Opal, Penny, Sable and Grayson were adopted from Wild Cargo Pets in West Palm Beach, Florida. Wild Cargo Pets accepts a variety of small animals, including guinea pigs, from owners who either cannot or no longer wish to care for the animals. The animals are then offered for adoption through the pet store who cares for them until a proper home is found.
Opal, Penny, Sable and Grayson are all sows (females) with distinct personalities. Although we do not know their complete history or how old they are, one of the advantages of adopting an older pet versus a baby is that their personality is more apparent and you can sometimes better choose the temperament that will work for your family.
Guinea Pigs are not related to pigs and are considered rodents. They have been kept as companion animals since the 16th century when they were introduced by European traders.
If you are interested in owning a guinea pig it is important that you research the care involved and consider adopting a guinea pig from a rescue, if possible.
Guinea Pigs live an average of 4-8 years.
Male guinea pigs (boars) mature sexually and can mate as young as 3 months of age. Female guinea pigs (sows) mature sexually as young as 2 months of age (55 to 70 days). Breeding often reduces the lifespan of female guinea pigs and starting to breed after 8 months of age can be very dangerous for a female guinea pig. The cause of this is the normal stiffening of the symphysis (a joint of tough fibrous cartilage between the 2 pubic bones of the pelvis) when the female reaches adulthood. Sows who reach adulthood without a prior pregnancy may not be able to deliver their young normally when the bones fuse together.
The guinea pig gestation period is 59 to 73 days. The entire birthing process takes between 15 and 40 minutes. Litter size ranges from 1 to 8 pups, but a litter of 2 to 4 is more common. A female can give birth to up to 5 litters per year. Guinea Pig pups are born with their eyes open, a full coat of fur, and can run 3 hours after birth.
Pups are able to nibble solid food within 2 days after birth and will nurse until approximately 3 weeks of age. When pups reach 6 ounces (180 grams), they will wean themselves and begin to eat the same foods as their parents. At this point they are considered sexually mature and can begin reproducing.
It is advisable to begin carefully handling guinea pig pups at 2-3 weeks as this is the period when young guinea pigs will develop bonds with humans and learn to be more accepting of being held.
Guinea Pigs are intelligent animals that can be taught simple tricks and behaviors. They have excellent spatial orientation and are able to learn complex maze tasks using symbols as sign posts. Unlike dogs, who can begin training as puppies, guinea pigs are best taught when they are mature, at about ten months old. Their intelligence means they can easily become bored and depressed so they need variety and opportunities to explore and interact with their caretaker and other guinea pigs.
Guinea Pigs are highly social animals animals by nature. They are best kept in same sex groupings or breeding pairs with one or both animals neutered or spayed. It is never advisable or humane to keep a guinea pig in solitude.
Many people have housed rabbits and guinea pigs together successfully and without incident. However, there are risks associated with this practice which have led almost guinea pig organizations to advise against this practice.
In general it is generally best for an animal to be paired or housed with its own kind, so we recommend keeping guinea pigs in same sex groupings.
Guinea Pigs are highly socially creatures and exhibit a wide range of vocal and non-vocal expressions with specific meanings.
Whistling– A high pitched squeal of whistle generally means the pig is excited and happy. This is usually heard close to feeding time.
Purr– Similar to a cat, guinea pigs have a wide range of purrs. A deep, relaxed purr can be a sign of contentment, while a high pitched one is often a s sign of annoyance. A shorter sounding, apprehensive purr may mean apprehension. Alternately, fear can be signaled by a high-pitched squeak or shriek.
Hissing– Is a sign of anger and is often accompanied by barred teeth. Hissing may be given as a warning sign before biting.
Low Rattling– This deep, constant sound is a mating call to guinea pigs of the opposite sex.
Rumbling sound– This sound indicates that your guinea pig doesn’t like something that you are doing or that is going on around them. It is also sometimes associated with a dominate male or female confirming calling to the other guinea pigs
Like humans, guinea pigs can also communicate through body language. Some of the most common behaviors are:
Licking– Sign of affection.
Rubbing noses– Sign of affection. They will often rub noses with other guinea pigs they like.
Popcorning (hopping)- sign of happiness. AKA jumping for joy.
Listless- sign of depression and boredom
Barring Teeth- Sign of aggression and anger
Guinea Pigs have special health considerations that owners should be aware of when caring for or deciding if a guinea pig is the right pet for them.
Guinea pigs should have quality hay available at all times. The best hay to feed your guinea pig is Timothy or Orchard hay. Alfalfa hay is too rich in calcium and protein and is not recommended or necessary.
Guinea pigs have a unique requirement for vitamin C. Adult guinea pigs require 20-25 mg/day while pregnant guinea pigs need 30-40 mg of vitamin C per day. Since guinea pigs do not get sufficient quantities from their pellets and hay, their diet needs to be supplemented with vitamin C. Vitamin C tablets are available as a daily supplement and should be given along with a variety of fresh vegetables rich in vitamin C. If you feed a good selection of vegetables high in vitamin C along with a good, fresh guinea pig pellet, you can probably meet the vitamin C needs of the average guinea pig.
Each guinea pig should be given 1 cup of vitamin c rich greens daily. Excellent choices would include: endives, green bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, mustard greens, romaine lettuce, other dark green leafy vegetables. Please see the Guinea Pig diet and nutrition chart for more options.
Guinea pigs require 1/4- 1/8 cup of corn and seed free quality pellets daily. Our guinea pigs receive 1/8 cup each of quality pellets. Be sure to check the package date on your pellets and keep them in an air-tight container. Vitamin levels deteriorate with age so feeding the freshest feed possible ensure that your guinea pigs are receiving the proper nutrients.
Spaying or neutering your guinea pig is only recommended if you are are housing opposite sex pairs or groupings together. Neutering does little to change the behavior of aggressive guinea pigs. Neutering only prevents unwanted pregnancies. Spaying a female is generally considered a riskier option, so it is better to neuter your boar (male). When choosing a veterinarian for spaying you should try to find one that has worked with guinea pigs and has experience neutering guinea pigs. Guinea Pigs are generally seen by an ‘exotic’ small animal vet. Your dog or cat vet may not be the best option for neutering your boar
Costs can vary but generally you can expect to pay between $75-250 for neutering or spaying a guinea pig.
One of the most popular resources for cages is: C & C Custom Cages
Piggy Bedspreads offer fleece cage bedding for C&C cages.
Carefresh Bedding is available for autoship via Chewy.com
There are many guinea pigs available for adoption all over the United States. Here are some local resources for Florida adoptions in our area.
Local Animal Shelters