Caring for guinea pigs (from an absolute beginner)

On Sunday the 22nd of July, I got some guinea pigs. I got two males named Rick (a white one who’s more on the timid side) and Morty (a fat brown one that’s currently being really grumpy).

Rick had two bald patches behind his ears which were really worrying at first. Eight days later we’ve decided he was just quite stressed because the hair is growing back (thankfully). If your guinea pig’s hair is coming out, he’s excessively scratching, etc. see a vet.

Yesterday we bought a new cage for them which is much bigger than the last one, which was just a temporary place for them to stay while we sort them out. The cage we got is called a cube cage which I got on Amazon for £29.99. You put the cubes together in any shape you want and you can add second layers, etc. So far it’s working but it doesn’t have a top which means I’ll have to close the door whenever I’m out because I don’t trust my sister’s cat. We introduced the cat to the guinea pigs and she just sniffed their cage, looked out the window and then buggered off.

I thought my guinea pigs were acting weird because they’re new but it was actually because their cage was too small. At first I didn’t think it mattered too much but now that their cage is twice the size, they’re so happy! It’s so worth it to buy a giant cage for them because they’ll be less irritable and won’t bite (biting is rare but it can happen)

My sister and I mistakenly thought that my guinea pigs headbutting our hands meant they enjoyed their head strokes but it was actually the complete opposite. I found this page to be really helpful when deciphering their actions and meanings and all that!

Being the unhealthy piggies they are, my guinea pigs so far only like grapes out of the few fruits/veggies I’ve fed them. They especially didn’t like courgettes and strawberries and left them until i cleaned them out next. They like parsley and hay (and hay is vital for guinea pigs!) This website really helped me figure out what’s best for them to eat because it also states how often they can eat it.

They must have a 24/7 supply of food and water. I prefer to use my water in a bowl because they can’t drink fast enough with the bottles and can dehydrate to death. The water bottles are a marketing ploy from pet shops and more often than not don’t actually work.

The bedding I use is hay because it’s good for them to nibble and doesn’t make their feet sore. I’ll never use cedar sawdust or straw because the oils in the cedar are harmful in multiple ways to guinea pigs (and can even kill them) and the straw hurts their delicate feet. I used pine the other day temporarily and it was fine but I wouldn’t use it for a prolonged period for the same reason as cedar (though it isn’t as bad).

My guinea pigs love hay with rose petals because they like to nibble on the dried petals. That’s worth looking into.

My guinea pigs really like big cardboard tubes to play in. Today I went to get some more toys with my birthday money and they love the tubes so much!! I got three from The Range for quite cheap and my guineas love them to hide in. Remember that guinea pigs, being animals of prey, need places and houses to hide in when they get startled.

If they fidget, headbutt, grit their teeth, hiss, or squeal loudly when being handled, then put them down. It’s best to let them cool off for a few hours rather than get bitten and have an angry guinea pig. Put them down before they get really annoyed because it’s hard to pick them up to put them in their cage when they won’t come near you.

If you decide to play with them, block up anywhere they can escape, shut doors, speak softly, etc. You don’t want to scare them.

This forum helped me a lot when I had unanswered questions about my guinea pigs, so I’ll link it here to help a future guinea pig in potential trouble too! Or just a curious person willing to learn about rodents.

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