In November 2022 we decided to get some guinea pigs.
Actually the kids saw some several times in deer parks and zoos and found them super cute (and you can’t argue with that, they are!).
We started to learn about handling them from several articles, forums, the reddit community and so on and even though they are not the optimal pets for little children we decided to try it. Fully knowing that we, the adults, will have to do the whole work that is necessary.
So we got a nice wooden enclosure in our living room (where normal people have their TV) and contacted a local breeder to get two or three piggies.
You should never keep a guinea pig alone as it is cruel for such social animals. Two is the minimum, more is always better.
Our enclosure is 200cm x 120cm, so only 2.4 square meters. More than 3 piggies would be sub optimal in our opinion.
So end of November 2022 we got our first pair of piggies. The breeder only had one girl free to adopt, but told us that in early January more will be available.
Of course Türkis is neutered, we don’t want to start a farm.
In the first days, or better weeks, they were very shy and, most of the time, hid themselves in their hidings.
But sometimes they came out to explore cautiously.
We soon learned that the second level here was useless as they didn’t trust the ramps to get up there. And removing the dirty wood chips from below was tiresome.
So we removed it and replaced it with some more hidings instead.
They still needed a lot of hidings and were very shy at that point. But at least we were able to watch them doing things from time to time.
The third piggie
On the third of January 2023 we added a third piggie:
A baby piggie.
At first the other two were chasing it around a bit, to make sure their internal hierarchy is established.
Pünkelchen is a very active piggie, often begs for food and is not as shy as the other two. It still hates to be picked up for inspection or claw cutting though.
In early March 2023 we decided to move away from wood chips to fleece bedding.
The wood chips smelled nice but cleaning was a big mess: Dusty, dirty and a lot of waste to get rid of. And all of it in our living room…
So we went like this:
And that’s how it looked like afterwards.
We switch the pee pads under the houses and tunnels daily. And the bath mats are swept off with a rubber hand brush daily.
When doing this consequently the bath mats have to be washed every 7 to 10 days. The incontinence pads every 2 to 4 weeks.
Sounds better than it is, because with the amount of pee pads and extra little bath mats for under the tunnels we still have to do piggie laundry every other day.
But it’s still faster, cleaner and probably cheaper than using wood chippings.
The piggies like it a lot too. In the beginning there was a lot of popcorning in there.
I read an article somewhere that piggies, which are kept inside, have the same problem as software developers: They don’t get enough vitamin d.
So we informed ourselves and decided to add a lamp for that to the enclosure.
We turn it on for several hours per day and the pigs can sunbathe. The bulb is one that is used for reptiles normally. It doesn’t get very hot but enables them to produce a lot of vitamin d.
They have 24/7 access to at least two kinds of hay: Timothy hay and an organic mix of orchard hay.
Also they have a bowl with water and a bowl with some high vitamin c pellets. Just a teaspoon per piggie as pellets are not good for them, but they are used to it from the breeder.
In summer they get lots of grass and other greens from the meadows and occasionally some hazelnut branches.
In autumn/winter this is replaced with salads/lettuce (endives, frisee, chicory, radicchio, coleslaw, carrot greens, etc.).
And always pieces of: cucumber, fennel, bell pepper, zucchini. Often with some parsley, dill, cilantro or oregano.
Occasionally we vary with tomatoes, carrots, beetroot and other vegetables I don’t know the english terms for 😉
At most once per week we also give some apple, strawberries or watermelon. Not more as they are high in sugar.
As treats, for example for the monthly claw cutting, we use pea flakes and/or dried herbs.
Sources for equipment and food
I don’t do any adverting here and have no relation with any of the mentioned shops, I just post where we got our stuff from.
It only makes sense reading here, if you are in Germany, or at least EU based.
- https://www.heu-tom.de/timothy-heu/ – Timothy hay
- https://www.allgaeuer-heustadl.de/produkt/bio-heu-profimischung/ – Organic hay
- https://www.castejo.de/Inkontinenzauflage-Matratzenschutz-Matratzenschoner-wasserdicht-waschbar-mit-kleinen-Schoenheitsfehlern-2.-Wahl/CA3302.1er – Incontinence pads
- https://www.ikea.com/de/de/p/toftbo-badematte-grauweiss-meliert-90422251/ – IKEA Toftbo Bath mats
- https://www.dibis-pipipad.de/ – Pee pads
- https://stachelkissen.de/ – Pee pads
- https://www.anni-sophie.com/ – Cuddle stuff, tunnels, etc.
- And several Etsy shops (Guinea Queen, etc.)