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.


Top 10  point's to consider when planning for new arrival's.

1:How many Guinea Pigs do you have room for ??

Where do you get your Guinea Pigs from ?

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.

Obviously being a rescue and knowing how many unwanted animals there are we only recommend adopting  an unwanted pet, but if you do decide to source your Guinea Pigs from a large retail pet store / breeder please take a careful note of the following point's. 

Research the breeder / large retail pet store you are looking to visit.

When you visit a breeder check cleanliness and standard of hutches and other animals they have especially the Guinea Pigs parent / siblings.

Be aware that the ring worm(fungal infection) has a 2 week incubation period and is common in retail / breeder  purchases, you may get more than you bargained for. Guinea Pigs often come from  large scale rodent farms with less than satisfactory standards.

CHECK the sex of the Guinea Pig you are looking to buy,we have had several owners contact us thinking they had been looking after 2 sows for 3 months - only to find little baby faces one morning and infact they had a boar & sow. There is a real problem of mis-sexing in large retail pet stores. If you are not confident of the sex take them to the vets.

Guinea Pigs are capable of mating from 3 to 4 weeks old !!

At the rescue ALL the cases we have assisted with of young sow pregnancy`s have been from breeder / large retail pet store purchases,who have mis - sexed and sold a pregnant sow.

To avoid all of this - Just seek out a reputable Guinea Pig rescue this is a common issue we pick up the pieces from. 

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.

Did you know its illegal in Switzerland to keep a Guinea Pig alone !! They dont just make great chocolate.

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 !!!!

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 scrumptious.

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 them. 

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 £20 to £50 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 under the 2006 Animal Welfare Act to seek medical care if your Guinea Pig is ill.

I love grass

5:Hutch / indoor cage / C&C GRIDS / Runs for exercise

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.

Outdoor cages

 5ft x 2ft hutch for 2 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.

Remember if you have an outdoor hutch, you will also need a good cover to keep out draughts.

Example of  5FT ramp style.

Indoor cages

A minimum 140cm length cage for 2 Guinea pigs.

If you are considering a trio you would need a minimum 160cm indoor cage.

There are lots of brands availble on the internet,remember always get the biggest you can.

150cm indoor cage

If you would like Indoor piggies then please only do so if you are a cigarette smoke free home. 

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 enjoy using. 

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 !

We line all our hutches with lino.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.

6:Shavings / Hay / Fleece & Vet bed

Its a matter of preference what you use to deal with our poop and wee.

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.

The rescue has never had any issues with shavings ( note not sawdust thats too dusty) some brands are too dusty, so trialling brands is a good idea.

I find Pets at Home shavings tend to be quite sharp so I can't recommend. 

Cheshire choice bales are great value, dust free and absorbent.

If you have storage space, use good quality shaving bales you can buy from animal feed outlets.

Recommended local suppliers:

B&M - Great selection of small pet products !!

Fab meadow hay and timothy hay. They stock shavings and some treats too.

Home Bargains - They do sell small packs of hay and shavings also cardboard tunnels and fleece cat beds £4.99 ideal for Guinea Pig beds.

The Meadows Animal Supplies - Newchapel for bales of  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 small and large meadow hay/shavings.Bulk buy.

None of these sell animal's.

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 !!

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.

HAY is the most important part of your Guinea Pigs diet don't cut corners with cheap hay that doesn't smell and look fresh !! 

Remember you need to clean cages at least twice a week, but it's advised to poop check daily and clean as required.

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 food can get into the spout. 
Dried food - A good quality  nugget not muesli 

I use Science Selective grain free to help with reducing bladder irritation.

Its fairly new  and only available in 1.5 kg bags at present.

Other reputable brands are listed here.

They need a fresh selection of fresh vegetables every day and ideally need a lower calcium diet - see Bladder stones page
They can eat a wide variety of fruit and vegetables this is an example of the kind of weekly menu I use in the rescue.

Guinea Pig eat lots of hay every day so you must ensure they have it available all the time.

Its actually the most important part of a Guinea Pigs digestive system and can lead to serious health problems if they dont have enough.

Cafe au piggy - Sample Menu 

Mon =Coriander + romaine lettuce + piece of apple

Tue = Mixed lettuce leaves + piece of pear + half celery stick each

Wed =Portion cucumber each + portion raw beetroot each + piece broccoli each

Thurs =Mixed lettuce leaves + piece of pepper (seeds removed) + half tomato each

Fri = Small slice yellow melon each ( with skin thats the best bit) + small piece beetroot + mini sweetcorn 

You will notice its low calcium to help prevent bladder stones - read the web site page all about that

I feed minimal carrot, cabbage, kale, spinach all high in calcium.

Check out the vegetable and fruit sheets on the web links page for lots of ideas on fruit and vegetables.

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 suffice in young healthy Guinea Pigs.

8:Toys and cage items

Guinea Pigs just love playing, especially when we are out at work,so its great to make sure they have items to keep them occupied.

There are many large retailers who sell Guinea Pig products 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 rescue cages:

A grass tunnel / house 

A snuggle bed which Piggies likes to snooze in.

Cindy in her snuggle bed

A hay ball to hang hay in, encourages exercise 

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 

Paper bags filled with hay

Cereal boxes and small card board boxes are fun too filled with hay and veggie treats.

Thats a few ideas to get you started. 


Just like people Guinea Pigs get poorly,and you wouldnt wait till you were ill to register with a doctor would you ??

So seek out a Guinea Pig friendly vet and register your new family members.

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.

Bathing Items

2 plastic bowls

Old towels

Swarfega - For dissolving grease spots.

We recommend Johnsons insecticidal shampoo for small animals or Gorgeous Guinea Pigs mite shampoo.

Howard 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