Caring for Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs normally grow to about 20 – 30cm in size and their life-span is between 4 – 7 years.These sweet little creatures have certain housing and feeding requirements, for their over-all well-being.

You need a good sized hutch for them as they very active and require a lot of running space, on a solid surface. Please ensure the cage is escape-proof. Try to get the biggest hutch you can for your furry little friend. Place their cage in a space that has no direct sun-light, draughts, moisture, wind or extreme temperature changes.

Although they love to run around and exercise is important for them, they also need a safe, warm place to hide away and sleep. So, ensure that you have a hiding place for them in their cage. Hay is an important part of a guinea pigs’ diet as well as being essential for their bedding. Timothy Hay is preferable, do not use Alfalfa as it is too high in calcium for guinea pigs. The bedding should be 3 – 5cm deep so they can snuggle, which they love. Other materials you can use for bedding are; plain shredded paper (NO ink), wooden shavings or Aspen bedding (please ask our in-store assistants which would be preferable). Please DO NOT USE any kind of Cedar shavings, as it is not good for their respiratory health.

Clean the hutch regularly, removing wet spots from the bedding on a daily basis and completely replace the bedding with clean materials on a weekly basis. Clean the food and water containers on a daily basis

When keeping small animals, it is best to keep different species separated. Male and female guinea pigs should not be housed together. Adult male guinea pigs will fight, so do not house them together.

You can clean your guinea pigs with a damp facecloth and brush them with a soft brush. Guinea pigs keep themselves clean, so they generally do not need baths. You will need to brush a long haired guinea pig more often than a short haired one. Their nails also need to be clipped approximately every six weeks.

Guinea pigs are energetic little creatures and need a lot of running space. They will show signs of “Popcorning”, whereby, they bounce, spring and leap around in shorts spurts. It may at first seem odd to you, however, this is a good sign of health and happiness.

As energetic and lively as they may be, they are also very easily startled, so do not make any sudden moves or noises around them and keep them away from any sudden temperature changes. When handing them, you need to place your one hand over their shoulder, which will lead them to crouch, then use your other hand to gently scoop them up from behind. ALWAYS hold them with both hands and keep them close to your body. PLEASE ALWAYS ensure that your hands are clean and detergent free when handling these little ones.

Have safe chewing treats at their disposal; i.e. a fruit branch and wooden chews. This helps with health of their teeth which grow continuously.

ALWAYS check the health of your pets on a daily basis. These are both the good and bad health signs in a guinea pig:


  • Sociable
  • Makes Squeaky noises
  • Alert
  • Active
  • Healthy looking coat
  • Good appetite
  • Drinks water
  • Bright eyes
  • Walks without lethargy or difficulty


  • Subdued
  • Lethargic
  • Loss of appetite
  • Drinks less
  • Weight loss
  • Hair loss or bad coat
  • Diarrhoea or unclean posterior
  • Sores on the skin
  • Any eye or nasal discharges
  • Overgrown teeth and gum bleeding

PLEASE consult your vet as soon as possible if your guinea pig is experiencing any of these symptoms


Always feed your guinea pig high quality pellets designed specifically for them, (ask our in-store assistants for advice). Their diet should also consist of fruit, vegetables and hay. Vitamin C is highly important in their diet and you may ask our in-store assistants for a supplement, however, they can derive their vitamin requirements from fruit and vegetables as well. Their fresh food should be of the following:

  • Cauliflower leaves
  • Carrots and carrot tops
  • Pears, Apples (NO SEEDS)
  • Celery
  • Melon
  • Corn
  • Broccoli
  • Chick-weed
  • Spinach
  • Dandelions
  • Cabbage
  • Silver beet
  • Grass (not lawn clippings)
  • Sow thistle
  • Dock

Please DO NOT feed them ANY of the following as they are poisonous:

  • Hemlock
  • Buttercup
  • Pink clover
  • Rhubarb leaves
  • Potato leaves
  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • ANY form of junk-food or sugar

Their fresh food should not stay in their cage for longer than 24 hours.

ALWAYS make sure that they have clean and fresh water every day, which should be available at all time to them throughout the day. Instead of a shallow bowl for water, ensure that they have a hanging water sipper bottle, as it is less messy in their cage.

Taking your guinea pig out of its hutch every day is important, as it will help cement the bond with you and your pet. These animals need gentle love and affection daily.