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Guinea Pig Basics with Dr Sam

Basic Facts and Physiological Values

Below are some basic facts and quick information regarding guinea pigs. It is important to note that this information lists the basic physiological values however some owners may find guinea pigs that are outside these factors especially in relation to average age.

Basic Feeding Requirements

1. Unlimited amounts of Grass Hay. Lucerne can be fed to pregnant and lactating sows and pups up to 6 months of age. See Hay for more information.

2. Water 40-80mls per day per guinea pig available in a dripper water bottle or clean ceramic bowl.

3. 1/4 Cup of high quality plain pellets can be fed formulated with Vitamin C such as Burgess Excel Guinea Pig Nuggets with Mint.

4. Guinea Pigs require 50-100 mg of Vitamin C per day provided in either a tablet form or included in their daily diet in the form of high vitamin C vegetables.

5. Fresh, washed leafy greens and high quality vegetables and fruits. Refer for Vegetables and Fruits for more information on diet.

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General Facts about Guinea pigs and their Care

- Guinea pigs cannot sweat or dissipate heat. Unlike other animals they do not have any sweat glands and as such must be monitored for heat stroke in summer months. See Keeping your Guinea Pig Cool for further information.

- Guinea pigs do not tolerate humidity well. Damp environments and draughts can cause respiratory illness and distress. It is important to provide a dry, clean environment at all times.

- Young boars (males) must be removed and weaned from their mothers at 3 weeks of age as they reach sexual maturity at this age. The reason sexual maturity is at such a young age is because guinea pigs are born precocial which means they are born very well developed unlike other rodents. As they are so mature at birth they have a much shorter time frame to sexual maturity.

- Castration will not alter a guinea pigs behaviour. Male guinea pigs will not show any decrease in dominance related behaviours such as mounting. It will however decrease the risk of prostate cancers and impaction issues later in life. Discuss any surgical procedure with an experienced exotics vet.

- Guinea pigs cannot vomit and as such should not fast before any surgical operation (general anaesthesia). The mouth should be emptied of any food particles prior using a 1ml syringe with water and to cleanse the oral cavity. 

- They cannot tolerate any form of penicillin and it is not recommended to administer these medications to guinea pigs. There are many safer alternatives.

- Guinea pigs do not have any nerves in their teeth

- Guinea pigs have a low sugar (glucose) tolerance. This means they should not be fed high amounts of grain, muesli or mixes which contain high amounts of fat, oats and molasses. Also avoid any mixes which contain coloured pieces, as these are primarily made and coated in sugars. Fruits can  be fed 1 - 2 per week.

- Guinea pigs practice copography (eating ones of faeces) to obtain B Vitamins which are not digested during the first intake of food.

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Read our Care Guide

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