BUYING A GUINEA PIG. Points to take into account before buying :
1. A guinea pig lives between four and seven years but can live longer.
2. To enjoy life a guinea pig needs a large cage.
3. The cage must always be clean, the feed must always be fresh .
4. A guinea pig is a social animal, it needs daily attention and exercise.
5. A guinea pig will need to be looked after while you are away.
6. If there are other pets in the home, will they get along with a guinea pig?
7. Are you or any member of your family allergic to animal fur?
8. During the course of its life a guinea pig may need veterinarian attention.
9. A guinea pig is a rodent and therefore can gnaw its way through furniture, carpets and wiring. **Owning a guinea pig is a responsibility, it requires time and money**
Breeds to Choose from - guinea pigs are distinguished from one another mainly by their coat.
Smooth or short-haired: slender, they have a shining, smooth, close-lying coat.
Abyssinian or rough-haired: the hair grows in whorls or rosettes, these can number between one and ten.
Angora or long-haired: long, silky soft hair, up to 6 inches (15 cm) long, which requires intensive groom-ing.
The long--haired guinea pig occurs in three breeds: the Peruvian, the Sheltie and the Coronet Choosing.
a healthy guinea pig - what to look for: · Clean, smooth, shining coat on a compact firm body, no growths, swellings, skin problems, · clear bright eyes, · strong and well-formed feet, claws should not have any splits, · clean dry nose, · rose petal shaped ears, should not be torn nor show signs of discharge, · a clean anal area, · Silent and regular breathing, no wheezing. · Check the teeth · Check how the guinea pig you are choosing interacts with the others in the cage.
An ailing guinea pig has a dull, unkempt coat. If in addition it has o tearing, reddened, or swollen eyes and nostrils o dirt in the ears o small crusts around the mouth it is not advisable to buy it. If there is diarrhea (rec-ognizable by the encrusted fur around the anal area), do not buy any other animal from the same cage. Diarrhea can be a sign of contagious bacterial or viral infection.
A GUINEA PIG'S HOME
Pet shops offer guinea pig cages in different sizes and styles. It should be made up of plastic floor pan with metal caging on sides and top, with openings on top and or side. The depth of floor pan should be 10 to 15cm. The cage should be big enough so that it can contain space for feed bowl, sleeping quarters, objects such as a stone and small branch to amuse and exercise your pet. - For a single guinea pig the cage should be at least: 68 x 36 x 35 cm. - For two or more guinea pigs you will need a larger cage at least: 80 x 80 x 45cm or 100 x 40 x 35 cm.
Equipment for the guinea pig's home
Apart from the cage, you will require : - gravity-flow drinking bottle with ball valve, - food bowl of glazed clay or porcelain, it won't tip over so easily, - sleeping house, wooden as opposed to plastic, - straw, wood shavings bedding - feed rack, for hay
Both cedar and pine bedding can be harmful to your pet's health? Every small animal owner should be aware of the following facts. that pine shavings, as well as cedar, causes liver disease in small animals.
Feeding. Guinea pigs do not use their forefeet as hands, and so they feed better if the vegetables are cut into chunks. Special treats include melon, with or without skn or a stick of celery which will be dragged hastily into cover for solitary consumption, away from importunate companions. Besides grass, hay, wild plants, and raw vegetable and fruit, guinea pigs also need som cereal food each day; crushed oats, proprietary grain mixture sold for guinea pigs, wholemeal bread, and possibly bran. This compensates for the seeding grasses they would eat in the wild, and should be fed twice a day, either dry, or as a crumbly mash made with hot or cold milk or water. Bran should not be fed dry, but in a mash. Remove mash bowls after feeding times to avoid left over food going sour. Many guinea pigs have a habit of jumping into their food bowls, often contaminating the food with droppings, so frequent cleaning of the bowl is even more important. Because feeding is a major activity of guinea pigs, food needs to be available at all times, including night, when they need hay and vegetables. The amount of water taken varies, particularly according to how much fresh food is available, but must always be within the pigs reach.
Reproduction. A feniale guinea pig could well produce five litters a year. Finding good homes for so many offspring can be a major problem, so the golden rule about breeding from pet guinea pigs is: don't.
As a general rule it is inadvisable to breed from young females of any species who may have reached puberty but who are too immature in behaviour to deal with their own young patiently and competently. The same applies if they are too physically immature for the pelvis to have reached an adequate size to prevent pain and difficulty (dystocia) during tile birth process. The case of the guinea pig is rather different. There may be a greater risk of dystocia if the guinea pig does not have her first litter while she is still young. Once fully grown, the pelvic bones fuse, leaving her with a rigid, perhaps undersized pelvis, and this may cause difficult births and a shorter breeding span than nornial. For this reason it is recomended that guinea pigs should be mated at a relatively young age, maybe as early as 12 weeks. The litter will then be born before the mother reaches full maturity, and before the two halves of the pelvis fuse firmly together. However, with a sow slow to mature it may be advisable for her not to breed before she is six months old. A vet would have to advise on individual cases.