Guinea pig best practices

So, you want to own a Guinea pig? 


OK. You're at the right starting point. Here are some basic care instructions that you will need to know about raising a pet Guinea pig.


First and foremost, is a Guinea pig the right pet for you? 


Guinea pigs are exceptionally amazing Critters! But they are a critter that requires some patience. This starts with getting them to bond with you. This bonding process can take anywhere from weeks to months but this is dependent upon the piggy. Rest assured that once you have bonded with your piggy, it will all have been worth it!


Guinea pigs are easily frightened and this is due to them being a prey animal. It is their natural instinct to be on guard, so keep this in mind.


At home, Guinea pigs are very social animals so it is imperative that they have a friend with them. This means you will need to have at least 2 piggies at home.

 

Here are some things to consider for the Piggy Cage: 


You will need to make sure you piggy has adequate room to run around. Most marketed Guinea pig cages in stores and online are MUCH too small. As a best practice, a 10 1/2 square foot cage would be the ideal minimum size for 2 Guinea pigs.  Levels are not really necessary for Guinea pigs. For that matter, ramps can actually be dangerous to your piggy. On the other hand, they love floor running space! That means more "popcorning" for them! :)


For bedding material, you can choose between different wood shavings such as kiln-dried pine or aspen but NEVER cedar shavings. Fleece and towels are also good bedding. For the base of your piggy's home, there should not be wire bottoms. A hard flat surface is best for the cage bottom that the piggies walk on.


Iside their cages, Guinea pigs need hides. These make for both little homes to sleep in as well as a retreat if they feel threatened. A best practice is to have at least one hide per Guinea pig. Furthermore, they loves tunnels, chew toys, as well as other guinea pig safe toys. A HUGE misconception is that Guinea pigs need wheels. Please do not use a wheel, or the run about balls. These have a huge potential to injure your Guinea pig and or kill it. 


Here are some things to consider for your piggy's food and water:


Provide fresh clean water every day- dropper water bottles are best so the water stays clean. 


Hay is very important for Guinea pigs and it should always be readily available for your piggies.  Best practice - If you see their hay pile getting LOW, then refill it. Don't ever let it run out! Hays such as Timothy, Orchard, Oaten, Barley, and Alfalfa are all good. Something to keep in mind - Young Guinea pigs will need Alfalfa hay for extra calcium. Adult Guineas should only have it as a treat.


The next important item in their diet is fresh Vegetables. This is crucial so that Guinea pigs can get vitamin C . You can give your Guineas 1/8 of a green bell pepper every day to ensure they are getting enough vitamin C. It's a great, healthy treat!


Leafy greens are also very important. Red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, kale, and romaine lettuce are Guinea pig favorites! One cup of fresh greens/vegetables per Guinea pig is recommended. You can give it split up throughout the day or as 1 big feeding. If you are unsure if a vegetable is safe for your Guinea pig, a best practice is to check first!  Fruits can also be given in moderation but be careful because these are high in sugar.  Again, a best practice is to always check to make sure the fruit is safe before giving it to your Guinea pig. 


Next up - pellets. You will want to find a good quality pellet food for your Guinea pig. They will need 1/8 of a cup once a day.


Do not add the guinea pig Vitamin C drops to their water.  This is not necessary and may deter your Guinea pigs from drinking.  If you can't get them the fresh vegetables one day, you can give them Vitamin C Chewable tablets for Guinea pigs. That will give them what they need!


Thanks for reading and as always please reach out with any questions!

Squirrel, our female Broken Agouti Guinea Pig

Rat Care Best Practices

  

Rats are pure joy to own! For those of you who are considering adding a rat to your furry family and wondering how to best care for them, this is the page for you! Others of you who are rat veterans but looking to sharpen up your Best Practices of Rat Care, thanks for stopping by!


Best practices for your Rat Cage/Pen/Enclosure 


There are so many options nowadays for a "cage" for your rat. There are options to either buy and already built enclosure as well as plans readily available for DIY projects.  Here are a few things to keep in mind when picking the enclosure that works best for you and your pets:

The minimum suggested space for 2 rats is 30”x15”x18”. However, more space is always better!

A minimum of 2 water bottles is recommended.  If you have multiple rats, you should have more water bottles. 

The best rat home is a home that provides a rat with options for entertainment. Add tons of accessories for climbing, hiding, etc. Again, there are so many options for buying or DIY- Have fun with it!

Here are some recommendations for bedding/substrate/litter

- paper based bedding (shredded newspaper, for example)

- Fleece or other like material 

- Aspen shavings or kiln-dried pine

- NEVER use cedar or pine shaving that haven't been kiln-dried as the oils/sap in them are too harsh for the rats coat and skin and can cause health issues

- Clay cat litter can also be dangerous so avoid this as well!


Diet


The majority of your rat’s diet should be a good quality rat block or pellet. This should be always readily available to your rats inside of their enclosure

Fresh veggies offered in small amounts every day

You may also give fresh fruits in very small amounts daily to every other day. Be careful what fruits your rat is given as some may cause tummy issues


Reward treats or treats for occasional spoiling. These are generally high in fat so these should only be given sparingly and in moderation.  


Exercise/Playtime


One of the most important and one of my favorite rat care items is... Exercise or free time! 

This means getting them out of their enclosure and spending time with them. This is when you will bond with them and learn about each of their personality and simply makes for a happier rat.

I believe in a minimum of 1 hour playtime outside of their enclosure every day! Of course, more is always better! Your rat will love to be involved with you as much as you let them.


Good luck!

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