Back in March I became a guinea pig mum and now eagerly awaiting becoming a guinea granny! This week is Guinea Pig Awareness Week (25th-29th September 2023) so I thought I would spread the word about the fabness of guinea pigs!
The guineas are so excited every morning and what a racket they make! Rustle a bag of salad and they yell for attention. Of course, try and handle, stroke or pick them up and they will run away…!
I would recommend rehoming and rescuing guinea pigs and this is the theme of this year’s Guinea Pig Awareness Week. All of our guinea pigs have been rehomed from other families who could no longer commit to their needs.
Guinea pigs are actually quite a lot of work. They poo 100 times a day so need to be cleaned out daily. They need their nails clipped once a month or more often if required, plus regular grooming depending on their coat/fur. But they are so cute and spending time with them is very rewarding, especially watching them popcorning with happiness!
We have two guinea pigs who are currently pregnant (planned!) but this is a dangerous time. 20% of guinea pigs die in pregnancy or birth and this risk significantly increases after the age of 7 months. Guinea pigs should be bred before this age due to the fusion of pelvic bones.
Guinea Pig Awareness Week aims to highlight 5 areas which are key to keeping your guineas happy: diet, behaviour, health, companionship, environment.
Diet: guinea pigs’ main food source is hay and this should be unlimited. They also use hay to burrow and play so lots is needed! Daily fresh veggies should be provided alongside vitamin C rich pellets. Guinea pigs also eat their own poo to extract even more nutrients.
Behaviour: guinea pigs are prey animals so should be treated gently. You should also be mindful of keeping them safe from other pets such as cats and dogs. As mentioned above, guinea pigs love to burrow in hay for warmth and to feel secure. Guinea pigs are awake for about 20 hours a day so need entertainment or ‘boredom busters’ as well as company.
Health: dental health is very important and chewing helps to control tooth growth. Correct sexing is important to avoid unwanted pregnancy. Look out for bumblefoot which sounds cute but is actually deadly. Be aware of ringworm, fleas, mites, flies and tics. It is important to regularly groom longer haired breeds and claws should be clipped monthly.
Companionship: in Norway it is illegal to keep single guinea pigs. They thrive in pairs and females can live in larger herds. Bonding is a gradual process so it is important to take it slowly an watch our for signs of aggression.
Environment: guinea pigs should spend an hour outdoors each day. Their home should be large enough and have enough space for the guinea pigs to spend time together whilst also having opportunities to stay separate.
I hope Guinea Pig Awareness Week celebrates these wonderful creatures while educating us humans!