Veterinarians routinely deal with numerous cases involving errors in the care of various exotic animals, including guinea pigs. To avoid these mistakes, which can endanger your well-being, the first thing you need to do is detect them. We discover them in today’s article.
Sociable and diurnal rodents
If you have not yet had the pleasure of meeting a guinea pig, in a few brushstrokes we present you some of the distinctive features of these funny little animals …
- The guinea pig or cavia porcellus , scientifically speaking, is a hybrid species of rodent, belonging to the cavidae family.
- It is capable of reaching up to 1 kg in weight.
- They are great eaters.
- Native to the Andean region of South America.
- They were bred for domestic use since the time of the Incas.
- As diurnal they are, they display most of their activity during the day and usually live between 5 and 8 years.
- His body temperature is 38 ºC; and the environmental optimum is around 21 ºC.
- They stand out for being sociable animals, in need of always being in the company of their peers.
The care of guinea pigs is not excessively complicated, but there are certain fundamental points that you must keep in mind so as not to jeopardize their well-being.
Errors in the care of guinea pigs
Errors in guinea pig care can cover multiple aspects, such as food, habitat, substrate or hygiene, so take good note not to fail them.
1. Feed them only with feed:
Since guinea pigs are skylights, you run the risk of giving them exclusively feed. It must be taken into account that they are totally herbivorous and, to feed them in a healthy way, their diet must consist of:
- 70% quality hay – always available –
- 20% fresh leaves
- 5% vegetables and fruits
- 5% of specific feed for guinea pigs, in pellets –seedless–
It is also important to ensure a correct supply of vitamin C, since guinea pigs have some difficulty in synthesizing it themselves. With a proper diet, such as the one we have detailed, we will ensure the correct feeding of our guinea pig, we will avoid obesity and various digestive and dental disorders.
2. Buy them non-recommended feed:
It is inappropriate for guinea pigs to supply these types of feed …
Those sold in bulk, without labeling or detailing their ingredients. Feed with seeds.
I think with little fiber content – less than 20% –
3. Offer them any type of fruit
We know that guinea pigs like fruits very much but you have to be cautious as some are high in sugar, which can cause obesity.
Therefore, we must reduce its consumption to small pieces several times a week . We should choose the lowest calorie fruits, such as: strawberries, pineapple, kiwi, apple, pear or watermelon.
4. Provide food of animal origin:
Our guinea pig should not eat food of animal origin . By nature it is herbivorous and its digestive system is prepared to process only products of plant origin.
5. Give them products that contain sugar:
Attention to the mistake of feeding guinea pigs food with sugar. This mistake can seriously harm their health – blindness, intestinal problems – as they do not tolerate sweets well.
It is best to banish from your diet any type of products such as: sweets, buns, cookies, fruits in syrup, chocolate, jam, etc. If you want to give it a treat, choose those made specifically for guinea pigs, without added sugar.
6. Foods you should NOT eat:
There are countless foods that are not recommended for a guinea pig, including the following …
- Lettuce, they should not eat the white leaves
- Dairy products
If you have any questions about any food, discuss it with your vet first.
7. Keep them caged for a long time:
First of all, small cages are NOT suitable places for guinea pigs . The best for these animals are the spacious enclosures . The recommended measures of its habitat should be about 2 m 2 , for a pair of guinea pigs.
Second, guinea pigs cannot stay in a cage all day ; and also may be within, exposed to extreme temperatures , whether hot or cold. Like rabbits, they need to run around freely for a few hours a day and get some sun.
They also need to have a den within their enclosure , to take refuge whenever they want.
8. Errors related to habitat:
These are some of the oversights related to the housing of guinea pigs …
- The floor of the tray , where they do their business, should never be mesh, to avoid damaging their legs.
- It is convenient that the guinea pig’s home does not consist of several heights, to avoid falls. It is advisable that your enclosure be horizontal and at ground level, so that you can enter and exit comfortably.
- It would also be a mistake if your enclosure was noisy, poorly ventilated and dark.
9. Use cat litter as a substrate:
If it is good for kittens, the substrate of cat litter boxes is not suitable for guinea pigs, nor are wood shavings or sawdust advisable.
The reason is that these substrates give off particles that can cause serious respiratory and intestinal disorders in our little guinea pigs. On the other hand, a substrate based on natural materials is recommended . But, be careful with the corn substrate , as it can cause intestinal problems if the guinea pig ingests it.
A suitable ecological bed can be made of pressed paper or cellulose , without chemical additives.
10. It is a mistake NOT to follow these recommendations:
- Always have water at your disposal.
- Regularity in meals.
- Regular weight control.
- Bathe them only when necessary, as they are very clean animals.
- Never get their heads or ears wet.
- We will always use a specific shampoo for rodents.
- Do not use the nail clippers of dogs, yes that of cats.
- The first time your nails need to be trimmed, it is best to take them to the vet.
- It is not a good idea to house guinea pigs with other species, such as chinchillas, rabbits, etc.
- From the age of 4, the biannual check-up of the teeth and molars is essential.
- To prevent dental problems, guinea pigs must eat a lot of hay.
- Go to the vet with symptoms such as: seizures, apathy, respiratory distress, runny nose, lack of appetite, excessive tooth growth, partial or total immobility, weight loss …
Finally, remind you that the periodic review with the veterinarian specializing in exotic animals is essential, since guinea pigs can suffer from various disorders without showing visible signs.