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Guinea pigs: what should we know when keeping them?

The guinea pig is a rodent weighing 1.5-1.8 kg, which not only children but also adults like to keep. These cute creatures have an extremely sensitive sense of hearing, but cannot boast good eyesight or hearing. Guinea pigs are clever pets that remember their name and can learn various simple tricks, so raising a guinea pig can bring a lot of fun into your life. Of course, it is always important to make sure that the pet is well cared for – in this case, a guinea pig can live up to 8-10 years.

The guinea pig cage

A 60×40 cm guinea pig cage is the most common choice, but the more spacious it is, the better. It is most convenient to choose a cage with a retractable bottom, as this will allow you to clean the cage easily (it is recommended to do this every 3-4 days). The cage should have a special drinking bowl for rodents: if you choose a built-in bowl, the pet may spill the water or put litter in it. Water at room temperature is best and should be changed every 2-3 days. The food bowl should be made of a material that will not be penetrated by the guinea pig’s sharp teeth (e.g. you can choose a ceramic bowl that is fixed inside the cage).

Which litter to choose?

Guinea pig keepers usually opt for wood chip litter, but it is important to consider what it is made of. Hardwood shavings may be the best choice, as the oils in pine or cedar shavings give off toxic substances that can affect the health of guinea pigs. Do not choose very fine sawdust, as this may get into the rodent’s eyes or respiratory tract. You can also choose paper litter, which is normally made from cellulose fibres. This type of bedding is very soft and can easily be used to make a cave. Newspaper shreds should never be used, as they contain toxic substances that can be disastrous for your pet. Cat litter is also not suitable for cats – if a guinea pig tastes it, its digestive tract may become blocked.

Feeding a guinea pig

The main meal for guinea pigs is „hay or grass. In addition, guinea pigs can be fed a variety of fruits, vegetables and greens. It can be quite challenging to balance a guinea pig’s diet on your own, so it is not a mistake to choose a special feed tailored to guinea pigs that contains enough of the necessary nutrients, vitamins and minerals. It is advisable to feed your pet twice a day (morning and evening), ideally at the same time every day.During the warm season, you can add dandelions or clover to your yard, but it is very important to make sure that there are no poisonous plants among them. If you decide to treat your pet, you can give it a strawberry, a strawberry, an apple or a watermelon slice (without seeds). Guinea pigs are also very fond of carrots and cucumbers – if you give them vegetables that you have grown yourself, you will not need to peel them (just wash them). If you buy your vegetables from a shop, it is advisable to wash or peel them very thoroughly.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is essential for guinea pigs, but guinea pigs cannot produce it themselves. Liquid vitamin C can be an excellent choice and should be sprinkled on the food daily (daily intake – approximately 5 drops). You can also give foods rich in this vitamin (beetroot leaves, basil, celery, spinach, lettuce leaves). However, if you choose a balanced feed for guinea pigs, you will not need to give extra vitamin C – it will be present in the feed.

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