Guinea pigs are adorable, fluffy, cuddly, and tiny; all the things that make a pet lovable. While they’re not as popular as dogs or cats, they do make great, loving companions. However, guinea pigs are actually considered exotic animals, so they need special care. Only certain veterinarians will see them because they’re more difficult to treat.
A guinea pig lives on average 5-7 years, so they’re a relatively long-term commitment. Unfortunately, many guineas end up in shelters or rescues due to being abandoned. That’s why it’s important to do your research before adopting one of these tiny furry friends. Many people buy them for their children because of the cute factor, not realizing how much work they are.
Guineas are social animals and need a lot of affection. They do best when living with another guinea pig so they have interaction while the owners are away. However, you should make sure to have two guineas of the same gender living together to avoid unwanted offspring. Two females are the best option, as some males tend to fight.
A guinea pig requires a decent-sized cage for their home, at least 8-10 sq ft for one or two pigs. You’ll want to make sure they have different “rooms” to roam around in so they can explore and stay active. Many cages sold in pet stores aren’t large enough for piggies, so some people prefer to build their own. Ramps, a closed-off sleeping area or loft, tunnels, hammocks, and several small toys are common guinea pig essentials.
Timothy hay makes up the majority of their diet, so make sure to have plenty on hand. You can either buy timothy hay pellets or the hay in its raw form. They’ll also need snacks like fruit, veggies, and a Vitamin C supplement, as their bodies don’t manufacture this vitamin (like humans).
Now that you know a little about caring for a guinea pig, we’ll introduce you to one adorable guinea family.
This Guinea Pig Family is the Cutest You’ll Ever See
“Roger is the smallest, Hugo is black and white, and Cecil is genuine white,” guinea mom Rebecca says. “Hugo is the oldest; he’s 7 years old. He was adopted after being spray painted and left in a pet shop. He has the world’s best rumble.”
“Roger is the youngest; he’s Hugo’s son. He was born in October 2020. When Roger first joined us, he was absolutely tiny. He grew up and became quite a nuisance. So all the boys have to now live separately.”
“Cecil is the third member of our herd. His favorite thing to do is to go loose in the garden, so we let him out on the patio in our garden, he goes and eats the lawn. He’s quite happy, and he’s a bit of a wild guinea pig at heart.”
Unfortunately, Hugo passed away about a week ago. He was adopted at seven years old, so the family knew they wouldn’t get much time with him. However, they made his twilight years comfortable and happy for him, and they considered him a part of the family. He had a glorious life after being adopted and will be greatly missed.
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Guinea pigs don’t have as long a lifespan as cats or dogs, so that’s something important to consider when adopting. It’s not the years in their life, though; it’s the life in their years. If you give your guinea pig love, care, and attention, he or she will have the best life possible. Plus, they’re unique pets to have with their own quirks and personalities.
“The best thing about having guinea pigs is their personalities. Each pig is completely different, and it’s wonderful to see how much mischief they can get up to,” Rebecca says.
Guinea pigs are very vocal creatures, making a “wheeking” sound when excited or needing attention. The sound is adorable, but it can get quite loud at times! They also do something called “popcorning” when they’re happy. It’s called that because it resembles a kernel of popcorn popping as the guinea jumps straight in the air very abruptly.
History and facts about the guinea pig
Guinea pigs, otherwise known as cavies, are a domesticated species of rodents. They originated in South America. However, breeders throughout the world produced them for thousands of years as both pets and food. The Incas first domesticated guineas over 3,000 years ago. They kept them as pets or bred them for food, and even offered them as sacrifices to their gods.
At the end of the 16th century, Spanish conquistadors transported guinea pigs from South America to Europe. There, they became popular pets among Elizabethan societal classes. Today, they’re no longer found in the wild.
As far as the origin of the species name, no one really knows the answer. Some historians believe that Europeans named them because the roasted meat reminded them of suckling pigs. Others think that the squealing sounds guineas make gave them their name. Or, perhaps it came from the price of a guinea pig in 16th-century England: 1 guinea.
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