The Ultimate Guide to Guinea Pigs Care: Everything You Need to Know

Are you a new or prospective guinea pig owner? Or perhaps you’re an experienced cavy carer looking for some fresh insights? Whatever the case may be, this comprehensive guide has you covered. From their origins and breeds to their dietary needs and health considerations, this ultimate guide provides an in-depth look at how to care for your guinea pig and ensure they lead a happy and healthy life.

Introduction to Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs, scientifically known as Cavia porcellus, are affectionate, sociable, and entertaining pets. Hailing from South America, these delightful rodents have captivated the hearts of pet lovers around the world with their friendly personalities and adorable features. Commonly known as cavies, guinea pigs are neither pigs nor do they originate from Guinea. The origins of their name remain a mystery, with theories linking it to various factors, including their squealing sounds, their cost in 16th-century England, or even the Guianas region in South America.

Guinea Pig Breeds

The American Cavy Breeders Association recognises 13 distinct guinea pig breeds, each with unique characteristics. However, the three most common types are:

  • American Guinea Pigs: Boasting a short, smooth coat
  • Peruvian Guinea Pigs: Identified by their long, silky fur
  • Abyssinian Guinea Pigs: Characterised by their rough, rosette-patterned hair

Guinea Pig Personality Traits

Guinea pigs are known for their friendly and energetic dispositions. They have a range of behaviours to express their feelings, such as “wheeking” (a high-pitched squeal when excited or hungry) and “popcorning” (a sudden jump in the air from excitement).

It’s important to note that guinea pigs are crepuscular, meaning they are most active during dawn and dusk. They often nap intermittently throughout the day and are easily roused by the presence of humans or the rustle of a food bag.

Housing Your Guinea Pig

When setting up a home for your guinea pig, it’s crucial to ensure the housing is spacious, secure, and stimulating. This space should allow your guinea pig ample room to exercise, explore, and play. It should also provide sufficient shelter for your pet to hide and relax.

Ensure the housing has adequate bedding, such as paper-based bedding or fleece.

Guinea Pig Diet

A balanced guinea pig diet primarily consists of good quality hay, fortified guinea pig pellets, and a variety of fresh vegetables. As guinea pigs cannot produce vitamin C on their own, it’s essential to provide food pellets enriched with this crucial vitamin.

In addition to their main diet, guinea pigs can also enjoy a range of fruits as occasional treats. However, it’s vital to remember that fruits are high in sugar and should be given sparingly.

What Should I Feed My Guinea Pig? Top Foods for Optimal Health

Beaphar Care+ Guinea Pig

Guinea Pig Care+ is an exceptionally tasty and balanced super-premium feed created in collaboration with veterinarians, dieticians, and leading guinea pig specialists. Care+ is enriched with extra vitamin C and includes high-biological-value proteins for ideal growth. Additionally, it has a low-fat content and incorporates Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids, Echinacea and Spirulina.

The Vit E Cell Protection System in Care+ is designed to protect your guinea pig’s cells from external harm. It also contains chelated minerals that enhance absorption and distribution to the body, consequently maintaining a healthy mineral balance. FOS and MOS prebiotics are added, and extracts from Yucca schidigera help reduce urine and faece’s odour.

Care+’s blend of unique ingredients ensures your guinea pig stays lively and spirited, promising a long and healthy life. With Care+, you are guaranteed premium food for your pet guinea pig.


– Balanced feed for Guinea Pigs

– Uniformly composed pellets to discourage selective feeding

– Promotes dental health

– Addresses all-natural nutritional needs

Burgess Excel Adult Guinea Pig Nuggets Mint

The Excel Mint-Flavoured Guinea Pig Nuggets from Burgess are a fantastic supplementary diet for guinea pigs. High in fibre, Vitamin C, and multiple other nutrients, these delicious nuggets aid in overall health and wellbeing. These nuggets come fortified with various vitamins and minerals that contribute to the health of the eyes, skin, and coat. Additionally, they contain a pre-biotic for digestive health and antioxidants for immune system support.

Please remember that the majority of your guinea pigs’ diet should consist of good-quality hay and/or grass, which should be available at all times. Alongside, small portions of Excel nuggets and the occasional Excel Nature Snack should be provided for variety and to boost emotional health. Add a small handful of leafy greens to their daily diet as well.

Always make sure that fresh, clean water is available. Consult your vet for further guidance.

For those currently using a muesli-style food for their guinea pigs, it is recommended to gradually transition to a nugget and hay-based diet over a span of 14 to 28 days. This can be done by slowly reducing the muesli portion and increasing the nugget portion until the muesli is completely replaced.

Make sure to consistently monitor the weight of your guinea pigs to ensure they maintain good health. Seek veterinary advice when unsure.


– Suitable for all age groups

– Prevents selective feeding

– High in vitamin C

– Includes antioxidants

– Supports the immune system

– Contains 36% beneficial fibre

– Includes a pre-biotic for better digestion

– Mint flavour

Burgess Excel Adult Guinea Pig Nuggets Mint 10kg

Mr Johnsons Advance Guinea Pig Food

Mr Johnson’s Advance Guinea Pig Food is a nutritious and delicious nugget-style food that is fit for all guinea pigs.

This high-fibre, single-component food deters selective feeding, making this formula an essential part of maintaining your guinea pig’s good health.

Guinea pigs need to consume vitamin C daily as they do not naturally produce or store it. Besides vitamin C, high fibre levels are required in their diet to facilitate usual digestive function and crucial dental wear.

The Advance Guinea Pig Food should be combined with unrestricted access to good quality hay—an essential fibrous part of your guinea pig’s diet. Additionally, a small portion of appropriate fresh fruit and vegetables should be given each day and fresh, clean water must always be provided.


– Assists digestive transit and dental wear with essential fibre

– Contains Vitamin C

– Integrated with 100% natural herb blend from Verm-x for controlling intestinal hygiene

– Introduces a natural pre-biotic, Bio-Mos, for a healthier gut flora

– Reduces hutch odours by reducing urinary ammonia with yucca extract

– Includes glucosamine for improved joint health and mobility

– Free from added colourings, flavourings or preservatives

– Single-component nugget deters selective feeding

Harringtons Optimum Guinea Pig

Harringtons Optimum Guinea Pig Food is an all-in-one nugget-formulated supplementary feed crafted to prevent selective feeding in guinea pigs.

We include extra protected form vitamin C to support your guinea pig’s health, along with the appealing flavours of apple and grape. The inclusion of Green Tea supplies your pet with natural antioxidants. This balanced blend consists of various quality ingredients fortified with vitamins and minerals to boost your guinea pig’s immune system.

Infinity access to fresh hay, grass, and water is crucial for your guinea pig’s diet as it aids in digestion. Harringtons delivers the standard benefits associated with high-end pet foods. If you plan to change the food, it should be done gradually over 7 to 10 days.


– Helps avoid selective feeding

– Enriched with vitamin C

– Green Tea provides natural antioxidants

– Made from high-quality ingredients

– Balanced formulation

– Fortified with vitamins and minerals

– No additional sugar

– Free from artificial colours and flavours

– Apple and Grape enhance taste

– Supports a healthy immune system

Supreme Science Selective Guinea Pig Food

Science Selective’s Guinea Pig Food is highly recommended by veterinarians and offers a flavoursome balanced diet for guinea pigs. It includes natural ingredients such as dandelion and fennel. This high-fibre diet aids in promoting healthy teeth and digestive system, and it is fortified with Vitamin C ensuring your guinea pig’s optimum health.

Selective’s formula also includes linseed, a rich source of omega 3, which helps regulate the shine, thickness, and colour of the coat, as well as supporting healthy skin.

Have you inspected your guinea pig’s food label recently? Many guinea pig foods contain unhealthy ingredients such as molasses or syrup. These extra sugars can lead to overeating, obesity, and dental issues in your guinea pig’s diet.


– Designed for all life stages

– Enriched with Vitamin C

– Contains natural antioxidants

– Made from natural ingredients

– High fibre content (15%)

– Boosts digestive health

– No added sugars

– Delicious dried fennel and dandelion included

– Veterinarian-approved

– Prevents selective feeding

– Encourages dental health

– Eco-friendly packaging

Guinea Pig Health

Just like any other pet, guinea pigs require regular health checks to ensure they are in good shape. Regularly observing their eating habits, physical activity, and behaviour can help detect any potential health issues early.

Guinea pigs are prone to certain health conditions, such as respiratory diseases, dental problems, and vitamin C deficiency. Therefore, it’s crucial to seek veterinary advice if you notice any unusual behaviour or physical changes in your pet.

Guinea Pig Companionship

Guinea pigs are social animals and thrive in the company of their own kind. Having at least two guinea pigs can significantly enhance their quality of life, providing them with the opportunity to socialise and engage in natural behaviours.

Guinea Pig Enrichment

To keep your guinea pig mentally stimulated and physically active, it’s essential to provide a variety of toys and enrichment activities. Toys made from natural materials, tunnels, tubes, and bridges can add an element of fun to their living space. Providing a secure exercise area outside their hutch can also contribute to their overall wellbeing.

Guinea pigs make wonderful pets, bringing joy, companionship, and a touch of the wild into your home. With the right care, these lovable creatures can lead a happy and healthy life, providing endless delight to their human caregivers. This ultimate guide is designed to equip you with the knowledge you need to provide the best possible care for your guinea pig, ensuring they remain a cherished part of your family for many years to come.

Remember, each guinea pig is unique, with its own personality and preferences. As you spend time with your cavy, you’ll get to know their individual quirks and behaviours, making the bond between you even stronger. Happy guinea pig parenting!

GPAW 5 Welfare Needs Poster


Are guinea pigs good for beginners?

Yes, guinea pigs are often considered good pets for beginners. They are relatively easy to care for, friendly, gentle and rarely bite, making them a good choice for first-time pet owners and families with children. However, they do have specific needs such as a larger cage than you might expect, a diet high in vitamin C, and they prefer to live with at least one other guinea pig as they are sociable animals. Hence, although they are good for beginners, proper research about their care is essential before adopting or purchasing.

How do you take care of a guinea pig for beginners?

Caring for a guinea pig, especially for beginners, involves several steps:

1. Housing: Guinea pigs need a spacious cage to allow them to move around freely. The cage should have a solid bottom to protect their feet. Make sure the cage does not have any high platforms they could fall from, as guinea pigs can hurt themselves easily.

2. Bedding: Use bedding made of paper products or aspen wood. Change it often to keep the cage clean and odour-free.

3. Social Interaction: Guinea pigs are social animals and thrive when they have companionship. They should ideally be kept in pairs or small groups of the same sex.

4. Feeding: A guinea pig’s diet should include high-quality guinea pig pellets, fresh vegetables, and unlimited amounts of fresh hay. Be cautious with fruits due to their high sugar content.

5. Vitamin C: Guinea pigs cannot produce their own Vitamin C, so it needs to be a part of their daily diet. This can be included through fresh veggies and foods containing vitamin C.

6. Fresh Water: Fresh, clean water should always be available to them. A water bottle with a sipper tube attached to the cage works best.

7. Exercise: Guinea pigs need daily exercise. Let them out of their cage in a safe, supervised area to explore and run around. Ideally provide them with a run which they can access when they choose.

8. Grooming: Long-haired guinea pigs require daily grooming to prevent their hair from becoming tangled. Short-haired guinea pigs should be brushed weekly.

9. Regular Vet Check-ups: All guinea pigs should have regular vet check-ups. With proper care, guinea pigs can live up to seven or eight years.

Remember, every guinea pig is different and may have additional needs or preferences. Recognising and adapting to these differences is crucial to providing the best care for your guinea pig.

What are do’s and don’ts with guinea pigs?

Here is a list of do’s and don’ts when caring for guinea pigs:


1. Do provide a proper habitat: Guinea pigs need a spacious and clean cage, free from any hazards.

2. Do provide a companion: Guinea pigs are social creatures and often live best in pairs or small groups.

3. Do give them plenty of fresh hay: Hay is essential for their digestion and tooth health.

4. Do provide fresh fruit and veggies: These provide additional nutrition, especially Vitamin C, which is vital for them.

5. Do take them for regular vet check-ups: Guinea pigs are prone to some health problems that regular vet visits can help catch early.

6. Do give them daily exercise: Allow them to roam safely outside their cage to keep them active and healthy.

7. Do handle them gently: When you handle your guinea pig, be gentle as they are fragile animals.


1. Don’t hold them too tightly: Guinea pigs can suffer from injuries if gripped too tightly.

2. Don’t feed them hazardous food: Certain foods, like chocolate, dairy products, meat, nuts, etc., can be harmful to guinea pigs.

3. Don’t ignore any changes in their behaviour: Guinea pigs are good at hiding their illnesses, so a change in behaviour can signal they’re not feeling well.

4. Don’t put them in deep water: While guinea pigs can swim, they generally dislike it and it can cause them great stress.

5. Don’t put their cage in direct sunlight: Guinea pigs can overheat very quickly. Their cage should be in a cool, shaded spot.

6. Don’t use a wire-bottomed cage: Wire bottom cages can hurt their feet which are quite sensitive.

7. Don’t ignore the need for mental stimulation: Guinea pigs need toys, exploration time, and social interaction to stay happy and healthy.

Can guinea pigs live alone?

Guinea pigs are highly social creatures and they prefer to live in groups. A single guinea pig can live alone, but it may lead to loneliness, boredom and potentially deteriorate their mental and physical health. Hence, it’s generally recommended to keep at least two guinea pigs together. They can keep each other company, and interact in ways that humans can’t replicate. If for some reason you can’t have more than one guinea pig, then it’s important that their human caregivers spend significant amounts of time interacting with them daily.

How often do you feed guinea pigs?

Guinea pigs should have access to fresh hay at all times as it makes up a large portion of their diet and helps keep their digestive systems moving. Pelleted guinea pig food should be offered once daily – about 1/8 cup for adults. Fresh vegetable servings like bell peppers, cucumber, or celery can also be provided once a day, ideally split into two meals. It’s recommended to give a small amount of fruit only occasionally due to its high sugar content. Always ensure they have access to fresh water that should be changed daily. Remember that every guinea pig is unique and dietary needs can vary, if you have any concerns about your pet’s diet, consult with your vet.


What foods can guinea pigs eat?

Guinea pigs’ diet consists mainly of hay, which should be provided in unlimited quantities, as it helps maintain their digestive health and provides the necessary fibre. Guinea pig pellets provide them with essential nutrients such as vitamin C.

Also, guinea pigs can eat a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits, but they should be given in moderation due to their high sugar content. Some examples include:

1. Vegetables: Peppers, cucumber, carrots, celery, kale, lettuce, and broccoli. These should make up about a cup of their daily diet.

2. Fruits: Apples, pears, blueberries, strawberries, and bananas. These should only be given as a treat, in small amounts, due to high sugar content.

3. Pellets: Make sure to choose pellets that are specifically made for guinea pigs, as they are fortified with vitamin C.

Ensure to wash all fruits and vegetables well to remove pesticide residues. Also, not all fruits and vegetables are safe for guinea pigs; for instance, avoid giving them onions, garlic, potatoes, and grapes as these can be harmful.

Remember that like humans, guinea pigs cannot produce vitamin C, so it needs to be present in their diet to prevent illnesses like scurvy.

Always provide fresh, clean water for your guinea pig and change it daily.

Make sure to introduce any new foods gradually and observe for any changes that might indicate the guinea pig is not tolerating the food well (like diarrhoea or changes in appetite). When in doubt, consult with a veterinarian.