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How High Maintenance Are Guinea Pigs?

If you’re considering getting a new small pet, guinea pigs have probably crossed your mind.

These little guys are adorable, fun, and gentle!

But it’s important to understand what goes into a guinea’s care before you buy one.

Guinea pig care is very similar to other small pets and is considered medium maintenance pets. They require daily attention, semi-frequent grooming, frequent cleaning, and, of course, daily feeding. You need to give them time every day to stay happy, healthy, and clean.

A common misconception says guinea pigs make excellent “starter pets” for children.

However, these lovable critters aren’t necessarily easier to take care of than other pets.

Keep reading, and we’ll help you understand what goes into caring for piggies and decide whether you want to get some.

how high maintenance are guinea pigs

What Care Do Guinea Pigs Need?

Let’s start by looking at a quick list of all the things you’ll need to do for your piggie.

  • Good diet
  • Attention
  • Space to run
  • Clean habitat
  • Grooming

Now, let’s take a closer look at each aspect of small pet care.

If you’re a first-time pet owner, you may not have given much thought to your pet’s diet specifics.

But the truth is most animals have particular needs for food and treats.

You need to understand what a good diet looks like for these little animals for feeding. 

Guinea Pig Diet

They eat a lot of timothy hay, so they always need plenty of it available.

In fact, they can suffer a lot if they go without hay for a day.

Read more at our article above to learn why it’s so important.

They also should be given treats and pellet food, though.

Guinea pigs need vitamin C, which they don’t produce themselves, so you’ll need to get them pellet food that contains plenty of this vitamin.

High-quality pellets are preferred. 

But for anyone working on a budget, just be sure your piggie gets the needed daily vitamin count and is receiving plenty of nutrition through their food pellets.

If you aren’t able to find or afford food pellets containing vitamin C, consider purchasing vitamin C supplements.

But these animals also love raw vegetables and sometimes fresh fruit, and these are great sources of vitamin C! 

Just remember to be careful with produce.

Only small doses of high-fiber fruits are good for them, and certain vegetables are toxic.

You also need to make sure any produce you give them is fresh. 

Don’t leave it in the cage for more than 10-12 hours, or it will no longer be safe for them to eat.

You also need to make sure they always have access to clean water. 

Make sure the water is chlorine-free and not too warm or cold. 

Be sure to change it regularly.

Interaction and Play

Your piggie will need daily interaction and love from you. 

We all have busy lives, but our companion animals should always be given back the love they give to us.

Be sure to take your pet out of its cage at least once a day.

You might choose to let them run around in a play area and get some actual floor time. 

Or you might just hold them on your lap and give them some one-on-one time.

Our furry friends love to run around freely.

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They need a big enough cage to fit a couple of essential items like the food bowl and water bottle, plus a couple of toys (a staple for these guys is the tunnel, which they love to hide in) and still have room to run around.

If it helps, set up an indoor or outdoor playpen of sorts where they have more space to run and access different toys than what you have in their cage.

The most tedious part of caring for any pet is cleaning. 

You’re going to have to clean your guinea pig almost daily. 

These animals urinate extremely often, and they poop a lot too. 

But they need dry bedding!

Check out if shredded paper is a good guinea pig bedding (like many think).

A dirty home isn’t conducive to a happy, healthy guinea pig.

So, it’s likely you’ll need to take them out of their cage and take the time to give them clean bedding every day.

Grooming

Grooming is another form of attention for your guinea pig. 

But it’s also essential for their health and happiness.

This job isn’t challenging, but it needs to be done every week. 

Possibly more often, depending on the breed of piggie you have.

If you decide to get a hairless guinea pig, you will need to take some time to learn how best to take care of their skin.

Grooming looks different for long-haired guineas (who need more frequent brushing) than for short-haired ones.

Related: Can guinea pigs wear diapers?

How Expensive Are Guinea Pigs?

The guinea pig will only cost you between $10 and $40.

The cage will cost anywhere from $50 to $150, depending on the quality and size you choose.

You need to take your guinea in for a checkup at the veterinarian’s office every year. 

Expect this visit to cost about $50.

If you consider toys, food, bedding, and other essential items like water bottles and grooming tools, you’re looking at around $200 to $400 in a year.

Again, these costs will vary based on the specific products you buy.

Other Things You Need to Know About Guinea Pigs

Guineas are social animals!

It’s often best to get a pair of guinea pigs if you want one. 

This way, they can have social time and feel less alone when you aren’t at home.

Our friends spend a great deal of time chewing!

You’ll realize pretty quickly that your guinea will chew on anything and everything they can get their teeth on.

You need to get them a chew toy; natural wood sticks are safest. 

This is about as essential to guinea habitats as food and water!

Chewing is vital for their teeth, and it comes naturally to them.

Guineas are also very sensitive to extreme heat and extreme cold. 

They need to be kept in a space where the temperature is between 60-85° degrees Fahrenheit (16-29° C).

They are NOT hamsters! 

They don’t like to run on wheels or balls, and they can get hurt when using these toys.

The Average Life Span of a Guinea Pig

When a piggie is well cared for, it can live anywhere from 4-8 years.

This may seem like a long time for a small pet.

But the truth is, they just need to be properly taken care of, and they can live a relatively long, happy, and healthy life.

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