As we’ve recently explained in this post here, getting the correct bedding for your guinea pig is a very important aspect of its comfort and happiness. Appropriate bedding, along with the suitable toys for guinea pigs and a proper enclosure, are just some of the essential elements that you need to get right when buying or adopting your first cavy.
Guinea pigs, or cavies, as they’re commonly referred to as, are very social, affectionate and gentle little rodents who are also very vulnerable in front of any predator. This makes them very squeamish and prone to getting injured.
This article will bring to your attention seven essential items that you will need to secure when welcoming your furry little friend to the family.
Possibly the most important aspect of a guinea pig’s wellbeing is the enclosure where it spends most of its time – the cage. First of all, you have to make sure that the habitat is large enough for your cavy.
It is a common misconception that 2 or 3 square feet are comfortable enough for your little piglet. In reality, enclosures upwards of 7.5 square feet are much more appropriate for one guinea pig.
To avoid foot injuries and diseases such as bumblefoot, the flooring of the habitat shouldn’t be wired. A solid plastic floor is a much better alternative.
Because cavies are very prone to heatstroke, air ventilation and temperature are extremely important in your pet’s living enclosure. Because of this, glass aquariums should be avoided. Also, keep this in mind when selecting the location of the cage, as you want to steer clear of sunny or really warm areas.
You can buy or build a variety of cages or enclosures for your guinea pig. Decide what fits best in your home and what works best for your new guinea pig(s), and do a bit of research before making the purchase. Also, don’t forget that, if you want to keep your options open, you can always put the cage on a moving platform.
#2 Toys & Accessories
Guinea pigs like to keep being active and play around in their enclosures. There are plenty of toys to choose from – from ramps and tunnels to just simple crumpled paper. You have a lot of options to maintain your cavy’s happiness.
Contrary to what pop-culture might have you think, wheels and exercise balls are not appropriate toys for your furry little friend. This type of accessories can prove to be too dangerous for a guinea pig’s fragile body and using them can lead to injuries.
Cavies have open rooted teeth, which means that their teeth are constantly growing. This is why your little rodent friend also needs toys like wooden blocks (even twigs) to chew on.
Don’t forget that your buddy also needs water and food dishes, as well as a litter box – if you’re ready to potty train him or her, that is.
You will want to provide plenty of bedding for your pet’s cage. Again, you have a multitude of choices to choose from. From shredded paper to hardwood shavings like aspen, there are plenty of options to make your guinea pig comfortable in its cage.
You should always avoid softwood shavings such as cedar or pine, though, as the phenols from these woods can cause respiratory infections for your piglet.
Recently, many owners have started opting for fleece bedding for their guinea pigs. This is reusable and, if treated correctly, provides much more absorption power than the shredded bedding. This type of bedding also makes it easier for you to observe if your little friend is ‘going to the bathroom’ correctly.
#4 Hiding nest
Guinea pigs are shy, vulnerable creatures that can be easily scared or stressed. This is why they prefer to have several hiding spots in their enclosures. You can easily provide this by buying or even manufacturing your own hiding nests. The choices are endless, from something as plain as a small cardboard box to miniature architectural structures.
As with all pets, nutrition is essential in keeping up the living standards of your furry guinea pig. Approximately 80% your pet’s diet should consist of hay. This should always be at the cavy’s disposal, especially if we’re talking about babies or pregnant sows.
A very important supplement that your guinea pig needs is Vitamin C. This is usually added in most food pellets available in your local pet store. Small bites of fruits and vegetables also help complement your pet’s diet.
There are some foods that you should definitely avoid if you want to maintain your piggy’s health. You should never feed salty, sugary and fatty foods to your companion, as well as any caffeine, alcohol or meat.
Don’t forget that your cavy’s water supply needs to be refreshed, and its water and food bowls have to be washed – all of this on a daily basis.
Your guinea pig’s nails need to be trimmed approximately once a month. Failing to do this can lead to blisters and difficulty in walking. While many owners choose to take their pets to the veterinarian for this, you can also buy a pair of guinea pig nail scissors and do it yourself.
These furry little rodents also need to have their fur brushed regularly. Depending on the length of your cavy’s hair, you need to do this once or twice a day, or once every few days.
#7 Cleaning supplies
Keeping your little piggy’s habitat clean is another vital element of its wellbeing. Many owners do not realize this before getting a guinea pig, but you must constantly clean your pet’s cage.
Starting with daily spot-wipes and finishing with a weekly, more thorough cleaning, you have to pay a great deal of attention to the hygiene level of your guinea pig’s habitat.
Be careful where you transfer your cavy when cleaning its enclosure, though. They can easily get scared, run away and hide.