Guinea Pig Education
Guinea Pig Shopping List
What you need before you bring your piggies home, as well as items you will need to purchase monthly.
1) Cage: The first thing you need for your piggies is a cage. Unfortunately, the pet store cages are not only over priced, but also way too small for guinea pigs-they are essentially “glorified litter boxes”. In the wild, guinea pigs are animals of the prairie and grasslands. They do not typically climb, though they can. A guinea pig cage is better longer and wider than higher.
The recommended minimum size cages according to GuineaPigCages.Com are:
1 Piggy- 3’x2’
2 Piggies- 4’x2’
3 Piggies- 5’x2’
4 Piggies- 6’x2’
2) Hidey House: Guinea pigs tend to be naturally timid and skittish animals, and therefore need a shelter to feel protected. Any protective shelter will work; you may even want to have more than one. If you have more than one piggy, it’s best to have a large home for the pigs to share. Shelters come in plastic and wood. Some pigs will chew plastic. If you have piggies that chew plastic, it’s best to get a wooden home, so that they may not poison themselves.
3) Food Bowl and Water Bottle: Ceramic food bowls work much better than plastic bowls, because piggies will play with plastic food bowls and spill the food. Any size or type water bottle (plastic or glass) work well, just be sure to change water daily and AVOID "vitamin drops"!
4) Bedding: We use CareFRESH bedding. We’ve found it is the most absorbent of all the litters and beddings available, and is also the healthiest and doesn’t cause respiratory infections in piggies. Any non-wood/non-scented bedding will do though. Some people even use fleece and just wash it weekly. You can decide what bedding you like best and which fits your schedule better. Whatever bedding you choose, AVOID pine and cedar beddings.
5) Food: We primarily feed our piggies the Oxbow Cavy Cuisine. Despite what pet shops may tell you, the little “vitamin” and snack pieces found in “gourmet” diets are extremely unhealthy for piggies. Oxbow is great because it is just pellets-no extras.
6) Timothy Hay: Timothy hay is essential to a guinea pig’s diet. It provides them with plenty fiber, plus it helps to with keeping their teeth down. This always needs to be available to them, so make sure they have some in their cage at all times. It is important to get a good quality hay, such as Oxbow or Small Pet Select (be sure to use coupon code PCPR for free shipping!)
Guinea pigs, like most rodents, constantly need to chew, or else their teeth will over grow. Always provide your piggies with wooden chews-never plastic. Some pigs are okay with the colored blocks available in the pet shop, and others prefer a more natural wood-without colors or shapes. Test your piggies, see which wood they prefer, or simply stick with the natural wood-which is healthier. -Wooden chew pieces & toys (all natural like apple sticks, stay away from colored wood because of harmful dyes).
Guinea pigs love to play and explore. Get your piggies balls to push around in their cages. Some piggies like their balls with bells. Some piggies are even contented with toilet paper rolls. Get them tunnels and hammocks for them to explore in! The only thing you can’t get for them are the exercise balls, which are often used for hamsters, gerbils, mice and rats. These can cause severe back damage to your piggy. Experiment with your pigs-see what toys they like best and they’ll always be happy!
Veggies, Veggies, Veggies!
Not only do guinea pigs love getting fresh veggies, they NEED them on a daily basis. In addition to being a fed unlimited timothy hay and a high quality timothy-based pellets, guinea pigs also need a daily assortment of veggies and fruits. We feed all our piggies two different fresh foods twice a day. Bell peppers (red, orange, yellow, or green) and romaine lettuce must be given at least once a day. It's important to keep a variety of veggies in your piggies diet, and you can feed these veggies no more than every other day: parsley, cilantro, celery (cut in small pieces!), cucumber, basil, and spinach.
We feed a slice of red bell pepper to each piggy every day, as it contains a very high content of vitamin C, although the other colors of bell pepper are also high in vitamin C.
A few small pieces of carrots or fruit, such as apples, pears, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, melon, etc. can be fed every other day as a treat. Fruits contain a very high amount of sugar, so try not to feed too much.
AVOID: iceberg lettuce
Feeding Timothy Hay To Guinea Pigs
To understand why grass hay such as timothy hay is important for pet guinea pigs, you need to first understand a guinea pigs diet in the wild. In the wild, guinea pigs are constantly foraging and eating grasses and other fibrous material. This is a very high fiber, low protein, and low fat diet...and consequently pet guinea pigs digestive system is also designed specifically for this type of diet. In addition to this, a guinea pigs teeth grow continuously throughout their lifetime, and the only thing that will keep them worn down is chewing on fibrous material constantly.
With the understanding of a guinea pig's diet in the wild, it is very easy to understand why our pet guinea pigs need to have access to high quality timothy hay or other grass hay at all times. Pet guinea pigs that don’t have enough fiber in their diet, or perhaps have a diet that is too high in calories or protein are at risk for a number of different health issues. Feeding a high quality timothy hay is a great way to mimic their diet in the wild and thus will help to prevent these issues from occurring. The most important thing to understand is that guinea pigs absolutely need it in their diet on a constant basis.
Small Pet Select is a great online option to consider if you are looking to have good quality hay shipped direct to your door. They offer several options for fresh timothy hay, from super soft hay to more fibrous options. If you do decide to purchase from Small Pet Select , be sure to use the coupon code ‘PCPR’ to get free shipping. Every time this coupon is used Small Pet Select donates 10% of the sale back to Precious Critters Pet Rescue.