Requirements for environment and equipment for guinea pigs
Guinea pigs are active animals and need exercise to stay healthy and at the right weight. They need plenty of space to thrive.
Place of residence
When you keep several guinea pigs together, the accommodation must be large enough and furnished so that there are enough hiding places, places to eat, toys etc. for everyone. The guinea pigs must also have enough space to pull away from each other when they need to. Too little space can cause the guinea pigs to become stressed, and those with the lowest rank to be bullied. An alternative could be to furnish a separate room in the house with a safe enclosure for the guinea pigs. You can create an enclosure by shielding a separate corner with wide planks or netting. On the floor, for example, you can use vinyl covering that is easy to keep clean. If you choose to invest in a ready-made cage, it is recommended to choose the largest possible cage.
Guinea pigs should be placed in a draft-free place that is secured against predators. The family dog or cat can seem threatening to a guinea pig. Cages should not be placed on the floor and not in direct sunlight or too close to heaters. Since guinea pigs hear well, they can be bothered by loud sounds from TVs and stereos and high-frequency sounds from computers etc. Guinea pigs thrive best in temperatures between 15 and 22 °C.
Guinea pigs should have a house or tunnel where they can sleep and hide if they become unsafe. In addition, you need a drinking bottle and a sturdy food bowl that cannot tip over.
The bottom of the cage is covered with litter, for example dust-free aspen wood chips. You should change the bottom material and at the same time wash the floor and interior of the cage 1-2 times a week. It is important for guinea pigs to have plenty of hay in the cage. This provides cover for the animals and at the same time ensures that the guinea pig can use its teeth so that they do not grow too long.
Guinea pigs are active animals and need exercise to stay healthy and at the right weight. Daily, safe walks outside the cage give the guinea pig the opportunity to run and explore new things. When they run freely, make sure they don’t come into contact with things that could be harmful to them, such as electrical wires they could gnaw on or loopholes they could disappear into. Also, make sure you don’t step on the animals or squeeze them them in doors.
Guinea pigs like sunshine and should be given daily walks outside in the summer. You can create an escape-proof enclosure that is protected from predators (dog, cat, bird of prey) and where there are hiding places with shade and dry ground. Remember to have fresh water available.
When acquiring them, it is best that you leave the guinea pigs to themselves as much as possible for the first 24 hours, so that they can get used to the new surroundings. There is a lot to deal with at once, with a new home, new cage, new smells, sounds and perhaps new species. If you make sure you have a thick layer of hay or somewhere else where the animals can hide, they feel safer.
Guinea pigs must be treated in a careful and calm manner. Hard-handed hugging and cuddling can easily lead to broken bones. Guinea pigs are also easily injured by falls. Therefore, you should not lift them high, but rather handle them while sitting on the floor. You can, for example, sit on the floor when the guinea pigs are running around freely and let them take the initiative to make contact themselves. Keep your hand still and let the guinea pigs explore it and familiarize themselves with your smells. Here you need to be patient. Since guinea pigs are prey animals in nature, they are easily startled and want to hide. If you give them a treat and pat them gently, you will eventually gain the animals’ trust.
When lifting a guinea pig, it is important that the whole body is supported. You should always use two hands. Grasp the chest with one hand, while supporting the rear with the other. If children are to carry the guinea pig, they should hold it close to their body. Guinea pigs must never be lifted by the scruff of the neck.
Guinea pigs are not as easy to clean as dogs and cats, and can urinate when you have them on your lap. As a rule, there will be signs at the front, such as them nibbling a little, becoming restless or backing away.