If you're here reading this, you love guinea pigs as much as I do, or just looking for some information on the little critters.
If you are in need of any advice or have any concerns for your piggie, please ring your vet asap!
Please never just get one piggie, they are heard animals and do best in pairs or more. Try looking at your local adoption centers first!
This is all from my experience from owning guinea pigs!
Well, lets' start from the beginning.
4 years ago, with my landlord's permission, me and my ex partner got these 2 boys. I was terrified, both fit into my hand with room to spare, and I have tiny hands!
How would I look after them? What do they eat? What to name them? Etc.....
Obviously we bought a cage, hay, food, and sawdust, all recommended by pets at home, and they answered all my questions at the time. So we took them home, got the cage set up and left the 2 boys alone to get settled.
Then we named them. Loki and Thor, the names fit them to a T. Loki is scatty as hell and Thor can stomp around like thunder.
I will write about a fair few things that I have learned over the years with my boys. Behavior (personalities), Handling, Food, Vocalization, Health Issues (This includes vet visits), and anything else I can think of.
Loki is a silver agouti abyssinian, while Thor is a tortoiseshell silkie/long haired american.
Vocalization—Guinea pigs make a wide range of noises, from wheeking to purring/rumbling.
Loki will wheek extremely loudly if he hears the fridge opening or the rustling of a plastic bag, this is to get my attention in the hopes of food/treats. Thor is not a vocal pig, he lets Loki do all the begging, but on the odd occasion I will hear a tiny peep from him. Wheeking has multiple uses for a guinea pig, it can be used as a homing beacon for other pigs, a cry for mummy, a cry for attention/food or just because they feel like it.
Rumble/purring—Rumble strutting is often a sign of dominance (the piggie in charge) seen in both male and female guinea pigs. A guinea pig will shake his bum while rumbling at the the piggie to say "I am the boss!" When I give Thor rubs on his back he will purr at me, personally I think he likes it as he flattens himself against me and gets comfortable. Some people think piggies don't like, some do, I think its down to the piggie in question as they give clear indicators if they don't like something. Loki purrs when he gets chin and shoulder rubs, and if he moves away, I stop giving him attention, as I see it as a sign to leave me alone.
Teeth chattering—This is seen as a sign to back off/leave me alone/angry/irritated. Mine teeth click at me when I don't bring food fast enough, or during lap time when they want to go home, it shows they are uncomfortable with something you or a cage mate is doing, however if you see your piggies constantly teeth chattering each other, please watch them closely, normally it's just a small disagreement but if your piggies are fluffing up, teeth chattering, and rumble strutting vigorously, please separate them asap as it could be the start of a fight. Piggie fights are nasty and they will draw blood/seriously harm one another. If you find your piggies fighting, do not grab one with your hands in case the piggie mistakes you for its cage mate and attack you. Use a towel to place over a piggie and pick him up that way.
Loki has a very outgoing personality, he is always exploring and intelligent. He has learned to do a few tricks with the help of food—circle, shake hands, give kisses, stand up/beg and to jump through a hoop. He doesn't seem to mind cuddles or lap time, but he doesn't like to be cuddled for long. He lets me know when its time to be put back, or he needs the loo, with little nips on my chin and nose.
However Thor is very lazy laid back piggie, he only begs for food and that is it. I have tried on many occasions to train him, but he is not interested. Thor very much likes his cuddle time, he spreads his whole body out and is happy to sleep on me, he does give little nips when its time to go back or he needs the loo. If I ignore these warnings I will get peed on.
Picking up my guinea pigs is always hard, they have the prey instinct, even though they know its me, they still run around and hide. I usually scoop them up with both hands after blocking them in a corner, I use one hand to support the ribs and the other under his bum. However, you could always herd them into a tunnel or a cuddle cup and pick up the whole thing.
While I have them on my lap, I always have a blanket/old towel underneath them, this helps to absorb any accidents or for them to hide under to feel more secure.
Health problems—Thor has been sicklier piggie of the two, he has had two chest infections, the only reason we noticed this was when he breathed it was heavy and labored, he also made a wheezing sound. Each vet visit costed around £30 – £60 for the checkup and medicine we had. Three times a day we had to give him antibiotics with a little syringe. Thor hated it, we had to wrap him in a towel to hold him still and get the syringe past his front teeth to get to the back of his throat. The look of disgust on his face was hilarious.
Loki as only had a hay poke to his left eye, the same as if we had scratched our eye. His eye started to cloud over, as if he was going blind, so we rushed him to the vets to find it was a hay poke, very common in piggies that like to dive into hay piles. He has to have to different types of eye drops twice a day. One was a eye drop, the other an eye cream. Loki knew when it was going to happen so made a point of closing his eye as tightly as he could, he was a pain in the ass!
But with both of my boys, after they had meds, a treat was always right behind!
Food—Guinea pigs are strictly vegan, however there are certain foods to avoid for example, iceberg lettuce has no nutritious value for your piggie, just water, and potatoes are poisonous. I do not know everything that is good for your piggies and what is bad. Please speak to your vet or the place you got your piggies from.
Biting—Do not believe that guinea pigs are docile. They bite, just like any other pet. I don't believe they are the perfect first pet, I don't think that any animal is a perfect first time pet. Despite the tank look appearance of a guinea pig, it is a delicate animal that requires a lot of attention and special care.
I got bitten the first time I gave my boys a bath, as they both have long hair and have a habit of weeing and then sitting in it so it soaks into the hair. I remember after picking up Thor out of the bath he nailed the top of my breast, that hurt, a lot! I did bleed but luckily it wasn't too deep of a bite, I've seen pictures of severe bites from a guinea pig and its not pretty, deep enough to hit bone and leave flesh hanging off. But its the same with having any animal as a pet, any animal can cause serious damage. Even if its accidental, or an purpose.
If you do want to get guinea pigs, please do all the research you need into them, look into your local rescue centers, or go onto guinea pig forums and ask people who have owned them for years for advice and support.
Thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings, and I hope this has helped you.