Guinea Pigs

Guinea Pigs make excellent companions – they are usually docile and rarely bite. Remember, Guinea Pigs are delicate, prey animals, who view the world a bit differently than a cat or a dog would. Guinea Pigs are social animals and prefer to live in small groups – many people adopt Guinea Pigs in same-sex pairs. Typically, Guinea Pigs live for 4-7 years. Children should be supervised at all times with family pets, and very small children may not make the best companions for a Guinea Pig.

Guinea Pigs will remind you to eat healthy! A typical Guinea Pig diet includes:

  • Fresh water
  • Fresh pellets (main food supply)
  • Fresh hay
  • Fresh dark, leafy greens
  • Vitamin C supplement (Guinea Pigs cannot manufacture vitamin C on their own)
  • Treats (fresh fruit & veggies, like bananas, apples & bell peppers)

Because your Guinea Pigs are a part of your family, and for their safety, it is not recommended to keep them in an outdoor hutch. When not interacting directly with the family, your Guinea Pigs will need a safe, sturdy cage in which to live. Cages should be big enough to allow for exercise, sleep, eating and elimination.

Cage size & materials:

  • Size: 7-1/2 square feet, or 30″ x 36″ (for one Guinea Pig)
  • Materials: safe & escape-proof (plastic, wire, stainless steel or a combination – wood is not recommended)
  • Flooring: no-wire mesh
  • Latching lid and/or door

Cage contents:

  • A place to hide (like a basket, cardboard box or length of PVC pipe)
  • Heavy ceramic food dish (too small for your Guinea Pig to use as a toilet)
  • Glass or plastic water bottle with a metal spout
  • Hay rack (to keep hay fresh & off the floor)
  • Aspen wood shavings or wood fiber bedding (no Cedar or Pine!)
  • Ramps or other Guinea Pig furniture
  • Low plastic shelving
  • Toys (tunnels, tubes, chew toys)

Because they are native to South America, Guinea Pigs prefer to live in a warm environment, between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Guinea Pigs require care and patience.

  • Clean out discarded food, soiled bedding and pellets daily.
  • Once a week, remove and replace all of your Guinea Pig’s bedding, after first scrubbing and drying her cage.
  • Provide something for her to gnaw on at all times (any small piece of wood that hasn’t been chemically treated).
  • Handle your Guinea Pig daily.
  • Provide additional, supervised exercise daily.
  • Brush your Guinea Pig on a regular basis.
  • Provide regular veterinary care.

When picking up your Guinea Pig, be sure to support her bottom and cover her back with your other hand, holding her close to your chest or abdomen. If you are new to handling Guinea Pigs, be sure to stay close to the ground or have a table under you as a safety net.


  • As rodents, Guinea Pigs’ teeth grow continuously, so they need something to gnaw on all the time.
  • The scientific name for the Guinea Pig is Cavie porcellus. In Latin, porcellus means “little pig.”
  • A happy Guinea Pig jumps up and down. This is called “pop corning.”
  • Both Guinea Pigs and Rabbits sometimes supplement their diet by coprophagia (eating their own feces).
  • Guinea Pigs are nocturnal animals.
  • Their vocalizations are squeaking noises, which resembles those of a pig.

Please note, articles in the Animal Resource Library are for reference only, and are not meant to diagnose or treat any medical or behavioral issues your pet may be experiencing.