Guinea Pig 101
Welcome to Nibble & Gnaw's Guinea Pig 101: A comprehensive overview on all things guinea pig! Read on for fun guinea pig facts, useful information on caring for guinea pigs and find out why our Ultra Premium Timothy Hay is an important element to their dietary needs!
Fun Facts About Guinea Pigs
We've spent a lot of time researching facts about Guinea Pigs... Have a browse to see how many facts you recognise about your furry friend, or perhaps you're considering getting a guinea pig and want to find out more. Guinea pigs make great pets but it is important to do your research before welcoming them into your home!
Did you know?:
- A guinea pig is also called a 'cavy'. Their official title is 'Cavia Porcellus''. They belong to the 'Caviidae,' which is made up of rodents originally found in South America. Capybaras are also part of this family!
- Baby guinea pigs are born fully formed with fur and teeth and are ready to run around after a few hours!
- Guinea pigs have teeth that are constantly growing. This means they need to munch on lots of food to naturally grind their teeth down.
- Guinea pigs are very sociable animals and are happiest living in a group. They should not be kept on their own as they get very lonely!
- The RSPCA recommends that between 80-90% of our guinea pigs daily diet should consist of hay and forage! Feeding the correct diet will help keep your guinea pigs digestive system working nicely and keep their teeth the correct length and shape. Check out our Ultra Premium Timothy Hay and our Herbs & Treats collection to do just that!
- Guinea pigs secrete a white substance out of their eyes that they use to wash themselves!
- A male guinea pig is called a 'boar' and a female is called a 'sow'. Baby guinea pigs are called 'pups'.
- When a guinea pig is happy, they tend to express themselves by jumping up in the air and twisting - aka 'popcorning'!
- Guinea pigs are active for around 20 hours a day and need lots of space. They love to run around and explore, especially if they have lots of tunnels and safe places to hide away too!
We would love to hear from you if you have any interesting facts or stories about guinea pigs. We are also keen to hear about your guinea pigs behaviour, what they like to eat, how you keep them occupied and how easy are they to handle! Of course, we love photographs of your piggies so please get in touch with your favourite photos at firstname.lastname@example.org
It is important to provide these sociable and complex little animals with an environment that is interesting, varied, and safe.
Hutch / Cage Sizes & Exercise Runs
Although they are small, guinea pigs require plenty of space to exercise, the more the better! Provide an enclosure as large as possible; Enclosures should be at least 25 to 30 cm high.
Make sure that the materials used to construct your guinea pigs’ enclosure are durable, non-toxic, and easily cleaned. The enclosure should have a solid floor (wire floors cause discomfort and damage to guinea pigs’ feet) and should be placed in an area that is quiet and peaceful and also free from drafts, chills, extreme heat, and sudden temperature changes.
Protection from the Elements
Guinea pigs are also very susceptible to heat stress, and this can be fatal. Therefore, always ensure that they are kept in an area that is well-ventilated, provides adequate shade, and does not become hot. Guinea pigs can also suffer if it is cold, wet, and windy and are prone to respiratory problems which can be serious. Please ensure that your guinea pigs’ enclosure has areas that are draft free, dry and warm, and if it is particularly cold or stormy, it is best to move them inside if they are normally outdoors.
A Safe Place
Guinea pigs are prey animals and so they need places to hide where they will feel safe, especially when they are stressed, afraid, unwell, or want some time away from other guinea pigs or people. You will need to provide open space with enough shelters and hiding places so that every guinea pig in the enclosure has the option for their own separate hiding area, and also a main shelter/hiding place that is big enough for all of your guinea pigs to comfortably rest together inside.
You can use hiding places such as cardboard boxes, custom made igloos, wooden boxes, fabric guinea pig beds, tunnels made from PVC piping or, if possible, you can even plant long grasses such as timothy grass for your guinea pigs to make their own tunnels through.
Bedding and Timothy Hay!
There’s no escaping the fact that guinea pigs love the stuff. They eat it, play in it, forage in it and sleep in it! Hay is a great bedding choice as it encourages lots of natural behaviours. You can line the base of the cage/hutch with some layers of newspaper and then pile plenty of hay on top. The bedding should be cleaned and changed as required (this is typically once a day). The enclosure should be thoroughly washed and disinfected once a week.
If you need premium Timothy Hay you're certainly in the right place. From our experience over the years, we've learned that guinea pigs prefer our Second Cut Timothy Hay as it's softer than First Cut, darker green, and is a mix of stems and leaf with fewer seeds. Also a great option for fussy eaters or older animals! have a fantastic selection of Second Cut Timothy Hay in stock and ready to ship from Nibble & Gnaw.
Daily Guinea Pig Care Video
Check out this quick, simple overview from our friends at Little Adventures
Adopt Don't Shop!
A large question mark hovers above why so many guinea pigs are needing rehomed, but the answer is almost always to do with a lack of understanding of how to care properly for these animals. Last year, the RSPCA received 600 incidents involving guinea pigs, of all different colours, ages and needs. If given enough grub (hay, hay and more hay), space to roam around and explore, and the company of another furry friend, your guinea pigs will thrive and make lovely, loyal friends.
Why Rescue a Guinea Pig?
The endless list of reasons to adopt a guinea pig have been compiled into one list by the RSPCA. So on the off chance you aren’t ringing your local guinea pig rescue home as we speak, these reasons, and a few of our own, have been listed below:
- When adopting from a rescue centre, you know the animals will have seen a vet and be in good health. Or, if they've got existing health conditions, the rescue centre will make you are aware and will be able to offer guidance before you consider taking the animal on.
- Many rescue centres will offer you support for the lifetime of the animal and if your circumstances change they will often take the animal back and find them a new home.
- Guinea pigs should always be kept in pairs or small groups so if you have an existing lonely guinea pig then most rescues will provide guidance and support on how to introduce another guinea pig.
- If you adopt a pair of guinea pigs then it's likely they will already have an established bond.
- Sometimes when you purchase guinea pigs from a pet shop they can start to fight when they reach sexual maturity which often results in one of the pair needing to be rehomed.
- When you adopt, you know the sex of the animal. Occasionally, pet shops can mistakenly sex baby guinea pigs which result in an unwanted pregnancy and lots more baby piggies!
- It's a common misconception that when you adopt, you tend to only get older animals. Rescues often get female guinea pigs in that have been living with a male, they are then placed on pregnancy watch so any babies they have will be available to adopt once they're old enough.
- When you adopt you're creating space in a rescue centre so you're effectively helping more animals than just the ones that you adopt. Plus, your adoption fee goes towards helping more animals!
What to Feed Guinea Pigs
The RSPCA recommends that 80-90% of your rabbit’s diet should consist of hay or grass as it is integral in maintaining optimum intestinal health in all rabbits. The high fibre content is very beneficial for them and keeps everything in their digestive system running smoothly.
Timothy Hay is widely considered the best for Guinea Pig nutrition. At Nibble & Gnaw, we source our Timothy Hay from the Canadian Prairies, where the growing conditions are perfect for growing ultra-premium hay that is extremely high in nutritional content.
As Guinea Pigs have a very intricate digestive system, fibre is absolutely crucial in ensuring the health of your pig and the normal digestion of their food. Timothy Hay in particular is an exceptionally nutritious, high fibre, high energy, low protein, low calcum type of grass hay that is an excellent food source for the guinea pigs in your life.
At Nibble & Gnaw, we stock both First Cut and Second Cut Timothy Hay, each providing a multitude of different core benefits for guinea pigs. However, from our experience, guinea pigs tend to prefer our Second Cut Timothy Hay as its softer than First Cut!
Why Vets Recommend Timothy Hay
Food plays a really important role in your guinea pig’s health and well-being and as I am sure you are well aware the wrong diet can cause all sorts of health problems especially digestive and dental issues.
That’s why both vets and charities such as the RSPCA recommend that by far the best diet for your guinea pigs is about 80%+ high quality feeding hay – preferably sweet-smelling, greener in colour than bedding hay and long stemmed if possible.
Premium Timothy hay is high in nutritional value and ensures your guinea pigs will digest lots of lovely fibre, an integral part of maintaining a healthy digestive system!
Our Timothy Hay also promotes dental health and keeps your pet mentally stimulated. A nice full box of Nibble & Gnaw Timothy Hay will give your guinea pigs a chance to forage, chew and keep active and stimulated.
Why Nibble & Gnaw?
What makes our Nibble & Gnaw hay an ultra premium brand is our overriding commitment to maintaining the highest nutritional quality. Our team of packers break down the bales by hand and sieve it, eliminating any dust and other non-delicious nasties that may be in the hay.
From start to finish, an ample amount of TLC is given to ensure each hay box is of the best quality for your furry friends to munch away to their heart’s content.
Our ultra premium product helps us stand out from the crowd. In terms of nutrition, our lovely, fresh, green, long-stem, field, dried Canadian hay is the natural wonder food your guinea pig has been waiting for!