I love guinea pigs: 10 reasons we all love guinea pigs…
It’s so wonderful to watch your guinea pig companions having a great time. In fact, happy guinea pigs literally jump for joy! But what can we do to make our furry friends enjoy life even more? Here are some special things you can do to make your piggie’s day.
Make their run more fun
Guinea pigs are active creatures and they love to run and play. So when you’re thinking about their enclosure, the number one thing is to make sure it’s big enough. The minimum floor area advised for a pair of guinea pigs is 2.5m2, but ideally a run should be bigger than this – in fact, the bigger the better! Once the space is sorted though, there are lots of ways you can make the enclosure more interesting for your pets.
Tunnels are great fun for piggies to explore, and extra shelters or hidey holes add some exciting variety. There are loads of guinea pig toys to think about too – you can buy a whole range of options from ball toys to wood blocks, and you can even make some simple toys yourself with what you’ve got in the house. Even something as simple as a pile of shredded paper can provide a surprising amount of amusement!
One great way to keep piggies entertained is to combine fun with food. In the wild, guinea pigs will forage all day, and pet piggies will be happiest if they can express this natural instinct. So try scattering their food throughout their enclosure or hiding it in tubs or toys, stuffing tubes with hay, and even getting a few tasty treats involved! Little treats such as Gerty Guinea Pig Scrummies can be hidden in a favourite toy, while larger chew treats like Tiny Friends Farm Stickles can be hung in the enclosure to encourage gnawing and keep your piggie’s teeth in good shape.
These are great ways to spice up your pet’s existing run, but how about making life really exciting and giving them another space to play in? If your piggies normally live indoors but you’ve got a garden where you can set up a secure pen, they’ll love going for little trips outside in good weather. Alternatively, an indoor play area can also make a fab guinea pig adventure – you can get creative designing a piggie playground or obstacle course!
Tasty hay will make their day
Now we’ve thought about playtime, how about dinner time? For guinea pigs, dinner time is actually a huge part of their lives, as they’re herbivores and need to graze away on hay pretty much all day. This means it can make a real difference to their quality of life if the hay they’re munching on tastes really good.
So, how do we tell whether hay is tasty or not? Happily we don’t have to try it ourselves – there are lots of clues you can pick up using your other senses! Good quality hay smells sweet and fresh, and it’ll be a pale green to gold colour. Look out for the balance of stalks versus leaves too, as it’s best to go for hay with plenty of leaf matter.
High quality Timothy hay is a great option for piggies, and our Science Selective Timothy Hay contains delicious large seed heads that guinea pigs adore nibbling on. As well as Timothy hay, another nutritious and delicious type for piggies is Meadow hay such as Russel Rabbit Tasty Hay.
Hay isn’t all the diet of course – your furry friend will also need a portion of special guinea pig food and some fresh veggies. If you’d like to find out more about how hay fits into the guinea pig diet, check out our blog.
Give them a great social life
Another way of making our piggies super happy is to give them lots of opportunities for social interaction. Guinea pigs are naturally highly social creatures – in the wild, they can live in groups of about ten adults! Our pet piggies don’t need this many friends to be happy, but they should always have at least one companion to share their lives with. When it comes to setting up pairs or groups, it’s important that your piggies are the same sex or neutered to prevent breeding.
As well as playing with their piggie friends, guinea pigs love attention from their owners, and this is where you can really make their day by spending some quality time together. Guinea pigs make great family pets and they’re good with children if they’re handled gently and safely.
In terms of handling, it’s always important to make sure that your pet is comfortable about being held if you’re going to pick them up for cuddles. Particularly when your piggie is settling in, it’s best to let them come to you – try sitting on the floor with them so they can get used to you gradually.
Hand-feeding treats can provide a great bonding experience, though in order to keep your piggie in good health it’s important not to feed too many treats and to avoid anything too sugary. Our Selective Naturals Woodland Loops contain no added sugars and are also high in fibre, making them a healthy and tasty way to treat your pet!
Keep up with grooming – and add in a pedicure!
When you’re spending time with your piggies, it’s great to get into the routine of regular grooming. How often you’ll need to do this depends on the length of the coat – many long-haired piggies will benefit from a brush every day, while their short-haired friends may only need a groom once a week.
The best way to groom a guinea pig is to gently brush the hair in the direction that it grows, and remove any bits of bedding caught up in the coat. If you’re gentle and calm, many piggies will love a good brush and you can enjoy the time together too!
Grooming time is also a handy opportunity to check over your piggie and look for any concerns. Take a look at the condition of the skin and coat, and keep an eye out for any lumps and bumps while you’re giving them a brush. It’s also a good time to check their eyes and ears and make sure their incisor teeth don’t look overgrown.
One particularly important thing to look out for is the length of the toenails. Guinea pig nails tend to grow quicker than they’re worn down, so they’ll need regular trimming to keep them in good shape. The rate of growth varies between piggies, but as a guide, you could think about nail trimming about once a month.
Some piggies do get nervous about having their nails trimmed, but if you make it a positive experience with a treat at the end, they’ll learn that it isn’t so bad after all! To find out how to trim a guinea pig’s nails safely, check out our guide.