LEARNING TIME!

GUINEA PIG ADOPTION GUIDE

Our how-to guide to ensure a smooth transition for your new best furry friend

Congratulations on your new friend!

Your decision to choose rescue will bring you so much joy, with an extra layer knowing you saved their life. Guinea pigs are friendly little critters that make fabulous pets for both adults and kids alike. Their sweet little chirping personalities will provide hours of entertainment. 

After rescue our guinea pigs go into foster care, where we assess their health and behaviour and ensure they get the necessary support to become adoption ready. However, after moving to your home, a new home to them, issues may arise that we were not aware of. If your guinea pig at any time displays behaviour you don’t understand, or concerns you please contact us. 

Many, but not all, of our guinea pigs have come from homes where they haven’t been properly cared for. This guide is to ensure you have all the information about habitat, diet, and behaviour to ensure your new guinea pig friend is a happy little potato.

PIGGY’S FIRST DAY

Bringing your new Guinea pig home is an exciting moment, but it’s essential to ensure a smooth transition for your furry friend. It’s a whole new world for them, and as a prey animal they can get stressed. Give them some time to adjust without handling them for at least a week. During this period, focus on providing fresh water, hay, and a balanced diet to keep them healthy. If you have more than one Guinea pig, keep in mind that they might need a bit of time to figure out their social dynamics and establish a pecking order. Be patient, watch their interactions, and ensure there’s no aggression. As they settle in and grow more comfortable, gradually introduce gentle interactions to build trust, nurturing a happy and harmonious bond with your new furry companions.

Below is a list of recommendations of things to keep in mind when creating a happy life for your new bestie!

HANDLING

Guinea pigs are prey animals meaning they can get nervous and scared when being handled. They do, however, adapt very quickly and with lots of snacks and love can become incredibly social creatures. 

Always ensure your guinea pig feels supported and safe. Using a towel underneath when holding them can really help. When small children are handling guinea pigs it can be a good option to place them in a small crate or box so they cannot run away or fall. 

HOUSING

Guinea pigs may be housed either indoors or outdoors but should always be in a generous and safe enclosure. It is important to be in a draught free position that is safe from possible predators. Our preference for this reason is indoors, as they are safer from predators, disease and wildlife. If you choose to keep your guinea pigs outdoors, ensure they have a secure, comfortable enclosure with sufficient space. Remember when it comes to enclosure size, bigger is better and the more piggies you have together the more space they need. The absolute minimum should be 1m2 per piggy.

Guinea pigs love to hide and should be provided with lots of ‘cave’ and ‘tunnel items. Cardboard boxes can be used to create elaborate set ups and PVC pipes are reusable and easy to clean. Most owners will line their enclosure with newspapers as well as a more absorptive substrate such as paper kitty litter or hay (or both!). Saw dust is not an appropriate substrate as it can cause respiratory irritation. Similarly wire and hard flooring will lead to painful sores developing on feet. Guinea pigs love to poop and their space requires regular cleaning to keep it sanitary and safe. You can find guides about toilet training online, and some levels of training can be achieved with patience!

Guinea pigs are heat sensitive animals and on days over 30 degrees, extra attention should be provided. Ensuring they are indoors, providing a cool ceramic tile to nap on as well as frozen water bottles to lean on can also help. Sunshine and exercise time is also important and they should be allowed to spend some time out of their enclosure. A grassy area outside with an enclosure is an excellent option but they should always be supervised!

 

Indoor Housing:

Indoors they should be safe from other household pets in a secure enclosure. Plastic bottomed cages with wire tops are a popular choice and easy to clean and maintain. A blanket or towel to provide a darker or draught free zone can be utilised. Homemade “CnC” enclosures can also be created (google this for inspiration!) 

Outdoor Housing:

Should be secure, draught free and safe from predators. Most enclosures will include an open outside region and enclosed area that is dark and free from breezes.

BEHAVIOUR

Guinea pigs are talkative little critters and as you get to know them you will start to understand their little squeaks and chirps. They are very social creatures who often are nervous and skittish to start with. However gentle handling and bribery in the form of delicious snacks will help them become an interactive and social part of the family. 

FRIENDS

Guinea pigs should be kept in pairs or groups as they are very sociable friendly creatures. Undesexed males can become aggressive toward each other and exhibit humping behaviour toward cage mates which can be quite a problem. The ideal combination is a male and female desexed pair (or more), however undesexed same sex animals can cohabitate. 

We do not recommend housing guinea pigs with rabbits at all. They have differing dietary requirements and rabbits have powerful back legs which can easily cause trauma to a guinea pig. 

Whilst guinea pigs can live in a house with other animals such as cats and dogs, it does depend on the characteristics of your other animals. Always supervise them when they are together and carefully introduce them in the initial stages.

DIET

A guinea pigs diet requires high fibre and vitamin C. Like humans and primates, they cannot manufacture their own vitamin C. This is a trait unique to primates, humans and guinea pigs. They therefore rely on dietary intake to provide for them. 

Hay should provide your guinea pig with the majority of their diet. A good quality hay will be high in fibre to assist with dental and gut health. Both oaten hay or grass hay are appropriate and can be given in combination. Hay should be purchased in bales and is best stored in a breathable storage container such as ‘bale bags’ or a plastic box with air holes drilled within it. The more green and fresh smelling your hay is the tastier it will be to your pig. Hay should be stored with good airflow and most hay in plastic bags is inappropriate. Avoid dusty, smelly and mouldy hays. In Melbourne, www.pethorsefarm.com.au will deliver good quality hay to your door. 

The hay may then be supplemented with a chaff mix (cut up hay) and good quality guinea pig pellets in small amounts. A tablespoon per day is plenty! Most good quality guinea pig pellets will have additional vitamin C provided 

The remainder of the diet should consist of vegetables such as Asian greens, spinach and kale, grass and herbs such as parsley. Colourful veggies and fruits should be given as treats only. 

Water is very important and should be provided in a bottle, bowl or both. We recommend two water sources as guinea pigs like to soil their waters and bottles can get blocked. 

HEALTH & VACCINATIONS

Unfortunately, there is no vaccinations for any diseases available at this time. This also means we have very few major diseases that can kill these little guys. However, being prey animals it can be very easy for them to cover up their illness! 

Six monthly health checks are recommended to ensure good health and husbandry. 

Now, Have fun!

Guinea pigs are fantastic companions and have quirky little personalities. They make fabulous pets and are reasonably well contained requiring minimal space compared to most other pets.

Please contact us if you have any further questions, and be sure to send us updates on how your new pals are getting on!

Thank you again for saving a life.