The average life span of a guinea pig is between 5 to 7 years.
Guinea pigs should ideally be kept in pairs or larger groups as they are social animals (same sex pairs or female with neutered male).
They must not live with rabbits as they can get badly injured by a rabbit’s powerful kick.
Guinea pigs need exercise too so make sure you have an enclosed run in the garden or a room inside that they can use to explore (free from cats/dogs and wires).
Like humans, guinea pigs need vitamin C supplemented in their diet so they should be fed on guinea pig specific dry food and plenty of veg/dandelions/grass as an extra bonus!
Guinea pigs breed very quickly, gestation being only 10 weeks. They usually have 2 to 4 offspring. Baby guinea pigs can become fertile at only 3 weeks old so males must be separated from their mother and sister at this age so that they do not get pregnant again!
Guinea pigs can become very friendly loving animals if you give them plenty of handling, each with their own little character and are a joy to have around.
Health and fitness
As with all animals, the emphasis should be on maintaining clean hygienic conditions. Keep the cage in a place out of direct sunlight and away from anything that may cause rapid temperature fluctuations, such as radiators or draughts. If they are kept outdoors in the winter their hutch should be put in a shed or sheltered by the side of the house, with plenty of hay inside and newspaper over the wire window to keep draughts out.
The cage/hutch should be cleaned out thoroughly at least once a week, using a pet safe disinfectant. If your pet uses a particular part of its cage/hutch as a toilet, this area may need cleaning more often.
A healthy guinea pig will be active, playful and inquisitive. They should have a shiny coat, bright and dry eyes, and their ears should be clean and dry.
Signs of illness are: listlessness, mucus or crustiness around the eyes or nose, or even a loss of appetite. If you do notice any of the above, consult your veterinary surgeon.
You guinea pig’s teeth are constantly growing, so it is important to provide them with treats, wooden branches (they like apple wood) and mineral stones to gnaw on.
The top teeth should fit snugly over the bottom teeth when the mouth is closed.
Do they need grooming?
If you choose a long-haired guinea pig, you will need to groom it every day, or its hair will become matted and uncomfortable.
A small animal pet is for life, not until the novelty wears off, or your circumstances change.
If you are looking to rehome guinea pigs and the shelter has none available, please contact Windwhistle Warren a local rabbit & guinea pig rescue http://www.windwhistlewarren.org.uk/.