Guinea Pig Today to tell us more about these adorable fuzzies.
The Care and Life of a Modern Guinea Pig
Guinea pigs can be very rewarding animals to bring into your life, and with proper care and socialization, your guinea pig can live up to eight years as an active member of the household. You might be surprised to find the modern guinea pig's needs are quite different than what you would expect. Guinea pig pairs nap on fleece blankets, enjoy open floor time, and can be litterbox-trained, making these social pets clean and easy to handle.
These gentle rodents are not from Guinea and are not related to the pig. So how did they get their name? Nobody knows for certain, but perhaps they were mistaken for natives of West Africa and made sounds reminiscent of the barnyard pig. Their names vary in other languages as well. The German call them Meerschweinchen, meaning "sea piglet." The French term is Cochon d'Inde or "Indian pig." The Spanish say conejillo de Indias or "little rabbit of the Indies." Guinea pigs also go by the name "cavy," referring to the family Caviidae, where guinea pigs are scientifically classified.
Guinea pigs are naturally prey animals and require a lot of handling to overcome their instinct to run and hide, but they will bond with their caregivers. Cavies typically live in social groups, so it's best to keep a bonded pair in your home. With patience and care they can be very personable and can be taught tricks like making a circle or sitting up. Guinea pigs make a range of sounds to display different moods, and they jump or "popcorn" to show they are happy. Their cage can be lined with fleece blankets, which can be washed and reused, limiting trips to the pet store to purchase bedding. Unlike a dog or cat, their mess is contained within their cage. A healthy guinea pig will have small, dry droppings that can be easily swept up. They will learn a routine and adapt to your sleeping schedule. Don't be surprised if they welcome you after learning the sound of the front door or beg for food after hearing the sound of the refrigerator. You may find keeping fresh vegetables in your home for your guinea pig means you begin to eat healthier as well.
General misconceptions and outdated ideas land unwanted cavies in rescues and shelters. While guinea pigs are usually gentle, some will bite or "kiss with teeth." Families with small children need to take special care. The "Parent's Guide to Guinea Pigs" can help you decide if a guinea pig is right for your family. Guinea pigs are not low maintenance. They require daily supplies of lettuce and other fresh vegetables, fresh water, fresh grass hay, high-quality timothy hay–based pellets, and a stable source of vitamin C. These daily needs make guinea pigs a poor choice for classrooms, where they will often need to make it through the weekends and holidays alone. Guinea pigs need more space than pet store cages can provide, and floor time is essential to keeping your cavy fit and healthy. Many guinea pig owners choose to build their own cages or create homemade toys and treats. Cavies require veterinary care from an exotic vet, which can be expensive and difficult to find.
If you'd like to keep up with the latest in guinea pig news, health, and living, check out Guinea Pig Today. We celebrate the cavy lovers interested in integrating their pets' needs into their lives by keeping them up to date on the latest national trends and activities. There's a rescue map to help you connect with volunteers in your area. Join us on Facebook and Twitter to plug in to the guinea pig world.
Thank you to Angela for letting us in on what great little pets guinea pigs make!