How to Pick a Guinea Pig?

Guinea pigs are popular pets especially in families with kids. They are small animals that can bring a lot of joy. If you consider buying a guinea pig, there are some aspects you shouldn’t neglect before making the decision. We talked about what to focus on when picking a guinea pig with a long-time breeder Andrea Kroftová.

What should we think about before getting a guinea pig?
Anyone considering buying a guinea pig should remember it will never be only one animal, but at least two. Guinea pigs are very sociable and when they live outdoors, they live in large communities, so they need a companion of their kind. Also, everyone should know very well why (s)he is getting a guinea pig. If the animal is primarily supposed to be a family pet and owners don’t plan on breeding, the best idea is to get guinea pigs of the same sex. 

So it’s better to get a pair of guinea pigs. How should we pick the right guinea pigs for the pair? 
The most suitable combination is two males, females can sometimes be moody, especially because of estrus which occurs every fortnight. A pair of a male and female for a shared space can’t be recommended at all. Females are get in estrus soon after giving birth and repeated pregnancy may result in significant health problems. However, there might also be problems with two males of course, so it’s good to get two siblings or a pair of an adult and a very young male.  

How to prepare for guinea pigs at home?
In my opinion, there are two stages of preparation. The first one includes preparing the household and its current members for the new pets. At this stage, you need to find out if anyone has an allergy to hay, fur or dust and if all the members agree with getting new pets. After dealing with this, stage two comes. You need to think about the space for guinea pigs. The best thing is to find a spot in your flat or house with stable temperature, enough daylight and without draught. Guinea pigs can live in a cage, in a plastic box or in a special kind of cage that has high walls on three sides and a front side with removable grating. Thanks to it, they won’t throw away so much litter, but they will have enough fresh air. 

What should we get for guinea pigs?
Besides a suitable living space, we should definitely get them a bowl. Some heavier, ceramic or stoneware pieces are perfect as they don’t easily tip over. Also, a drinker is necessary. It doesn’t matter if it has a piston or it is a tube, guinea pigs will learn to drink from both. It’s also useful to have a carrier box to be able to travel with guinea pigs easily and also a playpen with some safety net can come in handy. On the other hand, I don’t recommend buying various accessories which might look cute but can be dangerous. It’s for example grating hay container or grating bowls for fruits and vegetables or merry-go-rounds. 

What rules are associated with feeding?
The most important thing is to make sure guinea pigs have a day-and-night access to water or suitable dry food that doesn’t pose burden to their organism with unsuitable contents. Vegetables, fruits, fresh grass or sticks for chewing are great for diversifying the diet. 

What should we find out about a specific guinea pig before we bring it home?
How much information you receive depends on where you get your guinea pigs. The best idea is to get guinea pigs from a specific breeder or from an exhibition where you can learn anything important – where they come from, what environment they are used to, what food they used to get and their origin. If you decide to buy a guinea pig from a shop, it’s very likely that you will only have very limited information.

What else is useful to know about the guinea pig’s origin?
It’s important to know the condition of the guinea pig. What care it gets, if it gets quality food and other details that will play a role in its health. 

How can we say a guinea pig we are about to buy is healthy?
A healthy guinea pig is energetic. It runs in a cage, it is interested in its surroundings and it is a little curious. If it hesitates to move, stares in the corner or doesn’t react to touching, you should think about the reason. Its eyes also say a lot – they should be clear and bright – and so should be its nose. There shouldn’t be any bold patterns or external parasites visible in its fur.

 

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