It’s not an easy feat when it comes to owning pets for the very first time. There are a lot of factors to consider for their well-being, and it is important to at least do some research before making this big decision!

Here’s a basic guide with some essential points to take note if you are a new guinea pig owner, or if you are intending to be one soon!

Disclaimer: This is only a basic beginner’s guide which allows you to understand what to look out for your guinea pigs (The information provided are based on research and experience with my 2 piggies – Muffin & Cookie)
Doing extra intensive research is highly recommended!

#1 Two is Better Than One

Guinea pigs are social animals that prefer to be in herds, or at least in a pair. However, the males and females should also be separated unless they have been neutered/ spayed. Before introducing too many guinea pigs in one cage, it is important to ensure that they are bonded to prevent fights. Muffin and Cookie are siblings and they have been staying together since they were young. Even though Cookie is slightly dominant over the other, they can still get along well. Introducing a third or fourth GP might be a little tricky though, and requires extra attention and effort!

#2 Minimum Cage Size

Most cages in Singapore pet shops are way too small to house even one guinea pig. Guinea pigs are very active and they like to do really cute things like Popcorning and Zoomies. Without a sufficient space for them to play and run around, they might fall into depression. A larger cage size also means less concentration of pee and poop, which equates to a cleaner environment for your piggies.

A C&C cage is highly recommended as it is affordable, and you can recreate different layouts and designs to keep your guinea pigs interested.

There are many websites that teaches you how to build a simple C&C Cage, but if you’re still not confident of building one by yourself, you can consider a “Guinea Pig ID” (@Guineathebuilder). The cage shown below is built by him!

Cage built by @Guineathebuilder

Refer to this guinea pig cage size standards if you have any doubts!

Source: Pinterest

#3 Bedding Choices

There are a few kinds of bedding choices, the most common ones are either disposable bedding, pee pads or fleece. Do not use softwood chips or shavings like cedar and pine as they are harmful to guinea pigs. I actually started with disposable paper bedding at the beginning, but the spot cleaning is difficult as the poop often gets hidden underneath. Moreover, the monthly expenses are pretty high as you have to change out the bedding very often.

GuineaDad liner is a highly recommended option by many guinea pig owners from community groups. While it has a higher cost, the expenses are lower in the long run as compared to disposable bedding/ pee pads. The GuineaDad liner is also a lot more absorbent which means easier spot-cleaning and a dryer environment for your piggies.

#4 Hay, Pellets and Vegetables

Hay should always be their readily available food source, along with a small bowl of pellets. Guinea pigs require a continuous supply of hay to maintain their digestion system, and it also helps to prevent their teeth from overgrowing. You can provide them with a variety of different hay blends such as Timothy hay, Orchard grass hay, Oat hay, etc to keep them interested, but Timothy hay should always be a main part of their diet. One highly recommended brand is Oxbow.

Guinea pigs also require Vitamin C, which can be supplemented by Vitamin C tablets or fresh Vegetables and fruits. Some common choices are lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, apples, blueberries and more. You’ll never run out of treats choices because there are so much that you can feed. But always remember to verify with trusted sources if you are unsure whether the vegetables are suitable for them.

#5 Cleaning

There are many people who underestimate the effort it takes to care for guinea pigs. Guinea pigs are known for pooping a lot, and everywhere. It is best to spot clean their cage at least once or twice a day, depending on the size of their cage.

If you are using pee pads, they should be changed out daily. For disposable bedding, you can remove the dirty bedding and replace with new ones daily, then change the entire batch out every 3-4 days. If you are using GuineaDad liners, you can sweep away their poop or simply vacuum them. Wash the liners in a washing machine every 4-5 days. The cage should be cleaned and wiped with vinegar solution at least once a week.

Guinea pigs do not require regular baths as they are prone to illnesses. It is recommended to check with your groomer or vet if you are unsure how to bathe them when required.

#6 Taking Care of Their Health and Well-being

Guinea pigs are fragile animals that can get sick easily. Some of the common illnesses include upper respiratory infection (URI), diarrhea, Vitamin C deficiency, urinary problems, skin problems and more. As guinea pigs are prey animals, they have the tendency to hide their symptoms, hence it might be too late when the guinea pigs start acting really weird. It is important to act quickly if you realise that something is amiss.

Source: GuineaDad

For more information about guinea pig illnesses, you can find out more here.

There is a lot more to learn than what is stated in this post. Hopefully this article can help you understand a little more about guinea pigs at a glance!

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