Category Archives: How to care for your guinea pig

What should i do with my guinea pig during a storm

What should i do with my guinea pig during a storm?

What should I do with my guinea pig during a storm?

A storm is any disturbed state of an environment or in an astronomical body’s atmosphere especially affecting its surface, and strongly implying severe weather.

It may be marked by significant disruptions to normal conditions such as strong wind, tornados, hail, thunder and lightning (a thunderstorm), heavy precipitation (snowstorm, rainstorm), heavy freezing rain (ice storm), strong winds (tropical cyclone, windstorm), or wind transporting some substance through the atmosphere as in a dust storm, blizzard, sandstorm, etc. (source)

Whenever it storms it can be quite a scary time for a guinea pig. They hate loud bangs and things that rattle and bang against their cage or hutch.

So what can we do to help?

What should I do with my guinea pig during a storm?

During a storm, a guinea pig should be kept safe. The best thing you could do for them is to take them inside either into your home or into an outhouse which is secure and safe for them and keeps them away from the elements such as the wind, rain or snow.

Keeping them away from the elements means that they are away from harm and potentially in a warm place.

If you can put them in your home, this is the best place for them and will ensure that they are warm and secure.

When they are inside your home they will benefit from the time they spend with you and your family. The warmth of your home will benefit them from a health point of view. It will be so much better for them than being outside.

They will also benefit from the social interaction with you and your family. They are social creatures and love to spend time with others, whether guinea pigs or people.

If you can’t bring them into your home, then consider putting them in an out house or shed which is dry and free of drafts. This too is a much better place for them than being outside exposed to the elements.

Even if the outhouse is dark, the guinea pigs wont mind as they are well accustomed to living in the dark and can move around in pitch black without any issue at all.

It is how they survived in the wild and kept away from the clutches of predators.

So if you have an outhouse then this is the next best option to being in your home.

should guinea pigs go outside

Should Guinea pigs go outside?

Having space for guinea pigs is a must for any owner.

There are many guinea pigs who live in very cramped conditions where they just don’t have the space to run around and explore.

This can cause problems for a guinea pig and severely affect their quality of life.

There are many owners who are very opposed to keeping guinea pigs outside because of the conditions they will experience.

They consider it cruel and not something that should be imposed on a piggie.

I can see their point.

Why keeping a guinea pig outside is not a good idea

There are many places on earth where keeping a guinea pig outside which would harm their quality of life.

The sheer temperature range that they would experience would mean that they would not experience a comfortable experience outside.

The perfect temperature range for guinea pigs

The temperature range that guinea pigs are comfortable in ranges from 65 degrees Fahrenheit to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

So if it gets colder or hotter than this then your guinea pig will likely be feeling uncomfortable in that environment.

This is why certain owners are not comfortable with their guinea pigs outside.

The temperature where they live can be too inconsistent or it may just be unbearable for a guinea pig to live in.

Whether too hot or too cold.

Beware of predators trying to get at your guinea pigs

There are also things they might experience outside such as predators which may scare them or attempt to kill them.

Guinea pigs are attractive prey for animals such as birds of prey, cats, dogs, foxes, snakes who will do their best to get into their home.

Keeping guinea pigs inside is the ideal situation

Because of this, keeping your guinea pig inside is the preferable option.

The temperature will be consistent inside and they will be free from the attention of certain predators who will be looking to attack them.

There is also the great opportunity for them to spend time with you and your family.

Guinea pigs love to spend time with people.

They are social creatures and enjoy the company of others either of their own species or humans.

They will become tamer and more trusting the more time they spend with you.

Why many owners consider ‘outside’ the only option

But for some owners, I understand that this is just not possible.

Although it is not preferable to have them outside there is nothing stopping them from doing so.

There isn’t the space inside a home or you may have a partner who does not like them inside the house.

This is a problem that many face around the world.

Keeping your guinea pig in an out-house

The next best option is to keep them in an outhouse where is is at least dry.

Guinea pigs do not handle getting wet well as they can’t dry their coats very well.

Damp can also cause a lot of problems for a guinea pig and is a big killer for many piggies.

Keeping them in an outhouse like a shed or barn will at least keep them dry and mean that they can keep out of the elements such as rain, sleet, and snow.

They also don’t like direct sun rays and will hide away from the heat when it gets too hot for them.

What if there is no other option but to keep them outside?

However, if the only option is to keep them outside then this is possible and something many owners do due to space restrictions they may have in their home or even if their partner doesn’t approve of such a thing.

Keeping a guinea pig outside is possible but there are certain things it is recommended that you do when you keep them outside.

This will ensure that they live a good a life as you can provide for them.

Keep their run secure.

Make sure their run is secure and is safe for them to run about and not be at risk from being attacked by predators.

This may mean getting a run that is totally covered so that nothing else can get in.

Have many guinea pigs.

Having two or more guinea pigs together means that they can keep each other warm.

They do this by warming themselves against each other and the warmth that comes from the blood flowing through their bodies.

Keep them well sheltered.

Keeping them out of the wind and rain is important.

They are not good at drying each other and dealing with being wet and damp.

It is likely to make them ill as their fur merely absorbs the water.

Put a waterproof covering over their home to ensure it is well covered so that any snow, sleet or rain has no chance of getting in and their home stays nice and cosy.

Spend lots of time with them.

Spending time with your guinea pigs means that they get to know you, they get to understand your voice and what you are like as an

owner. You will also get to understand them better as well.

This can only improve their quality of life as a result.

Keep them well fed and watered.

Keeping their food stocked up and their water bottle consistently refilled means that they will never go hungry or thirsty.

Keep their hay pile filled up as well so that they always have hay to chew on.

That won’t stop them wheeking at you, whenever you walk by them.

Keep their housing insulated

Their housing can be kept waterproof from the elements, as stated above.

But underneath the waterproof covering, you could put some extra layers on the roof such as an extra blanket which will keep some of the heat that they generate in.

Make sure the blanket is kept totally covered though so it does not get damp.

An extra layer will make quite a difference to them as well.

For more ideas about keeping guinea pigs warm, check out this 18 ways to keep a guinea pig warm

feeding grass to a guinea pig

A Brief Guide To Feeding Grass To A Guinea Pig

Guinea pigs are herbivores which means they are used to eating plant life, insects, veggies, and fruit in the wild.

As natives of the Andes mountains, they are used to the rugged and varied landscape which includes glaciers, volcanoes, grassland, desert, lakes, and forest.

They are used to foraging for what they can get.

The need for plant material

As herbivores, they don’t eat meat and don’t tend to go near anything from animals including eating fish.

This means finding foods for them which suit them which they will enjoy and satisfy an insatiable need for plant material.

One of the easiest foods that you can feed them is grass.

Many owners have good access to grass whether it is in their own garden or land or someone else’s property whether public or private.

There are different types of grass, some is wild and unkempt other types of grass is short, manicured and then even sprayed with pesticides to keep moss or other unwanted items growing on it.

Why grass is good for them

There are several reasons why grass is good for guinea pigs.

Grass is good for them to chew.

Guinea pigs love to chew and need to chew.

It keeps their teeth from growing longer and stops them from getting into pain because of this.

Grass, whether fresh or dry, provides an ideal opportunity for them to chew and grind their teeth down

The digestive tracts of guinea pigs are designed to eat lots of forage.

Eating grass keeps their digestive system moving and means that other food can pass through without a problem.

It means that they will poop more easily as a result.

They draw water from it.

Guinea pigs are creatures who do not like going without water but are used to going long periods without it.

This means they have to draw it out of other plant material such as fresh grass which contains water in it.

The more water that they have, the better for them.

It provides good nutrition for them.

Forages such as grasses can provide good nutrients, minerals and vitamin c for guinea pigs.

This is incredibly beneficial for them especially as they do not naturally produce vitamin c.

So eating grass will give them a supplement which they are deficient but which they most definitely need.

 

The downsides of feeding grass to a guinea pig
It can be damp and wet.

Wet grass is not good for them.

In fact, it can make them sick.

If you give them grass make sure it is dry.

Leaving guinea pigs out on grass when it is raining or if it has rained is strongly discouraged as they will be sitting on the damp grass or soaking wet grass.

They are not good at getting themselves dry and so will suffer as a result.

Grass can contain parasites.

If a guinea pig eats grass that contains parasites then this can cause problems eventually for them.

It can cause worms to appear as a result of the parasites and they may need regular deworming since soil and grass can contain parasite eggs.

However, there is no way of stopping this from happening other than banning a guinea pig from eating grass which is unrealistic.

Too much too soon can cause tummy problems and soft poop.

If you put your guinea pig straight out onto grass when it hasn’t been part of their diet it will cause them to have a poorly tummy.

If they haven’t eaten grass as part of their diet give it to them in small amounts on a regular basis increasing it to daily after a week or two.

This means you wean them onto it and cause their stomach to be more settled.

Grass can contain pesticides.

Pesticides are not good for guinea pigs as you can imagine.

Eating anything with pesticides on it can cause a guinea pig problems making them sick and possibly causing much worse damage to them.

It is imperative that you know the grass you are feeding them that it hasn’t been sprayed with any kind of chemical.

Grass can often contain feces.

Grass is often frequented by dogs or cats or other animals can defecate on it.

If you feed guinea pigs grass that has been defecated on by another animal this will cause them to get sick.

This is why it is so important to know about the grass you are feeding them and is why feeding wild grass to them is a risk.

Grass that has mildew, mold or fungus on it.

This is easier to spot on the grass and can be identified by careful analysis.

This is why it’s important to pick grass and go through it before you feed it to your guinea pig. If you spot any that has mold, mildew or fungus on it then throw the bunch away.

If they eat it it will cause problems for them and again they may get sick as they will try and eat the grass no matter what it may have on it.

Grass that is beside a high traffic area.

Grass that is found by the side of roads can be polluted with fumes from cars and lorries.

Some of these fumes are poisonous for guinea pigs and if they are absorbed into the grass that is fed to them will cause problems for a guinea pig who eats it.

What type of grass should be fed to guinea pigs?
Fresh lawn grass

Fresh lawn grass is fine which has been picked for them.

If they can chew it directly from the ground whilst grazing.

Again make sure it is pesticide free and hasn’t been defecated on.

Long grass with no thistles in it.

Again make sure you know where what has been on it.

Feeding them grass from public meadows is a risk but can be done but it is fine at your own risk.

You get to know what types of grass are good for your guinea pig.

Whatever they don’t want they tend to leave anyway so it’s good to experiment.

Obviously, avoid anything which you know to be poisonous such as ivy that gets caught up in the grass.

What about dry grass?

Dry grass which can be purchased from let stores such as Timothy hay or meadow hay. Avoid Alfalfa hay in large amounts as it contains a lot of calcium.

Can I feed only grass to them?

It’s a good question.

But it the answer is no.

It should be part of a balanced diet with fruits and veggies and a good guinea pig mix to give them a balanced diet that nourishes them and gives them the nutrients that they need.

 

what does guinea pig pee look like

What does guinea pig pee look like?

Just like us, guinea pigs need to pee too.

As liquid passes through their body they need to process it just like we do and so have to pee as we do.

What does guinea pig pee look like?

Guinea pig pee or is a white or yellow color.

It should be watery and not sludgy and have no bits in it.

Anything else other than watery would suggest that something is wrong with the guinea pig and they need to see a veterinary surgeon.

It can be quite alarming to see guinea pig pee for the first time especially if their pee is a white color but don’t worry. It is quite normal.

Guinea pigs poop too and you will regularly see their poop littering their home.

Can guinea pigs drink their own pee?

They will certainly try and sniff at it but are more likely to just ignore it and then walk right through it.

Guinea pigs won’t eat or drink anything that doesn’t take their fancy and this includes their own urine.

But if they take a sip of it they will be fine and they have been known to.

For more information on guinea pig pee, check out this guinea lynx article on it.

 

 

can guinea pigs be kept outside

Can guinea pigs be kept outside?

Although it is always desirable to keep your guinea pig’s inside, sometimes this is not always an option for many owners. This may be because of space or because other family members object.

Can guinea pigs be kept outside?

Yes, they can be kept outside, as long as the environment is right. Guinea pigs enjoy temperatures between 10 degrees centigrade and 20 degrees centigrade.

If it gets any hotter in temperature then they start to get uncomfortable and will seek refuge. They cannot take direct sunlight and will overheat due to their thick coats.

If it gets cold below 10 degrees centigrade, they also don’t like it too much because of the cold.

Beware of frost and snow as well. If these conditions occur, guinea pigs must be put in a shelter or out the house to keep them out of the snow or frost.

If they are kept outside there needs to be a waterproof and flood proof shelter where they can retreat to if it rains.

It also needs to be predator proof so interested predators cannot get into the cage or enclosure to attack the guinea pig. Predators can include, cats, snakes, birds of prey, foxes, and coyotes. It will vary depending on where you live as to what their predators will be.

 

can guinea pigs catch colds from humans

Can Guinea Pigs Catch Colds From Humans?

As an owner it is always a bit of a concern when a virus or cold is had by a person in the same vicinity and you have to handle your guinea pig.

The risk of passing on your cold or virus from guinea pigs can be worrying, as who wants to actually pass on their cold to a piggy?

(Image)

So can guinea pigs catch colds from humans?

Fortunately, guinea pigs are not prone to get viral infections.

However, this doesn’t mean that they are immune to illness.

Unfortunately, they can get bacterial infections.

This means that you do not have to worry about passing on your cold to your guinea pig.

However, do be careful about passing on bacterial infections as they can cause a lot of problems for your piggy.

They are very common in pet store purchased piggies and they can go downhill very quickly. A URI (Upper Respiratory Infection) will kill a guinea pig quickly if it is not addressed.

Symptoms of a URI

  • Sneezing or coughing
  • Lethargy
  • Rough or puffed up coat
  • Dull or receding eyes
  • Discharge from nose or eyes
  • Crusty eyes or sealed up eyes
  • No faeces
  • Not eating or drinking

If you have any concerns about your piggy, please seek out a good veterinary surgeon in your area who is guinea pig friendly.

They will be able to properly diagnose and give treatment to any issues that your piggy may be facing.

There is no substitute for good veterinary care.

Further reading 

Salmonella with guinea pigs- Pet MD

Yersina infection with guinea pigs- Pet MD

Upper Respiratory Infection with guinea pigs – Guinea Lynx

can guinea pigs drink out bowls

Can Guinea Pigs Drink Out of Bowls?

One of the vital things about having feeding a guinea pig is that they always need access to water to drink.

Water is the only liquid the can drink.

Some owners have tried giving them other liquids but these are completely inappropriate for piggies to drink.

The usual way to give a piggy water is from a water bottle

But can guinea pigs drink out of bowls?

Yes they can drink out of a bowl.

However it is definitely less preferable to a water bottle.

This is because;

  • there is more opportunity for them to contaminate the water.
  • Its really easy for them to tip over the water bowl or move it around and spill the water.    (image)

If you do decide to get a bowl for your guinea pig then there are some good water bowls out there to purchase.

Make sure the water bowl is heavy.

A heavy water bowl such as a ceramic water bowl is less likely to be move around and kept in one place.

If you use something like a plastic bowl or tray, the water doesn’t last very long in it as it just gets spilt.

A ceramic water bowl which can’t be moved easily will do the job for them.

However, i still prefer a water bottle for my piggies to feed from.

Its still a much less messy way of ensuring they get the water they need.

can guinea pigs blink

Can Guinea Pigs Blink?

Guinea pigs have eyes that are bright and clear.

Placed on the side of their heads, they are much different to our eyes, they slightly protrude and their vision is poor compared to ours.

They cannot see for long distances and can only visualize clearly when an object is close.

Piggies can also distinguish colors.

Their eyes are the same size and their field of vision is different from ours due their eyes being located on the side of their heads.

This means they can see around their body’s much more than we can.

Most Guinea pigs do not close their eyes when they sleep. Some guinea pigs close their eyes when they feel very comfortable and peaceful. But with most piggies, their eyes remain open keeping watch for any predators that may be lurking to attack.

This is something they have learnt to do over time in their role as natural prey animals.

But if they have their eyes open all or most of the time, what happens when they get something in their eye?

Can guinea pigs blink when they need to?

Guinea pigs do have eyelids, and like us they use them to get rid of any unwanted dirt or dust particles which may be attracted to their eyes.

By briefly blinking, they can clear these unwanted dirt or dust particles and ensure the eye isn’t unduly damaged.

However, they not as active as our eyelids are.

Their eyelids have been known to get infected if they get irritated by sharp pieces of hay or even bedding.

In this case, their eyelids can swell and become red.

(image)

If ever this happens, then do contact a veterinary surgeon to have this dealt with.

But yes, they can blink but it is not often you see it.

‘Blink and you’ll miss it!’ as the saying goes!

 

can guinea pigs eat too much grass

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Too Much Grass?

Have you ever left your guinea pigs out eating grass for a long period of time?

I’ve done this on several occasions expecting them to enjoy their time out on the grass.

I know the grass is good for them to eat and there are no pesticides on it so I am completely happy for them to do so.

Letting guinea pigs out onto grass

Whenever I do this and let them out onto the grass, they go absolutely mad initially and eat every blade of grass in sight.

They will do this for a time and then chill out after their feed.

However, one thing I have noticed is that when they do eat a lot of fresh grass, their poo gets rather gooey.

I’ve noticed this several times, the poop get’s longer and then messier (i’ve become a bit knowledgeable on guinea pig poop!).

The more messy their poo is the more upset their stomach is. Usually it is shorter and drier.

They also tend to hold back in eating the grass after some of the time.

Piggies are also pretty good at sensing when they have had enough food.

So can guinea pigs eat too much grass?

What’s happened is that my piggies are not used to eating fresh grass a lot. So when they eat lots of it, they get a slight upset stomach.

Their diet mainly consists of dry meadow or timothy hay, guinea pig pellets and some choice vegetables and so are not used to eating the fresher grass on my lawn.

Image wikipedia

So I have some choices;

  1. Increase their time out one grass to get their bodies used to eating fresh grass.
  2. I could give them fresh grass in their pen on a daily basis.
  3. I could limit their time out on the grass because it gives them gooey poop.

I’ve opted for first option, much their pleasure and is the cause of much increased wheeking whenever they sense it is coming.

Fresh grass is still great for them to eat and they absolutely love it.

So, in answer to the question, guinea pigs can eat too much grass if they are not used to eating it.

But even with this, it’s not the end of the world if their poop is a little bigger than usual or a bit more gooey.

Their bodies are just getting used to eating fresh grass.

Just make sure grass is pesticide free and doesn’t contain any excrement from any other pets.

keep a guinea pig cool

20 Ways to Keep a Guinea Pig Cool in Hot Weather

There are many different ways that you could keep a guinea pig cool during hot weather.

As the weather warms up after a cold winter and into the coolness of spring it brings the prospect of the other extreme, a hot summer.

Guinea pigs love an ideal temperature range of between 50 degrees to 77 degrees Fahrenheit and so if the temperature goes either side of that range, then measures need to be taken to protect our piggies from extreme cold or hot weather. Guinea pigs are good survivors and will do all they can to help themselves, but they could sure do with a hand if things get a little uncomfortable for them.

We’ve looked at so things you can do for piggies in cold weather.

So here are 20 ways that you can keep a guinea pig cool in hot weather.

1. Bring them inside

If your guinea pig is outside then bringing them into a cool home is something that would really help your guinea pig. If you have the capability for doing this, they will benefit from a consistent temperature range and will feel far more comfortable, rather than being outside where they have to retreat to what ever shade they can find. The trouble with shade though, is that if the weather is really hot, it can still be too hot for guinea pigs.

2. Keep your home well ventilated

As mentioned above, If you are keeping your guinea pig inside, then keeping your home well ventilated means that they are more comfortable in that living habitat and means that you can control the temperature rather than relying on mother nature keep your guinea pigs cool.

3. Keep your guinea pig’s home away from windows

If they are inside, keeping your guinea pigs away from windows means that they are less exposed to hot weather. The sun’s rays can be extremely hot and quite uncomfortable for guinea pigs to bear, so they will be grateful for a more shady place to live.

4. Avoid plastic cages

Hard Plastic cages heat up very quickly in hot weather and will harm a guinea pig if they are in the environment of a plastic hutch because plastic conducts heat quickly. They are much better off in cages like c&c cages that use Coroplast bases which is better for them to stand on, or a wooden base at least.

5. Put a parasol over an outside run/hutch.

This is a short term option. If you are finding that the temperature is getting hotter during the daytime, a parasol will help to keep a guinea pig in the shade from the sun’s direct rays. A guinea pig will seek out shade when exposed to the sun’s rays and this way you make it easier for them to seek refuge.

6. Consider the sun’s position

Look at where the sun’s rays are positioned throughout the day and re-position their home accordingly so that they are shaded and not exposed to the sun’s direct rays either outside a home or inside.

7. Be considerate of longer haired cavies

Long haired cavies such as Abyssinian’s  are more affected by the warm weather than shorter haired cavies. They can very easily suffer heat stroke as they warm up very easily due to the insulation of their coat. They are far better suited to be indoors where you can control the temperature.

8. Ensure they have constant access to water

Cavies need constant access to water and this need is heightened in summer time when they can very easily become dehydrated. Make sure their water bottle’s are topped up with clean water so that they are always refreshed.

9. Snacks that are high in water

Snacks that are high in water such as cucumber and watermelon are also good for them to eat. They are very refreshing for piggies to eat and they do help to refresh them.

10. Air conditioning and fans

Air conditioning and fans are great to have in the home during the summer as previously mentioned. They help to regulate the temperature and keep the room temperature at a comfortable level. However, do be careful that the temperature does not go too far the other way and get too cold for your piggies. Anything below 50 degrees farenheit is too cold for them.  Placing a thermometer by their home is a good way to monitor what temperature they are living in.

If you are using a temporary fan in the piggies environment, make sure it isn’t pointed directly at them but is directed away from where they are.

11. Ice packs

A great idea that is used by many piggie owners is to use an ice pack to help cool them down in the summer heat. Just take an ice pack and wrap it in a towel. Hard plastic ice packs are the best for this type of activity as light plastic is likely to be pierced and will leak.

12. Lay down newspaper for them

Newspaper is also quite cool for them to sit on and they will enjoy sitting on it. However, it does need replacing quite often as they rip it up quite easily.

13. Cool tiles

Placing tiles inside your guinea pig’s home, is a good way of keeping them cool. However, they still need to be kept out of direct sunlight, as they will retain whatever temperature they are in. Ceramic tiles are better as there is less chance the cavy will chew it. Plus they will be good for grinding their nails on. If they are in a cool room, they will enhance that temperature for the piggie.

14. Cover windows

If your guinea pig is inside, keeping out direct sunlight is a good way of keeping out the heat. Don’t worry about it being dark, guinea pigs are very used to being in dark places and have great eyesight for this.

15. Hiding shelters

Have a number of shelters where they can hide away. In the wild they will try and keep cool by burrowing underground to get away from the sun. Have places they can go to retreat from the sun. Avoid hard plastic houses if you can.

16. Damp cloths and towels over the cage

Use a cloth and wet it with ice cold water and place it on top of their home to try and cool it down.

17. Take care with pigloos

Pigloos are great hidey places for piggies however due to their hard plastic fabric, they can become very hot in summer. Consider replacing it during the summer, or drilling some holes in the top for air to get through.

18. Frozen water bottles

Fill a water bottle up with ice cold water and place it on top of a guinea pig’s home to help cool it down. Do monitor this though so that they don’t start chewing at it. You can also cover them with fleece or toweling to protect the bottle and tie it.

19. Put them in an empty bath tub

By taking them out of their usual home when it gets hot, put them some where away from the heat such as an empty bath tub to give them respite from the heat. Bathroom’s are usually quite cool places and the guinea pig will appreciate the welcome change of temperature.

20. Keep their outside housing in the shade

If you can’t bring your piggie inside, then move their housing to the coolest place you can find. Avoid places where there is direct sunlight, give them plenty of shelters to retreat to. Use some of the tips described above to bring some relief to them and they will be grateful for your intervention.

 

Anyway, I hope that’s given you some ideas for how to keep a guinea pig cool during hot weather. You may have some better ideas, if you do share them below. It’s great to hear what else you guys do to keep your cavies comfortable.