14 Apr 2021
Five things all guinea pig owners should know
22 Mar 2021 | Daniella Dos Santos
This week is ‘Guinea Pig Awareness Week’. From 22-28 March, BVA will be joining veterinary professionals, and animal welfare organisations across the UK in helping to raise awareness of the health and welfare needs of these furry companions. In this blog, Daniella Dos Santos shares five bitesize tips for guinea pig owners.
As a small animal and exotics vet, I am regularly presented with guinea pig patients, as they can make great companion animals. Although guinea pigs are a common pet here in the UK, there are still some unhelpful myths surrounding them. There are plenty of reading materials out there for owners on guinea pigs. Here are five bitesize tips:
- Guinea pigs are social creatures and need to be housed with at least one suitable companion (same sex, neutered opposite sex), of their own species with plenty of space.
- Just like humans, Guinea pigs cannot make their own Vitamin C. Owners need to make sure they include this within their pets’ diet. Vitamin C can be found in certain pelleted foods, and some fresh vegetables. Vitamin C supplements can also be bought and added to their water.
- Contrary to traditional belief, guinea pigs and rabbits are not compatible and should not be housed together. Rabbits are much larger and can injure guinea pigs. They also have different diet needs, and there can be a risk of transfer of disease from rabbits to guinea pigs, for example Bordetella bronchiseptica.
- Guinea pigs are originally from the Andes mountains, which means that they are not comfortable in hot weather. Owners should be careful in the summertime and provide cool, shady areas, and plenty of water to protect them from overheating.
- Guinea pigs are very vocal animals! When they get excited about food for example, they can be heard ‘wheeking’, ‘purring’ or rumbling. Sometimes when they are happy, they can be seen jumping or ‘popcorning’.
Just like several other exotic pets, some of the health and welfare needs of guinea pigs can be overlooked or misunderstood. As a domestic species that is often chosen as a first pet for children, it is important that parents or guardians are armed with the right information on how to care for them. I am really pleased to see the launch of Guinea Pig Awareness Week and hope that this goes some way to help raise the profile of their needs.
Watch our video from Daniella on five fun facts about guinea pigs.
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