Guinea Pigs

Basic Facts

  • Males: 900-1200 grams
  • Females: 700-900 grams
Live span: 5-7 years
  • Herbivores
  • Diurnal
  • Males: 3 months
  • Females: 2 months
  • Gestation Length: 59-72 days
  • Young: Average 2-4 pups per litter, Mom will nurse the pups for about 21 days
Some reasons why Guinea Pigs make great pets
  • docile nature, their responsiveness to handling and feeding, and the relative ease of caring for them
  • However, they are “prey species” and do not handle stress well (Ex. Diet, temperature, or environment changes)
  • Husbandry
  • Housing
  • Solid Bottom, Single story
  • Best kept in groups (same sex or with neutered males)
  • Commercial bedding – paper ex. Carefresh, avoid cedar
  • Temperature: 60-75 F, avoid temperatures over 80 F
  • High Fiber diet
  • Require free choice grass hay, ex. Timothy
  • Alfalfa hay is not recommended (unless pregnant, nursing, or babies)
  • Pellets - low protein, low fat, high fiber
  • Fresh vegetables in moderation
  • Vitamin C
  • Guinea pigs require Vitamin C in their diet because they are unable to synthesize it
  • carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, pea pods, herbs, citrus
  • Guinea pig pellets are fortified with vitamin C however approximately half of the vitamin C content is lost 90 days after the diet is made
  • Treats in limited quantities
  • Free choice water in bowls or sipper bottle
When should my Guinea Pig see the Veterinarian?
  • Any new pet should be examined by a veterinarian, then have bi-yearly check-ups with a veterinarian as long as they are healthy
  • Below are some common problems seen in Guinea Pig and recommendations of when to see your veterinarian. If you are ever concerned about the health of your pet do not hesitate to call.
  • Common problems with Guinea Pig’s and Signs to watch for
  • Dental disease (malocclusions)
  • Guinea Pigs have teeth that continuously grow
  • Common signs- Drooling (slobbers), dropping food, decreased appetite and/or fecal output, poor coat quality, weight loss
  • Make an appointment to have your Guinea Pig’s teeth evaluated
  • Scurvy
  • Common signs – lameness, hemorrhage (bleeding), lethargy, anorexia, diarrhea, poor coat quality, bruxism (clenching or grinding teeth)
  • If you notice any of these signs make an appointment with your veterinarian
  • Heat stroke- EMERGENCY
  • Lying on their side, panting, drooling, pale gums, bloody diarrhea, cyanosis (glue gums)
  • Take to your veterinarian immediately
  • Enteritis
  • Diarrhea- feces smeared in cage or matted around the base of the tail
  • Can be caused by inappropriate diet or bacterial infection
  • Contact your veterinarian
  • Dystocia (inability to deliver the pups naturally) - EMERGENCY
  • Guinea pigs that are bred for the first time after 7-8 months of age, can suffer from dystocia, due to permanent fusion of the pelvic symphysis This can also occur with small litter size and large pups.
  • Signs of this include, labor lasting longer than 30 minutes, depression and lethargy, and you can also see bloody or discolored vaginal discharge.
  • In cases of dystocia, a cesarean section is indicated.
  • Pneumonia
  • Common signs- nasal and/or ocular discharge, dyspnea (shortness of breath), anorexia
  • Commonly caused by the bacteria Bordetella, which rabbits and dogs are often subclinical carriers
  • If you notice any of these signs contact your veterinarian
  • Urinary Disease
  • Urinary tract calculi (stones) and urinary tract infections are common in Guinea Pigs
  • Common signs: hematuria (blood in urine), pain when urinating, anorexia, huddled/hunched posture
  • If you notice any of these signs contact your veterinarian
  • Pododermatitis
  • Pressure sores on hocks & feet
  • Painful, reluctant to walk, vocalize frequently
Predisposing conditions: Obesity, wire bottom cages and/or abrasive bedding, dirty cages

This list contains the most common problems seen in pet guinea pigs. If your guinea pig is not eating, is acting lethargic, or if you are at all concerned call your veterinarian, they can assist you in determining if and when your pet should be seen.
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