Cavies make awesome pets. Guinea Pigs pretty easy to take care of and are just fine as long as they have food and water to leave overnight. Sadly, they don’t live that long, and it gets too hard when they die. Cavies are small rodents originally from South America. They are herbivores.
The guinea pigs loved exploring the floor. They need room to be able to run around and popcorn sometimes. We didn’t let them have floor time as much as I would have liked, but I know at least I worried about them getting up into the recliner mechanism of the couch or recliner and had no idea how to get them out of there safely. They could have also gotten under the kitchen cabinets back then. Lastly, I was just afraid I’d not see them and step on them
They should always have bedding on the bottom of their cage. We used newspaper with half the cage being bedding and the other half being big thick towels, thinking it might be easier to clean and keep them warmer. Once in a while they’d figure out they could crawl under the edges of it.. Every once in a while you’d hear them getting at the newspaper and eating it. Cedar and pine should not be used for guinea pigs. The oils in the wood can irritate the piggie’s respiratory system.
Our cage was made of the grids from target on a table we made with blanket and bedding in it. It was 4 feet by 8 feet, and every once in a while out of the blue for no good reason you’d hear them running around the cage doing laps and pop corning.
Guinea Pig Food
What can guinea pigs eat? What should guinea pigs not have to eat? These are some of the things we needed to look up when we had our piggies. I have put together what I’d learned here.
They need to always have food available. If they’re not sleeping or pooping, they’re probably eating. We always had a couple of dishes of pellets in the cage that we kept full. Peppy would drag one into her igloo with her.
They have to have water. We had a couple of water bottles we kept fresh water in for them. You’d be surprised at the random times you’d hear them over there drinking water. Peppy actually could drink it from a bowl as we learned when she was getting a bath, but that would have just gotten spilled in the cage.
They need to have hay available at all time. They’re always eating it, and it gives them things they need and helps keep their teeth ground, which is very important since like rabbits, their teeth are always growing. Alfalfa hay is good for them when they’re younger, but not the best when they’re adults.
We always got them Timothy hay, and they’d go nuts over it. Once we found a local pet store that sold nice hay in bigger bags it got a lot cheaper, although we’d buy them smaller bags of other brands to give them something different for a change.
Treats For Guinea Pigs
What can you give to guinea pigs as treats? They love to eat and quickly learned how to beg for treats.
This is how they learned to start begging when they heard the fridge door open. It would start as a small hopeful beg but, by the time the salad spinner was going to clean the stuff they’d be practically pissing themselves from pop corning and begging. We went to the grocery store with a better produce section just to buy their treats.
- Grass - from outside in a known clean area of our yard, sadly at that time we didn’t have that much grass. It was mostly weeds. Once in a while we’d buy the little pots of it in the pet store.
- Dandelions - They even ate the flowers. They loved all parts including the stem, flower and leaves. It’d be funny to see them suck the stem in as they ate it then the flower would slowly disappear into their mouth. The piggies we had went crazy for them and always ate them stem first.
- Lettuce - Of course they liked it!
- Baby carrots - Carrots were Teddy’s favorite and the only vegetable she ate for a while (she was afraid of everything else.
- Apples - They loved apples but you have to make sure there are no seeds because they can choke on them and I’d also imagine the cyanide in the seed could be a problem for them.
- blueberries - When I got blueberries I’d share a few with the piggies. They liked them but shouldn’t eat too many of them
- Blackberries - Same as with blueberries. I’d give them a few when I got them for myself.
- Banana - They loved slices of bananas with the peel still on it.
- Tomatoes - They liked tomatoes.
- Corn on The cob - They went crazy for corn the cob. They like the leaves then ate the corn off the cob like little typewrites
- Peppers - They loved sweet peppers of all colors and they are a great source of Vitamin C for them. They’d sound funny crunching away on them.
- strawberries - When we bought strawberries we usually gave the piggies some of them and they liked them.
- Oranges - They liked Oranges.
- Spinach - They liked it but it was one of those things they shouldn’t have too much of
- Broccoli - They seemed to like it. Didn’t give it to them that often but the ate it.
- Kale - They really liked Kale. We tried it but didn’t so we only bought it for them.
- Brussels Sprouts - Gave these to them once in a while. They ate them.
- Asparagus - We ate quite a bit of this back then and they ate a piece or two when we had it.
- Cucumbers - They always got some slices of cucumber on their plate and this was one of their early choices to pick.
- Pear - The got a few pieces when we picked up pears for ourselves and seemed to like them
- Cherries - They went crazy over cherries, obviously you had to remove the pits
- Watermelon - Watermelon is not something we got often but when we had one they’d get a bit of it too. They liked it but it was our understanding they shouldn’t have too much of it because it could cause diarrhea.
- Grapes - When we bough a bunch of grapes they’d get one or two. They seemed to really like them
The reality of is I think those damned piggies ate better than us and I would change it if I could. Between their food, hay and veggies they were little eating machines.
Guinea Pig Cages
What is the best cage to keep your piggies in? There’s lots of pet store options but mostly they’re not good for guinea pigs.
We originally kept our piggies in the typical pet store cage, but that was too small for them. When we took them out for floor time they ran laps and pop corned all over the place, so we build a table to hold a cage made from grids you could get a target at that time.
We did half of it with bedding and half of it with a blanket that could easily be washed to save money and give them something different. For bedding, you shouldn’t use bedding made from cedar or pine. The oils are now believed to be harmful for the cavies. We used the bedding that was made from recycled paper with old newspaper underneath it to make it easier to clean out the bottom. They liked nibbling on the newspaper too.
The cage we kept them in was 4 feet by 8 feet. When it was ready, and we first put them in there, they ran laps for what seemed like forever. We were also able to put multiple igloos in there, so they could have their own when they didn’t want to share one.
Guinea pigs are curious little animals and love to explore. They really seem to enjoy floor time where it began with a portable cage that was maybe 8 feet wide that folded up. It gave them a chance to run around more than their tiny cage at the time really allowed them to do.
Eventually we managed to block off areas that they could get into and get stuck and just let them explore either the kitchen which was easier to clean up or even the entire downstairs sometimes. As soon as their feet touched the floor, they started pop corning. They’d find the funniest places where they thought they’d be hiding. We’d let them roam around, exploring and sniffing everything, until they seemed to want to find some place to hide or if we had to do something else. At the time we had a couch with recliners and also a recliner that we really didn’t want them to get themselves someplace up into the mechanism and get stuck but also had no way to block them from getting underneath it, so we could only let them on the floor when we were able to watch them closely.