When looking at different guinea pig breeds to buy or you are seeking guinea pigs for adoption, then you must ideally choose the healthy ones to take home with you. If you already own a cage full of cavies and you notice one or more of these signs on any of them, then have your pets treated right away.
Cavies are prone to many diseases. An untreated infection can kill them easily. It is inhumane to simply let them to perish because of lack of foreknowledge on how to properly take care of them.
Important Indicators of a Healthy Guinea Pig
Look for these signs. They will guide you on how to tell the overall health condition of a cavy.
- Guinea pigs are always active, curious, and very inquisitive. It is in their nature to act that way. Healthy guinea pigs love to move around. So, when you see a lethargic cavy, then that means something is wrong. The pet animal is sick.
- The fur coat of a disease-free cavy is well-groomed. The coat is fluffy and smooth. The presence of bald or red skin patches indicates skin diseases.
- A soiled area around the rear end of a cavy indicates problems with diarrhea.
- A healthy cavy has no lumps anywhere on its body.
- A normal guinea pig is neither fat nor skinny.
- The eyes, ears, and nose of a guinea pig must be free from any discharge. Wetness or crusting on those areas may point to a parasitic infestation or a bacterial infection.
- Look at the teeth. They must not be overgrown at all. The cavy’s teeth must be well-aligned as well.
- Pay attention to the chin. The chin area must not contain a wet or a matted fur.
- Observe how the guinea pig breathes. It must breathe quietly. Wheezing, labored breathing, and gurgling noises are all signs of respiratory illnesses.
If you buy cavies, observe its surroundings in the pet shop. Cavies that are kept in clean cages where they have access to fresh food and water thrive well once you bring them home. Guinea pigs raised in overcrowded environments have higher risks of exposure to diseases. Moreover, overcrowding instills psychological stress.
When you about to get a guinea pig, here are two things to keep in mind:
Get pet animals from the shelter first. There are so many of these little animals out there. They need a second chance at ending up in a loving home that only you can provide.
Separate male and female guinea pigs. They mate uncontrollably. And for female guinea pigs aged four weeks old, an instance of pregnancy can be fatal. And who can manage a small cage filled with litters? If you can’t tell the gender, have the pet seller do it for you.
Considerations When Buying A Guinea Pig
The guinea pig continues to be a popular and ideal pet for many families. Guinea pigs are good natured and easy to care for. They’re not expensive to keep, and they respond well to being handled and cared for. Families with young children will find guinea pigs to be gentle and endearing companions in the home.
If you are thinking about buying a guinea pig but you are not sure how to go about it, know that there are some things you need to consider. Here are a few of them:
Who will be responsible for the Guinea Pig?
Before heading off to purchase a guinea pig, it helps to identify who will be ultimately responsible for it. Figure out who will do the feeding, cleaning and spending for the guinea pig. Often, when no one person is assigned, no one ends up doing the things that need to be done (or you end up with the extra chore).
Guinea pig pairs and groups
Guinea pigs are social animals. It is always advisable to keep them in pairs or in groups. Just remember that the more guinea pigs you have, the bigger space you need to allot to them. Aggression is a trait that surfaces when guinea pigs are subjected to scarce space and resources. Also guinea pigs can multiply quite rapidly. So if you are not planning on caring for a family, choose to keep guinea pigs of the same gender.
Guinea pig breeds
There are several breeds of guinea pigs that you will find in pet stores. They differ in color and in the length of their fur. Researching before you buy will prepare you for any special care that each breed may require.
The temperament of guinea pigs are based more on personality than on gender. A guinea pig that is used to being handled by owners from a young age will not mind being picked up and will not want to be scratch or bite when handled. When buying a mature guinea pig, check to make sure it has been sufficiently domesticated.
Guinea pig needs
When buying a guinea pig, don’t forget to also purchase the things that they will need. This includes an enclosure of sufficient size, such as a guinea pig hutch or a cage, beddings, food, grooming needs and even a few toys.
Other pets in the house
When introducing guinea pigs to a household that already have existing pets, it is important to introduce them properly to ensure that they will get along well.
What to Do When Introducing New Guinea Pigs to Old
When introducing new guinea pigs to old guinea pigs in your home, it is important to observe certain rituals to make sure the new addition to your family is well received by your existing guinea pig or piggies. Before you go and select a new member to your cavy family, it is interesting how age and gender can affect how easily it will be for the old cavy to accept the new one.
Here are some things to consider:
- An adult male guinea pig is averse to sharing his space with another adult male guinea pig. The old one will treat the new one as a threat and reject him.
- A baby male guinea pig can be made to get along with an adult male guinea pig.
- It is fairly easy to get a baby male guinea pig to get along with a female guinea pig.
- Female adult guinea pigs can be made to get along with another adult female guinea pig.
- If your adult male guinea pig is neutered, it will be easier to make him get along with a new female guinea pig
- When you plan to have a group of guinea pigs, realize that a male guinea pig will be able to get along with a herd of females. But when you have two adult males and even just a single female guinea pig, they will constantly fight.
- Unless you want to breed guinea pigs, neuter your male guinea pig.
Now, before allowing any interaction between the new guinea pig and the resident cavy, quarantine the new arrival for 2 to 3 weeks. Put the new cavy in a cage and situate it in a different room in the house. When handling the new cavy, be sure to thoroughly wash your hands right after. Wearing an apron also helps so you don’t need to keep on changing your shirt after handling the new pet.
The reason for the enforced quarantine is to make sure your new cavy does not carry any parasites or infection that can easily spread to the other guinea pig or piggies in your home. It may seem like a long while to wait, but you need to find the patience for it. Unless the new cavy has a clean bill of health, you should wait before introducing her to her new family.
When introducing the new guinea pigs to old, select a neutral location. Make sure the neutral location is clean. If it has any guinea pig toys or stuff, be sure to wash these well to remove any trace of scent.
Before letting the new guinea pigs meet, be sure you are thoroughly prepared. Wear a mitten (oven mitts will do) and have a towel ready to use as a distraction in case things don’t go so well. Lay down a clean blanket in your neutral area and put food or treats in the center.
Make sure the space that you select is quiet without anything that can distract your guinea pigs. You want the first interaction to be as positive as possible.
When everything is ready, put the old and the new guinea pigs on the blanket. Initially, they may show some aggressive behavior such as teeth chattering or some aggressive contact as they try to sort out who the dominant guinea pig is. You should allow this as long as no serious injuries are being inflicted. After a while, they should both calm down and start playing with each other.
If it does turn violent, be ready to throw the towel at the old hamster, and with your protected hands, bring the guinea pigs back to their separate enclosures. Repeat the same process to introduce them to each other after a couple of days.
All About the Pregnant Guinea Pig
It isn’t hard to imagine a house full of guinea pigs- and nearly every guinea pig owner will give testimony to that. Some guinea pig owners actually devote an entire room to their guinea pigs- granted these are owners with a true passion for the pet.
However, the adorable, fun-loving, spirited guinea pig is something that makes you feel as though it is time for a family- for the guinea pig, anyway. And, it is hard not to imagine offspring from such a delight.
The guinea pig can get pregnant at a very young age, four weeks to be exact, which would be extremely unhealthy for not only the offspring, but the mother. Therefore, it is vital to keep the female guinea pig away from males until they are of mating age, which is ideally between four to six months of age.
The pregnant guinea pig that is less than four months old and older than nine months old has an increased risk of death during pregnancy.
The pregnant guinea pig will be pregnant about 60 to 70 days from the time of conception to birth. During which time, a well-balanced diet, love and attention, and exercise will be needed. The labor time of the guinea pig is short and typical liters are anywhere from one to eight offspring.
Important things to do for the pregnant guinea pig
Diet is an important factor for the pregnant guinea pig. Greens are vital for the pregnant guinea pig and during pregnancy she should be feed plenty of greens, a high quality guinea pig pellet food containing Vitamin C, and foods enriched in vitamin C. The guinea pig is unable to produced vitamin C themselves and therefore it is necessary to provide vitamin C through foods.
During pregnancy, vitamin C intake should increase by at least 30 mg of vitamin C per day. A liquid vitamin C supplement can be purchased at your local pet store which can be administered through the guinea pigs water for additional vitamin C support.
Once the pregnant guinea pig begins to go into labor it will be quick. You should hear a distinctive groan that will alert you that labor has begun. Do not move your guinea pig from its cage, but stay by the cage. You should strictly be close for support and in case there is the need to intervene. Once the guinea pig has given birth to the babies there will be a discharge of blood- do not be alarmed, this is normal.
Should the births happen to arrive close together, the mother may not have time to nip the amniotic sac allowing the baby to breath air, and it will be necessary for you to nip the sap. The pregnant guinea pig will instinctively begin to care for young through bathing and nursing. This is a time for mother and child. The male guinea pig does need to be removed from the cage immediately, as the female will be fertile as soon as she gives birth.
Be as much support by providing love and attention, special care and a well-balanced nutritional diet to your pregnant guinea pig.