Guinea pigs are Herbivores (plant eaters) and so they need a diet high in fibre. They should be provided with fresh grass and good quality meadow/oaten hay, which should make up about 80% of its total diet. The remaining 20% should consist of fresh vegetables, herbs and (small amounts) of fruit. The interesting thing about guinea pigs is that they cannot synthesise their own Vitamin C! This means they need to be fed foods that are high in Vitamin C (eg kiwi fruit, strawberries, carrot, capsicum, broccoli, orange, kale) so they do not miss out on this essential nutrient. Alternatively they can be given a specially formulated Vitamin C tablet once a day.
Guinea pigs should also have access to a small amount of good quality pellets daily, and owners should avoid feeding dried fruit and nut mixes as they are very high in fat and sugar and can cause health problems. Bread should also be avoided.
Your guinea pig should have easy access to fresh, clean water daily- either in a bottle or bowl.
Desexing your pet guinea pig is very important, especially if you have males and females together! Sexual maturity is reached quite early (2 months in females and 3 months in males), so they either need to be separated or desexed. Dystocia (or difficulty giving birth) is common.
Guinea pigs can get skin mites, urethral stones or blockages, and respiratory disease. To try and avoid these problems from developing, please ensure your pet is checked yearly by a veterinarian.
Dental disease is common in guinea pigs, and is usually due to inappropriate diet. This usually affects the cheek teeth, causing them to develop ‘spurs’ which can be very painful. At the annual health check, the vet can examine your guinea pig’s mouth to ensure good dental health.
Being a prey species, it is important to make sure your guinea pig has a place they feel safe enough in to call home. They can live indoors or outdoors, provided they are protected from extreme heat and cold.
If outdoors, it is important to ensure their enclosure is protected from mosquitoes and other insects, and the floor should be a strong solid surface such as wood with a thick layer of regularly changed straw for them to sit on to ensure they do not develop foot problems.
Good ventilation is very important to prevent respiratory disease caused by ammonia in the urine.
More than one guinea pig can be housed together, as they enjoy being social. Initially there may be some fighting as they establish a pecking order, which should subside after a few days to a week.
Guinea pigs should have supervised play in unfiltered sunlight regularly to keep them in good shape.
This information sheet was created to be used as a general guide only, and should not be used to replace a professional veterinary consultation.