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Exotic Pet Care: Guinea Pigs

Exotic Pet Care: Guinea Pigs

Guineapigs are an exotic pet species that are widely known for being inquisitive, empathetic and playful companions for those looking for small loving pets. Even so, they are still exotic pets and have special requirements that should be thoroughly considered. Here, our Mandeville vets discuss exotic pet care and what to consider when it comes to owning and caring for guinea pigs.

Guinea pigs, also called the domestic cavy, are rodents that, even as an exotic pet species, are a common choice as a first pet for families with young children. Since they are playful. loving, curious and cute, they may seem like a straightforward choice for families. There are many things that you should consider though when looking at owning an exotic pet.

Below is a collection of information from our exotic pet vets in Mandeville that you should know and consider prior to choosing to have a guinea pig as a pet.

What Are The Different Breeds of Guinea Pigs?

You may not realize it, but there are actually a number of breeds of domestic guinea pigs that may make choosing one difficult when you make the decision to own an exotic pet. Each has their own unique appearance and needs that you should take into account when making your selection. Below our exotic pet vets in Mandeville share some of the most commonly seen breeds of guinea pigs:

  • American Guinea Pig - One of the most popular breeds, the American Guinea Pig has a short, smooth coat and an even temperament. Short hair means minimal maintenance and this breed is quite social.
  • Peruvian Guinea Pig - This breed has long, gorgeous, hair which will require regular brushing to maintain. Peruvian Guinea Pigs are very social, fun-loving and alert.
  • Teddy Guinea Pig - While this breed has short hair, they require regular brushing to make sure nothing is caught in their dense and wiry coat. These guinea pigs are curious and playful.
  • Silkie Guinea Pig - These guinea pigs require even more brushing than Peruvian Guinea Pigs. Because of this, they aren't a great choice if you're planning on your child providing care for them, despite their wonderful, gentle personalities. 
  • Skinny Guinea Pig - This guinea pig is hairless! And while that may look a bit odd to some people, they are quite social and don't require any grooming.
  • Abyssinian Guinea Pig - This long-haired guinea pig has a well-deserved reputation for being friendly, charming and feisty. Unlike other breeds with long hair, Abyssinian Guinea Pigs don't require much grooming, although they can be troublemakers, so they may keep you busy in other ways!

Socialization For Guinea Pigs

Since guinea pigs are one of the more social exotic pets, it is quite easy to maintain either one or a pair of these rodents as pets in your home. Any combination of sexes can be housed together, although our exotic vets would like to remind you that they will need to be fixed unless you would like to have litters of baby guinea pigs.

If one of your guinea pigs is a bit older or more dominant than the other, there may be some issues with chewing on the ears or hair of the newer, less dominant one. 

Our exotic pet vets in Mandeville recommend pairing guinea pigs in order to ensure that all of their socialization needs are met.

Housing Needs For Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs spend most of their time in their cage, so there are a number of important factors that our exotic vets would like you to consider when acquiring and arranging their housing. 

The cage should have a footprint of at least 7.5 square feet for a single guinea pig, and at least 10 square feet for two. Guinea pigs will also commonly develop sores on their feet if the floor of their home is too rough, so make sure you have a solid-bottomed cage and cover it with soft bedding like shredded newspaper or fleece blankets. 

Cedar shavings are never to be used as they are toxic to guinea pigs. 

While guinea pigs are able to drink out of a bowl, our exotic pet vets in Mandeville recommend that you provide a bottle for water access as this is typically easier for guinea pigs.

Nutrition Requirements For Guinea Pigs

Just like people, guinea pigs don't create their own Vitamin C, so owners need to make sure they get enough in their diet. One of the best ways to do this is to make sure any commercial food your purchase for your guinea pig is specially formulated for them. Your guinea pig will also need a lot of grass hay as a staple of their diet.

On top of these, you should provide your pet with a ready supply of leafy green vegetables like romaine, red and green lettuce. Avoid darker leafy greens like kale or spinach if you can. They contain more calcium than your guinea pig needs and can often cause painful bladder stones that may require a trip to your vet.

Although you may be tempted to include fruit into your guinea pig's diet, they don't need the extra sugar and may become overweight if the fruit is part of their weekly diet.

If you would like to learn more about caring for exotic pets such as guinea pigs, contact our exotic pet vets in Mandeville today for a consultation.

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