30 Guinea Pig Things I Learned

Random Observation/Comment #702: Having a pet during lockdown has been an awesome way to mix it up a bit.

Why this list?

After I found out my parents tested positive for covid, I went into active tactical planning (Thankfully, they’re better now). To destress, I really needed an emotional support animal. I didn’t really do any research, but I’m glad I had such an impulse purchase. Now that they’ve joined the family, I’ve learned quite a bit more. Highly recommended pet in my opinion, but I’m totally bias.

Besides the regular stuff at a pet store, we’ve gone a bit crazy on Amazon. Made a public shopping list if you’re curious what we got our little guys – https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/35TNLTSYCGEIT?ref_=wl_share

(I write lists as a learning process and way of life. This is not meant to be a comprehensive guide for pet ownership, but just a bunch of stuff I found useful and interesting.)

General

  1. Guinea Pigs are social creatures – Get 2. Two isn’t more difficult to take care of anyway. They’re super cuddly so your wife can hold one while you do (or she can hold two).
  2. Make sure they’re gender paired appropriately – A male/female will just give you lots of babies.
  3. There’s a lot of different breeds of Guinea Pigs and they’re all so adorable. I love their fluffy rosettes hair patterns.
  4. Pet store cages are often too small – You’ll want to upgrade from your first pet store purchase. We wound up buying the cage walls and building a section of our house for them. Unsure of they’ll likely just sneak their little bodies through the grating though.
  1. Give them space to run – Buy a fleece blanket liner and make a flexible 15-inch tall enclosure. We have the hexagon mesh for the living room while extending their cage space upstairs.
  2. Guinea Pigs don’t really bite. They may do a love nibble. Just try not to scare them with loud noises and fast movements.
  3. They make the cutest little noises. I’ve come to love them like cat purrs. They’re like mini sausages with feet.
  4. Guinea Pigs can live 4-8 years (which was super surprising). This was a factor when getting one.
  5. How much do they cost?
    1. Initial Pet Store purchase (food pellets, upgraded cage, cage bedding, and hay) – $200 + $50/pig
    2. Going overboard buying stuff and accessories – $300 or so of accessories.
    3. Additional Food / Veggies – I buy a lot more veggies in general (they just need one adult portion for the week), but this is relatively low cost.
    4. Total Recurring – I approximate $80/month for food and bedding. The recycled paper is pretty expensive, so we’re looking at other options with just cleaning washable pads or poop areas.

Food

  1. For food, they have standard pellets as a base with high in fiber hay to help them keep their poop consistent. Fresh water changes daily.
  2. Guinea Pigs love fresh veggies as snacks. Green Bell peppers have a good amount of vitamin C without being too sweet. It’s actually awesome our personal diet also has more ruffage. Fruit treats like apples, strawberries, and oranges once or twice a week. Veges three times a day. Lean towards mustard greens instead of iceberg lettuce to make sure they have a good amount of vitamin c.
  3. Avoid dairy, avocados, onions, nuts, and mushrooms. Absolutely no chocolate as it is poisonous to them.
  4. They graze quite a bit because of their small size and stomachs. They’ll eat when they’re hungry. You can just fill up their bowl and then feed them some veges when you eat.

Care

  1. Don’t get them a play ball (where they walk inside of it around the house) like for hamsters – They’re not hamsters. It’s bad for their back.
  2. They poop a lot of little pellets – On average a 100 or so a day. Make sure you hold them with a little towel or else they’ll poop on you.
  3. Surprisingly not a smelly pet – Cage cleaning once a week. Scoop up and partial replace bottom 1-2 inch layer of recycled paper bedding normally. Full wash and replace once a week. You can make a “kitchen” space for them and train them within a few weeks as long as their environment is consistent. When they first explore, they’ll just poop everywhere, but it gets more predictable.
  4. They love cozy covered corners – Get them a little house where they can feel safe. They’ll run everywhere.
  5. Super cuddly especially if you get them young and they’re used to being held. You can watch TV and pet them.
  6. Don’t be offended if they run away – They are naturally prey creatures so it’s normal that they’re scared.
  7. They love being in little pouches – You can probably take them around on short trips to the store. We’re considering buying them a little pet harness. Vinessa bought a hoodie with a guinea pig pouch that pops out for washing. Super cute.
  8. Pick them up around the waist without scrunching their legs – Hold their bottoms to make them feel safe.
  9. Make sure they’re in comfortable room temperature between 50F-80F.
  10. Trim their toenails consistently – They grow fast and will be easy to notice as they’re the clear part.
  11. If you do take them out and let them run around, make sure you can reach under your couch. It literally took an hour the first time.

Routine

  1. Set a routine – Clean and play at set times. We clean the cage in the mornings and feed them veggies during our meal times. Before we had a bigger cage, we would put them into the playpen or Vinessa would hold them during her work calls. At 4-5PM we bring them downstairs so Evie can see them when she gets home.
  2. Guinea Pigs are primarily nocturnal and active at night – They take little naps throughout the day.
  3. Try to play with the Guinea pig 1-4 hrs per day – Give them space in a playpen and cuddle during the early evenings.
  4. Greet them by calling their name consistently – They will come out and greet you if you follow the routine.
  5. We’ve found our Guinea Pigs to be super kid friendly – Evie loves hanging out with them and we have incorporated playing with them as an extra Non-TV Toddler activity.
  6. Now that I’m a #guineadad, I’ve embraced the joys of searching for more toys and treats. We’re getting towards that #guineapigcastle. Love the #guineapigsofinstagram community.

~See Lemons Love Guinea Pigs