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Guinea Pigs

Guest Author - Diana Geiger

The guinea pig, or cavy is a darling little fur ball that is neither a pig nor from Guinea. Excuse me? Where did the guinea pig get its name then? Well, I think it is mostly conjecture but it is believed that the guinea pig was named guinea, because the sailors got the guinea pigs from the Andean Indians in South America, and sold them for one guinea each. The name pig is because the little darlings squeal just like a little pig.


However they got their name they are very docile and gentle. They are also unbelievable cute. Guinea Pigs are naturally curious and enjoy exploring their surroundings. They are rarely aggressive. Relatively easy to care for and come in a wide variety of colors, markings and coats. Guinea pigs make an outstanding first pet for children helping them to learn to love and develop responsibility for someone other than himself or herself.





Guinea Pig or Cavy








Breeds
There are several varieties of guinea pigs, but the five most popular are; American, Abbyssinian, Peruvian, Silky, American Crested and Teddy.

American - short, smooth-haired cavies

Abbyssinian - a shorthaired cavy that has "whorls" in their coat, which are referred to as rosettes

Peruvian - longhaired cavy with a coat that parts down the center of the back.
American Crested - a shorthair breed with a single "whorl" of a contrasting color on the forehead.

Teddy - a coarse, short, and thick coat with "kinked" hair shafts without ridges or rosettes


There are different varieties within each breed; these varieties have different colors and markings.


Purchasing Your Guinea Pig
A healthy guinea pig will be alert and active. When you put your hand into the cage the guinea will run to the other end of the cage. A sick guinea pig will sit motionless. The droppings of a guinea pig should be solid. Look for signs of diarrhea in the cage. Diarrhea is a symptom of a possible contagious bacterial infection. Make sure the guinea pig is free from lice and skin conditions. Look for bare patches in the fur. Check the nose and eyes for signs of discharge. The eyes should be bright, shiny, and alert.


Housing and Accessories
A guinea pig should never be housed in a cage with a wire floor. A guinea pig will get his or her feet stuck and break its little legs. You should provide as big as cage as possible but at least a minimum of two square feet per guinea pig. The tiny little doors on the side make it very difficult to remove the guinea pig from the cage. I like the cages with the hinged tops. A cage with a removable tray on the bottom makes it a lot easier to clean and disinfect the cage. I donít like using a glass aquarium with guinea pigs. They just donít provide enough air circulation. The glass aquarium isolates the guinea pig from its surroundings and makes for a very unhappy guinea pig.


I found a guinea pig cage that is amazing especially for space, ease of getting to the guinea pig, expansion, ease of cleaning and sanitation. Read some of the reviews available along with the five star rating. The cage is expandable easy to attach a second cage or more. You can buy a top for it if you need one, you can get dividers. This is a totally personalized cage for your guinea pig. See at bottom of cage.



The guinea pig will need a water bottle and a food dish. Guinea pigs chew the tube of the water bottle so make sure you pick out a water bottle with a metal tube. Guinea pigs backwash into their water bottles, and because of this, containers must be cleaned and disinfected daily. Pick out a food dish that is heavy. The food dish will be easily tipped over as they nose and frolic around. Baby guinea pigs like to sit in their food dishes and then end up soiling their food. Better yet, would be a dish that mounts to the side of the cage.


You will need to mount a hayrack to the cage to provide clean fresh hay for the guineas to chew on; an important part of their diet. The best hay for guinea pigs is Timothy hay.


Provide your guinea pig with things to do. Toys, rocks, bricks, sticks, and good sized PVC tubes. The rocks and bricks not only provide stimulation for the guinea pigs but also helps wear down their claws on the rough surfaces. Of course, you will find many commercial toys that do the same thing.


When bonding with your guinea pig it is often useful to give them a soft article of your clothing with your scent on it. Make sure it is cloth with no threads or strings the animal can strangulate. Later providing this article of clothing will give your pet comfort when you are not home.


Bedding
Bedding is essential for a guinea pig. The bedding is a place to play, go to the bathroom, sleep, as well as to provide insulation for warmth. Pine or cedar bedding is unsafe for small animals. Both contain oils that will harm the little animalís respiratory system.


In my opinion, Timothy hay is the best bedding for guinea pigs. The fresher the hay is the better. Fresher hay is less stiff and has a much more pleasant odor for odor control Timothy hay is also an excellent food source for the guinea pig. They will have a great deal of fun tunneling though it and playing in the hay.


My second choice would be aspen shavings. Aspen is a hardwood and does not have the strong oils that cedar and pine has. If you are using aspen, the bedding will have to be changed frequently, because it doesnít control odor very well. If you can't find it you can find it at Amazon.


There is safe, commercially available bedding that work pretty well. Care Fresh is made out of wood pulp. To me it has the appearance of shredded egg cartons. Care Fresh works very well for odor control. It is safe to breathe and doesnít cause injury if a small amount is ingested. Care Fresh also makes cleaning the cage pretty easy.


I donít like using clay cat litter or many of the pellet varieties of bedding because guineas are inclined to consume litter/bedding, this litter can cause impaction and other problems.


Pet guinea pigs like a warm cozy bed. It makes them feel warm, safe, and comfortable.



Nutrition
Guinea pigs are vegetarians. They will need a pellet diet for guinea pigs NOT rabbits. Guinea pig pellets are nutritionally balanced for guinea pigs. They will also need a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables but feed these sparingly. An important part of your guinea pigs diet will be fresh hay. Though pellets have a very small amount of hay it is not enough to keep your guinea pig healthy. Timothy hay is best. Regular grass hay will do the trick if you mix in some Timothy hay. Alfalfa hay is high in calcium and can cause bladder stones.


Guinea pigs do not need mineral or salt blocks. These blocks can in fact harm a guinea pig causing bladder stones.


Guinea pigs require an outside source of vitamin C since they cannot convert glucose to ascorbic acid. This means they canít manufacture or store vitamin C. They will require vitamin C every day. Some producers of guinea pig pellets will tell you their product contains vitamin C but vitamin C breaks down so rapidly and pellets are stored a long time so the C is no longer viable. A pelleted diet doesnít contain enough vitamin C. A guinea pig will require 10 mg. of C daily and a pregnant or nursing guinea pig 20mg. You can purchase liquid vitamin supplements theyíre pretty easy to administer. Just donít squirt it down their throats you can aspirate your cavy.

They need plenty of fresh filtered water. Water must be changed daily.


Supplement your guinea pigs diet with fresh fruits and vegetables in moderation. Too much can cause diarrhea. The following foods are safe for your pet and your cavy should enjoy them. Of course not every animal is the same, and just like us, prefer some foods over others.


Supplement apples, bananas, bread, broccoli, carrot greens, carrots and baby carrots, celery (cut into small pieces first), cilantro, cucumber, dandelion greens, grass, green & red bell peppers, green leaf & romaine lettuce, kale, kiwi, mustard greens, oats, oranges, parsley, raspberries, spinach, and tomatoes.


Treats may be fed in moderation; and can include cheerios, vegetarian dog biscuits, and commercially treats available treats for guinea pigs.


Unsafe foods include long celery stalks (the "strings" in celery are difficult to digest); cut them into small pieces, iceberg lettuce (high in nitrates, no nutritional value) any unshelled nuts or seeds (guinea pigs can choke on the shell fragments) raw beans (poisonous) rhubarb (extremely poisonous) potato peels with green (the green is poisonous.)


Summary
The guinea pig is a very special little pet that is highly social. Paying strict attention to their special dietary needs and keeping their cage and accessories clean and sanitized you will enjoy your pet for a long time. Never put a guinea pig on a wired floor cage. Give them adequate space in their habitat, with every animal I always say bigger is better. Remember that guinea pigs do not perspire, and cannot be exposed to temperatures of over eighty-five degrees. Above all enjoy your pet guinea pig!

A special section on Guinea Pig Health Information which includes: Guinea Pig Guinea Pigs - Cavy including...

Nail Trimming and Teeth
Grooming
Handling, Bonding and Training
Health
Antibiotics which are toxic to your guinea pig










Guinea Piglopaedia: A Complete Guide to Guinea Pig Care Guinea Piglopaedia: A Complete Guide to Guinea Pig Care (Complete Guide To... (Ringpress Books))







Ferrets: A Complete Guide available in paperback and Kindle. By Diana Geiger (me:) Five star reviews!





Ferrets: A Complete Guide - Paperback

Ferrets: A Complete Guide - Kindle






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Content copyright © 2014 by Diana Geiger. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Diana Geiger. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact BellaOnline Administration for details.

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