When many people think of guinea pigs they imagine dull, smelly creatures that lived in the science labs at school or in a hutch in a friend's backyard. These impressions cause many people to overlook the humble guinea pig when choosing a small pet. Guinea pigs are in fact not naturally dull, nor smelly. A well cared for guinea pig is surprisingly lively, engaging and clean & make great pets.
Food requirements for your cavy
Guinea pigs are herbivores (vegetarians). Guinea pigs cannot make vitamin C within their own bodies as other animals can, and therefore require a regular supply of it in their food. They must receive a different variety of vegetables every day, and fruit 2 to 3 times a week. They must also be given hay every day to help aid in digestion & the wearing of teeth. Certain bulb based vegetables are toxic to guinea pigs and should be avoided as are sunflower seeds.
A varied diet appropriate for a guinea pig to ensure it's receiving a balanced diet would include a little from the following list
- Dandelion, parsley, varieties of grass, clover & alfalfa sprouts.
- Carrot, turnip, cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, green beans, asparagus, celery, endive, kale, spinach, capsicum etc...
- Bread & oats.
- Fruit such as apples, bananas, grapes, peaches, pears, melon, kiwi, plum, raspberries, strawberries
- Premium quality guinea pig pellets from your vet clinic or leading pet stores. We stock and recommend Oxbow Cavy Pellets.
- It is best to avoid mixes loaded with sugar, often in the form of molasses.
It is important to remember not to over feed your guinea pig - offer approximately one tablespoon of a variety of vegetables at each feed & always have fresh water available every day.
Guinea Pigs teeth have an open root which means that they do not stop growing! They rely on hard veggies/fruits & pellets to gnaw on to help keep teeth at a manageable level.
There are many different materials that can be used as bedding for your guinea pig. Some use sawdust, pine shavings, newspaper and straw. The material has to be absorbent so that it soaks up urine and minimizes odour. It should be dust-free so it doesn't cause breathing problems, and comfortable for your cavy to walk and sleep on. Recycled newspaper such as ‘Breeders Choice Cat Litter' is probably the most suitable material as it provides great absorption & odour control.
Regular house-cleaning is essential for the health of your guinea pig, and for preventing smells. It is best to remove vegetable scraps at the end of the day, and scoop out droppings on a daily basis also. Remember if you use a disinfectant to clean your cavy's hutch it must be a safe animal friendly disinfectant such as ‘Hutch Clean' so there are no toxic fumes to harm your pets.