The Basics of Taking Care of a Guinea Pig

Kaitlyn Melton, Journalist

Housing and Basic Necessities

Guinea pigs may be small animals, but they need lots of love and care to be healthy and live long lives. The first step a new owner needs to take even before they house a guinea pig is the cage. Angela String, the author of “How to take care of guinea pig,” says, “look for a cage that is a minimum of 7.5 square feet.” Your guinea pig may look small when you get it, but they can grow rapidly and need plenty of room. Once you get the cage, you need to purchase bedding. To make cleaning the cage easier, make sure to put down about 2 inches of bedding. Always have fresh, clean water ready with easy access for your pet. There are “water bottles” in every pet store that houses guinea pigs that will attach to the cage. For food, String suggests that you feed your guinea pig ⅛ cup of high quality ‘guinea pig’ pellets. You should also have Timothy hay for your guinea pig daily. The RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) says in “How Should I Keep and Care for my Guinea Pig?” to, “ensure your guinea pigs have a constant supply of grass and/or grass hay (such as Timothy, Oaten, Barley, or grass hay).” 

Cleaning your Guinea Pig and Their Cage

It is suggested that you clean your guinea pig’s cage once a week. When you clean the cage you must take out all of the bedding and wash the cage with warm water and soap. Make sure to wash out all of the soap before placing new bedding in the cage. When you clean out the cage, it is a good idea to also wash out the food bowl and wipe down anything inside the cage including plastic toys or hiding places.

One good practice is to brush your guinea pig often, about once a day or once a week at the very least. Another tip is to get special shampoo sold at PetCo specifically for your guinea pig and bathe them once a week by following the instructions on the bottle.

Caring Tips (including toys and treats)

One of the most important caring tips for your guinea pig is to get a salt lick for them. A salt lick is a block or circle of minerals or salt that your guinea pig needs to stay healthy. RSPCA says, “A dietary source of Vitamin C because, like humans, guinea pigs cannot make their Vitamin C from the other food substances.” You can also feed your guinea pig vegetables such as celery along with the pellets as a treat. If you do not want to give them vegetables, you can always go to a pet store and buy treats specially for them.

You must show love to and care for your guinea pig at least once a day, guinea pigs are social creatures and they need attention. Make sure to exercise your guinea pig. One way to do this is to put all of the cords up and proof a room to make sure your guinea pig is safe and then let them run around for 30 minutes to an hour. You can purchase any toys approved for use by the RSPCA or read the labels at your local pet store. Enjoy your guinea pig, but make sure to give them the attention and care they need.