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Tell me everything you know about Guinea pigs.

(75 Posts)
CatchingBabies Tue 14-Jun-16 20:02:09

Ok so we've made the decision to add a pair of Guinea pigs to our home.

I've got a 4 x 2 foot indoor cage that I believe to big enough for 2 piggies and found a perfect space in our house to put it. I don't really know what else I need though and what I should be looking for in our new piggies and was hoping you could advise.

So males or females? Which are more sociable / friendly?

Babies or adults? (Either way from local rescue)

I plan on keeping them on fleece with puppy training pads underneath. Anyone else use this method? Does it work?

Any particular brands of hay or food recommended?

Other than what I've listed and water bottle / house / toys is there anything else I will need?

Thanks for your help in advance xx

70isaLimitNotaTarget Tue 14-Jun-16 20:58:06

First- grin on choosing guinea-pigs, we love them.
4x2 is really the minimal space I'd put 2 pigs in (if you buy babies they'll grow like Topsy) and if you buy boars you can pre-empt alot of the Boar:Boar niggly moods by giving enough space.

I have a 4x2 indoor cage that mine sleep in overnight in winter but it's really just to park their bums in.

You'll need some run about space indors and an oudoor (protected ) run.

I think before you get your pigs, know the downside:
They are vunerable. Predators like foxes , cars, dogs.
Weather- damp, cold, heat, draught.
Need to protect them from these.
They eat all the time grin they have the type of digestive system that need constant throughput. Which means they pooh alot. (Guinea pooh is one of the least offesive animal droppings , but they don't do tidy)
The hay smells more than they do (they need hay)

Children can be allergic to hay or the fur (as can adults)

They're (covers my piggies ears) a bit boring grin which I think is part of their charm. They don't climb or jump and 99.99% don't bite.

You'll need space for their hay and bedding stock. I used puppy pads ,newspaper and fleece with hay cookies in Winter last year. Rolled it all up every day and replaced it. (Cheap Primark fleeces, I thought it was before to throw out than risk my washing machine)

Our pigs have a Pighouse (old playhouse) with newspaper, hay and at the moment Ecobale (shredded card bedding). I've tried all sorts and my cavies have always voted with their paws that they like a nice heap of hay to sleep in (though it's messy indoors so I use the hay cookies and shredded looroll tubes to cuddle in)

So: adults or babies? Depends who is available and who catches your eye. Adults are much easier to sex, babies can be easily mis-sexed

Boars or sows? Boars are IMO more cuddly but don't be tempted to get more than 2.
Piggies always need guinea company (we have 5 grin )

Mine don't entertain toys but love boxes and tunnels and a paper bag without handles.

They love just pottering round , eating, wheeking, resting.
They can get very ill, very quickly so you need to keep a close eye.
There are foods that they cannot have.

There are loads and loads of threads about pigs.
Get yourself a brew and a cake and read on....

NeedACleverNN Tue 14-Jun-16 21:07:31

They are noisy....very noisy. Especially if they think you have food

FernieB Tue 14-Jun-16 21:15:13

There's been a few threads recently about getting piggies so I've bumped them for you

EastMidsGPs Tue 14-Jun-16 21:18:55

Two sows live with us and rule the roost.
They have cute, innocent, 'it wasn't me' looks down to a fine art smile
As 70 settle down and read the threads, you'll certainly get an insight into the life of a guinea pig slave grin we wouldn't change it for the world.
Today this slave has been out in a monsoon cutting fresh grass, drying the wet off said grass, before feeding it to the gps. Did I get thanks ? Or even an acknowledgement? Did I heck! ... judgy stares/glares is all I got . Just because I wouldn't let them out in the rain.
DH on the other hand got wheeks and coos ... 🐹🐹🐾🐾and he stayed dry!!!!

KingJoffreyLikesJaffaCakes Tue 14-Jun-16 21:22:54

They enjoy a sing-a-long...

FernieB Tue 14-Jun-16 21:26:29

Good to go to a rescue. I'd get adults as they're much easier to handle than skittish babies. Try your best to fall in love with pink clawed pigs (easier to clip than black claws) but that's difficultwink. I've only had boys and they're very chatty and interactive. Not sure about girls. IME rescues are full of boys which they will bond for you as boys are harder to rehome.

Pellet food is much better than the muesli type stuff. I know it looks boring but it's a balanced diet for them and they tend just to pick out the bits they like with muesli. Be prepared for your vegetable shop to increase substantially - they will eat as much as you're prepared to give them. They really are stomachs with legs.

My boys are indoor mainly and have a 5 x 2 cage as their main housing. On dry days they're outside in their run mowing the lawn (so I don't have to) most of the day. If it's wet and in winter they get a run in the kitchen on some old towels. I use newspaper to line the cage as I have a plentiful supply from neighbours and then stick hay in their igloos. Do make sure you're not allergic to pigs or hay before you go ahead. Ask to handle some pigs at the rescue, and get a bit of hay and have it in your house for a few days to make sure.

LolaStarr Tue 14-Jun-16 21:26:48

They're very cute and very talkative smile I have two, one especially does not shut up when he sees people! These are my guys

70isaLimitNotaTarget Tue 14-Jun-16 21:44:01

Lola such gorgeous piggies , beautiful markings. I love the relaxed "Just resting my face" look on the piggie in the left side.

I WANT my piggies to sing sad . So far, GP4 and GP5 (our females that have had piglets before we got them) have point blank refused to sing.
We have our two new ladies (GP7 and GP8) so I hold out hope for them.

Piggies I've had in the past have been singers (both were MumPigs). Scared the bejesus out of us the first time (it sounds like a bird. Either sweet chirping or trapped bird. Snowy did trapped bird singing at 3am while she was very pg so we leapt out of bed to see her standing with her head up, chirping grin )

I've even played Singing Guineas on Youtube. My GP5 went off to search for the intruders <<not the sharpest tools in the shed>>

CatchingBabies Tue 14-Jun-16 22:10:20

Thanks everyone so helpful!!

4 x 2 is the absolute biggest cage I can fit in the space. However it's in the spare room which is piggy proof so they will be able to have free roam time daily and will be getting an outdoor run for nice days also.

I've read that boars can fall out and need separating sometimes. Is this common? I've seen a gorgeous pair of boars, 18 months old, lived together since babies. Would these be a pretty safe bet of remaining happy together or would they require more space?

Also the rescue has them outdoors in a hutch, there's no reason they couldn't come straight indoors is there?

megletthesecond Tue 14-Jun-16 22:13:33

I only had boars fall out on first meeting. Took a couple of weeks to slowly introduce them together and settle down. I never had piggies fall out once established.

froubylou Tue 14-Jun-16 22:20:52

Piggies are difficult to sex when young.

I had a lovely pair of boars. Recently purchased for ds. One was a rescue from a dodgy start and his name is Trevor. The other little guy bought especially to be Trevors friend is Rubble.

Trevor is now pregnant. Rubble was very friendly to Trevor it appears. Sigh.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Tue 14-Jun-16 22:57:31

Catch my GP1/GP2 (brothers) were a year old when we got them, I bought the 4x2 (now known as The Hated Indoor Cage grin ) for when they had to sleep indoors . We bring ours in for Guy Fawkes then over winter nights (they have a heater in their Pighouse to keep it cosy. Has to be switched on 30 minutes before they go out)

They had a fight (too much coriander we think) we had to divide the night cage but they were fine together in the Pighouse. They slept together in the haybox but didn't snuggle up.

The next winter we gave them two boxes of hay (one each) in the cage but no divider. We put them in the small bedroom with a cover over them, they slept nicely.
When we got our piglet GP3 to BoarMatch GP1, we bought an indoor run.

I have C&C to make a large sturdy run (which I'll need this winter. I am trying to work out the dimensions for 5 adults. I think large )

As long as they can escape from each other, have a bit of privacy if they want it, and they're established, they will settle nicely. You'll find out who is the Alpha Pig.
If you want boars, then a bonded pair is the ideal choice. there are so many boars waiting (our boar has been with us a year - GP6- he's lovely, neutered by the Rescue and likes to think he rules the roost but he doesn't grin . That's GP4 and one of our new sows. GP7. Sows Rule smile )

70isaLimitNotaTarget Tue 14-Jun-16 23:00:31

If they're outdoors you can bring them indoors no problem. Just need to make sure they do go from extremes (so not hot house to cold hutch )
At this time of year indoors/outdoors temps shouldn't be too different.

Coughingchildren5 Tue 14-Jun-16 23:04:51

Piggies rock. Such gentle cheerful appreciative creatures. They also eat half of their own poos which is very helpful. If you handle them confidently and gently they are also very cuddly. It is a delight to stuff them daily with fresh veg as they will learn to sing for you in expectation when they hear the rustle of the salad bag.
The long haired variety need grooming and even hair trimming so perhaps stick with short hair first time around.
Sweet and simple creatures.

FernieB Wed 15-Jun-16 08:13:42

Catch - by 18 months my two original boys had pretty much gone through the terrible teens and settled down. The position of top pig had been decided. They still had the odd scuffle but nothing serious, mainly bickering - they bicker like schoolgirls. Make sure you put two igloos in the cage and I found it helpful to angle the doors away from each other so they couldn't see each other when they were in there. They will move them themselves, but boys like their own space. Think 'The Odd Couple ' (that ages me) - can't live with each other but don't want to live without each other.

Some people advocate two food bowls for boys but I've managed with one - they rarely eat at the same time anyway. I do put fresh food in two piles though to avoid scuffles, although they generally want to eat whatever the other ones gotconfused.

If you're going to let them roam in your spare room, be aware they may chew skirting boards, furniture etc. You may want to get a wire run (which folds away) just to contain them a bit. Put old towels/fleece blankets down under the run. I'm a farmers daughter and I've never known such mucky animals as Guinea pigs! It's easy to shake the towels outside - much harder to keep cleaning a carpet.

CatchingBabies Wed 15-Jun-16 10:14:55

Didn't realise they chewed skirting boards!! Will make sure to get an indoor run as well then. The spare room has laminate flooring so thought it would be an easy option for cleaning.

Sadly going to have to pass up on the boar pair I found, a bit of reasearch uncovered that the local rescue has a reputation for breeding from rescue piggies which I don't support. Not the boars fault but I don't want to be financing or supporting such a 'rescue'.

The search continues though!

FernieB Wed 15-Jun-16 13:42:46

Laminates great but they may not like to walk on it. It can be a bit slippy on their feet. You may need to put something down anyway.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Wed 15-Jun-16 14:43:16

Mine won't walk on laminate or the kitchen floor tiles. They do a Bambi on Ice impression grin

WRT chewing, ours don't chew puppy pads thankfully
GP2 used to enhance his cardboard boxes by chewing the door from rectangular to arch (noisily at 3am)

They like drawstrings (on DD sweatshirts or shorts)
They like standing on our wellies when we change bedding and they're in the Pighouse.

They all have their own distinct piganalities too.

angry at the breeding Rescue pigs. There are 1000s of piggies waiting, unless they got an extremely rare pig (unlikely) and some FancyPig Breeder decided they needed this to enhance their bloodlines, then why? shock

Keep searching, your piggies are out there.

FernieB Wed 15-Jun-16 21:59:18

Definitely Bambi on Ice here toogrin. Current Bun is the same, although a previous bun would run round on solid floors and even took to escaping up the polished stairs, running round bathrooms etc (different house).

No drawstring chewing in our house. Scruffypig loves to chew buttons and Ginger likes to get his teeth into a zip. Perhaps I should enter them for next years Sewing Bee given their interest in haberdashery.

CatchingBabies Mon 20-Jun-16 17:22:26

Still looking for some piggies. We've got the cage and everything they need all set up and ready now. Just waiting for some piggies to fill it and resisting the urge to go to pets at home and buy some.

Is it not piggie season or something? Doesn't seem to many around at all!

FernieB Mon 20-Jun-16 23:06:28

Keep trying rescues. The RSPCA sometimes have them, usually in foster homes. Also you can try The Blue Cross - they sometimes have them.

Whereabouts are you? Other people here may know of a piggie rescue in your area.

Kingsizecrochetblanket Mon 20-Jun-16 23:13:34

I came here for piggie pictures. Not many here! grin

KittensandKnitting Mon 20-Jun-16 23:15:20

I LOVE a Guinea pig thread! Especially the photos smile

Don't have piggies at the moment miss my little fellas

KittensandKnitting Mon 20-Jun-16 23:15:52

Cross posts King maybe we will get some piggy photos now smile

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