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Guinea Pigs 101:

The Guinea Pig Resource

Guinea Pigs Lover's FAQ: Your Go-To Guide for Guinea Pig Care

Whether you're a proud guinea pig owner, considering bringing one into your home, or simply curious about these adorable and captivating creatures, you've come to the right place. Our comprehensive resource page is designed to provide you with all the essential information you need to understand, care for, and appreciate guinea pigs as pets.

Guinea pigs, also known as cavies, are charming and sociable animals that have been domesticated for centuries. They have captured the hearts of countless people around the world with their affectionate nature, playful antics, and unique personalities. Get ready to embark on a journey into the captivating realm of guinea pigs where we invite you to explore everything you need to know to become a responsible and knowledgable guinea pig paw parent!

Get Ready! It's time to talk guinea pigs!

How Long Do Guinea Pigs Live?

One of the most popular questions asked about guinea pigs is how long do we get to love on these adorable friends? Domestic guinea pigs usually live between 5-7 years. But some have lived much longer. A guinea pig named Snowball lived to be almost 15 years old! In the wild, guinea pigs usually live 1-4 years. This is because they are prey animals and sometimes live in harsh environments. Our domestic friends live a much more safe and stress-free life!

There are many factors that go into how long a guinea pig will live. Of course, feeding them a proper high-fibre diet and providing opportunities for exercise will help them live out their senior years. But some things are out of your control when it comes to how long your guinea pig will live

What Do Guinea Pigs Eat?

Guinea pigs are grazers. They eat plants all day (with midnight snacks thrown in there too). They need constant access to hay in order to keep their digestive system running smoothly. They also need the roughage to keep their teeth worn down as their teeth are always growing!

Why is Vitamin C Important For Guinea Pigs?

Guinea pigs are similar to humans in that they can’t make their own vitamin C. They need to be getting this essential vitamin from their diet! Fresh vegetables are the best way to get this need met.


Hay should be the primary food for guinea pigs, with 2nd cutting Timothy hay and Orchard grass being ideal choices. Healthy adult guinea pigs need hay that is high in fibre and low in fat and protein. Alfalfa hay is used for baby guinea pigs as they need more protein while they’re growing. 2nd cutting Timothy hay and Orchard grass are your best options for hay that tick all the boxes for guinea pigs.

Want to learn more about what type of hay is right for you piggie? Check out this this Types of Hay Explained Guide.


Pellet food is a great supplement to hay and fresh food for guinea pigs. Just make sure you’re choosing a quality pellet without any fillers that is fortified with vitamin C. Pellet food should never take the place of hay or fresh food. Consider this a little bowl of vitamins to have available to fill in any nutritional gaps.

Although pellet food should have hay as the first ingredient, pellet food doesn’t give guinea pigs the same roughage that actual hay does. So they aren’t wearing their teeth down with it.

Fruits & Veggies High In Vitamin C

These vegetables aren’t too high in sugar so guinea pigs can eat these fairly regularly. As you know, fruits are very high in vitamin C. Fruits can certainly play a role in your guinea pig’s life but they should be given sparingly as a treat.

I’m guessing you see some of your favourites on this list! Humans and guinea pigs can certainly share a snack so don’t forget about your guinea pigs (and your own) vitamin C next time you’re at the grocery store.


  • Kiwi
  • Oranges
  • Guava
  • Papaya
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Apples (without the seeds)
  • Mango
  • Bananas
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes (not the leaves)


  • Sweet Bell Pepper
  • Parsley
  • Kale
  • Thyme
  • Dill
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Red Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Bananas
  • Cauliflower
  • Turnip Greens

What Are Some Of The Foods That Are Off Limits?

Guinea pigs are vegan and they shouldn’t be eating any kind of animal product. They also need to keep their diet low in fat so high-fat foods are off the table. Some plants are actually harmful to guinea pigs so make sure you aren’t giving your cavy any of these vegetables:

  • Garlic
  • Potatoes (and their tops)
  • Avocados
  • Nuts
  • Dairy Products
  • Seeds and Pits
  • Onions
  • Rhubarb (and their leaves)
  • Tomato Leaves
  • Coconuts
  • Dairy Products
  • High Processed Foods

Wild Plants Guinea Pigs Can Eat

There are a lot of wild plants that a guinea pig shouldn’t have. To keep it simpler, let’s just point out the wild plants that a guinea pig can have:

  • blackberry stems
  • clover
  • dandelion leaves (as a treat)
  • sow thistle (not with a woody stem)
  • shepherd’s purse
  • trefoils

Tips & Tricks For Feeding


Any new food you add to a guinea pig’s diet should be introduced gradually. Guinea pigs can react differently to certain foods so you want to make sure the new food is agreeing with their digestive system. You also want to go easy on their digestive system with very small pieces as they aren’t used to digesting the new food.


Too much calcium and oxalates can contribute to bladder and kidney stones in guinea pigs. Choosing low-calcium hay is essential to maintaining your guinea pig’s health.

It’s also important to rotate the fresh vegetables that you provide for your cavy. Variety helps make sure they aren’t getting too much of any one vitamin or mineral. For example, parsley, kale, and thyme are higher in calcium than some of the other vegetables for guinea pigs so they shouldn’t be on the menu every day.


Guinea pigs require a diet that is high in fiber, low in sugar, and rich in vitamin C. Offer them a variety of fresh vegetables, such as kale, bell peppers, and romaine lettuce, along with a high-quality guinea pig pellet formulated specifically for their nutritional needs.


Clean and fresh water: Provide clean, fresh water to your guinea pigs at all times. Use a water bottle with a sipper tube to ensure they have a steady supply of water. Regularly check and refill the water bottle to prevent it from running dry.


If you have concerns about your guinea pig's diet or specific dietary needs, consult with a veterinarian who has experience with small animals. They can provide personalized guidance and recommend any necessary adjustments.

Check Out these videos for more info on your
piggies diet!

How Do you care for your guinea pigs?

With the food situation handled, we can now proceed to addressing other aspects of caring for a guinea pig.


Guinea pigs are generally clean and rarely need baths. However, if they become smelly or dirty, a few baths a year are sufficient. Long-haired guinea pigs may require more frequent baths to prevent urine and tangles. When bathing, focus on areas that need cleaning, such as the bum, while allowing them to groom their own face.

Nail Cutting

Guinea pigs require regular nail trimming to prevent injury. Aim for at least once a month using guinea pig-specific clippers, as human clippers may not be suitable. Be cautious not to cut the quick, which contains blood vessels. Trimming frequently can help the quick recede, making future nail trims easier.

Cleaning Teeth

Encouraging your guinea pig to chew is vital for dental care. Providing unlimited hay ensures they get enough fiber and helps wear down their teeth naturally. Insufficient chewing can lead to overgrown, painful teeth, disrupting their ability to obtain essential nutrients.

How do you hold a guinea pig?

Guinea pigs have delicate spines and need to be handled carefully. They should be held with all four feet facing the ground so their back isn’t twisted or hurt if they get startled. When they’re startled they may try to jump out of your arms so it’s best to hold them close to the floor. And close to you! Don’t hold them out away from your body. Keep them close and cosy where they’ll feel safe.

Can you train a guinea pig?

Guinea pigs can actually learn tricks and come when they’re called. They’re very smart animals! They aren’t very flexible so just make sure you aren’t encouraging them to hurt themselves. But you can teach them to come, stand up, or do a spin.
You teach a guinea pig the same way you teach a dog… with rewards! Have a command that you will consistently use. And reward consistently! You can encourage a cavy to stand by holding up a treat and you can of course get them running over to you by getting out treats.

How Do guinea pigs behave?

Guinea pigs are usually very chatty vocal animals. They wheek, grunt, squeal, squeak and love to get your attention.
They’re usually gentle and not likely to bite but if they feel threatened or scared from being mishandled they will bite. Some guinea pigs are more fearful than others.
A guinea pig who shows some aggression can become calmer if their environment improves. Some guinea pigs need a little extra to help them feel safe and secure.

What's the best setup for a guinea pig habitat?

Guinea pigs may be active for 20 hours a day! That means they have a lot of time to get around their space and they need plenty of opportunities for exploration.

The minimum size for a guinea pig enclosure is 7.5 square feet (2 X 4 feet). However, we recommend a larger cage. When it comes to guinea pigs the bigger the better.

2 X 5 feet is the required cage size by a lot of guinea pig rescues and this gives your guinea pig a much better living space. This is a good size for 1-2 guinea pigs but as you would assume the larger your herd, the more space they will need!

There are a lot of options when you set up the enclosure using wire panels. This option allows you to buy more panels to make it larger and you can also have freedom with the shape so it can fit the space you have available.

Can you house multiple guinea
pigs together?

Guinea pigs are very social and do so well when housed with other guinea pigs. You should always have at least two guinea pigs. Having three or four has additional benefits as more guinea pigs encourages them to be more active.

It also gives them more companions and social support if one guinea pig dies or another one needs to be quarantined. However, guinea pigs can be territorial so it’s definitely best to get your guinea pigs all at one time in a group. This way they adjust to their new home together and are less likely to feel aggressive towards each other.

When choosing which guinea pigs to house together these are some good tips to consider.

  • Choose guinea pigs that are similar in age so that they will have similar activity levels.

  • It’s best to have at least one neutered male in the herd. Groups made up entirely of females are more prone to aggression.

  • If you do decide to add to an already existing herd it’s best to add two at a time so that no one cavy is singled out.

What Bedding Should Be Used for 
Guinea Pigs?

Guinea pigs need absorbent bedding that keeps their house smelling nice while also keeping them safe from chemicals and dust.

Soft Paper Bedding is the most popular choice among guinea pig parents and for good reason! This bedding is incredibly soft, dust-free, sludge-free, and dye-free. And it absorbs urine and keeps the enclosure smelling fresh longer.

Here you can read more about guinea pig bedding options and what to avoid.

Opportunities To Exercise?

Once you have the space for your guinea pig to move about, you need to have toys that will get them interested in moving, pulling, tugging, and pushing.
Unlike other small pets, guinea pigs shouldn’t use exercise wheels or balls. So, what you need is lots of toys. And the best kind of toys are made with materials that are safe for chewing! And even better if they were made for snacking.

Because what’s a better motivator than food, right?

How to choose toys?

In the wild, guinea pigs stay active all day foraging for food. They are tugging at roughage and pulling grass. They stay curious and are always looking for the next snack. It’s important to keep this in mind when setting up your cavy’s habitat. We have a lot of toys made with hay and plenty of new materials and textures to fill up your guinea pig’s habitat with.Check out our Guinea Pig Toy Guide to learn more about your options!

Fun Facts About Guinea Pigs!

Where Do Guinea Pigs Come From?

Guinea pigs are originally from the Andes mountains in South America. They were first domesticated in 5,000 BC and kept as a food source.

The domesticated cavy has come a long way since its wild days and is now a human's best cuddly friend!  

Why Do Guinea Pigs Squeak? 

The squeaking and squealing you hear coming from a guinea pig is often called wheeking. It’s the high-pitched squeals that you hear as they run around. It usually means that they’re excited or they want a treat. There are a few other sounds guinea pigs make that you need to watch out for!

Sometimes you might hear a low hum coming from a cavy. Guinea pigs purr when they’re content but they could also purr when upset. The more time you spend with a guinea pig the more you can start to understand their language and how they usually act.

When a guinea pig is in pain or stressed you may hear them shriek or chatter their teeth. When they shriek they could be trying to sound the alarm to warn their friends of danger.

Shrieking is a similar sound to wheeking. But shrieking will usually happen when you’re not in the room. Wheeking happens when they see you coming or you’re there and they’re trying to chit-chat their way to treats.

If you hear your guinea pig shrieking in the other room it’s best to go check on them!

How Big Do Guinea Pigs Get?

A full-grown guinea pig will weigh between 1.5 and 2.6 lbs. They will usually be between 8 and 10 inches long.

How Long Are Guinea Pigs Pregnant?

A guinea pig is pregnant for 59-72 days. They will carry 1-8 babies at a time which are called pups! A litter of 2-4 pups is most common.

How Long Do Guinea Pigs Sleep?

Guinea pigs usually sleep at night but the interesting thing is they don’t need a lot of sleep! They usually only sleep for 4-6 hours and this will be broken up into smaller naps.

What are common health issues with guinea pigs?

Proper diet, regular exercise, and a clean environment will help prevent illness and keep your cavy feeling their best. Some of the most common issues with guinea pigs are:

  • Dental issues (a guinea pig’s teeth are always growing and they need constant access to hay and other roughage in order to wear their teeth down)
  • Vitamin C deficiency
  • Skin issues like ringworm (from too much moisture on their skin)
  • Digestive issues like GI stasis (their digestive system slows down from lack of fibre or significant stress)

Signs Your Guinea Pig Needs To Go To An Exotic Vet:

It’s important to have an exotic vet picked out before you ever need one. When a guinea pig is showing signs of illness this is an emergency and you don’t want to waste time looking for a vet.
Guinea pigs are prey animals so it’s in their instincts to not show signs of weakness. They will try to hide the early signs that they aren’t feeling well. There are no man-colds in the guinea pig world!

  • Small Appetite
  • Hair Loss
  • Sneezing
  • Consistent Teeth Grinding
  • Low Energy
  • Weight Loss
  • Fast Breathing
  • Squinting Eyes
  • Sitting Hunched Over

What are the different breeds of guinea pigs?

There are 13 different guinea pig breeds recognized by the American Cavy Breeders Association (ACBA). But the British Cavy Council recognizes 40 different breeds. There are breeds with short hair, medium hair, long hair, and also hair-less breeds! Scroll threw a few of the most popular breeds:

The Abyssian

The Abyssinian guinea pig is a popular choice and a favourite among medium-long hair lovers. They have swirls and rosettes that set their hairdo apart from other breeds. Some Abyssians have 10 swirls!

The American

The American guinea pig is another popular choice. They’re very sweet and are considered a hardy breed (they don’t pick up illness easily). They have short hair so they do an excellent job grooming themselves. This is a great breed for younger cavy parents or people wanting low-maintenance fur

The Teddy

The Teddy guinea pig has a dense coat that is more wiry than other breeds. But still a short-haired breed that’s easy to take care of. They have an upturned nose which gives them an adorable look.

The Texel

The Texel is a long-haired guinea pig with beautiful “curls”. They need to be brushed daily so there’s definitely an extra element of care needed when you have a long-haired guinea pig!
This breed was created in the UK when breeders crossed the British Rex with the Silkie (Sheltie).

The Peruvian

The Perun guinea pig has exceptionally long hair. It can grow to be 12-14 inches long! With this breed, you need to take extra care to keep their house clean because their hair often drags on the ground and can easily collect debris and moisture.
And again, daily brushing is a must!

The Baldwin

The Baldwin guinea pig is a hairless guinea pig that is actually born with hair. But their hair falls out after 2-3 months. This breed is then completely bald. You won’t have to worry about grooming but you do need to be careful with this breed being out in the sun.
This is a very cute breed and also great for people who suffer from

The Coronet

The Coronet guinea pig got its name from the rosette of hair on its forehead. It resembles a crown or coronet! This breed loves attention and company from people and guinea pigs. This is another long-haired breed that needs a lot of love and brushing!

The White Crested

The White Crested guinea pig has a white spot of hair on its forehead. This breed is less common and is more timid than other breeds. Not the best choice for young children or a large herd. But this breed can do very well in a calm home with a few close friends

How much do guinea pigs cost?

The cost of a guinea pig varies depending on where you get it. A guinea pig from a breeder usually costs between 25 and 50 dollars. Guinea pigs from a store or a rescue could be 10-40 dollars.
Some people looking to rehome their guinea pig could be giving them away for free with supplies. It’s usually better to check if there are any guinea pigs who need a home before going to a store or a breeder.

How do guinea pigs compare to rabbits?

Rabbits are of course larger than guinea pigs so they will need a bigger space. Both rabbits and guinea pigs are considered skittish animals, but in general a rabbit will warm up to you much quicker than a guinea pig. This makes rabbits easier to socialize.
Guinea pigs will sometimes nibble on your finger but they’re much less likely to become aggressive towards you than a rabbit is. So, a rabbit is more likely to be on either end of the spectrum (friendly vs aggressive) depending on its environment.
It’s common to get rabbits spayed/neutered while less common for guinea pigs. However, when housing multiple genders of guinea pigs together you need to get the males neutered. This is something to keep in mind when thinking about the medical care your pet will need.

How are you feeling after reading this bit of information? We bet that your fears have been minimized. We at Small Pet Select provide our customers and potential customers with valuable information to guide them in their small pet endeavours. You will love it here!

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