Adopting and owning a guinea pig can be rewarding but exhausting.
Do your research BEFORE you get a pet.
Are you prepared?
Here are some things you should know before you consider adoption.
Guinea pigs need to be held and talked to throughout the day. They crave interaction with other guinea pigs and with humans. An ignored guinea pig can become depressed and may stop eating. Even when there is more than one guinea pig in the area, they may still become solemn if they are not getting enough attention from people. Guinea pigs should get 1-3 hours of playtime each day. Getting a playpen or play gate can help give them a space to play.
Guinea pigs need a specific diet that includes hay, pellets, and fresh vegetables.
A guinea pig's diet is roughly 90% Timothy hay so make sure they always have plenty in their cage. At the Sanctuary they get second cut Timothy hay several times throughout the day. As a treat, we add botanical hay when available. If you have allergies, Oxbow Stacks are compressed hay and are less likely to create an allergic reaction.
Guinea pigs also need their poops! They make a cecal poop and fecal poop. The cecal poop is the kind they need to eat. They usually put this in their food bowl or in their house. Piggies can often be seen pulling cecal poop out of their poop pocket. The fecal poop is real poop and they usually put that in the corners of the habitat. By eating the cecal poop, they are getting the vitamins that went through their system too quickly.
Pellets should only be 1/8 a cup per pig, ONCE a day as too many pellets can cause sludge and stones. Always check the ingredients! Alfalfa is only for babies under 6 months and pregnant moms. Alfalfa should NEVER be one of the first five ingredients. Also, stay away from pellets with seeds, dried fruit, dried corn kernels, or anything hard that could be a choking hazard. Food pellets should always be guinea pig specific. Using other types of food can make them sick.
Veggies (and occasionally fruits) should equal one cup per piggy per day. There are many things that piggies can have but there are also many things they should not have. Corn husks, blueberries, spring mix, and red bell peppers are great for piggies. Gassy veggies (brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, etc.) should be in very small quantities or avoided altogether.
Veggies and fruits that cause loose poop (apples, pears, melons, etc.) should only be an occasional treat. Other things that are definite no-no’s are Iceberg lettuce, potatoes, and oniony type veggies (chives, leeks, etc.). These can make your piggy very sick. Guinea pigs have a hard time processing starches, gaseous veggies, and too much sugar.
A guinea pig needs ample space to wander and run around. A cage should be at least 2’x4’ at the very minimum for an average sized guinea pig. Midwest habitats can be used for two piggies with no divider but is still on the smaller side. If you are using a divider until they are bonded, just know this space is too small long-term.
A separator can be used to make two smaller cages out of the larger cage or use the ramp in the middle so they can share space. Ideally, two piggies should have at least 4’ of running space. Coroplast and Cube Grids (aka C&C cages) are great because the size can be adjusted or a loft or second level can be added.
Males and females should ALWAYS be separated. Boys can get girls pregnant as early as 200 grams or 2-3 weeks of age. Girls can get pregnant as early as 8 weeks. A mom can have several fathers of the same litter, depending on the breeding environment. Guinea pigs can have 1-8 babies. A pregnancy hold is generally 72 days long. Mom can also get pregnant while or closely after delivering babies.
All piggies should be gendered correctly and bonded appropriately BEFORE putting them in a shared house - this could result in injuries or even death. When bonding piggies, start off slowly in a large area. Put their cages next to each other so they can talk and always do supervised playtime until you're sure they are getting along. Babies may be easier to bond but sometimes will not stay bonded as they get older.
In a habitat there should be a house, bedding, hay, a water bottle, and a food dish. Bedding should never be anything other than paper, fleece, or towels. Using wood pellets or wood shavings can cause splinters or make them sick because of the treatment used at the facilities. Wood is serrated! If they get a piece in their eye, it cannot just be pulled out. It will literally rip the eye open.
Guinea pigs need to chew on things constantly to help keep their teeth at the right length. Although most of the hay chewing will do most of the work, they should still have blocks or wooden toys to help.
Moldy or wet hay can make the guinea pig sick. Always check any hay that you buy no matter where you buy it. It should not be overly pokey or smell musty. Guinea pigs are happier with something to gnaw on (such as a wooden block) than some yogurt mixed treat. For the best treat, cucumbers are the guinea pig's potato chips but only in moderation as these are water veggies and could cause runny poops. Giving fresh fruit and vegetable treats is much healthier than a store-bought gimmick treats that could make them sick. Water should be changed daily. Always remember to rinse out the water bottle and clean off the 'ball' because food remnants can build up on them.
Be prepared to spend at least $100 a month on your guinea pig. Cages should be fully cleaned at least two times a week. On the other days - old food, pellets, and droppings can be picked out of the cage and new bedding can be added. When cleaning the cage, always wear gloves. Make sure the cage is completely scrubbed down so that no bacteria build up underneath their hay and bedding. Cage debris can be used in the backyard around bushes and trees for outside wildlife to pick through. We use puppy pads underneath all bedding to help keep the bottom of the cage easier to clean.
Ready to adopt? The process involves spending about 30 minutes with us and the piggies to make sure it’s a good fit. The adoption fee is $30 or two for $50. We do ask for basic information: name, address, and phone number which we keep on file, so we know where the guinea pigs are going. We require one picture a week for the first month just so that we know the piggies are happy and healthy. These pictures may be used on our website.
If at any time you feel that you cannot take care of them anymore you can surrender them back to us, but we don’t provide adoption refunds. We do recommend taking the new piggies to a vet for a basic checkup. All of these rescues are seemingly healthy and extremely happy, so we just like to make sure they stay that way.
Do you still think you're interested in adopting a guinea pig?
Send us a message below. In the comments, let us know the following:
1. Why do you want to adopt a guinea pig?
2. How many other animals do you have?
3. Where will the guinea pig live (where the habitat will be)?
4. Any other information you think we should know.
Our guinea pigs are family no matter where they came from.
We do not allow everyone to adopt guinea pigs!
Our adoption process ensures that the piggies are going to a safe, happy, healthy environment. We ask questions. We also answer questions. We just want what is best for the piggies and the families we work with.
You can come on any day except Wednesdays to see who is available. You can also follow us on Instagram and Facebook as we post lots of pictures of who needs a home.