Guinea pigs make great pets. They are very friendly and are a little easier to handle than rabbits.
They make ideal pets for kids at preschool or above and it's important to remember that they require a good diet and careful husbandry to help prevent health problems.
Here are our top tips:
Diet is very important. A guinea pig’s teeth grow continuously so they require lots of fibre to help wear them down. They also require Vitamin C in their diet as they are unable to produce it themselves. Abundant veggies and fruit are essential and they love red capsicum, broccoli, strawberries, parsley, spinach (plus lots of others!) Good quality pellets should be a treat (max 1 tablespoon per day).
Guinea pigs are social animals and are best kept inside to help to strengthen their relationship with you. They require dust-free bedding (e.g.shredded paper) and this needs to be changed daily. Providing hiding spots and tunnels is essential. If your guinea pig is kept outside, keep them safe from predators (dogs, cats, foxes, birds). They are very susceptible to heat stroke so bring them indoors when temperatures get above 28 degrees. Never keep guinea pigs inside a metal hutch as these heat up very quickly.
Guinea pigs are picky about their friends. The best situation is usually a desexed male with two to three females. They are not great companions for rabbits as they have different dietary requirements to rabbits and often get beaten up by dominant rabbits. Rabbits can also carry a disease that is deadly to guinea pigs.
Like all pets, Guinea Pigs need a little care and attention. They make wonderful pets for kids and can teach them a lot about looking after an animal!