Do guinea pigs need veterinary care?

A healthy guinea pig does pretty well on their own, but wellness care is certainly a good idea. We can just help teach you how to trim toenails and things to watch for to make sure they stay healthy. If guinea pigs do get sick, we definitely want to see them quickly because once they get sick, they tend to get worse in a hurry.

Dr. Jeffrey M. Greenfield
Hebron Animal Hospital

How long do guinea pigs live?

Guinea pigs typically live anywhere from four to eight years, so it's a lot longer than some of the other rodents that you see, making them a good pet for kids. They're also a little bigger than some of the other rodents, so kids can handle them more easily.

Do guinea pigs get big?

They can get a little bigger than her, but she's full grown, so she's a pretty typical guinea pig size. Typically they're in the two to two and a half pound weight range.

Do guinea pigs make good pets for kids?

For slightly older kids, I would say yes. Toddlers are probably too young to be able to handle guinea pigs well, but if mom or dad would hold them and they can be taught to pet them gently, that would be fine. They tend not to bite very much, so in that regard, they're good for kids. Violet here has been very well socialized, so she's used to being held. She's not going to be the same as what you would get from a new guinea pig from a pet store. They're going to be much more wild and less used to being handled. With just a little bit of time and care, they can become cooperative for you.

Can we potty train guinea pigs?

Unfortunately not. They're kind of messy. For guinea pigs that get a chance to explore outside their cage, they're going to leave you little presents, little peas and poops on the floor, so you want to make sure they're in an area that's easy to clean.

Is it okay to put my guinea pig in a ball?

You could try, but the guinea pig's probably going to feel like they're enclosed, like a hamster or one of the pets that likes running in a ball or in a wheel. They'll use that as a chance to run and explore. Guinea pigs will feel like they're enclosed, so they'll probably just sit there. So it’s probably not worth doing.

What are the best things to feed our guinea pigs?

The most important part of their diet is hay. They need that long fiber of the hay to help stimulate their digestion. Guinea pig pellets are supplemented with vitamin C, so you definitely want to use a guinea pig pellet rather than a rabbit pellet. They look the same, but there's a big difference in the nutrition there. So those are the staples. For treats they can get leafy greens, a lot of veggies, and fruits. Some guinea pigs like citrus, some don't, but that's perfectly healthy to try.

Do guinea pigs smell?

They can be. If you keep their cage cleaned frequently enough, they shouldn't be. So if they're starting to smell bad, then you just need to clean them a little more often.

Are guinea pigs a kind of animal that likes to live alone?

They're definitely social. So if you're not going to have a lot of time to spend with your guinea pig, you want to get a pair or a trio to live together so they have each other for company. A solitary guinea pig can certainly get lonely. But if you have a family that spends a lot of time with them, then they can certainly get those social needs satisfied by people.

How Soon Should I Bring My Guinea Pig Into The Veterinarian if they're not eating or drinking or if any other habits have changed?

I would say within a day or so if you can. The sooner the better. When these guys get sick, they're just not strong fighters. So if they get sick, they can spiral quickly and get much worse.

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