Inside scoop from Aqualand on Cavia porcellus
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Guinea pigs are cute.
Name: Legend has it that
Temperament: We find guinea pigs inquisitive and quite friendly – especially if you give them a treat once in a while. Just go slowly and gently with your new pig. Give him or her a chance to get to know you.
Allyn Duensing, June 24, 2008
Your guinea pig page shows a cavy in an exercise ball and says that it is ok to put them on an exercise wheel if you line it with aluminum foil. This is very very very very very wrong. First, guinea pigs spine's are not able to flex down like that of a rat or a hamster. Putting them in a device like an exercise ball or wheel causes intense painful stress on the cavy's back and can have permanent effects. Second, a cavy will munch on aluminum foil, which tears up its stomach.
A: I'll add your comments to my guinea pig page. Larger exercise balls and larger smooth plastic wheels are now available. LA
Activity Level. Guinea pigs spend a lot of time loafing. They don’t run three miles a night as hamsters do. They will use an exercise wheel. Be sure to put aluminum foil on it, so their tiny feet won’t get caught in the spokes. Exercise balls work better. Guinea pigs enjoy getting outside their cage and interacting with you daily.
Cage: Adult guinea pigs grow to about a foot in length. Obviously they need at least two square feet of space. Remember to take them out to play every day – except moms nursing babies.
Foods: Standard guinea
pig food contains every nutrient they need except water.
In a pinch, rabbit pellets will work if you run out of the right
food. But you’re asking for
trouble if you feed it for more than a brief period. Guinea pigs can’t
make their own vitamin C (just like us humans).
If they don’t get vitamin C daily, they will sicken and die --
Use a heavy food bowl that won’t tip.
Chris Griffin, DVM, DABVP, Kannapolis, NC, July 19, 2008
Hi. I came across your web site while surfing today and
found your rabbit page.
I enjoyed seeing what you had to say but noticed a glaring and potentially problematic omission from your diet section. All hind gut fermenting
animals, including rabbits, guinea pigs and chinchillas, require hay as large portion of the diet. Pellets are fine but actually much less
necessary for adult rabbits than hay (Timothy or Orchard Grass) because of the extremely high fiber content the stomach and intestines (and cecum)
require to stay healthy and functioning.
Also, the pellets fed to rabbits over six months of age (depending on the breed) should be timothy based as well, to decrease the amount of calcium
that will be excreted via the urine.
I hope this information is seen as being helpful. I have treated too many rabbits over the past 10 years on diets too low in fiber (Hay). Prevention is the key, and it is easy enough -- unlimited timothy or grass hay.
The information at www.oxbowhay.com is excellent. I do not work for them, but am very satisfied with their products for rabbits (and other
animals) and think the educational materials they have are great.
Best of luck -- and I hope you find this information helpful.
A: Thanks for the info. I found it helpful.
I'm adding your letter to our rabbit, guinea pig, and chinchilla
Rachel Beaver, Austin, TX, February 23, 2009
Hello, Your website has been very helpful to me! If you could, I would love for these two comments to be posted on the guinea pig and betta page.
Guinea Pig Comments
A: I do not share your dislike of commercial GP foods and do not think most peoople have the nutritional know how to make a superior food. However, I'll post your comments. LA
Supplements/Treats: Guinea pigs really love alfalfa and timothy. Look around and find a hay manger that works in your cage. They also like apples and greens.
Lighting: Guinea pigs require no special lighting other than a regular day and night schedule.
Water: Water bottles always stay cleaner than water bowls. Since guinea pigs love to chew, protect their water bottle from their always-gnawing teeth. (They will also chew on electric wires if you let them.) You’ll notice they also yank at their water bottles like they’re milking a cow. They can make a small racket. Strong GPs will occasionally pull their water bottle apart.
Handling: Scoop your pig up from below rather than grabbing from above. At first, you need to hold them against your chest or they think you will drop them – like the blond in the King Kong movies.
Not Exactly Geniuses: Guinea pigs score fairly low on the SAT exams. And they’ll never learn to play the piano – except the first two notes in chopsticks. They’re just friendly little whistlers that sort of grunt contentedly when you lay on the floor with your pig on your chest. Guinea pigs like their owners.
Scurvy: Lack of vitamin C will kill Guinea pigs within a month. They get all scruffy looking. They stop running around. They may even quit whistling all together. Too low levels of vitamin C merely prolong the process.
Fresh Greens: All Guinea pig pellets contain vitamin C, but C deteriorates fairly quickly. We recommend giving them some C-containing snacks. Fresh greens hit the spot and really make ‘em whistle. (Too many greens can give them diarrhea.) Other C foods include bits of orange, apple slices, cabbage cores, and potatoes.
Hay: One reason to feed hay besides nutrition -- giving guinea pigs hay to chew on reduces their tendency to chew the hair off of other pigs. They like alfalfa and timothy. They prefer timothy.
Hair-Types: Everyone has their own idea of what a guinea pig should look like. Some people like ‘em all -- regardless of hair type or color.
Smoothes: In the
Abyssinians: Sometimes called “whistling cowlicks,” Abyssinian guinea pigs have rock star hairdos when they get a cowlick on top their head. Groom these guys with a toothbrush.
Peruvians: The long-haired Peruvian guinea pigs comprise maybe 5% of the population we see, so we have no picture right now. Wood chip litter often sticks to their hair. Duct tape one of these “dust mops” to a broom handle and he’ll clean out all those dust bunnies under your bed. Happily, guinea pigs groom their own hair. If your pig gets mats, snip them out with scissors. You may have to trim around their eyes. You may also want to strategically trim their hair if you plan to breed them.
Hairless Guinea Pigs: At the opposite end of the guinea pig hair-spectrum we find this non-hairy guy. Thanks to Stan and Jodi for this photo of a very uncommon type of guinea pig. Cool, eh.
Curly Haired Guinea Pigs: Here’s a new hair type to us. He looks like a little poodle. He would be fun to clip like a poodle.
Temperature: Room temperature works best. Cool temperatures can cause guinea pigs to catch cold. Babies in particular suffer when they get too cool. Hot temps can also kill them.
Security: Guinea pigs will spend a great deal of time in a hiding place. They need a box slightly larger than themselves. Pregnant females especially need a hide box.
Fights: Female guinea pigs pretty much get along together. You can mix in one male with no problems. Males usually get along with other males, but if you add one female to your herd of males, watch the fur fly.
Breeding: Females will produce four litters per year. As you probably know, this puts a strain on them and shortens their lives. You’ll have a healthier herd of Guinea pigs if you limit your females to two litters per year. By the way, Guinea pigs breed very easily. Keep your sexes apart or you will have kits in nine weeks. You can safely keep a male with pregnant moms, but be aware that moms will come into heat 10 to 12 hours after giving birth.
More Breeding Info: If not bred by age six months, Guinea pig mommas have difficulty giving birth later. Their pelvic bones harden up and keep the babies from being born correctly. We just found this out this year (2003) from our vet tech. Thanks, Tawny. We keep learning more about many critters every day.
Weaning: We like to keep our guinea pig babies with their moms four weeks. The pros wean ‘em out at three weeks to keep the males from breeding the baby females.
Life Span: Your average Guinea pig lives five years. Occasionally one will live seven. They grow to about two pounds at 18 months.
Next to Last Word: When moving guinea pigs to a new environment, keep them on the same food. Don’t expect them to switch all their habits overnight. Make any food changes gradually.
Last Word: If your guinea pig gets sick NEVER give it an antibiotic. Most antibiotics will kill guinea pigs. And since many vets rarely work with Guinea pigs, they don’t always know this. LA.
Additional Helpful Information from Rebecca Surovic:
Comments from Sandeep, United Kingdom, May 29, 2005
Comments from Sandra Lucas, July 21, 2006
I have a few comments about your guinea pig page http://www.aqualandpetsplus.com/Animal,%20Guinea%20Pig.htm please take the time to read this email as I have taken a long time to write it.
Guinea pigs ‘wheek’ not
● NO nuts, can easily choke and too fatty
● 2 month is TOO YOUNG for breeding. 6 months (5 months earliest) and around 700g, NEVER use a fatty sow as there is a large chance of the sow dieing
● Gestation period – 63-72 days
● Babies are pups not kits
● Boars MUST leave mum at 3 weeks (2 if they appear sexually active, rumblestrutting, mounting mum/siblings)
● You can’t get ‘albino’ guinea pigs, nearest are Pink Eyed Whites. There are also ‘dilutes’ such as lilacs
● NO exercise balls/wheels. Guineas don’t have a flexible spine, they are NOT like overgrown hamsters
● NO wire floor, bedding or not they will get bumblefoot
● They need much more that 2 sq feet! At least 7.5 feet per pair plus 2.5 feet per extra guinea
● Mums and nursing babies can be handled
● Greens will most likely only give them diarrhea if they are suddenly given loads, a guinea who has never had greens should be introduced to them carefully
● Cat ‘slicker brush’ types shouldn’t be used, a small comb works better, a wider toothed comb for a longhair, for a teddy use a slicker brush with rubber-type bits on end to prevent the skin being scratched, Abyssinians can be brushed with a small comb like the smooth hair
● Longhairs must be trimmed or wrapped for show, you can not keep a longhair at full coat length, the coat will grow at 1 inch per month for its whole life
● You don’t mentions the amount of care a longhair needs
● The skinny pig used in your picture doesn’t look healthy at all
● You don’t mention the use of baby cream on a skinny
● Curly-haired babies grow to be longhaired texels, alpacas or merinos, a wavy haired baby would be a rex
● The golden male needs to be supported at the back end whist held like that, a large guinea like that can easily get a dislocated spine being held like that, I have known it happen to people
● Males will usually only keep well in pairs, females however can live in a herd
● Pregnant guineas should NEVER be held like in the picture, the uterus shouldn’t be turned like that, it can cause the sow to miscarry
● Sows should be bred at 6 months, left 1 month or 2 after weaning before going back with the boar to ensure she doesn’t put on too much condition. 3 litters MAX per sow in her LIFE is recommended. Don’t breed from a sow that has had problems before
● Take the male out when you are sure the sow is pregnant
● If they don’t give birth by 10-12 months then the pelvic bones become less elastic, at 6 months they should be going with a boar, not having a 1st litter
● An adult weight between 2lb and 4lb ideally
● And advise people to find a good vet before they need one.
I hope you took the time to read this, I will happily write you a page and supply pictures for the guinea pig care section if you would like.
A: I read and published your letter. LA
Megan Hinrichs, Oregon, August 14, 2010
Hi LA. I read through your page including all the of comments from concerned guinea pig owners over the content of your page. Regardless of your personal beliefs, a good majority of the information and concerns raise by the previous commenters are true. Yet you stand by your ignorance, and allow your page to proclaim such. Publishing everyone's comments are great for an owner who has the time to go through and read all of them. However my issue is with the first part of your page's content.
Substrate - No cedar chips
You need to expand upon this by letting people know why. I don't recall you mentioning Guinea Pigs are susceptible to respiratory problems, which can be caused by bad judgements in bedding. From my own personal experience and research the best is Carefresh, or if it costs too much, Aspen.
Chewer - Needs wood and a pumice block for teeth
I haven't met many guinea pigs that will actually chew on a wooden stick. Most prefer their houses or paper tubes. One of the best ways of helping with the teeth issue is through unlimited quantities of Timothy or another grass hay.
Supplements - Dried alfalfa and timothy
What about vitamin C? This is a HUGE health concern beginner guinea pig owners need to be aware about. You need to differentiate between alfalfa and timothy hay. Only young cavies and pregnant/lactating mothers should be given alfalfa. Believe what you want, if you walk into any pet store and pick up some generic brand of alfalfa it should state on the back of the label that it is not intended for adult animals. Also hay shouldn't be listed as a supplement, it's a dietary need guinea pigs require every day. Good quality cavy food is made with either alfalfa or timothy, but they require the actual fibers to be healthy.
Treats - Oranges , potatoes, apples, greens, nuts
Greens? Again be more specific. Dark leafy greens in small quantities. Kale is great for guinea pigs. Cabbage, lettuce and broccoli should be avoided because it can led to intestinal problems. What about carrots? Or red peppers? Both are great treats, guinea pigs (or at least mine) love. Never ever ever, give or even recommend giving your guinea pig nuts, seeds or corn. All three are terrible for them.
Your page has some good information about their background but to be taken as a serious website you need to update your information and expand upon it. The chart at the top of the page could use a section about food choices for different ages. Many commercial guinea pig foods rely on alfalfa as the main ingredient. I know at the PetsMart I work for, only two of eight or maybe ten varieties of cavy food we carry are made with only timothy hay, everything else is alfalfa. Which again is great for younger cavies, but once they reach adulthood they need to slowly be transferred to a different diet.
Thank you for your time, and please take the time to change your information or at least do extensive research to learn the facts for yourself.
A: Thanks for your time. I found your info useful and
added it to my GP page. LA
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