How to choose a guinea pig

Guinea Pig FAQ

  • Do I have to vaccinate my guinea pigs?
    No, unlike rabbits, guinea pigs do not need to be vaccinated.
  • Do I have to have my teeth cut regularly?
    Guinea pigs that do not have congenital malocclusions do not require regular teeth cutting. Proper feeding of hay, vegetables and green fodder is enough for the teeth to be sufficiently worn down. However, if dental problems arise due to age or a congenital malalignment, regular visits to the vet are necessary.
    You can find more about species-appropriate nutrition here.
  • My guinea pigs don't cuddle, why? Maybe they don't like each other?
    Guinea pigs who are comfortable usually don't cuddle. Young animals are an exception. On the contrary, pronounced cuddling in guinea pigs rather indicates that they are afraid that they are cold or it can also be an indication of an illness.
    Read more about this here.
  • My male hums at my female and sneaks after her? Does he not like her?
    On the contrary. :-)
    The male is very interested in the female and shows advertising behavior typical of guinea pigs. If you have several female guinea pigs in the group, you can also observe the behavior while appeasing quarrels between the females. Read more about this here.
  • When do guinea pigs reach sexual maturity?
    Males reach sexual maturity around 3 to 5 weeks of age, females around 4 to 6 weeks of age.
  • My guinea pigs chirp like a bird at night, why do they do that?
    The reason for the chirping is not clearly known. It is assumed that it is a sign of stress that is shown, for example, in times of great social stress following socialization.
  • Can I also keep guinea pigs of different breeds together?
    It is easy to keep guinea pigs of different breeds together, especially if you put young animals together. With older guinea pigs that you want to socialize, some breeds may have misunderstandings due to their different fur structures and therefore different body language, if they have never had contact with guinea pigs of other breeds earlier in their lives. If guinea pigs have already got to know young animals of different breeds at the breeder, there is no problem with that.
  • Can you only keep siblings together or also babies from different litters?
    Guinea pigs don't just get along with siblings. When putting young animals together, it does not matter whether they come from the same litter or from different litters.
  • The hair of the long-haired pig is always eaten off. What can I do?
    It happens again and again that hair is eaten in long-haired pigs. Babies of long-haired pigs practically always eat their mother's hair off. But it can also occur in adult animals. In this case one should check whether there is malnutrition. It is also important that the animals have enough hay. Trimming your hair regularly can alleviate the problem somewhat, but there is generally nothing you can do with avid hair eaters.
  • Do I have to bathe my guinea pigs regularly?
    No, guinea pigs do not need to be bathed per se. If they are kept clean enough, they will not develop an unpleasant odor either. However, there may be medical reasons for taking a bath. Read more about this here.
  • Which branches can I give my guinea pigs to gnaw?
    Guinea pigs are allowed branches of hazel, birch and unsprayed fruit trees, and small amounts of willow branches.
  • I'm afraid to have my kid neutered! What complications can there be?
    In principle, you are always better advised to have the castration carried out by a veterinarian who has experience with guinea pigs. Guinea pigs are sensitive to anesthesia (more on this here) and correct pain management after castration is also important. It can happen that a guinea pig refuses to eat after the operation. Furthermore, an abscess can form as a result of the surgery. You can read more about castration here.
  • Is it true that a guinea pig needs to be fasted before an operation?
    No, that is not correct! Guinea pigs must be provided with hay and water until immediately before the operation. You can read more about this here.
  • I would like to have my female mating one day ...
    Before bothering with such a thought, one should first be aware that it is quite possible that complications occur during pregnancy or during labor and the female dies. Mating should always be left to breeders with an appropriate background in genetics. Unfortunately, too many guinea pigs are already waiting in animal shelters and private emergency wards for a new home. You can read more about this topic here.
  • Should I have my female mated?
    No, there is no reason that females should become pregnant. On the contrary, the risks far outweigh them and there are already so many guinea pigs waiting in animal shelters and private emergency stations for a new home that should definitely be avoided from ill-considered reproductions. Read more about this here.
  • How big does the cage have to be?
    The cage size depends on the number of animals you want to keep. According to the Austrian Animal Welfare Act, a base area of ​​1 x 0.6 m is for two animals and another 0.2 m2 prescribed for each additional animal. However, these are minimum requirements that are only sufficient if the animals are allowed to run free in the room every day. We recommend 0.5 m per animal2 Plan in floor space, if possible more. You can read more about cage design here.
  • I have a hay allergy. Can I feed my guinea pigs without hay?
    Hay is an important part of the guinea pig's diet and unfortunately there is no alternative to hay with a species-appropriate diet.
  • Don't guinea pigs get much tamer when kept alone?
    No, how tame a guinea pig becomes depends on the character of the animal and the time you spend with the animals. Keeping guinea pigs individually is cruelty to animals and is prohibited by the Austrian Animal Welfare Act! Read more about this here.
  • I have a single guinea pig - what possible new forms of socialization are there?
    If you have previously kept two animals and one of the two has died, it is usually best to take back an animal of the same sex as the deceased animal. For an adult buck you should only ever put one baby buck. In most cases, a neutered buck will be happy to have female company. You can either add a female or a castrated buck to a lonely female. Read more about this here.
  • Aren't guinea pigs and rabbits ideal partners?
    No, guinea pigs and rabbits are far from ideal partners. In fact, both animal species have nothing to say to each other and both guinea pigs and rabbits suffer from this type of husbandry. Read more about this here.
  • Which bedding should I use?
    It is best to use commercially available litter made from softwood chips. But there are a wide variety of offers in pet shops. You can find a scatter comparison test here. Very important, cat litter has no place in a guinea pig cage!
  • How do I know if the hay is of good quality?
    High quality hay is best recognized by its aromatic smell. It should also be as green as possible and not too dusty. Moist or moldy hay must not be fed under any circumstances. Read more about hay here.
  • What do guinea pigs need in addition to hay?
    The most important feed component is fresh juice feed (vegetables or green fodder). It is important to meet the guinea pigs' vitamin and mineral needs. Guinea pigs also get some of their fluid requirements through the juice feed. Feeding all of the hay is therefore never sufficient. Read more about this here.
    Concentrated feed such as grain or pellet feed, on the other hand, should not be given at all or only in very small quantities. Read more about this here.
  • My guinea pig suddenly stops eating, what should I do?
    A guinea pig that does not eat is always in a potentially life threatening condition and deserves immediate veterinary treatment. It may also be necessary to feed the animal immediately with a pulp, e.g. Critical Care, Herbi Feed or a similar special feed, until you can go to the vet the next morning, for example. Read more about this here.
  • My guinea pig is not hungry today. That's not a cause for concern, is it?
    Guinea pigs do not fast! An animal that does not eat is seriously ill and immediately deserves veterinary treatment. Guinea pigs do not eat less (or nothing at all) because they are too hot in summer.
  • My guinea pig drinks so much, why?
    How much guinea pigs drink varies greatly from person to person. In lactating females and occasionally in extreme heat, it is normal for the animals to drink more than usual. Otherwise, increased drinking could also be an indication of diabetes or thyroid problems. Excessive drinking can also be a sign of boredom.
  • My guinea pig is so skinny, why?
    If a guinea pig loses weight, an illness can be the cause. The guinea pig should then be taken to a veterinarian who has experience with guinea pigs as soon as possible. It is important to have your teeth checked in addition to the general health check. Weight loss can also be an indication of a thyroid problem. It is best to weigh guinea pigs regularly in order to detect any weight loss early on, and make sure that all animals come to the food and can actually eat them.
  • How old do guinea pigs get?
    Guinea pigs live on average 5 to 7 years old.
  • I have two lugs and I want to expand my group. Can I add a third lug?
    That's not a good idea. If you really want to expand the group, you should add two baby jacks at the same time - but at the risk of being left with two groups of two in the event of an argument. With two goats who get along well, it's best to stay with the two animals - and enjoy them.
  • Can I still get an older animal used to a new partner?
    Yes! Since guinea pigs are definite group animals, it is important to bring a partner to an older animal. It is best to choose an animal of the same sex as the deceased animal. For an adult buck you should only ever put one baby buck. A buck at an advanced age can only be expected to be castrated after consulting the attending veterinarian. If the (castrated) buck has been with a female up to now, he will be happy to have female company again. If a lonely female has been in male company until now, the newcomer is best male again. If the female has been in a group of females up to now, it is worth considering adding a female again. If the lady isn't too old, she's probably also happy about male company. Read more about this here.
  • My female guinea pigs are arguing, what can I do?
    It is important that the cage is big enough and varied enough so that the animals can avoid each other. A certain amount of fighting can be hormonal (especially in spring) and generally goes away. If you keep young females, at the age of six months to a year they reach a phase in which they make up the hierarchy. During this time, there may be more disputes. In the case of females who are not particularly well-disposed towards each other, it is worth considering adding a castrated buck as "referee" (if possible, no early neutering).
  • My male guinea pigs argue, what can I do?
    For the buck posture you need space (for two at least 1 m2 Footprint, more is better). The cage or enclosure should also be varied enough so that the goats can avoid each other. In some cases, neutering the inferior buck can help, but that's not a panacea! During puberty there can be violent rank disputes, in which one should only interfere if the animals injure each other or one is constantly harassed by the other. You can read more about buck posture here.
  • My child wants a pet. Aren't guinea pigs ideal for children?
    No, guinea pigs are only suitable for a family with children if the parents want guinea pigs, are willing to take care of the animals and teach the children how to handle guinea pigs correctly. Putting sole responsibility for guinea pigs on children can easily end in animal suffering, no matter what some parenting guides say. Tips for parents about guinea pigs can be found here.
  • Can our guinea pigs go on a trip together with the guinea pigs of my child's friend in the garden?
    No, this is not a good idea. If two pairs are brought together in this way, the bucks will generally start fighting immediately.If you bring two uncastrated males together with females, the female or female can firstly be mated and secondly it may be that the two goats that previously lived peacefully together no longer get along. Even if "only" females come together, in the best case scenario this means only stress for the animals.
  • My child has head lice! Can our guinea pigs be infected with it?
    No, there is no risk of infection.
  • Can you get worms in guinea pigs?
    No, this is generally not possible.
  • Can my guinea pigs get swine flu?
    In principle, there is a possibility that almost every influenza virus can be transmitted from humans to pets and vice versa. However, there is no particular risk of infection if the usual hygiene measures such as washing hands before and after contact with animals are observed in the event of illness. However, sick children should not have too close contact with the animals.
  • Can't I easily leave my guinea pigs alone for the weekend?
    No, guinea pigs need fresh juice feed regularly and at least twice a day. If you want to leave the animals alone for the weekend, you need someone to come and feed them. Putting a large amount of fresh food in the cage for guinea pigs before the weekend is grossly negligent and can even be fatal for the animals.
  • My guinea pig has died, what do I do with the dead animal now?
    Dead guinea pigs can be given to the vet or to the animal body recycling department (there are also offices in the federal states). If you have your own reason, small animals such as guinea pigs can be buried in many cases if you comply with the relevant legal requirements of the district. Alternatively, there are also animal burial companies or you can use the services of an animal crematorium.