Questions to ask when getting a GP

Questions to ask when getting your guinea pigs.

Reputable sources of guinea pigs will not mind you asking questions concerning the husbandry/care of and adoption of guinea pigs. It is likely that they will want to ask  you questions about the home you will be providing too.

  • Are they a compatible pair/trio etc.?

Reputable sources of guinea pigs will provide you with ready bonded pairs/trios/groups, or offer to match your guinea pig to a suitable companion. The choice of companion should be the guinea pig’s, not the Human’s.

  • Are they suitable for me?

A reputable source will match guinea pigs with owners. For example, a family that are looking to have guinea pigs to handle often will want guinea pigs that are comfortable with this. All guinea pigs need to be handled for health checks etc but not all are happy being handled a lot.

  • Are they healthy?

No one can guarantee the health of a guinea pig, only that it is in good health at that time. Ask for a health history (there may not be one), minor conditions such as impaction should be declared and explained how to ‘cope’ with them so an informed decision on rehoming can be made. Whilst these minor ailments/conditions are not a reason for euthanasia they will require some commitment. That said it is, of course, possible that any healthy guinea pig may develop a ‘minor health condition’ that will require maintenance. Some satin guinea pigs are prone to a disease called Osteodystrophy (OD), however this can affect the guinea pig in varying degrees from very mild to severe (or not at all), similarly there are conditions such as Arthritis which present with similar symptoms.

  • Do they have any ongoing/recurring health problems?

This is not an excuse to rehome ailing guinea pigs; some guinea pigs might have ongoing conditions such as impaction/Osteodystrophy or may seem prone to getting skin problems. It is important to ensure that these issues have been fully investigated by a vet.

  • What foods are their favourite?

This is useful to know in case they should become ill and you need to tempt them to eat. They should not be fed a diet consisting of just their favourite foods.

  • What dry food are they used to?

Ask for a sample if it is a mix and you are going to feed pellets or vice versa.

  • What are their characters like?

It is useful to know what to expect from your guinea pigs once they settle in. Some guinea pigs can be described as background guinea pigs, maybe not coming out for food at meal times instead waiting so they can ‘steal’ off their friends.

  • Are they used to eating grass?

Guinea pigs that are suddenly given grass when they are not used to it are at risk from diarrhoea and bloat. Care should be taken with all guinea pigs when putting on new grass or out in the run in the spring for the first few times.

  • Have they been living with other guinea pigs as well or are they used to living as a pair/trio/group?

A pair of guinea pigs taken from a group may not necessarily be compatible, at best there may  be dominance issues that they will need to establish as the dynamics of the ‘group’ have now changed.

If your guinea pigs are well when you get them then get used to what is ‘normal’ for them, this should include their daily habits and how they are physically, i.e. any lumps or bumps or lack of. Bach’s Rescue Remedy is useful for helping guinea pigs settle into their new home but the main factor will be time to adjust to their surroundings.

Dominance issues may occur even between compatible pairs/trios/groups in their new home, signs and sounds to look out for are teeth chattering/rumble strutting ( ‘dancing’ using the back legs and with the hair standing on end in some places); however, usually  these ‘issues’ need to be resolved. Whilst there is plenty of advice on what to do if guinea pigs don’t get along the best person to advise/help you should be the person you got them from- they are familiar with the personalities, it is possible that what you are observing is normal for them.

Guinea pigs are individuals and it is impossible to generalise on situations. Take each situation on its own merits and use common sense and judgement based on what you have seen.Coronet