Guinea Pig Learning Centre

Guinea pigs, also known as cavies, make wonderful pets. They are friendly, low maintenance and great with kids. So if you’ve been wondering about you’re little guinea pigs, then check out our helpful guinea pig info hub below:

HEALTH

Learn all about the common health issues, and how long do Guinea Pigs live for in our guide below.

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DIET

What’s the best food for your Guinea Pig, and what keeps them full and happy and healthy?

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FACTS

Where do Guinea Pigs come from, how many toes do they have and why don’t they sleep much?

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AS PETS

Great as pets and perfect for kids, but there are a few things that you should know about keeping them.

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CARING

Learn how to care for your cavvie’s so they’ll be healthy and happy, and it might just save you a trip to the vet.

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HOUSING

What’s the right size hutch, and do you keep your Guinea Pigs indoors or outside.

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BREEDING

Some important information you should know if you’re thinking about breeding guinea pigs.

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BEHAVIOURS

These furry little friends have a few weird behaviours, like freezing on the spot and popcorning.

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WHERE TO BUY

How much should you pay, and where’s the best place to buy your guinea pigs.

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Guinea Pig Health

Guinea Pig Health Information

01

On average, guinea pigs typically live for 5-7 years. The world’s oldest guinea pig lived to 15 years of age!

02

It is important to regularly groom your guinea pig to keep it clean and healthy. Brush your guinea pig occasionally with a soft bristled baby hairbrush.

If your guinea pig has long hair, their hair will need to be brushed and trimmed more regularly.

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Guinea pigs don’t need baths unless they get particularly dirty. They often lick themselves clean, similar to cats.

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You will need to trim their toenails when they get too long.

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Common health issues in guinea pigs include teeth issues, flaky skin, cysts, bumblefoot, bladder infections and obesity.

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Feeding your guinea pig well and keeping their home clean can help avoid many of these problems.

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Rely on your instincts and take your cavy to a vet to be checked if you suspect something is wrong.

See more info on Guinea Pig Health on this page here.

Guinea Pig Diet

01

Guinea pigs require a constant supply of high-quality hay. This keeps them full and also helps to wear down their teeth.

Buying a bale of hay from a farm supply store will save you money compared to buying lots of small plastic bags of hay from pet stores.

02

You can also give your guinea pig dry pellets. Eating too many pellets can lead to obesity and related health problems. Limit their pellet intake to the recommended amount.

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Buy pellets especially designed for guinea pigs that contain added Vitamin C. Guinea pigs cannot create their own Vitamin C so need it supplemented into their diet.

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Also feed your guinea pig fresh vegetables, including capsicum, spinach, carrot and cucumber.

See our full Guinea Pig Facts info page here.

Guinea Pigs Facts

Guinea Pig Facts

01

Guinea pigs don’t have a tail but they do have a tailbone!

02

Guinea pigs aren’t from Guinea. They originated in South American.

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Guinea pigs are born with their eyes open and with fur.

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Unlike other rodents, guinea pigs aren’t nocturnal. Rather than sleeping for a long time, they take lots of mini naps throughout the day and night.

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Guinea pigs have 4 toes on each front foot and 3 toes on each back foot.

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Guinea pigs can eat solid food from the day they are born.

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Guinea pigs eat their own faeces to help supplement their diet.

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When guinea pigs are happy, they get lots of energy and jump into the air. This is called ‘popcorning’.

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A guinea pig’s teeth never stop growing. They need to chew a lot to wear them down.

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In the 1600’s, guinea pigs were used for scientific testing. This is where the term ‘guinea pig’ in testing came from.

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Guinea pigs are NOT the same as hamsters.

See our full Guinea Pig Facts info page here.

Guinea Pig as Pets

Guinea Pig as Pets

Guinea pigs make great pets for all ages. Children love guinea pigs as they are cute and fun!

They are suitable pets for children as they are small enough to hold and help teach them the responsibility of looking after an animal.

It is a good idea to supervise younger children when holding guinea pigs to ensure they are handled gently and placed down with care.

Guinea pigs have friendly personalities. While they can be skittish, they are gentle and easy to approach. They are never aggressive.

Guinea pigs stay this way their whole lives, unlike other pets while can become less sociable as they get older.

Compared to other pets, guinea pigs are very low maintenance. They are well behaved, quiet, aren’t destructive and don’t require training.

They are also easy to contain and aren’t too expensive to feed or care for.

Simply feed them, clean their cage weekly and show them some love and they will be happy!

See our full Guinea Pig as Pets info page here.

Caring for Guinea Pigs 2

Caring for Your Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs are social animals. It is recommended to always have two or more living together.

This allows them to interact with one another and prevents them from getting lonely and sad.

An important (yet not so exciting) part of caring for your guinea pigs is keeping their enclosure clean.

It is best to do small spot-cleans daily and then a big clean out once a week or whenever the hutch gets too dirty.

If your hutch has a metal tray on the base, it is important to keep it dry to prevent rusting.

We recommend lining the tray with a layer of newspaper then a thick layer of absorbent material on top (wood shavings, shredded paper, etc.).

When it’s time to clean out, simply roll up the newspaper with the bedding material inside!

If you are traveling in the car with your guinea pig, whether it be a quick trip to the vet or a long drive on holiday with your family, it is your responsibility to keep it safe and comfortable. Invest in a proper carrier cage and line the base with a towel or cushion.

Consider the temperature inside the cage and don’t leave it sitting in direct sunlight.

If you are going on holiday but unable to take your guinea pig with you, hire an experienced pet sitter. Leave written instructions and emergency contact numbers, just in case.

If the worst happens and your guinea pig gets lost, check all around your house and yard. Guinea pigs are small and can hide in tiny, unsuspecting places.

Leave their cage open in case they come home while you are searching. Ask neighbours and place ‘missing pet’ signs around your neighbourhood.

See our full Guinea Pig Caring Guide info page here.

Hutches and Cages

A wooden hutch will keep your guinea pig contained, protected and warm at night. It should include an enclosed ‘house’ section for it to hide in and a larger ‘run’ section to play in.

Choose a hutch that is easy for you to access and clean. A hutch with large opening doors, an opening roof or sliding metal trays will make cleaning much faster for you.

It is a good idea to buy the largest hutch you can fit. The more space you give your guinea pigs, the happier they will be.

It can also save you money in the long run – many owners buy a small hutch at first then upgrade to a larger hutch later on, meaning they have to pay for two hutches.

Guinea pigs can live indoors or outdoors. Living indoors can help you control their temperature much easier, but it isn’t always practical for every household.

If they live outdoors, make sure they are warm in winter. You will need to bring them indoors temporarily on very hot days to keep cool, as they can die when they overheat.

Place your hutch in a space that it is easy for you to access. Choose somewhere that you can see and will visit often.

If you put your guinea pig in a far corner of the yard, you are less likely to visit and interact with it.

Inside your hutch, include a water bottle. Guinea pig water bottles can attach onto the side of the hutch and have a dripper on the bottom with a ball bearing inside.

This only allows water out when the guinea pig licks on it, preventing wastage and mess.

Also include a food dish for pellets and vegetables. Hay can be placed in a manger to prevent the guinea pigs from going to the toilet on it.

See our full Guinea Pig Cages info page here.

Guinea Pig Behavior

How Guinea Pigs Behave

Guinea pigs have some very cute natural behaviours!

Because guinea pigs are prey animals in the wild, they are naturally very timid. If they hear a loud noise, they are likely to freeze on the spot (as an attempt to blend in and hide).

They are also very flighty. Even if they know and trust you, they will often quickly run away if you approach suddenly or try to pick them up.

When guinea pigs are happy, they get a sudden burst of energy. They dart around quickly then will jump into the air! This is called ‘popcorning’.

Whilst they are quiet in comparison to other types of pets, guinea pigs do make noise. Different noises show different feelings.

A soft “wheek wheek” noise means they are happy, a high-pitched squeak can mean pain or that they want something, and a low-pitched purr means they are annoyed.

See our full How Guinea Pigs Behave info page here.

Breeding Guinea Pigs

Breeding Guinea Pigs

Some people choose to breed their guinea pigs to sell them for profit. Others just wish to grow their guinea pig family.

If you have never bred guinea pigs before, it is a good idea to seek advice from an experienced breeder or a vet first.

You will need a mature boar and sow. Slowly introduce them to make sure they are comfortable with each other.

Leave the pair together for up to 48 days then separate them. Make sure the sow has a comfortable area to rest and check for signs of pregnancy.

Sows are pregnant for 9-10 weeks before they give birth. They typically have 2-5 pups per litter.

After 6 weeks, male and female pups will have to be separated to prevent them from breeding. If you plan to sell the pups, you can sell them from 8 weeks old.

See our full Guinea Pig Facts info page here.

Abyssinian guinea pig breed

Guinea Pig Breeds

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Abyssinian

Abyssinians have a unique coat with rosettes across their whole body.

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Agouti

Agoutis have a smooth coat. Each hair has two shades of the same colour.

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Alpaca

Alpacas have a fluffy, curly coat. They require regular grooming to prevent tangles. They are sometimes called Merino Peruvians.

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American

American guinea pigs are the most common breed. They have a smooth, short coat that is easy to care for.

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American Crested

American Crested guinea pigs, sometimes just called Crested, have a single rosette on their head.

Their rosette is typically white while the rest of the fur is another colour.

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Coronet

Coronets have a long, smooth coat that needs regular brushing. They have a crest on their foreheads.

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Himalayan

Himalayans have a white coat with brown ears, feet and nose. They look like Siamese cats!

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Lunkarya

The Lunkarya, aka. Lunk, is from Sweden. They have a rough, long and curly coat.

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Merino

Merinos are often called English Merinos. They have curly fur on their body and a crest on their head.

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Peruvian

Peruvians are one of the oldest guinea pig breeds. They have long straight hair with two rosettes.

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Rex

Rex guinea pigs have a rough, woolly coat with droopy ears and a broad head.

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Ridgeback

Ridgeback guinea pigs have a smooth coat with a ridge of hair on their back.

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Satin

Satin guinea pigs have a glossy and reflective coat. This is because they have hollow hair shafts that the light can pass through.

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Sheba

Shebas are sometimes called Mini Yaks because of their long, messy hair. They were first bred in Sydney, Australia.

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Silkie

Silkies are also known as Shelties. They have a long, smooth coat.

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Teddy

Teddy guinea pigs have a coat that is short, fuzzy and dense. They look like little teddy bears!

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Texel

Texels have soft, thick hair that grows in ringlets. They are similar to a Silkie but with curly hair

See our full Guinea Pig Breeds info page here, and click here to see our guide on where to buy Guinea Pigs.

Hamster versus Guinea Pig - what's the difference

Guinea Pig vs Hamster

Both have for many years been popular choices around the world as family pets. But they are completely different although related animals.

They are both from the rodent family but Guinea Pigs are a domesticated animal that belongs to the Cavia genus.

Whereas Hamsters include some 25 species (including Syrian hamsters, dwarf hamsters, hand hamsters) in the Cricetinae genus.

In general terms, hamsters are more closely related to mice than Guinea Pigs. Guinea Pigs originate from South America whilst Hamsters come from Asia and Europe.

See our full Guinea Pig vs Hamster info page here.

how much are guinea pigs to buy

Where to Buy

Guinea pigs are a cheap pet. They typically cost between $10-40 to purchase.

Guinea pigs can be purchased from private breeders or in pet stores.

It is important to select a reputable seller so you can be sure you are getting a healthy guinea pig that has been cared for and socialised properly.

Ask lots of questions and make sure you feel comfortable with the seller. If you are after a specific breed, it is best to buy from a breeder. Pet stores rarely have various breed options available.

Guinea pigs can also be adopted from rescues and animal shelters. This is a great option as it helps a guinea pig in need of a family.

It is a good idea to buy or adopt two (or more) guinea pigs from the same place. They will benefit from being kept together and going to their new home with a familiar friend.

Unsure where to buy guinea pigs? Check out our list of breeders and rescue groups here.

See our Guinea Pigs for Sale page here.