If you’re a guinea pig pet parent, you’ve probably spent a lot of time researching what makes them feel happy and loved. Unlike other pets, it can be a bit more difficult to gauge what your cavy loves and if they love you.
Luckily, guinea pigs are easy to keep happy. Just by getting them some friends, providing them a healthy diet, and giving them attention, your guinea pig is likely to feel like they are living on cloud nine. To find out eight easy ways to make your guinea pig happy, read on.
Let’s get started!
What Can I Do to Make My Guinea Pig Happy?
1. Get Them a Friend
Many people do not know this, but guinea pigs are social creatures. Even though guinea pigs may love your attention, nothing is quite like having another guinea pig companion. If your guinea pig is alone, certainly consider getting one or two cavy friends.
When introducing a new guinea pig to the mix, it is important to select the best individual. If your guinea pig has been a lone soldier for a while, consider getting a younger pig. A younger pig will naturally fall in line and make a great partner for your current pet.
Additionally, pay attention to the genders. Guinea pigs can reproduce pretty quickly. Try to stick to the same gender or neuter one of the piggies unless you want babies.
if you are concerned about adding a new guinea pig to your list of responsibilities, it isn’t that different than owning one. You won’t have to pay for that much more food, and there are plenty of options for finding affordable guinea pigs. The biggest challenge will be ensuring that you have a cage big enough for two adult cavies.
2. Provide A Balanced Diet with Guinea Pig Favorites
Guinea pigs need an extremely healthy and well-balanced diet. You need to feed them a healthy diet to keep them healthy and happy. Guinea pigs have sensitive digestive tracts. So, only feed them the type of foods that they are allowed to eat.
Most importantly, make sure that your guinea pig has unlimited access to clean Timothy hay and clean water. Guinea pig teeth never stop growing. Timothy hay will help keep their teeth at a manageable length. You should refill their hay feeder twice a day or whenever it runs out.
You also need to feed your guinea pigs fruits and vegetables. Guinea pigs do not produce their own vitamin C, making it important to incorporate foods that are high in this vitamin. Provide them with fresh lettuce and vegetables like peppers once a day. Also, consider misting their food with vitamin spray every other day.
For younger guinea pigs, you can also provide healthy guinea pig pellets in limited quantities. I do not feed my guinea pigs pellets simply because they refused to eat their hay or vegetables and were getting too chunky.
At the same time, most guinea pigs are not like my chunky boys in that they don’t overeat. Most people have no issues with giving their guinea pigs pellets. Simply watch their eating habits to make sure that they are not overeating. In most cases, they will be fine.
3. Give Them Snacks
On top of a balanced diet, you can give your guinea pig yummy treats. Believe it or not, but guinea pigs have more taste buds in their mouth than the average dog. Because of this fact, the real way to a guinea pig’s heart is through its mouth.
Fresh fruits and vegetables make the best treats. There’s no point buying yogurt melts or any of that nonsense. Bell peppers, carrots, apples, blueberries, and watermelon are some of my guinea pigs’ favorites. Though guinea pigs should not have fruits and vegetables every day, it certainly is a great nutritional treat.
One of the best times to give your guinea pig these treats is when you are holding them. The sweet flavor of these fruits will be irresistible to the piggie. So, they will be likely to take the food out of your hand. This teaches them that they can trust you, and they will start to bond with you more strongly.
4. Make Sure Their Cage Is Big Enough for Them
Unlike other rodents, guinea pigs are actually pretty big. They deserve a much bigger-sized cage than a cage for a hamster, mouse, or rat. For a single guinea pig, the cage needs to be 7.5 square feet minimum, but you should definitely shoot for larger if able. If you have two guinea pigs, the minimum size should be 10.5 square feet.
It is critical to select a cage that is big enough for these furry friends. Guinea pigs love to be curious and run around. If the cage is too small, they will likely not get the exercise they need, and they will feel cramped inside their home.
5. Keep Their Cage Clean
Speaking of cages, make sure you keep your guinea pig’s cage clean. If you have even seen a guinea pig cage, you likely know how nasty those can get in a matter of hours. Make sure to clean their cage at least once a day so that they are free of poop pellets, hey, and debris.
A fleece liner makes cleaning up so much easier, and it is more economical in the long run. Simply sweep up the pellets with a little dustpan every night. Plus, the fleece liner absorbs their urine, meaning that they aren’t sitting in their own pee in between cleanings.
Keep multiple fleece liners on hand. To keep the liner clean, wash it once a week and switch it out for one of the clean options. Make sure to use a detergent made for fragrance-free sensitive skin. You can also use white vinegar to further clean your fleece liner.
You can also line a cage with wood chippings, but make sure you select an option that will not irritate their lungs and nose. You will need to clean this about once a week. Once again, fleece liners are the way to go.
6. Spend Quality Time with Your Cavy
At first, your guinea pig may be a little bit scared of you. This is completely normal, and it does not mean that they will never like you. My Gumbo was terrified of me at first, but he loves me now. Make sure to spend quality time with your guinea pig to keep them happy and establish a bond with them.
If you are having trouble bonding with your guinea pig, try luring them with treats. Simply by holding berries and fruits in your hand, your guinea pig will be more likely to come up to you and start trusting you more. Eventually, the guinea pig will feel comfortable sitting around you.
- See Also: Are Guinea Pigs Nocturnal?
7. Challenge Them Physically and Mentally
Guinea pigs get bored because they are naturally curious creatures. If you keep them in their cage 24/7, they aren’t going to be challenged physically or mentally. As a result, they may not get the exercise they need and feel bored living in their home.
Excite your curious friends by challenging them physically and mentally. You can set up little obstacle courses in your home or in their cage. Guinea pigs love to run through holes. Get a tunnel big enough for their bodies and they will run through them. Do not use hamster balls, however, because guinea pigs are too big for them.
You can also challenge your guinea pig mentally by trying to teach them tricks. I have never taught my guinea pigs tricks, but there are loads of YouTube videos demonstrating piggies that know 30 or more tricks. This will challenge your guinea pig mentally, and it will help you bond with them.
- Related Read: How Big Do Guinea Pigs Get? (Size + Growth Chart)
8. Take Them Outside
The last way to keep your guinea pig happy is to take them outside whenever the weather allows. Like other animals, guinea pigs love the great outdoors. Bring them outside so that they can explore their more natural habitat.
Whenever taking a guinea pig outside, you need to take extra precautions to keep them safe. Importantly, do not just set them free. Guinea pigs will run away, and you might not be able to get them back. We recommend using chicken wire to make a cheap outdoor cage so that they can run on the grass while still being in an enclosed area.
More so, be on the lookout for birds. Birds have been known to scoop up guinea pigs because they are the number one natural predator of piggies. To prevent birds from stealing the babies, simply place a sheet of chicken wire over the top of their outdoor enclosure so that they get full access to the sun while still being protected.
Make sure that the weather is perfect for guinea pigs too. The ideal temperature range should be between 65 degrees Fahrenheit and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Remember, direct sunlight exposure will make them feel hotter since they have fur.
How Can You Tell a Guinea Pig Is Happy?
Knowing if a guinea pig can be tricky if you’ve never owned one before. However, once you notice the signs of a happy guinea pig, it will be nearly impossible to miss the signs in the future.
The most obvious sign of a happy guinea pig is when they get the zoomies or popcorn. Zoomies is when they run around really fast in a back-and-forth motion. If they get the zoomies in their cage, they will likely run into the side of their cage and make a mess.
Popcorning is a really cute thing that happens when guinea pigs get the zoomies, and it is the number one sign that your guinea pig is happy, healthy, and excited to be alive. Popcorning is when the guinea pigs have what look to be uncontrollable spasms whenever they are running. Sometimes, popcorning can lead the guinea pigs to fall over or run into items in their cage.
If your guinea pig does not get the zoomies or popcorn, that does not mean they are unhappy. Mid-aged to old guinea pigs are unlikely to demonstrate this behavior purely because of their age. There are other signs of a happy cavy.
For example, you can listen to see if your guinea pig is happy. Guinea pigs make a wide range of noises, and it’s sometimes hard to tell what they mean. Whenever you hear your guinea pig give a high-pitched squeal, they are very excited. They typically do this whenever it’s playtime or feeding time. Small chirps are also a sign of contentment and relaxation.
Guinea pigs are cute, cuddly, and have feisty personalities. Luckily, guinea pigs are relatively easy to keep happy. Just by giving them treats, providing them a safe environment to live in, and giving them the attention they deserve, they will likely be happy and be eating out of the palm of your hand in no time, literally.
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Featured image credit: iStoominaP, Shutterstock