Cavy Introduction

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Post by cena robson on Thu Oct 16, 2008 11:34 pm

Guinea pigs are hardy and affectionate and make great companions. However, people often think of them as "low-maintenance" pets, when in reality, they require a lot of care and attention. Guinea pigs can be quite vocal and will often greet you with whistles and shrieks.
The Guinea Pig has its origins in the high mountains of South America. Natives of modern day Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador domesticated the Guinea Pig for use as food. To this day, Guinea Pigs are still raised for food in certain areas of South America.
In the 1600s Spanish sailors were the first to adopt Guinea Pigs as pets and brought them back to Europe from South America. Since that time, Guinea Pigs have been bred to produce a wide variety of types of Guinea Pigs.
These small furry creatures came to be known as “pigs” because of the squeaking noises they make – Guinea Pigs are not related to pigs. The name “Guinea” is believed to have been derived from the route that was traveled to bring these furry animals to Europe – by way of Guinea. Many other cultures throughout the world have also adopted a derivation of the “pig” name for these animals. The scientific name for the Guinea Pig is Cavia porcellus – translated in Latin to mean “little pig.”

Guinea Pigs are nosey, friendly characters that are easily frightened and always rummaging around for something to nibble on. These furry companions generally weigh between 1 and 3 pounds and can grow up to as big as 15 inches long. The average life span is between 4 and 8 years. Unlike other rodents, Guinea Pigs find a mating partner and stick with that partner throughout their lives.
Guinea Pigs are not as agile as other members of the rodent family – they shy away from jumping, climbing and heights. When they get excited, they will “popcorn” – do little jumps up and down. When necessary, Guinea Pigs will do limited climbing such as going up and down stairs.
When choosing a new home and location for your guinea pig, it is important to consider the comfort and safety of your pet. Choose a safe, quiet location that gets plenty of air circulation and where the climate can be controlled. Guinea pigs prefer to live in 60 to 75 F degree temperatures. In hotter climates where temperatures extend over 75 degrees, provide your pet with a frozen ice pack in the bottom of the cage so the pet can cool itself. In cold weather, you may want to cover the cage with a warm blanket. In addition to climate concerns, constant or sudden loud noises in the home can cause the guinea pig undue stress – find a location that allows for social interaction without all the chaos.
Your guinea pigs enclosure should be between 100 and 180 square inches of floor space – any less space causes your pet to feel cramped. The sides should be at least 10 inches tall. The enclosure should be made of easy to clean material such as wire, stainless steel, glass or thick plastic. Cages made of wood are not recommended as they are hard to keep clean and are more apt to get chewed on, eventually creating an escape route for the pet.
The best type of bedding is hay – it’s great for sleeping and for snacking. Bedding should be cleaned weekly and the enclosure should be washed with hot soapy water and a non-toxic disinfectant. While other types of bedding can be used, be sure to avoid cedar wood chips, and saw dust. Cedar, while it smells pleasant, is actually toxic to guinea pigs and should be avoided as a choice of bedding. Saw dust tends to bind itself to male genitalia and should also be avoided.
Wire bottom cages can be convenient ways to keep urine and feces out of the cages, as the waste can easily drop through the mesh onto the ground. While this may be the easy way out for some pet owners, be aware that wire cage bottoms are hard on hamsters feet and can cause open sores as well as present the opportunity for broken legs if a leg happens to slip through and get caught.
If your guinea pig scares easily, you should provide a box or enclosure inside the cage where your guinea pig can escape to and hide. Frightened guinea pigs can behave erratically and, if they have no where to hide, may harm themselves trying to escape whatever it is that scared them

Guinea pigs do not require as much exercise as their other rodent family counterparts. They generally do not enjoy running wheels or plastic balls for roaming the house. Guinea pigs can find plenty of exercise by simply exploring in and out of homemade tunnels and obstacle courses made of blocks.
Rather than exercise, a guinea pig prefers to lay around and soak up the sun. Be sure to not allow your pet in the sun for too long as overexposure can result in heat stroke.
cena robson
cena robson

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