Guinea pigs make great pets for adults and children who are old enough to understand the need to handle them gently. Their lifetime expectancy is about five to seven years with appropriate care. As we know, providing good care for your guinea pig begins with a comfortable habitat.
- Guinea pigs need plenty of space. Experts recommend 7 square feet of cage for one and an additional 1 to 2 square feet for a second. Wire mesh cages allow for plenty of ventilation. But look for a cage with a solid -- not wire -- bottom to prevent injury to the guinea pig's feet. Place the cage in a bright room free of drafts with a stable temperature of 65 to 75 degrees.
- Use paper strips to create a 1- to 2-inch cushion on the bottom of the cage. Change this layer frequently to prevent odor and provide a healthy environment. Avoid cedar, sawdust, and corncob bedding, as they can lead to breathing problems for your guinea pig. Keep the cage clean and fresh.
- Furnish the cage with a place for your pet to hide, a small ceramic food dish, a water bottle with spout, and ramps and toys.
- Tunnels and chew toys are choices your guinea pig will love. But, make sure the toys don't crowd the guinea pig. It needs space to move around.
- Guinea pigs love company but not chaos, so don't place the cage too close to the television or stereo. They are social creatures and are happiest in pairs. But they also crave individual attention from you.
- A healthy diet includes fresh vegetables and fruits such as carrots, spinach and cantaloupe, as well as grass and alfalfa. Vitamin C is critical to a guinea pig's health. Try unsweetened, diluted cranberry juice. To ensure a balanced diet give your guinea pig pellets especially formulated for its dietary needs. Also consider vitamin supplements.
For more information on caring for your guinea pig, go to Smart Pet Guide. It's full of helpful tips that can help you keep your guinea pig -- or any other pet -- healthy and happy.