Guinea pigs being prey animals can be fearful of handling, so all handling should be gentle, supportive and done on floor level if by children, to avoid guinea pigs being squeezed, jumping or being dropped. Sitting with them and letting them come to you is the best option. If being lifted, guinea pigs should be supported cradled into the body and should not be scruffed or grabbed.
Guinea pigs cannot make their own Vitamin C from their food, and without it will be very unwell. Good quality guinea pig food contains the right amount of Vitamin C to keep them healthy, so make sure you chose a good brand, like Burgess. Food should be stored as per the manufacturer’s instructions and used by the use by date to ensure correct Vitamin C levels. There is no need to provide a supplement if they have a good quality food, and hay. Fresh plain drinking water should always be available also.
A variety of their daily veg can contain Vitamin C also.
Guinea pigs should be fed with similar food ratios as rabbits – 85% hay/grass/forage, 12% veg, 3% pellets.
As guinea pigs are designed to graze for most of the day, inadequate diets can cause serious dental disease, guinea pigs are also prone to GI tract problems such as bloat and gut stasis, the same as rabbits. Guinea pigs will eat all veg safe for rabbits with the addition of peppers for more Vitamin C. Care should be taken with veg high in calcium such as spinach and kale, as guinea pigs can be prone to bladder issues, such as stones or sludge, so large amounts of veg high in calcium should be avoided.
The RWAF do not condone breeding of rabbits or guinea pigs. However, if you do intend to breed from your guinea pigs, this should be done when they are young. This is due to the pelvic bones fusing in guinea pigs older than around 10 months, if a female guinea pig is introduced to an unneutered male after this age, it is unlikely she would be able to give birth naturally and would need a caesarean section to safely remove the young, if guinea pigs do have an early litter they will be able to give birth naturally from then on.
A guinea pig has a longer gestation period than a rabbit – at on average 63 days, the young will be born fully furred with eyes open. They are weaned off mum at around 3 weeks old.