Looking after your guinea pigs
Average life span 4-8 years
Adult bodyweight 0.75kg-1kg
We at Brittas Vets find that guinea pigs make very good pets as they are quiet, clean, docile creatures.
Sexual maturity Males 9-10 weeks, Females 4-6 weeks.
NB. Sexual maturity is very early in guinea pigs and can take owners by surprise, if you have a litter get them sexed by a Veterinary Surgeon from weaning age which is 3-4 weeks of age.
Hutches should be 0.2m2 floor area per guinea pig, >30 cm high with wire mesh over the top to stop cats getting in. Use hay, straw, shredded paper or untreated wood shaving as bedding. NEVER use cotton wool type bedding as we at Brittas Vets have seen terrible injuries to rabbits and guinea pigs when strands of this cotton wool get wrapped around limbs cutting off blood supply and resulting in loss of the limb and usually death of the animal.
A nest box is not essential but plenty of bedding is required to allow animals to hide. Extremes of temperature are to be avoided; <5C or >25C, therefore provide shade in summer and perhaps move into a garage in winter.
Guinea pigs are social animals and can be housed together but be sure to know the sex of the animals to prevent unwanted litters.
Commercial pelleted food is preferred for Guinea Pigs. Our shop stocks Excel Guinea Pig food which is recommended by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons as the best.
Ad lib hay is required so it is ideal if used as bedding. FRESH green food should be added.
Vit C supplementation is required by all guinea pigs to prevent scurvy, a common problem where guinea pigs joints become swollen and painful, guinea pigs stop eating, moving and often die.
All guinea pigs must get at least 100mg of Vit C orally a day. This should not be put into their main source of water but syringed into them daily because it doesn’t taste nice. Dissolve ¼ of a Rubex tablet in a small amount of water and give this by syringe to a single guinea pig daily.
Water must changed daily and, if using bottles, must allow for at least 100ml daily per guinea pig.
Do not keep males and females together after weaning, including mother son combinations, if you do not want litters. Get the litter sexed by a Veterinary Surgeon at weaning which is from 3 weeks of age.
If you must house male and females together but still do not want a litter get the male neutered.
Females who have reached 1 year without being bred are no longer safe to breed from. At this time their pelvis fuses and a subsequent litter would have to be born by caesarean section which is a risky procedure for a guinea pig.
Pregnancy lasts for between 59-72 days in guinea pigs.
Keep pregnant females and sows and litters separate from others.
Average litter size is 3-4 offspring who are born in a very advanced state of development, with hair, eyes open and able to take solid food in the first 24hrs of life.
A sow comes into heat 24-48hrs after delivering a litter so she could breed again at this stage. This is another reason for keeping sows and their litters separate from other guinea pigs. After this she will come in heat every 15-17 days.
Sexual maturity is as above; 9-10 weeks for males and 4-6 weeks for females.
A guinea pigs teeth continue to grow through out its life therefore provide ad lib hay, fruit tree branches and or suitable guinea pig or rabbit toys to promote chewing. If the teeth become overgrown the guinea pig may stop eating and drool saliva. In this case bring the guinea pig into Brittas Vets or another Veterinary Surgeon who may suggest clipping the teeth possibly under sedation.
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