Unique Apartment Pets: Guinea Pigs

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When deciding on apartment pets, the apartment dweller should consider pets who don’t take up a lot of room and who require fairly simple care. Guinea pigs make great pets for the apartment and great companions for the apartment dweller.

Choosing Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs are social animals that do best in pairs. Any two females or two males from the same litter are the best matches. (It is difficult to spay and neuter guinea pigs, so putting males and females together is not recommended.) Look for guinea pigs whose eyes, ears, noses and mouths are free of discharge, as excessive discharge may be a sign of illness. Make sure their rear ends are relatively clean and watch out for limping.

Guinea Pig Cages

While unsupervised, guinea pigs should be locked away in cages so that they don’t hurt themselves. However, this makes them great apartment pets, as you know they won’t be damaging your apartment while you’re away. Guinea pig cages should be as large as possible, with a minimum of 8 square feet for a pair of these apartment pets. Guinea pig cages should be made of wire with plastic bottom flooring (wire flooring can lead to injury); the more levels for your guinea pigs to climb and explore, the better. Line the bottom of the cage with bedding made from grass hay or hardwood or aspen shavings (never use cedar or pine). Provide your guinea pigs with plenty of toys, such as cardboard or PVCC tubes, small paper bags, tunnels and fabric cozies. Each guinea pig must have a “cave” area in which to sleep. These are available at pet stores or may be made from a flower pot. Clean cages thoroughly at least once a week and scoop waste at least every other day.

Feeding Your Guinea Pigs

The healthy diet of a guinea pig starts with Timothy hay and fresh water available at all times. The bulk of their diet should consist of nutritionally-balanced guinea pig pellets, which you should provide twice a day. You should also supplement their diet with small bits of apples, carrots, cucumbers, peas, grapes, corn and pears so they can keep their teeth trimmed.

Playing with Your Guinea Pigs

To stay healthy, guinea pigs need to exercise. You can make exercise easy and life much more fun for your pets by providing them with a large guinea pig cage and plenty of toys and places to explore. You can also take your guinea pigs out to play with; set up an obstacle course made out of the same type of toys you put in their cages and watch as your guinea pigs explore the new environment. (Don’t forget to lay down old sheets or newspapers, in case your apartment pets relieve themselves outside of the cage.) You can also have your guinea pigs on your lap to pet, but be sure to get your guinea pigs exercise.

Guinea pigs are excellent apartment pets that responsible owners can expect to have around for an average of 4 to 8 years. Affectionate and tame, guinea pigs are a great choice even for people who never thought they would own a rodent.

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