New owner advice - What to buy, feed and everything else !!!
Getting ready for your new Guinea Pig !! What you need to buy !!!
Dont panic the basics are easy..........Read this whole page please.
Hi my name is Howard,i was an unwanted boar taken in by the rescue and my mum Helen adopted me,i now live with Betty.I love poop bags and have my own page on the web site.
There are lots of things to think about when considering having a lovely Guinea Pig like me,heres my top 10 !!
1:How many Guinea Pigs do you have room for ??
An ideal number for first time owners is a pair of Guinea Pigs either:
A boar pair - male
A sow pair -female
A neutered boar with a sow companion.
Please remember the following golden pieces of advice:
1:NEVER buy a single Guinea Pig.They are naturally social animals and its cruel to keep them alone.
2:NEVER buy a baby boar trio from a large pet retailer,despite what they say.It will end in tears, young boars falling out and worse still injuries and vet bills.We deal with this problem all the time !!!!
3:If you want to buy baby boars PLEASE do your homework on boar behaviour, so you are prepared for possible teenage tantrums.Dont let this put you off,the vast majority of baby boar pairs get through the teenage phase with help from their owners and boars in general are just lovely.
Again large retail pet stores dont tend to pass on this advice.The vast majority of calls we get about young boars are from owners who just bought without learning the facts !!
2:Time - How much time do you have to give,its not just cleaning and feeding its playing and cuddling too ??
3:Love- A home is hopefully forever,a Guinea Pig needs to be a family committment, mums and dads please dont get Guinea Pigs unless you want us too.
4:Can you afford it ??
Its not just one off items like hutches and toys its weekly items like, Hay,Vegetables,Dried Food, Medication, Shavings.
Vets fees - Expect to pay from £15to £25 for a consultation, possibly a little more if your vet is an exotic vet (specialised in Guinea Pig care).
Most types of surgery start from £50.You have a legal obligation to seek medical care if i am poorly !!
I love grass
My mum has an account at our vets for the rescue and her own piggies, she pays money in to keep our accounts in credit,she says £50 is a good amount to get started and that way an unexpected illness wont be a problem ! Ask your vet its a good way to save as insurance can be expensive if you have several Guinea Pigs.People on benefits can use the PDSA.
Pet carrier- To bring us home in and for vet visits.Also useful as temporary indoor accomodation for poorly piggy.A cat size carrier is an ideal size.
5ft x 2ft hutch for up to 3 Guinea Pigs.
Example of 5ft hutch
There are lots of different types,some with ramps,some with built in runs.It just depends on what space you have and, bear in mind some Guinea Pigs wont use steep ramps,so if you buy a cage or hutch with ramps make sure they are piggy friendly and not just for rabbits.The internet has lots of hutches available with delivery.
Tip: You could close up a ramped cage to make a double hutch ! My mum did this with one we had donated.
Remember if you have an outdoor hutch, you will also need a good cover to keep out draughts.
Example of 5FT ramp style.
A minimum 120cm width cage for 2 Guinea pigs just like me and Betty.
If you are considering a trio you would need a minimum 140cm indoor cage.
There are lots of brands availble on the internet,remember always get the biggest you can.
150cm indoor cage
We have a 5ft hutch so that ensures plenty of room for my toys and play tunnel...which i will mention later.During the winter we cant go outdoors as much so my mum has room to make us things to keep us occupied...thats the fun bit.
If you would like Indoor piggies then please only do so if you are a cigarette smoke free home, smoke is no good for our little chests !
You could also consider C & C grids.This is a very adaptable option and you have the fun of designing your own pen. The grids are built around a corex base.Some come with a ramped upper level,which Guinea Pigs seem happy using.There is a new company called C&C Guinea Pig Cages who supply great kits.
This set up belongs to Jenny Taylor rescue supporter who adopted Toby from us - bought from C & C Guinea Pig Cages
C & C GRID SET UP
A run for the lawn or patio is necessary there are lots of types available. Indoor ones too.
You can also buy hutches and indoor cages off the internet, places like ebay and preloved,or timber suppliers / manufacturers make them to size so its worth looking around.If you do buy second hand then make sure you disinfect throughly with a product called VIRKON this kills fungal spores which can remain dormant for up to 10 years.
Indoor cages can come with stained bases,the white marks are calcium deposits and easily removed with white vinegar !
My mum lines all our hutches with lino,i have a lovely wooden flooring pattern ! This preserves the wooden floor and is easy to wipe out at cleaning time.You can pick up odd pieces from carpet shops,just ask. Another good way is to buy packs from BQ of adhesive floor panels,they are about £6 and can be easily cut.BM bargains sell packs of 8 for £1.99 my mum is really impressed !!
6:Shavings / Hay / Fleece & Vet bed
Its a matter of preferance what you use to deal with our poop and wee ! My mum says there are various opinions but at the end of the day its up to the owner.There is extensive internet opinion on shavings,with relation to chest problems.
My mum has never had any issues with shavings ( note not sawdust thats too dusty) some brands are too dusty, so trialing brands is a good idea.Cheshire choice bales are great value.
If you have storage space, use good quality shaving bales you can buy from animal feed outlets.
Recommended local suppliers:
BM - Great selection of pet products.
The Meadows Animal Supplies- Newchapel for baled meadow hay, shavings and food.Linda will order what you require.
The Range -Fenton - Great selection of pet products.The prepacked hay is only £3.49 !! and is lovely.Shavings are also good quality.They sell a full range of small animal care & medicinal products and my personal favourite....cardboard tubes.They sell Beaphar small animal mite drops,which are good to keep in ...just in case. They sell science selective and excel nuggets.
Jolleys pet store Congleton -Full range good quality products.
Penparc - Fenton - Full range pet products.They will order what you require.
H.R Lea Oakes -Congleton, animal feeds supplier: Full range of small animal products/ prepacked meadow hay/shavings.
None of these sell animals, hence my mum recommends them.
There are other types such as megazorb and bliss bedding, again its down to preference and cost.
You can use fleece blankets and vet bed for indoor cages and hutches.Again shop around,on the internet and you can buy fleece blankets from places like charity shops, home bargains and dunelm,just cut to size.Put them in a pillow case before you wash,keeps hair out of your washer.
Always line your hutch / indoor cage with a good layer of newspaper.It makes cleaning out so much quicker !!
Hay is vital we need it for our digestion !! so good quality meadow hay is a must.The stringy type is the best, i love to roll around in it,thats a way to play.I dont like pets at home hay.
You can source meadow hay from farms, the internet is a good place to look for suppliers.
Expect to pay £ 4 to £6 for a bale.
Remember you need to clean us out at least twice a week, i dont like a poopy cage !! More frequently in the summer especially if we live outdoors,helps reduce attention from flys.
7:Food / Water equipment
You ideally need a ceramic food bowl, and a water bottle.You can get glass water bottles or plastic either are suitable.You need to clean all bottles and spouts weekly,green water bottles are a no no.Have cotton buds to hand for spouts,as i am a messy drinker and food can get into the spout.Betty dribbles too, so mum sterilises our bottles every month.
We dont have muesli type food, we have nuggets my mum says we cant be selective and she knows we are getting all the goodness and nutrients, shes also mad on recycling and hates waste.
Mr Johnsons advanced guinea pig food -its a great nugget, jam packed with extras for a healthy gut, joints and immune system.We tested it over couple of months and me and Betty gave it a paws up !!!
Mum has also listed another couple we have tested and recommended.
We need a fresh selection of fresh vegetables every day and ideally need a lower calcium diet - see Bladder stones page !!! Ouch
We can eat a wide variety of fruit and vegetables this is an example of the kind of weekly menu me and Betty munch on !!
We eat lots of hay every day so you must ensure we have it available all the time in our cages !! Its actually the most important part of a Guinea Pigs digestive system and can lead to health problems if we dont have enough.
Cafe au piggy
Mon =Small piece carrot + romaine lettuce leaf each + half apple each
Tue = Large cabbage leaf between us + half pear each + half celery stick each
Wed =Portion cucumber each + portion raw beetroot each + small piece broccoli each
Thurs =Handful ready grass between us + half large pepper (seeds removed) between us + half tomato each
Fri = Small slice yellow melon each ( with skin thats the best bit) + small piece beetroot + handful kale between us
Check out the vegetable and fruit sheets on the web links page for lots of ideas on fruit and vegetables we can eat.
What menu would you put together ????
You dont need to add vitamin drops to our water, a good diet and nuggets with added Vit C, will give us all we need.
8:Toys and cage items
Betty and me just love playing, especially when our family are out at work,so its great that our mum gets us great toys.Wilkinsons have a great range of small animal products,also places like home bargains and BM bargains.Also check out the internet for Guinea Pig shops.
There are so many to choose from and to give you and idea this is what we have in our cages:
A grass tunnel / house which we can eat and play in !
A snuggle bed which Betty likes to snooze in,its a mini cat basket really.
Cindy in her snuggle bed
A hay ball hung from a hook in our cage,mum fills it with hay every day,its got a bell on and i love making it ring when i pull hay out.
A wooden gnaw block
A fleece cosy useful for timid Guinea Pigs helps them feel safe when being picked up
A large wooden bendy bridge,bent into a hidey house - rabbit size - mum covers it with fleece and we can go inside or sit on top
Paper bags filled with hay -we know when mums been to primark !
Cereal boxes and small card board boxes are fun too filled with hay and veggie treats.
Willow hay ball £2.49 from wilkinsons its great to chew
Thats a few ideas to get you started
Just like people we get poorly,and you wouldnt wait till you were ill to register with a doctor would you ??
So before we arrive, seek out a Guinea Pig friendly vet and register.
See health sections for recommendations.
10:First aid kit and grooming items.
Please see our health pages for Guinea Pig first aid kit.
Example of Grooming kit items available from most good pet suppliers.
2 plastic bowls
Swarfega - For dissolving grease spots.
We recommend Johnsons insecticidal shampoo for small animals
Here i am in the bath....i love it !!!
Guinea Pigs especially those with long hair need regular grooming.
It ensures a shiny healthy coat and provides an opportunity for bonding time.
It gives owners a chance to inspect skin and feet for health problems