2012:

The chattering noises are usually noises associated with mating or introduction of a new guinea-pig to the existing one. These sounds are often referred to as 'trilling'.

Even as a 'stay at home Mom' you cannot possibly devote your entire day to socialising with your pet guinea-pig, so still best to get a second one in order to ensure the mental well-being of your pet. My other major concern (although it is too late now), is that you are buying your pets from pet shops, who sadly do not always vet the sources they buy from, nor do they always give their animals the best care. It is always best to go to either a rescue centre or a reputable breeder as opposed to a pet shop.

Don't discourage the nibbling, as if this is all it is you are discouraging natural behaviour, (which of course should not be discouraged). Mine used to work their way up and down the length of my index finger nibbling, and it was really cute and a sign of affection.

If you handle him regularly he should get used to you in a matter of weeks, just allow him to be a normal guinea-pig, and if all he wants to do is relax on your lap then allow him to do so as opposed to expecting him to be active or play with you or your children.

I totally stick with the fact you will be better off getting him a companion if you want him to be a happy pet, and I also stick by the fact buying pets from a shop is a really bad bad move when rescue centres are full of guinea-pigs (including babies) that will have been medically checked out and need good homes.

Gapeachy on May 21, 2012:

Thank you. We got him from a pet store not to long ago. He was the third one we tried. The first one was way to young and we had to take him back. The second who I loved so much and was such a cuddle bug got really sick with ringworm as well as a bacterial infection which we treated by taking him to the vet ourselves. Even with all the medication he wasn't improving and we had to make a choice simply because my daughter is 4 and I didn't want her to get the ringworm. So we ended up with tho little guy. When I hold him and rub his back he is just fine. It's only in the cage does he jump away at the idea of us touching him. He is a great eater and loves everything we give him food wise. He runs and jumps and een greets us when we come to the cage but with no noise lol. The nibbling is fine we just remind him softly that he can't. I'm a stay at home mom so he is always around someone but I wonder does he need to be held more so he can get use to the idea? He is very sweet I just can't seem to understand some of his behavior. The other piggys in the pet store I'm afraid aren't as semi calm as he is. I honestly worry about the fighting later on when they get older. The nibbling isn't a big concern but I do notice when we try to get him out o the cage he almost sounds like his teeth are chattering. Is this something to be concerned about as well or is this normal? How long does it usually take for them to warm up to you in a sense. He really has the potential to be such a sweet boy. Thanks again.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on May 21, 2012:

Hi Gapeachy, if he isn't keen on you touching his back he may have pain there caused by an injury. The injury could be something caused by his mother treading on him when he was a baby or by him being dropped at some point in time. I would get him checked over by a vet to be sure.

It is very unusual for guinea-pigs to bite. Are you sure he isn't just nibbling gently, as they will do this, but not enough to hurt and it seems more of an affectionate gesture generally? If he is definitely biting this may be resolved by you persisting in regular handling until he truly gets to know you, but if it is down to fear of pain due to his back, then the only solution is again to take him to the vet and find out why he is showing a pain type response when you touch his back.

Can't explain the lack of squeaking, but if he is young that may come in time once he has a routine and knows that when you turn up it is feeding time etc. You might want to consider getting him a companion as really Guinea-pigs should not be kept singly because they are very sociable creatures who like constant companionship. You cannot be another guinea-pig, nor can you communicate with him the same way as another guinea-pig. Apart from that you can't possibly be with him all day every day. You might find his behaviour improves and he becomes more 'talkative' when he has a companion. I would try to introduce him to another young male if you can, as this will avoid problems with babies being produced litter after litter all needing good homes to go to.

Gapeachy on May 20, 2012:

When we hold Lenny he tends to be okay for a few minutes before biting at our cloths. He always greets us for treats by poking his head up from the gate of his cage, but I would love to know how to help him stop the nipping and allow us to hold him more and pet him. When we do get him out of his cage he likes to place his nose under my chin an bump it. He is so cute and very energetic since he runs around and popcorns in his cage. I just don't know what to make of his certain moods. Thanks

Gapeachy on May 20, 2012:

We just recently got a male guinea pig named Lenny. He is 2 1/2 months old. He tends to nip just a little and won't let us pet his back. Is it normal? He also hasn't made any kind of wheeking

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on March 21, 2012:

You might be able to solve the problem to a degree by using a nasty tasting spray like 'bitter apple' on their coats. Just check with your vet that it is okay to apply it directly on to the animal, as I have only ever used it on wiring etc to stop pets chewing it and electrocuting themselves. All that said, I wouldn't worry too much unless they start looking bald, in which case the hair chewing has got way out of hand and something needs to be done. Keep the hair clipped tidily at all times, and make sure you still groom them daily to avoid matted fur as this will reduce the likelihood of them chewing.

HeidiB1 on March 21, 2012:

Thanks Misty, yes the long furred ones do share a hutch I keep them as pets so I don't show them just been rescuing them from unwanted homes mainly. Don't really want to separate them as they may be lonely. Well I they swallow the hair that's my explanation I guess, don't like the idea of someone giving them hair cuts, it was cold when that happened too. Many thanks again for ur help x

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on March 20, 2012:

Hi HeidiB1, Sorry you lost your Lou, but old age is one of those things we can't avoid our pets dying from ultimately, sad though it is.

On to your long haired Guinea-Pigs. Do they share a hutch/cage? Often if they share they will chew each others coats which is why they should be clipped or kept alone ideally (latter I only condone if they are show pigs.) They will chew their own coats too, especially if they are wearing coat wrappers that are pulling on their fur due to poor wrapping up of the fur, or if they have mats that are irritating the skin. Also check them for mites to make sure they are not chewing off their coats due to irritation.

It is possible someone cut off their coats to spite you, (unless they thought it was too hot for them where you are, and that they were doing them a favour.) I have never heard of this happening before though.

When they do chew their coats you don't usually find the hair in my experience, so they probably do swallow it or chew it up so finely that it gets lost in their bedding. Make sure they are still getting a fully balanced diet too, in case they are trying to make up for something that is lacking by eating their own coats. If in doubt get your vet to check them over.

I hope this has helped :)

HeidiB1 on March 20, 2012:

Hi Misty been meaning to get back on here for a while. Well Lou did perk up for a bit n put on weight with that special food u suggested, after a few days I was able to put him back in with his friends, but in Jan he deteriorated quickly n passed with old age :(

Now I have a new question please. My long furred pigs appeared to of gotten hair cuts. We were so upset called the police n questioned our families all of whom denied this. Have y heard of anyone doing this before? I more recently been told they can do this themselves? But all three long furred ones have had this. But we never found the hair so surely they do not swallow it too? I have felt so distressed about this :( x

Guinea pig lover! on February 14, 2012:

:) :)

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on February 14, 2012:

You're welcome :)

Guinea pig lover! on February 14, 2012:

:) thanks.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on February 13, 2012:

Come back any time you have more questions and I am always happy to offer any advice I can. Sounds great that you will have the option of letting your pet(s) have time in the outdoors and the run as well as coming indoors. It is nice for them to be able to munch on natural grass on the bottom of a pen and enjoy a bit of fresh air.

Guinea pig lover. on February 13, 2012:

You have been AMAZINGLY helpful. Thank you so much for all your advice. I will probably be back again.

P.s. I'm keeping the cage indoor but have a huge hutch and run outdoor.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on February 13, 2012:

Well it all depends on how much time they will spend in the cage, and also if you intend to keep them indoors or outdoors. Personally I would allow about 3 feet x 2 feet for one guinea-pig, but as I always recommend keeping two together, I would suggest a cage about 4 feet x 2 feet. The more room you can give them the better of course. I hope this helps.

Guinea pig lover! on February 12, 2012:

Thank you sooooo much for your advice. I have one more thing what size cage should it be?

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on February 12, 2012:

I am afraid I disagree with your friend, and I was a veterinary assistant and my best friend is a fully qualified head Vet's Nurse who has appeared on many episodes of Rolf Harris's Animal Hospital when she worked at RSPCA Putney in England. I have also worked in two vet's surgeries over a number of years. Much though I hate to say it, being a Vets nurse does not mean you automatically know about every animal and its requirements. I have met fully qualified vets who don't even know that a Guinea-Pig can eat the flowers, as well as the stalks of a dandelion. Living alone won't kill your pet, but it will give it a poorer quality of life which I am sure is not what you want. You have to trust me on this I bred and successfully showed many guinea-pigs (cavies) for a good few years, and they are creatures that naturally live in groups and feel more safe and secure when they have company of their own kind to play with, sleep with, eat with etc.

With regards to how long you play with it for, you have to remember that as a small creature it will get tired easily, so playing with it constantly would stress it out. I would recommend periods of twenty minutes to half an hour at a time, and then give it a break back in its own cage for at least another half an hour it can relax, have a drink, some food and a snooze.

Guinea pig lover! on February 12, 2012:

I have just spoken to my mums friend, she's a vet nurse, and she says it will be fine on its own. Thanks for the advice on the breeds . Do you think it will be alright if I play with it all of my spare time?

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on February 12, 2012:

In that case she should know they cost next to nothing to feed and two will be virtually the same to keep price-wise as one. If you want to choose a nice easy breed I would recommend Abyssinians (that was my Sister's first guinea-pig and he was super cute). They have the rosettes of hair all over their bodies and are very tufty to look at. You could also think about a Rex or a Teddy, because they have hair that grows outwards and result in them looking like little fuzzballs. Tortoiseshell and whites are pretty and so are American Crested.

I would wait until you have your cavies before you decide on names as you might find the name becomes obvious based in their personalities.

Guinea pig lover! on February 12, 2012:

I think my mum thinks that it would be too expensive. I will get her to read this. Thanks. One last thing I'm only aloud a short haired breed ( :( ) have you got an idea what breed would be best to have as a pet, not to show and any names?

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on February 12, 2012:

Well gerbils are a pain, they keep you awake all night running round on their wheels, and when you want them awake (in the day), they are asleep. Again you would need to have two gerbils not one as they are group creatures.

A guinea-pig costs so little to feed I can't even give you a figure, especially as you are probably not in the same part of the world as I am so food prices vary. If you were going to feed one on the correct food and include fresh veggies too, I can't see it costing you more than a couple of dollars a week. If you had a second one it might cost you another dollar, as only the food required would increase, and most likely the level of bedding, shavings etc would stay much the same because they would be sharing it. Out of interest why are you being told you can only have one, not two? Perhaps you should get your parents to read this article so they can see why it would be unfair to only keep one on its own.

Guinea pig lover! on February 12, 2012:

I'm not aloud a hamster. :( its either guinea pigs or gerbil. I did inhale the hay and I was fine. What would be the average cost to keep one for say a year compared to keeping two for a year?

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on February 12, 2012:

Hi Guinea-Pig lover. Firstly I would not suggest only getting one guinea-pig, two is really the minimum you should get, and honestly they need their own kind to snuggle up with at night and all the times you can't be with them. I really can't see any argument a parent can give you that says why you can only have one as opposed to two, mainly because they only cost a tiny amount to feed anyway, and the cage would not need to be a huge amount larger for two as opposed to one. It really would be unfair to only have one alone, and you might be better off with a hamster instead as they have to be kept singly, although they are not as much fun as guinea-pigs.

If you get past this problem and persuade your parents to let you have two, then ideally get two females to avoid problems with unwanted pregnancies.

The hay fever problem is a tricky one, and rubbing it on your arm will not determine if you can 'live with it' as most of the problems happen when you inhale it and the spores irritate your mucous membranes in the nose, eyes etc. You may get used to it (I did), but there are no guarantees. In this case I would suggest using an alternative bedding such as wood shavings on the floor and shredded paper in the nest box. Keep the hay content purely to being a daily feed amount as opposed to full bedding, and that way you will only be exposed to it minimally.

I hope this helps and good luck persuading your parents to let you have two instead of one.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on February 12, 2012:

Don't worry Jemima, you did not offend me in any way, and in fact it is good that this was mentioned so I could correct a few common misconceptions about rats. We have lost baby chicks to wild rats in the past too, and this is very sad, but they are only following their instincts. Actually we also lost baby chicks to hedgehogs, polecats and gulls. Sadly chicks are vulnerable to lots of predators.

Anyway I am glad your friend is keeping a rat and that you like it, and you are welcome to post questions here any time you need to :)

Guinea pig lover! on February 12, 2012:

Hi Misty, I'm a first time buyer and I'm worried that because I'm only aloud one it will be lonely due to the fact I leave at 8:20 and come home at 3:15. Also I get hay fever. I have rubbed some hay on my arm and sniffed it and I was fine but will I be able to live with it? Thanks.

jemima/twilla on February 11, 2012:

i am soooo sorry if i offeneded you in any way .my friend has the cutest rat ever its so shiny and sleek their also very intengent and thanks i had no idea that its mostly city rats and most of its not its foult is it we put all that rubbish there and anthere big sorry to any rat lover whos reading this i am sincer but rats took lots of are animals thats why we moved it was to distressind when some new baby chicks were found dead with tiny theeth marks anther sorry !

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on February 11, 2012:

Hi Twilla, you are right that rats can chew through concrete, although they rarely bother, (I have also had pet rats, and at one point worked in a breeding unit where I was in charge of over 2000 rats). Personally I never had a problem with rats infiltrating my blocks of hutches, but maybe you were just unlucky. I would suggest you get a hutch or cage that is on legs, as this will not only make it very hard for a rat to chew it's way in from underneath, but will also improve the airflow around the hutch in the hot climate you live in.

Remember they always say you are never more than 6 feet from a rat wherever you are, so don't assume there will be no more where you are moving to. Rats can carry diseases, but less so in in the countryside. It tends to be rats living in sewers and on rubbish dumps etc that are most likely to pick up and transmit other diseases. Pet rats for instance have none, and the cute little wild ones you see in the fields will have no more diseases than any other rodent, (lecture over, I just hate to see rats given an unfair bad press as they are another of the best pets to have, and are not the disease ridden horrible creatures they are often believed to be).

If you wanted to still have a long haired guinea-pig you could keep the coat trimmed short, in which case you can show it as a pet in the pet classes, as opposed to the professional classes. To keep it really cool you would probably have to keep it indoors where you can utilise air conditioning in the hot months.

If you want to consider other breeds that are not Self's I would recommend Abyssinians (that was my Sister's first guinea-pig and he was super cute). They have the rosettes of hair all over their bodies and are very tufty to look at. You could also think about a Rex or a Teddy, because they have hair that grows outwards and result in them looking like little fuzzballs. Tortoiseshell and whites are pretty and so are American Crested. All of these breeds are low maintenance so long as you bathe them every now and again in a suitable formula from your vets to kill off any mites or parasites they may have picked up from their hay or the garden, and make sure you keep their nails clipped. I am sure you are already familiar with these things based on your last cavies and how longed they lived for. All the breeds I have suggested are pictured in this article if you want to see what they can look like.

I hope this info has helped, but if you need to ask any more questions feel free to post here again :)

jemima/twilla on February 11, 2012:

it wasent the qulity of the cage rats( who can chew throught concret) we later found a size abale hole throught the bottom of the cage and lavender was not escaping she was killed than dragged out .my guinea pig was arouned 6-7 the normal life span tho one of my guinea pigs lived to 11yrs old so yes they surprise you. we are bying a new cage and nothing from the old one will be in rats carry supper bad dises there are no rats at are new house i don't think i will show them in australia its very hot so ill have to trim them in summer unless you know how to keep them cool? do you know same offer guinea pig breeds that arent hight matence but arent a self?

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on February 10, 2012:

Hi Jemima/Twilla, (not sure which as you posted twice under different names),

First of all, please please don't get another guinea-pig if the types of cage you have kept your last ones in are not top quality. If your pets can be got to by rats, or your pets can escape, clearly these are not good quality cages. Expect to pay a good price for a proper cage.

If you do go down the long haired cavy route, be aware you cannot go on holiday's etc, as these pets need daily grooming, and the hair wrapping in special wrappers. They also need regular bathing. You can clip them to a degree, but they still get dirty easily. It would be HUGE mistake to think they look cute so you want one, without being aware what a huge commitment they are if you are to take proper care of them. If you did get them you cannot keep two show ones together because they will chew each other's coats, making them useless for showing, and only good for breeding. For showing judges look for a glossy, dense/thick coat, free of parasites, and with no signs of scissors having been used on it.

To comment on another point you mentioned, there is nothing wrong with male guinea-pigs, they make fabulous pets, and both of our first 2 guinea-pigs were males, so no idea what you were told.

A Guinea-Pig should live between 5 - 7 years, (I don't know how old the one you lost from old age was). I had two that lived to an extraordinary age, one was 13, and the other was 11, so with good care they can surprise you.

Consider keeping them as indoor pets as opposed to outdoor ones if your cage is allowing them to be killed or for them to escape. The indoor plastic (large) cages are great, and if you clean them out every few days they will not smell.

I hope this information helps. Remember you are the same as their parent, and as an owner you have to ensure their safety and well-being, even if it is costly to do so, (both in time and money). If you can't in all conscience promise this level of care, then better not to have one (or more) as pets. Also if you get more than one for the same cage, get two of the same sex to avoid unwanted babies that need good homes, or will inbreed amongst themselves if not re-homed before they are mature.

twilla23 on February 10, 2012:


i am thinking of getting a guinea pig.

i an not a first time owner i have had many guinea pigs in the past but not for a while would give me some advice pretty please about Silkie and Sheltie guinea pigs and do they make good cage parters and if i did show them what do jugdes look for i am 12 and think i could look after their beautiful long hair but if you have any tips could you tell me!?

jemima hankin on February 10, 2012:


i live in australia(not in the middle,on the coast near sydny)i am 12 and if i get into this special school for the gifted and talented dad will get me a guinea pig i am pretty shure ill get in(tho as you can see not for my spelling).any way i,v been looking up different types of these adoreble creatures .i am not a first time owner i so far have grow,en up with dad was for ever bring animals home;sheep,gouts,quails,chickens,ducks,geese,turkeys,baby chicks,rabbits,dog,and guinea pigs!! and who normely ended up cleaning ,brushing,colecting eggs and picking up poop! not my two sisters me and dad . we,ve moved houses last year so most of are animals had to go as we were moving to a smaller block a land but i did get to take my faithful guinea pig! love-in-the-mist has had some very bad exberances her mate lupin who was the most loving father no matter what some peaple say about male guinea pigs well any way we had a bad problem with RATZ they used to break in to the cage some how and they killed lupin!! we tryed to find how they got in but...we had no idea so a few days after lupin funral the littlest of the litter lavnder was found out side the cage whith tiny bite marks all over her, then just snowy the last of her litter and her self were little sister one day invited a friend round and she was playing with the guinea pigs on the lown dog a jack russel terrier escaped and my sister with out a back wards glance walked camly towards the house when she gets to the front door she says ahh jemima just so you know jojo escaped what i say did but the guinea pigs away!? no she said and then goes into her bedroom i did what any pet lover would have done i ran down to where the guinea pigs were playing but to late jojo snached up snowy and ran ill save you the awful details so than it was just love in the mist and she died of old age this year iam not shure if it would be dishonering her memary if i got anew one what do you think?

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 30, 2012:

I am afraid I can't Sonia, cavies have a habit of just 'giving up' when they are ill, and if there was a problem the mother may have killed the baby. It is just nature. If this baby was the 'placid' one, then maybe all was not well, and it was not 100% healthy. All you can tell your daughter is that it happened 'as nature intended'.

I wish I could be of more help. The only other thing I can say is to make sure you get the other 2 babies sexed, and re-home any males before any inbreeding accidentally happens. Really, this would be your worst nightmare!

Sonia on January 30, 2012:

Hi, I bought two females for my daughter back in November. Anyway one was pregnant and gave birth to 3 lovely babies 2 weeks ago. They have been doing really well - until my daughter found one dead. Looking at it it seems that it has been crushed. Is this common? This particular baby was the placid one and was slightly different to the others in that it was squarer and really fluffy. My daghter is really upset and I am unable to give her an explanation. Can you help? Many thanks for your continued time. Take care.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 17, 2012:

Hi Kate, his behaviour sounds typical of a male, and should not really distress her as she will come into season just the same because she is obviously not neutered. I am not sure it is possible, but maybe some of the testicle tissue was left in place during the castrate, and if this is still giving off hormones he may still be exhibiting the typical male behaviour, (otherwise it should really have stopped by now). It sounds as if he is only acting this way when she is in season, and the rumbling noises and chasing her around trying to mount her would be normal behaviour for a male driven by hormones (this isn't aggression).

Speak to your vet about the possibility there could be male reproductive tissue still in place that is causing the typical male behaviour when she is in season.

Kate on January 17, 2012:

Thanks so much for the advice! They actually sold me two "females" at the pet store and I promptly realized my "she" was a "he"...I had him neutered in mid-February 2011 (about a month after I had him), so it's been quite awhile. They generally get along perfectly, he's only acted aggressive twice in the entire year I've had him, and it usually passes after 24 hours....very odd I know. I'll ask my vet and I'll keep you posted if I hear anything!

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 16, 2012:

Hi Kate, my main advice would be to speak to your vet on this one. I have never had any of my Cavies neutered (castrated) as I simply paired up the same sexes or put opposite sexes together with a view to breeding them. I would have expected the hormones to have gone if he was neutered a few months ago, but if it was more recent you should expect some hormones to still be floating around in his system, (like with male cats), and these take a while to dissipate. You didn't say exactly how recently he had been 'done' so it is hard to call, but as they are only a year old I would give it a month or two longer before you worry about this. Hopefully by then he will be calming down and your female will be more relaxed. You could always temporarily separate them into cages that you locate next to each other so they can see and smell each other, but he can't pester her. This will mean she is more relaxed whilst he is getting rid of those annoying hormones :)

You might also want to check that if he was sold to you as 'neutered' he actually was neutered!!

Kate on January 16, 2012:

Hello! First, just want to say that you have a great page and I think it's awesome how you've helped answer so many questions on a continual basis! It's hard to find people/resources to turn to when you have questions about guinea pigs. So, this is all very much appreciated!

And now, I guess it's my turn to ask a couple of questions :) I've had my two guinea pigs (1 female and 1 neutered male) for exactly one year. Kind of weird that it's to the date! They're just over a year old.

They generally get along very well, but my male still displays 'dominant' behavior where he rumbles and shakes his body. This doesn't bother her. But sometimes it gets very bad, and he just won't stop chasing her and mounting her. When this has happened I had to separate the two for a day. Is this normal for a neutered guinea pig? I thought the hormones would have died down, but I would say this aggressive behavior has happened at least twice in the year he's been neutered (where I've had to separate them). He then appears to calm down after a day or so. Have you ever heard of anything like this?

Secondly, my female is obviously agitated when this happens. She is an extremely friendly guinea pig, but doesn't like me to touch her or go near her when he's being 'aggressive' shall I say (which I understand). However, he's stopped being 'aggressive' for a couple of days now, but she still doesn't want me to touch her or go near her. If I do, her eyes get wide and she looks very nervous and dashes away. This has me worried as this has never happened before with her. Any experience with this or thoughts on what I can do? I just want my loving and friendly guinea pig back!!

Thanks so much for your help/feedback.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 06, 2012:

I have never heard of anyone doing that earlcortz, but we don't have banana leaves here, only skins at best. To be on the safe side I would call you local vets and ask them, but this is a new one on me! Sorry I can't be more helpful, but we haven't got the climate to grow bananas!

Can't you get normal vegetables and fruits where you are? These will be safe options at least :)

earlcortz from Cuneo on January 06, 2012:

oohhh ok ahhmm......can i feed my guinea pig a banana leaves?????....please reply......

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on December 29, 2011:

Vicky, you need to get your guinea pig to a vet as soon as possible. Right now he is an open invitation to infection and bacteria. I wouldn't attempt to treat him yourself, he will no doubt need stitching and antibiotics urgently. If you can't afford a vet get him to a rescue shelter as soon as you can, and that really does mean 'right NOW'. Guinea-pigs give up and die very easily. If you don't do this quickly you will very likely lose your pet.

Good Luck.

Vicky on December 29, 2011:

What do you do when you have a guinea pig that has a bit of skin that is missing and you can see its bone..... should i clean it or bandige it or what......Please HELP

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on December 25, 2011:

I can't help you on this one earlcortz, you would need to ask someone local to you who keeps guinea-pigs. We don't have Carabao Grass in the British Isles to the best of my knowledge, so it is not something listed in books on the subject of cavy care etc. You should ask a local vet or similar, but until you do avoid feeding anything you are in doubt over the safety of. You might find the following link helpful:

earlcortz from Cuneo on December 24, 2011:

Hi Misty I am Earl I'm From Philippines and I don't know if the Carabao Grass is ok for my guinea pig?please reply....thanks.....and merry x-mas....

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on December 19, 2011:

Any time Heidi :)

HeidiB1 on December 19, 2011:

Yes I'm very concerned of him getting lonely. Will let u know n try that food ur saying. Thanks again for ur advice x

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on December 19, 2011:

Well good luck, let's hope he has a little while longer with a good quality of life. You could try giving him some soaked sugar beet pulp as this is high in nutrient and energy and might help him put a bit of weight back on. We used to give it to both the Guinea-Pigs and my horse and goat. They all loved it. Just make sure you do soak the pellets in plenty of water for 24 hours before feeding them to your pets, as if you feed them dry they swell up in the stomach of the animal and can kill them. Any good animal feed store should stock these.

It is a shame you can't find another elderly guinea-pig as a friend for him to share with though. Cavies are such social creatures that even if he can see the other cavies I feel he would miss the ability to snuggle up with a companion.

Let me know how he gets on.

HeidiB1 on December 19, 2011:

Thank u. Well I mentioned coccidiosis n the vet said he seemed too well for that, she said its def down to old age. The vet also suggested we put him in a cage alone buy yet so he can still see the other guineas so he doesn't feel alone but so he has peace n can rest if he chooses, n to just keep an eye on his weight n behaviour for now x

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on December 19, 2011:

Good Luck Heidi, let me know how you get on. Don't forget to ask about Coccidiosis as some vets don't even think of this unless it is suggested to them. I hope he does get well again as they are very easy to get attached to and I used to get very upset if I lost one of my pet ones.

HeidiB1 on December 19, 2011:

Hi thanks I phoned the vet this morning and they said I must bring him in. She said it could be the teeth by I told her is still eating. She told me if he's old it isn't nice to wait as other organs can close down. I am going this afternoon so I will see what they say. He has plenty of vit c so I don't think it's that. I have had him 18 months but I do think he was an age when I got him so I am preparing myself all the same, can't stop crying tho he is such a loving pig :( thanks for u help I will let u know what they say x

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on December 18, 2011:

Hi Heidi, I don't know how old your guinea-pig is but unless he is over 5 years old I doubt age is the problem. Have you asked your vet to look into Coccidiosis, as this sounds like a likely cause for the problem based on the information you have given me? Ask you vet to check for this and/or other problems.

Good Luck (make sure your pet is also getting lots of vitamin C too, e.g. green fresh veggies etc as scurvy could be an issue if the Vit C levels have been too low).

HeidiB1 on December 18, 2011:

Hi one of my guineas that I got from a rescue centre 18 months ago has drastically lost weight over the last few weeks. I have no idea on his age so I am guessing it's old age. He seems very happy all the same. Should I separate him and/or visit the vets. Thanks. H x

Heidi on December 18, 2011:

Hi one of my guineas that I got from a rescue centre 18 months ago has drastically lost weight over the last few weeks. I have no idea on his age so I am guessing it's old age. He seems very happy all the same. Should I separate him and/or visit the vets. Thanks. H x

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on November 05, 2011:

No worries Lilly, try what I suggested then and you might well find it will work if you persevere. I know it works with rabbits, so I guess it should work for cavies too.

Lilly on November 05, 2011:

Thank u

Sorry i mean toilet train:)

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on November 05, 2011:

Hi Lilly, well I have never tried to train a Guinea-Pig I have to say. Did you mean toilet train or train to do tricks? Toilet training may be possible by putting her droppings into a litter tray in her cage or in the house, and if you see her going to the toilet immediately put her into the litter tray to get her used to using it, but I don't know about training to do tricks.

As for letting her out to run around, well there isn't a fixed amount of times, and it would largely depend on the size of her cage. Generally I would take her out for a 'run around' when you want to, but ideally at least once a day so she gets to explore and experience different stimulation. Just make sure you don't leave her unattended in case she has an accident or is trodden on by someone who doesn't see her.

Lilly on November 05, 2011:

Hey i just got a guinea pig nd i wanted to know how many time a day should i let her out to run around?? And i also hear that u can train a guinea how can i do that?

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on October 29, 2011:

Sadly it sounds like the Mother knows something is wrong with her and has rejected her. Guinea-pigs have a poor survival rate when unwell at the best of times, and honestly this baby sounds as if she would be better off being put to sleep as soon as possible. Do her a favour and take her to a vet or a rescue centre so the little mite can die peacefully. Apart from anything else I would probably not recommend kitten formula without having first checked with a vet. Kittens are mothered by carnivores, Guinea-pigs are mothered by Herbivores. There is a good chance the two types of milk would have different nutritional content, and that kitten formula may not be at all suitable for a guinea-pig.

mulattoprincess1 on October 28, 2011:

I have a 7 1/2 hour old guinea pig and she seems to be having a little trouble breathing and i don't know what to do. Also she is cold and her eyes aren't open unlike her sibling that was born a minute before her. Honestly it doesn't look like her eyes are fully developed. The mother is ignoring her and won't let her nurse, so i'm trying to supplement with kitten formula. Please Help!

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on October 28, 2011:

I am sorry you lost your baby guinea-pig Casandra. You might want to get the Mum checked out by a Vet in case she has anything wrong with her that may also have caused the death of her mate, and then her baby.

Guinea-pigs do need to be in a draft proof location with plenty of warm bedding, although it isn't necessary to keep them in the house as many do. Mine were kept in a stable in hutches, but ultimately lived outside. In the winter I would cover the fronts of the hutches with blankets at night to help contain the warmth. A lot depends on the weather conditions where you live.

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