If you’ve decided to turn a part of your place into a house for guinea pigs yet you’re new to this and know little about the dos and don’ts of housing and breeding such animals, this post might be of help.
Raising a guinea pig as a pet does not require only the right guinea pig food but several other items as well as a certain environment and lifestyle in order for the animal to thrive and live healthily and happily. To help you provide your guinea pig with a complete and healthy house, we have highlighted below several things you should keep in mind.
Guinea pig house dimensions
Before getting a guinea pig, you need to make sure you have the right cage to house the pet comfortably. Therefore, the first thing to take care of is the environment in which the pet will live. Even if it is generally recommended to provide a single guinea pig with a minimum of 7.5 square feet of cage space, if your place allows for a bigger house, be sure your pet will appreciate it.
Although such pets are usually raised in a single floor cage, you can always go for a multi-level house as long as the height of the cage is not too great since falling can lead to injuries. In case your guinea pig is older, you might want to go for a flat house to avoid unwanted accidents.
You will find two housing systems including the hutch and the pen systems. Choosing the right one for your needs depends on why you want to house guinea pigs. Is it for breeding or just for companionship?
Hutch systems are preferred by breeders since they require less space, can be handled with greater ease, and provide a higher temperature in the winter. Pen systems are also used by some breeders.
The latter provides the animal with more space and is easier to clean. In case you intend to keep a guinea pig as a pet, you will find cages specifically designed for that in many pet stores.
Cage bedding and other considerations
Once you’ve selected the cage that best suits your needs, you should also consider the cage bedding. Make sure you buy or make a cage that has a solid bottom that won’t harm the pet’s fragile feet and that is tall enough to accommodate the bedding.
Pet stores offer guinea pig bedding that was designed with this pet’s needs in mind. If you want to make the bedding yourself, then you can use paper to create a few inches of bedding.
The only downside of paper is that it holds smell, which means that it should be replaced twice a week or even more often depending on the humidity level in the room. However, it is the safest bedding for such pets as other materials may cause respiratory problems.
Guinea pigs are sensitive to temperature. That’s why they are usually kept indoors where it is warmer. However, they should be exposed to sunlight. Alternate indoor and outdoor housing and ask your veterinarian about the right temperature for your guinea pig.
Also, make sure that when you take your guinea pig outdoors, the cage won’t allow the pet to escape and there are no other bigger animals such as cats around. When kept indoors, place the pet somewhere where it can interact with you and your family in order to get the animal accustomed to human interaction.
Getting the right cage and finding the perfect location for guinea pigs may prove to be more difficult than feeding them since their diet includes grass and many pet stores offer ready-made feeds. Therefore, feeding such pets is nothing complicated.
Fresh grass hay such as timothy hay has many benefits. Other foods guinea pigs feast on include alfalfa, spinach, green clover, lettuce, and dandelion. You can also add grains to the pet’s diet and thus go for wheat, corn, and oats. A feeding of green food at least once a day is usually recommended.
If you want to raise guinea pigs for breeding, you need to consider that when buying the house. It should be designed in such a way to accommodate several pets. The recommended age for breeding in the case of female guinea pigs is 3 months when the animal has around 400 grams.
The gestation period lasts between 65 and 70 days and there is no breeding season, so they breed year-round. Usually, a female guinea pig (the sow) can give birth to 3-5 piglets and that happens at night. Even if it happens rarely, guinea pig babies can be born during the day as well.
Use hay bedding for the sow and for the babies to ensure a comfortable place. Check the babies to make sure they are born without any problems and then leave them with their mother to bond. Always ask for a veterinarian’s help if you notice unusual behavior or other issues.
Caring for the guinea pig babies
If you’ve reached this point and your sow has given birth, there are some things to keep in mind to make sure everything is alright and the little ones develop healthily. The babies should be kept with their mother for six weeks or so.
During this time they will still depend on their mother for food yet at two or three weeks of age, they should start to try solid foods. Make sure that the babies get used to human interaction and handle them regularly during these weeks.
When they are 6-week old, male babies should be separated from their mother and sisters as they are able to breed at that age. If you want to sell the piglets, consider doing so when they are around 8-week old.