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Does anyone want to talk guinea pigs with me?

(17 Posts)
CatMandu Sun 26-Oct-08 17:29:07

We've had ours since the end of August and I still have lots of questions. For example, if I cover their hutch with foil bubble wrap insulating stuff, but still keep them outside will they be fine?

What do we do about going in the run during the winter?

Do you let them run around in your house? if you do what about them getting into nooks and crannies? what about poos?

Do you put them in their run during the day when you go out? What about the neighbours cats?

How much fresh fruit and veg should they have? Ours have dried food and some fresh every day ie. 1/4 chopped apple or carrot - is this enough (there's always some left over)

How often do you pet them/play with them?

Boco Sun 26-Oct-08 17:41:06

I'm new to guinea pigs too and also wondering about where they'll get to run around.

I think we'll move ours into the shed when it gets colder. I moved them into the utility room but it's dark in there and they looked depressed. The shed has lots of windows.

We don't let ours run around the house as the cat might get them. I might put the run in the house with newspaper down though. They have a log cabin type house for in the run and they always poo in that.

Yes we always put them in the run and go out if it's warm / dry - cats can't get into it, it seems very robust.

Ours eat carrot peelings, apple, slices of cucumber etc every day, a handful i'd say. Their favourite is grass and dandelion leaves so we pick them a handful every day. They have dry food topped up twice a day.

I talk to them a lot, get them out and hold them every day. They definitely got more attention in the summer when they spent all day running about on the lawn in their run. Winter seems a bit miserable for them, so will try to sort something out so they can come indoors and get some running around.

bubblagirl Sun 26-Oct-08 17:56:12

this site is helpful

we have guinea pigs indoors i use half a tab of vit c for each ater bottle daily as they do not store vit c handful of fresh fruit or veg daily and bowl of dried food

lljkk Sun 26-Oct-08 18:03:48

They should be able to winter outside fine in UK, but they MUST be able to get out of the wind and not be damp. They can handle outings on damp grass, as long as they have the choice of being there or going into a nice dry draft free hutch.

They must have hay at all times (or grass to graze on). They must have a source of vit. C in their other food (dried or fresh); we just fed ours on fresh food, btw (no dried). We used to put the fresh food bowl in twice a day, and remove it after an hour each time. Ours seemed a healthy weight on that regime; they can get fat if they have food all the time, and I can't be asked to measure the food precisely.

Poos in house aren't so bad, it's their concentrated wee you don't want!

We used to let ours run loose in the garden, never bothered by cats, actually, I have friends who had same experience.

Ideally handle them as much as possible, up to several hours a day in short spells each time, especially when they're still young.

herbietea Sun 26-Oct-08 18:06:14

Message withdrawn

Countingthegreyhairs Sun 26-Oct-08 18:56:26

Hi CatMandu, it's always a pleasure to talk guinea pig!! We bought ours during the summer too and we've all become REALLY attached to them ... . In fact I can't quite believe how besotted I have become ...

One of our books says that they can withstand the same sort of temperatures as us. Ours live indoors (currently they are in our main living area but they move downstairs to the basement sometimes too) but they go out on the lawn every day to graze if the weather is OK (light rain fine but I bring them in if it's pouring). Right now, I wait until the frost has gone from the lawn and everything's warmed up a bit until I put them out. I bring them in every night.

When they are outside we have them in a sturdy wooden ark which has a covered 'sleeping' compartment attached with a wooden floor - which I cover with newspaper and hay. This allows them to graze, sleep, graze, sleep and we move it around during the day to a new patch of grass. It also protects them from bright sun, rain, or cats which, where we live, lurk around the cage salivating! For that reason, I can't let them out to roam in our garden unless we are there to supervise.

When the grass stops growing and it gets really cold, I think we are going to buy a biggish hutch (on stilts) to put on the terrace so that they can still go outside during the day when the weather is reasonable. I'll put a heavy tarpaulin over the top of this to protect them from the worst of the weather. It's good to ensure that they still get lots of fresh air though.

Personally, I prefer them to have three smallish enclosures (not the smallest by any means but a practical size to clean out) and keep them interested by moving them around ... rather than one big one in which they are bored and nothing ever happens and is a nightmare to clean... I clean their cages every fourth day.

The books say that they have quite poor eyesight and get stressed by an enclosure that is really large. Obviously, they should be able to have a good run around every day though. They always like to have a dark, covered area to retreat to.

If they happen to be in their indoor cage during the day, I take out the little wooden 'houses' that they sleep in at night so they are forced to be more sociable with us - otherwise they just retreat in to the covered area and don't become tame.

I do let them run around the house but only under supervision (we live in an old house which is undergoing renovation). I don't really let them go in to the nooks and crannies as it could be quite dangerous here.

We have more or less "trained" our gps to only poo and pee in their cages. You learn the signs: they either lift their heads up and sort of nod, or squeak when they want to retire to their cages for a "bathroom break"! Apart from when they were really young and peed and pooed everywhere, they are now fairly consistent about only 'going' in their cage .... If by any chance you get pee on your carpet or wooden floor, then white vinegar cleans it up very well.

Our always have a hay rack filled up and fresh water of course and they are fed twice a day. Once in the morning with a bowl of fresh food. I use a round bowl about 7 cms in diameter. They like carrot tops, broccoli or celeriac (especially the hard stalky bits) a carrot, a bit of apple (don't overdo the apple because some gps get sores on the side of their mouths because of acid apple juice), cucumber, and they love chicory .... they also love playing with half a melon. Only give them spinach and parsely in moderation because it contains a toxic chemical. As others have said, take out any fresh fruit they haven't eaten after an hour.

At the moment they graze throughout the day on grass as well of course. In the evening I give them more hay and a bowl of the same size of dried hard food bought from the pet shop (which has added vit C). I also give them small branches of fruit tree wood to knaw on to avoid tooth problems and we add lots of interest to their cages in the form of a tunnel with fleece interior, a willow ball etc etc

We clip their nails with a human nail clipper every couple of months as well. It's a good idea to weigh them regularly so as to pick up any health problems in plenty of time. Being rodents, they hide signs of ill-health until the last minute to make themselves less vulnerable to predators. By the time an illness becomes evident, it's usually too late.

Most of the time, they are petted and played with about twice a day. One of ours is much more docile and she gets more attention. We leave the more neurotic one to have a bit more space ... Sometimes one of them goes to sleep on our lap while we are watching TV .. the other likes to hide inside the lapel of dh's dressing gown (when he is seated).

Our gps have really great, distinct characters and as long as they are handled safely, I think make fantastic pets for children.

Crikey, I've written the GP chronicles ...

Have fun with yours ...

CatMandu Sun 26-Oct-08 20:40:53

I'm so glad I asked, Counting you are obviously keen!

At the moment we give them plenty of hay, at keep it topped up daily but its not in a separate rack, is that ok?

Tell me about the wee - we found something strange that looked milky one time they were in the house and it worried us (dd and I) that perhaps one of them was ill, is this normal?

I'm concerned that we haven't given them enough run time, having read everyone's posts, dd usually puts them in the run when she gets in from school and sometimes if I'm at home during the day I'll put them in for a while. We've been too worried to leave them while we're out, a couple of our neighbours cats looks at them positively salivating.

Why must fresh food be removed after an hour? sorry to be dense, I want to get this right.

Ours tend to poo in the same corner of their hutch, which is useful as we can scoop up the majority of it daily. DH is concerned that that corner of the hutch will rot though.

One of our piggies has nipped us a few times, I worry we've been doing something wrong. We have tried to take it slowly with them.

Countingthegreyhairs Mon 27-Oct-08 00:28:06

Sorry, yes, my previous post definitely has more than a whiff of the fanatic about it .grin...I have, er, well, become a bit obsessed with them actually ...

... do you know they actually sing in the evenings sometimes ... a kind of warbling sound ... and ours have started to squeak when they hear me opening the fridge door ...

On to your questions: I'm no expert, I just bought a few books and looked at a few websites, oh and visited the vet for a bit of info ...

I'm sure hay is fine on the floor as long as it is replenished very regularly and the cage is kept clean. A hay rack is a good idea though for hygiene reasons (as you know they poo constantly!) it adds a bit of interest and makes them stretch a bit.

Milky wee is perfectly normal ...but if it is very white and dries and leaves a white stain then your guinea pig may be getting too much calcium in their diet. This is thought to contribute towards some gps getting bladder stones. You need to just check out their diet.

You can sometimes tell if they have a urine infection by the fact that they squeal when weeing. Just make sure they drink lots of water.

With regard to 'run' time - you can only do what you can do - and protecting them from cats is paramount. If someone invented an indoor, easy-clean, collapsible run for gps then I'm sure they would make a fortune!

Just remove the fresh food for hygiene reasons. GPS don't tend to eat food that isn't fresh.

About the hutch rotting - some people put down lino or other materials to prevent this - make sure it's nothing harmful in case they chew it. My gps live in a plastic-based cage most of the time that's lined with newspaper and a pellet form of cat litter.

Sometimes it's just the luck of the draw and you get a nipper!! They have different characters like the rest of us. A good tip though is to always call them before you touch or pick them up (because of their poor eyesight), never swoop down abruptly on them from on high (they will think you are a bird of prey!!), feed them a few carrot tops while you are handling them to associate being handled with treats, tickle them gently behind the ears and try and avoid touching them on their rumps as they don't like this apparently! And the more you handle them, the tamer they become.

You sound like you are a lovely, concerned owner Catmandu...there's not a great deal of consensus amongst the experts to be honest ... the various books on gp care I have all contradict one another .. so I guess it's just a question of seeing what suits your individual gps best. If their coats and eyes are shiny and they are not losing weight, and are active and responsive, then I think it's safe to assume all is well!!


CatMandu Mon 27-Oct-08 19:02:27

Thanks Counting, I've just spent a couple of hours creating what ds has called a guinea pig spaceship! It's totally covered in an insulating foil bubble wrap and we've moved the hutch to a more sheltered part of the garden. As it gets colder we'll move them into the shed. I can see how easy it would be to get obsessed, they are actually dd1's and she's great with them, but needless to say I'm finding them good fun.

I like the fact that gp's won't eat veg that's not fresh, how very MN - I suppose it must be organic too!

RubyRioja Mon 27-Oct-08 19:09:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Countingthegreyhairs Mon 27-Oct-08 23:45:06

Lol re your spaceship and organic veg Catmandu. My dh teases me because I buy them the best organic hay that has been picked on the slopes of Andalusia or somesuch and comes with added wild flowers ... I also brought home a v. expensive packet of rocket during the summer that dh thought was for his salad .... needless to say .....grin

- and that's a v. good point about cleaning out their cage in the cold RubyR - mmm, will have to think about that one

stramash Tue 28-Oct-08 00:09:21

Oh how lovely to be able to chat about gps.

I love the dds gps and have been worried about them being outside over the winter. Sometimes, I can't sleep when the weather's bad and I have to go out and give them extra hay in the middle of the night. I too fear I am a bit obsessed....

We have a foil Scratch and Newton cover and tarpaulin thing that goes over the hutch. This seems to work OK but I still worry about the cold weather. I'm reasssured that other people leave them outside also. Unfortunately we can't bring the indoors as our nanny is seriously allergic to them. We don't have a shed and I've heard that garages aren't ideal.

They get brought in most days after school. DD1 likes to watch Strictly Come Dancing with them on her knee and then canvas their opinion before voting.

There are some realy useful videos on Youtube about bathing and toe nail clipping your piggies....

CatMandu Tue 28-Oct-08 00:12:54

Oh no! I was about to go to bed and will now be forced to stay up and watch You Tube gp videos!

stramash Tue 28-Oct-08 00:14:12

Also, Has anyone used these? I was thinking of getting one for over the winter ( sorry for hijack CM ! ).

stramash Tue 28-Oct-08 00:19:09

DO NOT WATCH THE VIDEOS TONIGHT! You will be up to 2 am!

The lady with the instructional videos has a user name like " littlefriends" or something ( will check ) and does a hilarious one with a gp called "Sweetie" who undergoes full shampoo and blowdry. If you type " how to bath a guinea pig " into the You tube search engine then you'll get it.

Honestly though CM, GO TO BED!

Yurtgirl Tue 28-Oct-08 21:48:51

I am so glad to have found this thread blush As I fear I am about to become a GP fanantic as well

I have been thinking about getting chickens or guineas for ages - a choice between eggs or furry basically!

We went to petsathome today, adored the guinea pigs and came home with a bag full of goodies - no hutch or gps as yet but I thought it would easier £££wise if we bought a bit at a time to cover the initial start up cost.

I am definitely soon to become very fond of two wee piggies!

CatMandu Wed 29-Oct-08 20:57:47

stramash, I love the idea of the heatpad, I think I'll get one I had a look on ebay and someone is selling them.

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