Friday, October 26, 2007

Guinea Pigs

Guinea Pigs

The guinea pig’s name does not originate from its geographic origin or its ancestry. The domestic guinea pig comes from the wild guinea pigs of South America, which live in herds. Like the hamster, the guinea pig is considered a small rodent. There are several varieties of guinea pigs. They come in short-haired, rough-haired and long-haired varieties in a wide assortment of colours. The long-haired variety requires a lot of grooming, like a dog or a cat. Even the short-haired variety will benefit from daily grooming with a toothbrush. Guinea pigs usually do not require bathing and it is best not to do it because they can get very cold. If a bath is essential, wash with warm water and keep the animal warm and out of drafts until it is completely dry. Guinea pigs live for 4 to 6 years. The general care is the same as for the hamster.

The cage should be no smaller than 1 meter in length by 50 cm in width by 30 cm in height. Unlike hamsters, guinea pigs are sociable animals and a number of females and one male can be kept together without fear of fighting. Two males, however, will generally fight, particularly if there are females present. The size of cage depends on how many guinea pigs you wish to keep. You should keep chewing wood and roughage (such as hay) available to prevent overgrowth of their teeth because the teeth are continuously growing.

Guinea pigs are strict herbivores, meaning they only eat vegetables. They are very susceptible to vitamin C deficiency, so proper feeding is important. They can be fed guinea pig pellets, timothy hay, or alfalfa. Supplement daily with green leafy vegetables such as kale, lettuce, or carrots for vitamin C. If you purchase pellets, check the milling date on the bag. It should not be greater than 3 months ago because pelleted foods will loose their vitamins as they sit on the shelves.

When compared to hamsters, guinea pigs are more interactive and can learn to recognize family members. They may make squeaky noises to express themselves and they love attention. They are docile, gentle animals that rarely bite or scratch, making it a very ideal pet for small children.

by : Amy Cheung - writer
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