Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs or Cavy, as they are also known, are small rodents that can be easily kept as pets. These animals have nothing to do with pigs or with New Guinea, despite their names, and are probably closer to rats in that sense. However, they are extremely cute & furry animals that are a perennial favourite amongst children, especially in terms of a pet that requires relatively little maintenance and responsibilities. Guinea pigs are not available in the wild and are considered to be a specially bred species who's origins can be traced back to the Andes.

The first evidence of the domestication of guinea pigs comes from way back in 5,000 BC, when these animals were kept by South American tribes and bred as a food source. They do not have any significance as working animals and that means, they are not likely to be of any other use than food. However, modern day guinea pigs are kept as pets mainly because children are attracted to these rodents and as far as rodents go, they don't evoke the same kind of feelings as rats or mice do.

Understanding the Guinea Pig

As far as rodents go, guinea pigs can be relatively large and can even go up to weight around 1.2 kg. The bigger ones grow up to about 10 inches while the average life span of these creatures is somewhere between 4 to 5 years. Since these rodents are not found in the wild, there is no known natural habitat for guinea pigs, in particular, and that is why the guinea pig cages or enclosures that you find, in pet stores, have nothing to do with any kind of natural environment.

In general, guinea pigs are quite docile and rarely bite, if ever. They are even known to squeak with delight with their favourite humans enter the room or when they can sense those people around them. If you are looking to get a pet for your child and want to start them off on the responsibility trail with something relatively simple, then this is the place to begin.

There are three basic types of guinea pigs that you will find in pet stores. There are those that have large tufts of fur and are quite bushy - these are called the Abyssinian variety and are extremely popular. The most common version though is the smooth-coated guinea pig where the fur is glossy and short. The third variety is the Peruvian, with long and silky hair that touches the ground. Their characteristics are all the same but no matter what you do, make sure you read up on these animals before you get them home.

Boarding & Lodging for Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs hate being alone so if you are trying to buy or adopt one, consider getting a couple instead, at least. They are extremely social creatures and love to live in small groups for the sense of security it provides and for the sense of companionship. Guinea pigs also multiply rapidly so ensure that you are picking up the same species if you don't want to end up with little guineas running all around.

When picking the cage, think of it as four-square feet per guinea pig that's going to stay in it. That gives these animals enough space to move around and do their thing. Ideally, the bottom of the cage needs to be completely solid because a wire-base cage can result in legs getting caught between the wires and causing injury to the animals. Glass aquariums should never be used for these animals as they do not allow good ventilation. Line the bottom of the cage with some wood shavings or hay, which becomes the soft hay that these animals sleep on. Make sure that you aren't using pine or cedar wood shavings though, because these wood species might contain certain oils that are harmful to the animal.

Put in a few plastic exercise machines and you are all set to go with a basic cage. There will always be a large variety of objects you will find in a pet store, to put into your cages, but make sure that you are giving them enough space to run around in. As for the food, the best thing available our there is guinea pig pellets, commercially manufactured, that are stuffed with all the right nutrients. You feed your pets twice daily - morning and evening - and you can also give them some fresh fruit to nibble on throughout the day. Remember to not stuff too many things in there because they don't eat too much at a time.

As long as you are cleaning the cage regularly and removing all the small droppings or bits of food that are left behind, ever day, the cage should be clean and free of diseases. Once every week, you will need to change the entire base of the bedding, get in new shavings or straw and clean things up more thoroughly. Finally, the most important thing to remember is that you need your animals to be accustomed to you, your presence and your touch. You will need to move them around quite frequently, when cleaning the cage, and you do not want them to go into shock each time you approach the cage. Make sure you feed them by hand, quite often, and make sure you are not too loud around them.

A small rodent like the guinea pig can be extremely easy to take care of if you keep some basic principles in mind. Stick to those and you will find a wonderful companion who enjoys your presence around them and are extremely easy to take care of. After all, who doesn't love a cute little guinea pig?

Other Great Hobbies

DIY Plumbing Supplies

How to tune CB Radio

RC 3D Helicopter

Collectible Brands

Checkout