Guinea Pig Essentials For First Time Owners

What to buy for Guinea Pigs?

Small, cute and generally very easy to look after, guinea pigs are gentle animals and ideal pets for young children aged around 6 and above. Suitable for pet owners who may struggle to look after more demanding animals, guinea pigs don’t need much equipment and thrive on love and attention from their humans. Our guinea pig checklist can help you to find the perfect products for your piggy.

Bedding

Unlike dogs and cats, guinea pigs don’t need big cushioned beds but they do require lots of bedding consisting of hay and shredded paper for them to hide and dig under. By using hay, it also means that they will always have something to eat too! You will need to change the bedding every day, as guinea pigs are quite messy and their bedding will quickly get soaked with urine and rotting vegetables. It can also smell very unpleasant when it needs changing, which isn’t nice for you or your guinea.

Food

Guinea pigs are herbivores, so you won’t need to buy any meat for them. Instead, guinea pigs love fresh grass and hay, with dry pellet-style guinea pig food as their main meals. Fresh vegetables like carrots, broccoli and cabbage help to add healthiness to your guinea pig’s diet. As guinea pigs can be quite messy, you should avoid using a bowl for their fresh water and instead use a plastic bottle which fastens onto the mesh wire window of their hutch.

Hutch

Your guinea pig’s hutch should be spacious with enough room for them to run around and keep active. Although guineas only have small legs, they enjoy running about and are surprisingly fast. A hutch leading to an outdoor enclosure is ideal for enabling them to go outside when they want, but make sure to keep them indoors at night when cats are out. Guinea pigs can’t jump very high so their fence doesn’t need to be high, but to keep out predators it’s a good idea to make sure the top is covered too. You can buy mesh wire rolls in hardware stores, which is perfect for a DIY guinea pig run.

As well as an outdoor area, your guinea pig needs to somewhere to sleep. Most hutches have two compartments, with the main area for food and play, and a smaller windowless area for their bed. By placing more hay and bedding in this area, you can encourage your guinea to sleep in there.

To make cleaning it out easier, most hutches feature a little slot underneath the main door which enables you to simply sweep all the waste straight out. It’s a good idea to also place newspaper on the base of the hutch too, so you can just lift out the dirty bedding. Sawdust helps to absorb any urine to prevent it from going soggy and smelling unpleasantly.

Carrier

A carrier is an ideal product for transporting your guinea pig to and from places. As guinea pigs are small creatures, you don’t want to simply hold them whilst in a vehicle; they can get spooked and wriggle, leading to injuries. The carry case should be spacious enough for them to move around, with plenty of ventilation. It’s also recommended to place some hay inside with them to comfort them and provide them with a tasty snack too.

Grooming

Whilst some breeds of guinea pig - the Peruvian for example - have very long fur, most have smooth and short fur, which makes it easier to groom. A “finishing” brush, which is also ideal for cats, can be used on short-haired guinea pigs and can be used less frequently. Long-haired guinea pigs may require brushing once or twice a day and sometimes with a fine comb to prevent tangles and matting.

Guinea pigs’ toenails grow quickly; they have four nails on their front feet and three on their back which need to be trimmed regularly. You can either take your guinea pig to the vets to get their nails clipped, or you can do it at home yourself. If you do decide to do it at home, you can use regular nail clippers designed for humans. Like with other animals, don’t cut their nails too short and make sure to have treats handy to keep them happy.

Chews and Toys

All pets need toys to play with and guinea pigs are no exception. You’ll find that simple is better when it comes to guineas, so something like a ball or a tunnel can easily keep them happy and entertained. An ideal guinea pig toy is something that they can chew on, to stop their teeth from growing too much. Often, guinea pigs will chew the wood of their hutch in order to wear their constantly-growing teeth down, so a durable and safe-to-chew toy is the best choice for your guinea pig.


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