The kids want a pet for Christmas. They asked for a pony, and you settled on guinea pigs. I’ve already addressed why guinea pigs make awesome pets, so the only question left is what you need to take care of them. This is my ultimate new guinea pig supply list. Everything on this list is essential to guinea pig care and keeping.
Make sure to purchase everything, and set it up, before bringing your pigs home. (Guinea pigs must be kept in same-sex pairs or groups, and adult males may never accept a companion.) Your guinea pigs prefer to settle in their home, not their carrying case.
Beds & Bedding
- Cage – Guinea pigs need a safe cage. If you have cats or dogs, the cage must have a lid for their safety. Otherwise, they can only jump a few inches and do not climb, so a low wall is sufficient. If the walls are high, the guinea pig should be able to see out of them. This is why I love the Midwest Habitat Plus cage. It has 8 square feet of floor space, and all the parts are replaceable.
- Bedding – Guinea pigs need some sort of substrate. Any bedding needs to be changed regularly (the more frequent the better). Wood shavings are extremely dusty but sufficient. They can also be housed on rabbit pellets, but these are both dusty and expensive if you aren’t a breeder. Many owners are now using Fleece Liners as bedding. Change the liner every other day, pop it in the washer, and reuse.
- Hideout – As a prey species, guinea pigs feel most comfortable in a safe house. While they love new hideouts (soda can boxes are a favorite), having a consistent hide helps them feel secure. The Pigloo is a popular choice.
Food & Feeding
- Basic Diet Pellets – Guinea pigs can eat basic guinea pig pellets or rabbit pellets. They need a version that does not have dried fruit or seeds in it, as they are not made to eat seeds or hard chunks and can choke. The Kaytee brand makes a series of excellent pellets.
- Hay – Guinea pigs also require free-fed hay. Like horses, they need to constantly eat hay to maintain a proper digestive system. Different kinds of hay have different nutrients, and alfalfa hay can cause kidney stones. Use Timothy Hay for optimal health.
- Fruits & Veggies – Guinea pigs need a fresh source of Vitamin C daily. Ideally, feed them fresh veggies daily (colored bell peppers are a popular choice). You can also use Vitamin C drops. Keep an eye on their expiration date, and keep them in a cupboard because they do degrade over time.
- Dishes – Guinea pigs need a source for hay, pellets, and water. Using a manger-style feeder keeps hay and pellets off the ground. Don’t try to use a bowl for water, they just make a mess. Use a water bottle instead.
Grooming & Hygiene
- Nail Clippers – Guinea pig toenails and teeth grow constantly throughout their lives. A good set of nail clippers keeps both at an acceptable length.
- Brush – Some breeds of guinea pig have long hair. They may need their hair brushed regularly (at least twice a week). A basic slicker brush and comb will keep their hair clean.