I hope you’re doing well? As you can tell by the title this is a pretty exciting post because Haydn and I (well mostly me) adopted 2 gorgeous Guinea Pigs this weekend! I’ll be introducing Buzz and Woody properly in another post. If you already have you cage setup and are just wanting to know about diet and what to feed your Guinea Pig, feel free to skip through about 3/4 of this post to find that information.
Guinea Pigs need much bigger cages than what is usually on offer in pet stores. To make sure my pigs had enough space I decided to go for a C&C cage – these are fairly easy to make as a DIY project but if like me the thought of DIY is terrifying there are a few sites you can buy kits from and if you’re lucky you might find a second hand one near you.
I got a 2×4 cage from C & C Guinea Pig Cages for £59 (including delivery) and it arrived within 4-5 days of me ordering. The delivery time can vary though so be sure to check the information before ordering. As well as that kit I also ordered some extra grids and connectors from Amazon for £19.99. This is because I wanted a double height wall at the back and a connector for every corner – although you don’t need the double height and can use cable ties if you’re wanting to save a little money.
Of course you’ll be needing a food bowl (I’d recommend having a couple), I went for the Trixie Ceramic Bowl since it was one of the cheapest on Zooplus. Guinea Pigs can tip light weight food bowls so getting a ceramic bowl can be a good way to avoid spills – I ordered two for £1.99 each. You’ll also need a water bottle. I have initially brought just one bottle but may get another if my two boys fight over it, I went for a Living World Glass Bottle from Zooplus. These are more expensive then standard plastic bottles at £4.99 but I prefer the way they look and glass is often easier to keep clean than plastic. To help with keeping the bottle clean I also picked up a Bottle Cleaner Brush from Pets at Home for £3.
Hay makes up about 70-80% of your Guinea Pigs diet therefore it should always be available for them. A popular way to have hay available at all times is to use litter trays. I picked up two basic Cat Litter trays from Asda for just £2 each – I’ve actually only put one in their current cage setup but in the future I may want to use two. As well as using litter trays I also wanted more of a hay rack so I can mix forage in with the hay and make it more stimulating for them to find. To do this I picked up a Classic Hay and Play Roll Small Animal Chew toy for £6 from Pets at Home – definitely one of the cutest items I picked up.
Bedding is another essential items for Guinea Pigs – if you’ve started doing some research you might have found that a lot of people with indoor pigs use fleece liners. Whilst there are lots of other bedding to consider I personally chose fleece. This is because it is easier to maintain – you can sweep/do spot cleans and put it in the wash making it more cost effective than paper or aspen bedding. Sawdust and any kind of scented bedding shouldn’t be used since it has been known to cause respiratory infections. The fleece I went for was handmade by the small, independent business Fleece and Cotton Pet and Human Gifts. I ordered three liners from the lovely business owner Donna which totalled £33! That is less than 1.5 months of using paper bedding if I had chosen that route. Fleece liners can be made with adorable fabrics giving making your setup look unique and really inviting.
You will of course also be needing a pet carrier. If you go for Pet Store pigs (which I don’t recommend – always support adoption!) you might put you pigs into cardboard carriers which will likely be fine for the car ride home but won’t be kept for future transportation. If your Guinea Pig needs to see a vet, you move house or you just need a safe place to secure them temporarily then a carrier will be needed. It can be tempting to buy small carriers, especially if you get young pigs from a breeder or pet shop (please consider adoption though!), but I’d recommend getting a small cat/dog carrier since these will work throughout your entire pigs life, will allow you to transport multiple pigs in the same box and will give them plenty of space to feel comfortable. I picked up a Small Pet Carrier for £10 in Wilko and whilst I hate the colour it was very affordable and will do the job perfectly.
Guinea Pigs will need their nails cutting regularly and whilst you can take them to the vet or a local rescue to get this done for a small fee it is much cheaper to do it yourself at home. Your pig will also feel much calmer with having this done in their own home. To do this though you will of course be needing some nail clippers. I picked up the Trixie Nail Clippers from Zooplus for just £1.49. If the process of cutting your Guinea Pigs nails is a little bit daunting be sure to check out some of the tutorials available on YouTube.
The final items I’m classing as essentials are hides. Guinea Pigs can form bonds with humans but they will always be prey animals; this is why you need to provide your pigs with hides so that those natural instincts of hiding to feel safe can be met. There are many different types of hides, I have four different examples to quickly share with you but it isn’t necessary to have all these variations, just be sure you have one hide per pig so there is not fighting. Firstly, tunnels can make great hides and by having two entrances/exits they are great for groups of pig since a lower ranking pig can easily leave if a more dominant one decides they would like to be in there. Tunnels also provide good stimulation since Guinea Pigs can run around and through them for fun. I went for a classic Wooden Stick Bendy Bridge from Pets at Home costing me £8. I also have a fabric ‘igloo’ bed which has cosy fleece on the inside so my Guinea Pigs can snuggle up, this also looks extra cute and since your pigs will love to get comfy this is a good option. I went for the Me & My Small Grey Zip Up Igloo Pet Bed from Amazon which cost me £14.99. Remember you don’t exclusively have to search for Guinea Pig items, cat or even small dog hides will work well – although I would recommend finding items that are machine washable so you’re able to keep them nice and clean. Also made from fabric I have a corner hide which cost me £4 from Fleece and Cotton Pet and Human Gifts. These can be attached to C&C cages to make a sheltered corner your guinea pig can feel save in. Finally, my favourite hide that I currently have, a two story wooden house. This was the most expensive at £21 from eBay but was definitely worth it. This Guinea Pig House is just super cute and provides them with two levels of enrichment, it also feels really high quality and offers a really dark spot for the pigs to hide in.
These aren’t essential items but I do still think they are worth mentioning since they can either add to your Guinea Pigs lifestyle or help you out.
The first are pee pads – these are basically an extra layer of absorbent material that you can add to sections of your setup where your guinea pigs tend to go to the bathroom. You can buy actual pee pads – I brought three for £15 from My Fabulous Fleece another independent business on Facebook or you can use bath mats or just towels – I have two of these which I picked up in Home Bargains for £2.99. I couldn’t find a link for these since they were picked up in store but I’m sure there is an equivalent on eBay or Amazon.
Some Guinea Pigs will enjoy toys are there is a wide variety available – since pigs are very food orientated, appealing to their appetite can be a good way to get them to interact. I picked up a cute Jingle Play Ball in Pets at Home for £2.50 as well as a Mr Woodfield Willow Apple Ball (I couldn’t find a link to the exact one) on Zooplus for £2.49.
Guinea Pigs have open rooted teeth which means they are constantly growing, to avoid any overgrowing they need to grind them down so chews are very important. They will grind them down whilst eating hay and their pellets but other objects that encourage them to chew can also be great. I decided to pick up some JR Farm Nibble Wood sticks from Zooplus for £2.49 to encourage them to chew – plus these are also safe for my hamster Peaches.
This last one is dependent on the breed of Guinea Pig you get but long haired breeds like the Abyssinian or Peruvian will need their fur brushed to help maintain it. Therefore you’ll be needing some kind of pet brush. I didn’t know who breed my pigs would be since I had decided to get them from a rescue but decided to pick up the Pet Brush from Zooplus for £1.49 (again I couldn’t find the exact link).
I mentioned above that between 70-80% of your Guinea Pigs diet should be hay. There are several cuts of hay that are safe for guinea pigs to eat but the most common are Timothy and Meadow. I picked up a 3kg bag of Timothy and Meadow mixed together for £3.99 in Pets At Home. Since hay can be stored for a really long time I’d recommend getting some kind of storage container and buying in larger packs as you’ll save money. As well as their regular hay you can also mix in different herbs and leaves known as forage. I spent £2.99 on a bag of the Burgess Excel Country Garden Herbs from Pets at Home. You can mix forage into their hay, hide it in boredom breaks or just give it to you pigs as a fun snack. Since there are loads of different types of safe herbs I recommend experimenting and finding out which ones your pigs love best.
Roughly 20% of your Guinea Pigs diet should be fresh vegetables and fruits. I won’t bother linking to all the different vegetables I brought for my Guinea Pigs this week but thought instead I would include this safe foods chart from Australian Cavy Sanctuary to give you an idea of the variety of fresh fruit and veg you can feed your pig. I plan to have a staple 5 vegetables that I feed daily and then mix in one or two different things every week to keep it interesting. They get a generous a handful of vegetables each every single day in the evening although you could spread these portions out over the course of the day if you are able to do so.
The rest of their diet can be made up of pellets, although this isn’t essential and some owners choose not to feed these at all. If you do decide to give your Guinea Pig a dry mix just be sure to check its nutritional values first. Some key things to look for are that they are not Alfalfa hay based (these aren’t food for Pigs over 6 months), don’t have any added sugars, do contain vitamin C and are not a muesli style mix as this can lead to selective feeding. I’m using the Burgess Excel Tasty Nuggets Guinea Pig Food from Pets At Home which cost £6.50 for 2kg.
Treats aren’t a required part of a Guinea Pigs diet but if you are looking for some good quality treats then there are two I recommend. The first is the classic Pea Flakes – I brought 500g from Zooplus for £1.99 but there are tonnes of small animal/pet sites or stores that sell these. One or two of thse a day is a fine and makes a good little morning/evening treat for your pigs to look forward to. I have also picked up some of the Burgess Excel Blueberry Bakes from Pets At Home for £2.79. These are a lot bigger than the pea flakes so need to be fed more sparingly but lots of owners have recommend these too me so I’m sure once or twice a week these will be a well received treat.
I know this has been a very long blog post so congratulations if you’ve made it to the end! I’m hopeful that this will help out another new Guinea Pig owner who like me, was overwhelmed by all the information out there surrounding getting Guinea Pigs. Make sure you give me a follow so you can read all about my Guinea Pig adoption story coming in just a few days time and so that you never miss future blog posts.