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A brief guide to the care of Cavies (aka Guinea Pigs)

Discussion in 'Small Animal Chat' started by CarolineH, Oct 4, 2009.


  1. CarolineH

    CarolineH PetForums VIP

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    Carolines' Cavy Care Sheet
    Housing
    The great thing about cavies is that they can live indoors or out!
    But beware! They do not like draughts, and if outdoor living, ensure there is a draught-free area for them to go to.
    A wooden hutch is traditional for guinea pigs out of doors, but plastic and wire frame cages are now widely available, though quite expensive, but suitable only for indoor use. Cover the hutch or put it inside a shed etc in winter as cavies do not like damp. In cold winter months provide plenty of hay for your cavy to keep warm in!
    Hot weather poses special problems for guinea pigs. As a general rule if we humans feel hot, then chances are so will our guinea pigs!
    Here are some quick-brief tips to help keep your pet happy in the summer.
    Always keep out of direct sunlight.
    Make sure they have a regular and fresh supply of water.
    If kept out of doors make sure cats or other animals cannot get in at them.
    Guinea pigs do not like drafts, so make sure they have shelter.
    Rabbits and cavies.
    Often cavies are housed with rabbits, especially at pet stores. It is a common practice, but the advice from most expert sources is - DON'T DO IT! If kept outdoors, they are often considered as company for each other but a rabbit has very powerful back legs which often do great harm to the more fragile cavy! Also, they are different species, and in general terms should not be kept together as their dietary requirements differ. Rabbits can be carriers of a bacteria called Bordetella Bronchiseptica which does not normally cause any problems for the rabbit but can cause pneumonia in a guinea pig! Although not all rabbits carry this bacteria, many do without apparent symptoms so therefore do not keep your guinea pig and rabbit housed together!
    Feeding.
    Cavies need vitamin C so rabbit food is entirely unsuitable for them! Feed them on proper cavy/guinea pig food and supplement this with lots of good quality hay and fresh vegetables DAILY along with a constant supply of clean water.
    Toys.
    Cavies appreciate cardboard tubes stuffed with hay and maybe big tubes to run through but on the whole, they just don't 'do' toys. Harness and leads are NOT suitable for caviies even though they may be sold for them! There are no safety standards for small animal equipment and the buyer must use their own common sense and not buy them! Cavies placed on the floor instinctively want to run and hide. They do NOT want to go for a walk with you and may panic and hurt themselves if restrained on a harness and lead. Also, exercise wheels and balls are NOT kind for guinea pigs. They will rarely use wheels anyway and will become quickly overheated and stressed if placed in a ball. All a cavy wants out of life is a comfortable home, a nice enclosed run for warmer weather in the garden and things to hide in as well as water and a proper diet. :)

     
    Piggie mum and Golden memories like this.
  2. Jazzy

    Jazzy PetForums VIP

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    Excellent post.:D
     
  3. emzybabe

    emzybabe PetForums VIP

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    good information! you should request to make a sticky thread like we have done in the rabbit forum. this way everyone can have input and give good links etc.

    on the rabbit and guinea bit, I would also add that rabbits may hump gunieas and brake there pelvises as they cant take the weight or the aggressiveness. also they speak different languages and cant understand each other, but will huddle for warmth. also they have massive differences in dietary requirements, by feeding your guinea pig often cheaper rabbit food they are missing out on the essential vitamin C that they cannot naturally produce like rabbits can, this can cause a variety of health problems including scurvy.
     
  4. CarolineH

    CarolineH PetForums VIP

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    Thank you to you both. It is simply a handout I used to give to new owners when I bred cavies. :) I just though I would share it on here as I no longer have to print it out due to keeping them all as pets now. I hope some may find it useful. It is only a starter as far as research goes and people should do more. The info is out there people - Go Google! :wink5:

    I don't mind at all if anyone else wants to add bits to it as Emzybabe has done as it is only meant as a basic guide anyway.
     
    #4 CarolineH, Oct 4, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 4, 2009
  5. CAZ37

    CAZ37 PetForums Newbie

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    Hi - great post. Do you have any advice on 2 storey hutches for guinea pigs? I got one a week ago but mine 2 just wont use the ramp.

    Any advice hugely appreciated!!
     
  6. CarolineH

    CarolineH PetForums VIP

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    Hi Caz37. Try putting bedding all the way down the ramp and then spreading their very favourite veg in small pieces up and down it. Make this the only place veg is put for a few days and they will soon realise that the ramp is good news. ;)
     
  7. pinkdiesel

    pinkdiesel PetForums Newbie

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    hi im looking at getting guinea pigs after christmas is there anything eles you should`t do cos i was going to get a ball and everything thanks
     
  8. CarolineH

    CarolineH PetForums VIP

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    Guinea pigs should never be put in exercise balls as I stated.:blush2: I know they are advertised on ebay etc as suitable but take it from me that they are most certainly not. Guinea pigs are shy animals who would sooner run and hide under neath things and in corners than charge around a room in a ball. They are better off snuggling on your knee on a towel whilst you groom them or feed them veg than playing with toys. In fact, guinea pigs just don't 'do' toys. Neither do they 'do' harnesses. Harnesses are a dangerous idea where the naturally nervous, panicky guinea pig is concerned!

    There's plenty of basic info in my original post. There is also lots of info online and some good guinea pig forums where you can find even more out. All it takes is a 'search'. :)
     
  9. georgefan

    georgefan PetForums Newbie

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    Hi

    I need some advice. I was given a pair of boy piggies in December 08, along with their two tier hutch which they love.

    They have fresh fruit/veg every morning and fresh food every afternoon. I also have a bottle of fresh water on both levels for them.

    The problem I have, they have started gnawing the ramp! Is there anything I can do to stop this? The way they are going they will eat through it and won't be able to get up to the upper level! Also it is only the ramp they gnaw, no other parts of the hutch at all!

    Thanks for any advice you can give

    Mel xx :confused:
     
  10. CarolineH

    CarolineH PetForums VIP

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    Hi there

    All you can do is reinforce the ramp by covering it with another piece of wood etc. Cavies need to chew and it will be extra fibre too. Always give your cavies plenty of new hay every day as chewing that helps to satisfy their urge for more fibre and may mean less chewing! This also goes for cavies who chew each others hair as well although unfortunately with some cavies that problem can become a habit.
     
  11. georgefan

    georgefan PetForums Newbie

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    Oh thanks for that, will give it a try.

    Is it worth me putting a piece of wood in the hutch aswell? and if so, is there a certain sort I should use?

    I also have 2 pairs of girls in 2 hutches and although they have nibbled their hutches a little, nothing on this scale!

    Thanks again

    Mel xx:smile5:
     
  12. CarolineH

    CarolineH PetForums VIP

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    Apple wood or willow is good. You can buy packs of willow sticks and willow toys aimed at rabbits and chinchillas in Pets At Home or online, Ebay? Also, simple, untreated offcuts of untreated pine and also parrot toy parts. Mine tend to prefer willow toys! I also give mine those 'Chubes' sold for rabbits etc. :) If the wood you get is straight from a tree, ensure that it is properly dried out. Oh and also, pine cones!
     
  13. georgefan

    georgefan PetForums Newbie

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    Hi

    Thanks for this, will visit pet shop this morning, and get some for them all~ can't treat one without the others lol!

    Thanks again

    Mel xx
     
  14. hazyreality

    hazyreality PetForums VIP

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    Definately willow balls to help with the chewing. My 2 boys have destroyed a whole willow ball that they got for xmas!

    *Heidi*
     
  15. Baby British

    Baby British PetForums VIP

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    Have recently acquired 4 piggies myself and didn't realise how often they need their nails clipping. It might be worth mentioning that in the OP and also a guide on the best way to do this if attempting it yourself.
     
  16. Emmily

    Emmily PetForums Member

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    I used to have three guinea pigs years ago. I was shocked one summers day to discover I'd been offering my guinea pigs warm water.

    Although the hutch was partly shaded, the front, which held the water bottle was in sunlight, the sun had heated not only the water, but the metal tip at the end which they drank from, so I had to find a way to shade the water bottle.

    For a tunnel for my guinea pigs, mostly for in their run, I had a couple of cut off piece of carpet tube, the thick cardboard tubes that carpets are delivered on; not sure they're classed as safe, but I never had any problems with them.

    Guinea pigs are my favourite small pet, we can't afford any more pets at the momnet, but would very much like to keep guinea pigs again, one day. :D

    (Hmmm though not sure how practical that would be with two terrier crosses :eek6:)
     
  17. PetsRUs

    PetsRUs PetForums Newbie

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    Another thing to remember when buying a guinea pig, there is no need to buy a luxury house or mini home for them to rest in. I was tempted too, but I bought a cheap plastic stool for only £1.00, and is bigger than a standard cage.
     
  18. CarolineH

    CarolineH PetForums VIP

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    I bought some small plastic storage boxes and cut doorways in one side of them. They may great hideys and are easy to wash plus no floor to be soiled. They just sit on the hay in the hutch or run.
     
  19. Jamie760

    Jamie760 PetForums Newbie

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    Sometimes, the stool may be to high for the Guinea Pig. You could buy a cheap plastic igloo, which gives them more comfort. I would also recommend those log tunnels. Although, when I give them floor time. I make cardboard houses and tubes, paper bags, newspaper tents, a cosy, cuddle cups and even a play tent.
     
  20. happysaz133

    happysaz133 PetForums VIP

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    They are available, but very dangerous to guinea pigs backs, so best to avoid them :)
     
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