Also known as cavies due to their Latin name, Cavia porcellus, (little pigs) Guinea pigs are in fact not pigs nor do they come from Guinea!
While the origin of the name is lost to history, the guinea pig was first known to have been first domesticated thousands of years ago in South America.
Later, early Western explorers later brought them back to Europe. There, the popularity of Guinea pigs grew to the point where even Queen Elizabeth I kept one as a favorite pet.
Today, Guinea pigs come in a number of breeds - including the common Short-haired and the long-haired Peruvian - and remain one of the most popular household pets worldwide.
Housing your new pet - Guinea pig cages
As the experts will tell you, when it comes to Guinea pig cages - the bigger the better. Besides the obvious reasons of providing a roomy, comfortable living area for Guinea pigs (especially if you have two or more) larger cages are just easier to maintain than smaller cages, which require more frequent cleaning.
Whatever size Guinea pig cage you choose, always be sure to include plenty of fresh Guinea pig bedding such as strips of newspaper or paper towels, or hay and wood shavings. Find out whatever works best, and change bedding every few days to maintain a clean, healthy, and odor-free environment for your pet.
Guinea pig feeding
A chewing Guinea pig
a happy Guinea pig.
A common diet for any guinea pig should include a fresh daily supply of water, commercially produced Guinea pig pellets, and high quality hay to help their digestion.
Otherwise, they love variety in their diets and, since Guinea pigs are herbivores, that means you have have a huge variety of leafy greens and vegetables to put on the menu.
As you'll quickly learn Guinea pigs, like people, have distinctive preferences for certain foods.
One may greedily devour a a slice of tomato, while another may turn their nose up at them. So it's always best for new owners to introduce a variety of foods to their pet guinea pigs find out what they prefer.
Note that while they may get enough nutrients from fresh vegetables and pellet feeding, Guinea pigs cannot manufacture their own vitamin C. So to ensure a proper amount of this vital nutrient also occasionally include fresh fruit. This may include small slices of orange, watermelon or cantaloupe (with the rind), blueberries, apple slices, or strawberries. Your guinea pig will thank you for the sweet treats you allow them each day while you add a variety of other vitamins and nutrients to your pet's diet to keep them happy and healthy.
Also note that plenty of fresh water should also be available to your Guinea pig at all times. To keep water fresh and uncontaminated, a sipper bottle is the best way to supply water to your pet daily.
Finally, Guinea pigs like hamsters and rabbits, are natural foragers which means their front teeth are constantly growing. To keep teeth in trim condition, provide them with a non-toxic wood chew stick or other non-toxic chewable toy available at most pet stores. Remember, a chewing pig is a happy pig!
How to groom your Guinea pig
Brushing your Guinea pig can be an occasional chore or a daily occurrence, depending on the breed. For short-haired Guinea pigs, an occasional brushing with a soft-bristle brush will do the trick. A metal comb is best used on longer haired varieties daily to keep their coat looking groomed and lustrous.
Bathe or not to bathe? Like any pet, Guinea pigs are not crazy about being given a bath. Some will even react like a household cat at the mere prospect. However, if a lice infestation is suspected, or skin sores are present, baths may become an absolute necessity. In that case, follow a vet's advice and, after its bath, always be sure to towel dry thoroughly before returning your Guinea pig to its cage.
Clipping Guinea pig's nails is usually necessary every month or so. If nails become too long, or start too curl around, you can use a small human nail clipper, or one that is designed for cats and other small animals. To avoid cutting the "quick" it is safest to just clip off about 1/4 inch of the nail tip. If in doubt, consult with your vet.
Guinea pig care & feeding around the Web:
Elsewhere on the Web, find out more about the care and feeding of these cute, lovable critters with additional how to's on caring, feeding, and raising pet Guinea pigs, with related fun facts and photo galleries
Guinea Lynx - This is the go-to guide for everything you need to know about raising guinea pigs, include caging, care and feeding, common ailments and cures, and when to seek expert medical care.
Guinea Pig Information - Get all your questions answered at this huge UK library of knowledge including tips and advice on feeding, housing, and caring for your Guinea pig, plus more on Guinea pig behavior, and an extensive list of related resources.
Guinea pig - Fun facts, photos, history, and more practical tips on their care and feeding, from Wikipedia.