Guinea pigs make great pets as they are so cuddly and friendly, their social inclination means they prefer to be in groups of 2-5. Just like humans, they are quite social creatures so it is important that you at least consider getting more than one guinea pig so that they can keep each other company.
Here’s how to care for them to keep them super fit and healthy and how to introduce new guinea pigs to the group to keep them as happy as they can be:
1.) Cage size
Make sure you choose a cage that is big enough for all of the guinea pigs you want to keep and that they have enough room. A good sizing guide is this one:
We know that guinea pigs like to chew through everything in sight, so making sure the cage has plenty of things like sticks and paper/wooden blocks will keep them all happy!
3.) Cage placement
Ensure the cage is in a comfortable area of your house, preferably one where the climate and temperature can be controlled (18-24 degrees C is optimum) and in a quiet place. Loud noises will scare the guinea pigs. It is also highly recommended to purchase a proper guinea pig hutch that is designed with your little ones happiness and well-being in mind – proper layout, safe construction and insulation etc.
Try to aim to clean the cage thoroughly once a week with a quick spot cleanup every day. This includes their water and food storage containers, it is important to maintain cleanliness throughout.
5.) Fresh water and food supplies
It is important for your guinea pigs to have a fresh supply of water at all times – either put a bowl of water inside the cage or use a hanging water feeder that they can drink from whenever they need to. Replace the water with fresh water every day. You can also give your guinea pigs a treat once or twice a week with some slices of fresh fruit. They will love it!
6.) Introducing new guinea pigs to the group
Keep any new guinea pig separated for 2-3 weeks so you can check for things like lice, fleas and other things that you don’t want spreading to the existing group.
Choose the sex of any additional guinea pigs wisely. It is not advisable to get more than one male per group of females as they will tend to fight for dominance, so it’s usually recommended where possible to keep all females or all males (neutered and spayed of course).
When satisfied all is ok – gradually introduce the new guinea pig to the group and monitor for positive signs of interaction. Follow your guinea pigs lead – they will tell you how the introduction is going. If you notice lots of fighting, squabbling, nipping etc, then you may want to give them some more time apart and re-introduce gradually. Over time this will settle down as they get used to each other.
Finally, make sure that YOU spend time with all of your guinea pigs. They love human interaction and it’s important that they all get an equal share of your love. Take them out for cuddles, playtime and any treats. This will help keep them happy and feeling loved.