How to be a Responsible Guinea Pig Owner
Owning a guinea pig or any other pet is not something to go into lightly. When you are responsible for someone else, you need to keep their best interests in mind. So it is with owning, loving and caring for a guinea pig. Here are some good rules to go by:
Keep your guinea pig's pen nice and clean. A guinea pig has practically no odor unless they have an owner that doesn't help them keep clean. Guinea pigs eat a lot, and what goes in one end comes out the other very quickly! When we were using wood chips as bedding, Mom and I cleaned our guinea pig pen every day, and changed it twice a week. After that we started using shredded paper (Dad got a paper shredder for Christmas gift) and Mom changed the pen every day. Now we have decided the best bedding is straw. We buy a big bale for about $4.00 from the feed store and it lasts for months! We change the pen about every three days and it makes the guinea pigs smell like a fresh barn.
Guinea pigs need fresh food and water with lots of variety every day. Check their food and water bowls frequently, and if you use a water bottle, change the water often. Guinea pigs also need to wear down their front teeth by gnawing. Give them something to gnaw on; our pigs like alfalfa blocks and cardboard boxes.
Never keep your guinea pig in a pen with an exposed wire mesh floor. These types of pens are meant for rabbits that have big feet. A pig is not able to walk easily across the wire and will develop sores on his feet. A pig pal wrote to us recently and said to soak your pig's feet in warm water and epsom salts if any sores develop. This will help the swelling and clean the feet. Then be sure to cover up the wire mesh floor to avoid any more foot problems! We have a hutch for our pigs with a wire floor, but we cover it with several layers of newspaper for easy clean up.
Learn to properly pick up, hold, and carry your guinea pig. Always support their bottoms, and hold them firmly so they feel secure. But don't squeeze them!
Give your pig lots of company. Talk to her, hold her a lot, bring her to school, take her outside to eat fresh grass...just be a good friend and companion. They will return your kindness with affection. You might even consider having two pigs, keeping in mind that a boy and girl pig will have babies, even if they are related.
It's a good idea to get a special book about guinea pigs so you can read up on them and learn what to do in case of illness. Pet stores always have good books about guinea pig care and feeding. Your local library will have books too. Our favorite is called Guinea Pigs, Family Pet Series by Katrin Behrend.
Keep your pig's nails trimmed. A good guinea pig book will tell you how to do it.
Guinea pigs have sensitive hearing, so don't ever make loud noises into their ears.
A good rule for anything is the Golden Rule. Do you know it? It goes like this:
Treat others the way you want to be treated.
Treat anyone, your neighbor, your brother, your guinea pig, with kindness--just the way you want to be treated. Thinking about others first is the best way to be, and a sure way to become a caring, responsible person!
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