Absolute Beginners

Despite their comparibly small size and seemingly simple husbandry routine, guinea pigs do require commitment and must have at least their basic requirements met, in their entirety as opposed to most of them met and over compensating in one due to the lack of another. When considering guinea pigs as a pet these needs should be the primary concern.

The basic needs, based on the RSPCA 5 Freedoms, are set out in the Guinea Pig Welfare Pigfesto, 2010:

Read through the Guinea Pig Welfare Pigfesto to find out what the essentials are for providing a guinea pig friendly home; by putting these into practise guinea pigs are “allowed to be guinea pigs”, which in turn impacts on health and wellbeing:

  • A correctly balanced diet including fresh water. Diet should be made up of 70% or more hay plus a correctly balanced diet of fresh vegetables.
  • A guinea pig friendly bedding. Guinea pigs are in close contact with the ground and what is on it; make sure it is “guinea pig friendly”.
  • Companionship of a well matched guinea pig, anything else is not enough or not appropriate.
  • Competent veterinary care. Find a good vet before you need one.
  • At least 4 foot by 2 foot (or 120cm by 60cm) living space for two guinea pigs. Increase by 30cm or 1 foot per guinea pig; i.e. 3 guinea pigs: 5 foot by 2 foot (150cm by 60cm).
  • Enough hay provided for foraging in and eating. Topped up as needed.
  • To be allowed to express natural behaviour such as mutual grooming, foraging in hay…
  • To achieve a near ideal environment by keeping in a shed or outhouse for most of the year (if not all). Guinea pigs have not evolved to cope with our climate.

If these can be met then further research is needed- use each point as a start.

The Pigfesto is essential for maximising good health and wellbeing.

This does not include any other needs a guinea pig might have that can be impacted on by other circumstances in their environment. For example, children, stressful situations and how different guineas might react- the Pigfesto is essential for maximising Good Health and Wellbeing and none of the points can be substituted; for example, a larger cage does not mean it is acceptable for a guinea pig to be without a guinea pig friend.

Guinea pigs need Commitment and Commitment has an Impact on Quality…