Guinea pigs make excellent family pets. They are great for people of all ages, and a guinea pig is especially useful as a first pet for kids, as they can be personally responsible for them. They do need a bit of space to be happy, but they have a relatively easy diet, do not need to be taken out for walks, and can be highly interactive pets with their own charm and character.
There are many good reasons to own a guinea pig, but if you are thinking of buying or adopting one, there are certain essentials that you must have in the house before you bring your little pig home. Below are 12 essential items that will give your pet everything they need and potentially help spark a positive relationship between the two of you.
The 12 Essential Guinea Pig Supplies
This is usually the first thing that potential owners buy and represents the biggest investment. For all of the guinea pig’s benefits, it does require a certain amount of space in your home. Your guinea pig needs a decent cage of a minimum of 7.5 square feet, but more space will be better. Ten square feet is ideal for one or two guinea pigs. If you have cats, dogs, or very small children, you should ensure that the cage has a lid.
The Prevue Pet Products Small Animal Cage is our pick for the overall best guinea pig cage. This durable cage features two doors, one on top and one on the side that allows easy access to all areas of the cage. The cage is powder coated with a non-toxic coating that helps prevent rust and corrosion. The large cage is easy to move on rolling caster wheels, so the cage is accessible and easy to clean.
Guinea pigs do not really need vertical space, although you can add ramps and other items at ground level to enhance their cage experience. Floor space is most important.
Bedding is the substrate at the bottom of the cage. It is spread across the floor of the cage, usually to a depth of between 1.5 and 2 inches. This will need refreshing or changing twice a week.
You can use fleece cage liners, which need to be changed every day or two before being washed and then reused. You can also buy wood shavings, cloth, or paper bedding.
Each substrate has its own benefits, and you may want to offer a combination of two or more.
The all-natural, recyclable bedding from Kaytee Clean & Cozy Natural Small Animal Bedding is designed specifically for odor control. If you’ve got a smelly guinea pig, you might want to give this bedding a try. With more absorbency than other paper beddings, this one holds up to four times its weight in moisture. It’s 99% dust-free, so it’s a safer option to prevent respiratory problems.
3. A House
The guinea pig is a prey animal. If they think that there is a potential threat, they will want to find somewhere safe and secure to hide until the threat has passed.
A hide house is a good option. You can use cardboard boxes, as long as they are clean and non-toxic, or buy a specially created hide house from a pet shop. Ensure that the house has enough room for your little one and that it is comfortable and easy to clean.
The Oxbow Timothy Club Tunnel is hand-woven from timothy hay and this entire tunnel is not just safe for your guinea pig to chew on, but even provides healthy fiber to improve their digestion. With an opening nearly 7 inches wide, it’s a much more inclusive option for larger guinea pig.
4. Water Bottle
Some owners prefer to use bowls, while others prefer bottles, but whichever you choose, you must provide your guinea pig with regular access to clean and safe drinking water.
Bowls take up more floor space and can be messier because your little rodent may decide to climb in, spill the water, or kick food and bedding into it. On the other hand, a guinea pig would lap from natural water sources in the wild, so it more closely replicates their natural drinking habit compared to the more convenient, space-saving, and cleaner water bottle.
This No-Drip water bottle from Choco Nose will provide your guinea with sufficient and easy-to-access hydration without wetting its cage and bedding and is our top pick of water bottle for your guinea. It is made with a patented, leak-proof nozzle that keeps the cage dry and will also save water.
5. Food Bowl
When it comes to food, there isn’t really an option. You will need to provide a bowl. Although they do come in a variety of different materials, a heavy ceramic bowl is better because it will be impossible to tip over, even if your guinea pig stands on the edge.
Many of the bowls we tested had a very plain, utilitarian look. The Kaytee Paw Print Water Bowl made things a bit more festive with an adorable paw print design that looks great in any cage. Unfortunately, the colors are random and you don’t get to choose which one you get.
6. Hay Rack
Guinea pigs not only get dietary fiber from hay, but they also benefit from the regular grinding motion of gnawing on hay. It helps trim their teeth and prevent injuries and discomfort from having overgrown teeth.
You can put hay on the floor of the cage, which is usually preferred, but a hay rack keeps things neater and allows you to place extra hay in the cage. Ensure that it is a safe hay rack that your guinea pig won’t get stuck in and that doesn’t restrict access to the hay too much.
The Kaytee Gravity Bin with Mounting Bracket Small Animal Feeder is a cheap hay feeder that will hold up to two pounds of food. It will supply food for your guinea pig for up to five days and the sifter floor removes dust from pellets, which could lead to respiratory problems in your guinea pig.
7. Good Hay
Guinea pigs need regular access to fresh hay. Their teeth continue to grow, and gnawing at hay is how they can naturally keep the length of their teeth down. It also provides vitamins and minerals that keep your guinea pig healthy.
Timothy hay is considered the best of the available options. It has the right balance of nutrients and smells and tastes great — to guinea pigs.
The Kaytee Timothy Hay Wafer-Cut is the second kind of guinea pig hay on this list from the people at Kaytee. This kind features the same high quality, all-natural hay, but is processed using a different style of cut. This wafer cut produces a thinner product that some pets may enjoy. All grass is sun-cured and high in fiber.
8. Food Pellets
You also need to offer your guinea pig a good-quality food pellet. It needs to be a minimum of 25% fiber, 14% protein, and 2% fat, and it should contain the right balance of other vitamins and minerals to give your pet everything they need.
There are many pellets on the market, and you may need to experiment to find the one that your guinea likes the flavor of.
Oxbow is a brand well known for quality pet foods that have your pet’s health and wellness in mind, and these Cavy Cuisine pellets are no different. They are optimized for adult guineas, which have different nutritional needs than infants. These pellets will still give them the required fiber they need for optimal digestion but reduces the quantity of calcium, protein, and high calories that growing guineas require.
9. Green Vegetables
You should provide 1/2 cup of greens per pound of body weight every day. You can offer leafy greens like romaine lettuce, making up approximately 80% of their daily vegetable allowance. The rest of the vegetable allowance can be made up of a selection of:
10. Nail Trimmer
Guinea pigs need regular nail trimming. You should start when they are a pup so they get used to having it done; otherwise; it can be challenging when they get older. Although it differs from one guinea pig to the next, you should expect to have to do this approximately every month.
The Hertzko Angled Blade Nail Clipper’s razor-sharp stainless-steel blades are built to last — an important quality, as it’s easier to buy a new pair of nail clippers than to try and sharpen a dull set. Add a soft and anti-slip rubberized grip to the equation, and it’s easy to see why the Hertzko nail clippers is our top choice.
11. Chew Toys
Guinea pigs enjoy foraging, and this can be encouraged using toys that hide food. This not only encourages the natural foraging behavior but will also keep your guinea pig mentally active.
They also love to chew, and chewing and gnawing help keep teeth trim. So, as an important part of good guinea pig care, provide chew toys specifically for the species. Poor-quality toys and wooden toys for other animals may splinter or shatter and cause injury.
Our choice is the Kaytee Perfect Chews Guinea Pig Toy. Its designed to fulfill all your guinea pigs chewing needs and has a variety of crunchy textures and shapes. There is a clasp at the top which makes it easy to securely attach it to any cage.
Long-haired guinea pigs will need brushing every week or two. This helps remove dead hair and keeps your guinea comfortable. It can also help improve the bond between you both and will prevent knots and mats from forming. A slicker brush and comb will do the job and isn’t expensive.
This slicker brush from Kaytee has been specially designed for small animals and would be a good choice for a guinea pigs with medium and long hair.
Getting a guinea pig is an exciting time. The small pet is friendly, fun, and an ideal pet for people of all ages. They are quite easy to care for, although they do need a suitable amount of room, they should be let out of their cage to run around for an hour or so each day, and they will benefit from regular handling and attention from their owner.
- You may also want to read: Where to Buy a Guinea Pig? (Plus, Overview of the Best Places)
Featured Image: iStoominaP, Shutterstock