View Full Version : Common Misconceptions about Guinea Pigs and their Care

11-06-05, 10:01 am
I am starting this thread to address some of the common misconceptions about Guinea Pigs and their care.

I often see on the site some very poor information. This is usually caused by someone new who simply doesn't know better yet or actually believed the rubbish advice that a pet store or breeder gave them.

If you have something meaningful to add, please do. I would prefer well written and easy to read responses. Keep it concise but do try to back up your reasons. You are welcome to add reliable links to other websites to back up your words.

If bad information is given here it will be edited out. If you wish to start a discussion about one of the posts please start a new thread. Replies or discussions that break out on this thread will either be split into their own thread or edited out.

Who knows, maybe this thread will be so well done, if it stays on track, that it will get to become a sticky.

The next post is a basic example of how I would like to see posts written.

11-06-05, 10:01 am
Guinea Pigs need Vitamin Drops in ther water.


Vitamin/Multi-Vitamin/Mineral Drops drops in water are one of the worse and most useless things you can do for your GP. The only vitamin they may need from the drops is the Vit C. Vit C disintegrates in water and light within 15 minutes of putting it in. This effectively renders the drops useless nearly immediately after adding them.

What remains are the harmful minerals that GPs do not need. The minerals in the water can cause kidney and bladder stones and other health problems.

If there is sugar in the drops you are risking giving your GP diabetes.

Adding anything to the water can cause your GP to reject plain water in the future or cause them to not drink enough if they don’t like the vitamin taste.

In short NEVER add anything to your GP's water. They will get all the Vit C they need from a high quality pellet with a stabilized Vit C like Oxbow and fresh veggies.

11-06-05, 10:10 am
Guinea Pigs don't need vegetables


Guinea pigs must have at least one cup of fresh vegetables each day each. Good veggies to offer daily include:

Lettuces - all types but iceberg (contains mostly water and very little nutritional value), Good lettuces are Romaine, Green/Red leaf, butterhead/boston, curly or belgian endive, raddichio and others.
Cilantro (coriander)
Peppers - all colours, no seeds
Baby carrots - one small/medium per pig or same equivalent of regular carrot.
Chard, Red or Swiss is most commonly preferred
Zucchini (Courgette)
Corn husks and silks
Cherry/grape tomatoes (no more than 1-2 per pig)

Good every other day foods:

Celery - chopped up small plus leaves
Broccoli leaves
Dandelion greens
Green beans
Summer and Winter squash (all varieties)
Chicory Greens

Some fresh foods should be limited to twice per week:

Fruits - apple, plum, apricot, melon, cucumber, peach, grapes and a few others.
Herbs such as Dill, Chives, Basil, Mint, Thyme
Collard Greens/Turnip Greens/Mustard Greens
Spinach (in small amounts)
Brussel Sprouts
Sweetcorn on the cob

Other foods, such as radishes, banana, sweet potato and beet greens should only be given as occasional treats, say once or twice a month.

Vegetables are important to provide essential vitamins, and if provided with a good variety of fresh foods daily, there is rarely a reason for supplements of any kind to be given.

11-06-05, 10:10 am
Neutering a boar will alter his behaviour


The only things that neutering a male will do are preventing him from impregnating females and slightly lessening the risk of impaction.

They are not the same as dogs, cats and several other species, neutering has little effect on the behaviour of a male. If two males fight, they will still fight post-neuter.

See http://www.cavyspirit.com/neutering.htm for more information.

11-06-05, 11:34 am
Cavies only need a handful of hay daily or no hay


Cavies of all ages need green, good smelling, free from mold unlimited grass hay in their diet daily. Hay is essential for wearing down their molars and aiding in digestion. Cavies under the age of 6 months and pregnant or nursing sows can benefit from alfalfa hay in addition to the grass hay. Alfalfa is high in calcium. Alfalfa is fine as a once in a while treat for older cavies that do not have problems with stones or sludge.

Cavies need salt licks or mineral wheels


Cavies get enough salt through their pellets and do not require additional salt. They also get enough minerals through the pellets and their vegetables.

Cavies need Exercise Wheels or Balls


A cavy could easily break their back in a wheel or ball. Their spines are not designed to bend that way. The best way you can provide exercise for your pigs is to make them playgrounds consisting of tunnels, boxes or build a loft on your C&C or C&C alternative cage.

11-06-05, 11:45 am
Cavies have enough room in store bought cages, or can live in tupperware bins.


Cavies need room to run and play. So they can popcorn and be happy.
Cavy Cages www.cavycages.com (http://www.cavycages.com/) has the best information about size of cages and making a Guinea Pig happy.

11-06-05, 12:37 pm
I got my guinea pig a friend and he/she doesn't like me any more.


Guinea pigs NEED companionship. If you have one cavy and get a second, of course their behaviour will change. It doesn't mean they don't like their human any more. They will act differently because, previously, they will have been on their own for around 20 or more hours per day. It would be a bit of a shock to a human who had been in solitary confinement, too.

Cavies are social animals and, like humans, crave same-species companionship. With a pair or group of guinea pigs you will get to experience them playing, communicating and interacting, which is far more rewarding than having them sit on their own in their cage all day long.

You can't house two male guinea pigs together.


Males can be introduced to males very successfully. Often two adult males can be paired without problem, but there are less dominance issues when a younger or more submissive male is introduced to an existing male. Fighting generally only occurs when two overly dominant adult males are paired, or where two neutered males are paired with female(s).

11-06-05, 01:20 pm
My guinea pig runs when I try to pick him/her up - he/she doesn't like me!


Guinea pigs are, by nature, prey animals. Their instinct tells them if something large looms over them, they need to run for safety! Some pigs will learn not to do this if you approach them slowly, but some pigs will always run. Once you pick them up safely, they will really enjoy lap and play time with you.

Be sure to pick your guinea pig up carefully, supporting all four feet as soon as possible and bringing him to your body right away. No pig likes dangling in the air!

11-06-05, 01:48 pm
Guinea Pigs are able to contract wet tail


Wet tail is a stress induced ailment in hamsters. Many people confuse it with diarrhea in other rodents, but it is entirely restricted to hamsters. Please note, while guinea pigs cannot get wet tail, they can still get diarrhea, which can be fatal.

For more info on wet tail, visit: http://www.petwebsite.com/wettail.htm
For more info on diarrhea in guinea pigs, visit: http://guinealynx.info/diarrhea.html

11-06-05, 02:53 pm
My sow is pregnant and should be housed alone.


Separating the pregnant sow from the rest of the group may bring on unnecessary stress for the pregnant sow. Most cagemates may help out with the pups after birth and act like aunties or they will ignore them.

If there is a boar in the cage with the sow, he should be taken out to avoid back breeding. Remember that a sow can become pregnant again right after giving birth and should have no contact with the boar. Also male pups should be weaned from their mothers at 21 days to avoid the male impregnanting the mother and any sisters there may be.

11-08-05, 10:33 am
Rabbits and cavies make good companions


Rabbits and guinea pigs must never be mixed. A single kick from a rabbit, whether accidental or not, can seriously injure or even kill a cavy. Even a dwarf rabbit can cause serious harm to a guinea pig.

Rabbits and cavies also have different nutritional requirements. Guineas cannot manufacture their own Vitamin C and need plain pellets containing this vitamin as well as regular fresh veggies. Rabbits do not need the extra vitamins in their dry food as they can create their own Vitmain C.
By feeding just rabbit pellets, the cavy misses out on essential nutrients. By only feeding pellets designed for cavies, the rabbit misses out on the nutrients required to maintain their health. It is virtually impossible to keep rabbits and cavies together because of this reason alone.

Rabbits also carry certain organisms which can be passed onto the guinea pig, potentially causing life-threatening symptoms. While the organisms may not be so harmful to the rabbit, it can prove fatal to a different species of animal.

For more detailed information on reasons not to mix rabbits and cavies, visit http://www.cavycages.com/rabbits.htm

11-10-05, 02:29 pm
It is best to get a guinea pig from a pet store


You should NOT get your guinea pig from a pet store. Most of hte guinea pigs in the pet stores have some type of disease or problem. Buying from pet stores also encourages breeding, just to get money. Guinea pigs in pet stores are not treated well, with four or three guinea pigs to an aquaruim size cage.

It is best to get your guinea pig from a shelter or rescue.

11-11-05, 11:34 am
There are no homeless Guinea Pigs where I live


Just because the local shelters are not overflowing with guinea pigs does not mean that you cannot find one or more needing a loving home in your area.

Many shelters do not house guinea pigs, and if they get them in, put them to sleep almost right away, or turn them away at the door. If you are looking for guinea pigs, start at your local shelter or Petfinder.com If you cannot find one available, contact the nearest rescue to you; some are willing to drive a distance to place a Guinea Pig in the right home. Other places to check are newspapers, pet supply store posting boards, Freecycle listings, Craigslist, and of course, the adoptables section on both Cavy Cages and Guinea Lynx!

With a little waiting you will have more Possible Guineas to take in then you know what to do with!

The sad fact is, Guinea Pig overpopulation is often not a behind the scenes problem.

11-11-05, 12:00 pm
Any Store bought Pellet is ok


Most pellets available in stores contain ingredients that are not suitable for consumption by your pet cavies.

Any pellet that contains dried fruits, vegetables, nuts or seeds is not a quality food. The extra pieces are either too high in fat and / or sugars, and present a choking hazard.

As for the plain pellets, for an adult cavy (over 6 months) you want to find a pellet that is made with Timothy Hay as the primary ingredient. Read the label, some pellets claim they are Timothy Based, however it is the 2ND, 3rd or even further down the list ingredient after Alfalfa, wheat, or corn.

A young cavy (under 6 months) and pregnant or nursing mothers should be fed an Alfalfa based pellet.

A pellet should also not contain animal products, such as meat, fat, whey, egg, animal digest, or bone meal. Guinea Pigs are strict herbivores.

The pellets should also be Ethoxyquin free, Ethoxyquin is a carcinogenic, cheep preservative.

While this is not the most comprehensive list available, it should be enough to get you started. More information in how to spot a quality pellet can be found at Guinea Lynx:
http://www.guinealynx.com/pellets.html (http://www.guinealynx.com/pellets.html)

As a general rule, any pellet that can be purchased in a grocery store or Walmart / Discount department store is not a quality product. Many people do not understand why poor pellets are available, however it must be kept in mind that pet food is often a clever way to dispose of non human grade product, and waste products from food processing plants.

Any "Plain Pellet" is OK


Just because the pellet you are feeding does not contain any fruits / nuts / seeds / or other coloured pieces, does not make it a quality pellet. See above.

11-14-05, 04:42 pm
Two same-sex guinea pigs mounting each other means they are homosexual (and/or being sexual to each other)


Mounting, rumblestrutting, and any like behavior is normal when two or more guinea pigs are trying to determine dominance. It is not of a sexual nature. See http://cavyspirit.com/sociallife.htm#introductions for information about introducing guinea pigs to one another.

It should be noted that male guinea pigs (neutered or not) will still mount a female guinea pig to try to mate. If the male guinea pig has just been neutered, wait three to four weeks before introducing him to a female or else you risk the possibility of mating due to surviving sperm in his system; anytime after that should be safe for introductions. If you have an intact male AND female (i.e., neither are spayed or neutered), separate immediately and if possible, neuter the male. See http://www.cavyspirit.com/breeding.htm

11-14-05, 08:58 pm
My guinea pig bites me when I hold him/her - he/she must not like me anymore.


If your guinea pig bites/nibbles on you, you may have trace sents of food on your hands/fingers and salts from sweat. Or simply that he/she no longer wishes to be held from a solid surface for long periods of time (be sure not to dangle their feet).
Try to wash your hands before you handle your cavies and put them on your lap or a solid surface as soon as possible if they still bite/nibble while being held.

Also, some guinea pigs (like mine) may nibble on you to indicate their need to use the bathroom inside of their cage, rather than go on their towel or blanket. Once they take care of business, they'll enjoy being held a lot more.

11-14-05, 09:10 pm
Guinea pigs can stay out in the sun for long periods of time as long as they have a hidey house to go into.


Guinea pigs can catch heat stroke a lot easier than most other animals. This can cause a series of problems, such as brain damage, heart failure, dehydration, and unavoidably - death.

It only takes ONE HOUR in direct sunlight to permanately damage and/or KILL a guinea pig.

I had to learn this the hard way with one of my guinea pigs, Skruf (shown left as my avatar picture). He died of dehydration, brain damage, and eventually heart failure after only being left outside in the sun for an hour. =(
Don't let this happen to you too!

Always provide plenty of shade and very little to no direct sunlight. And if at all possible, keep an eye on them while they're outside so that you can attend to anything that should bother them.

11-16-05, 05:03 pm
Guinea Pigs make great "starter pets" for kids


Guinea pigs (as well as other animals such as rabbits) require a substantial amount of time, attention, and money. When parents buy guinea pigs for their children they are often misinformed about the level of care these animals need to stay healthy and happy. Even a responsible, mature child will have a difficult time remembering and keeping up with the cleaning, feeding, and socialization of their pets.

Children will often become bored with the pet and no longer care for them properly, leading many parents to abandon the guinea pig at a shelter or rescue. Unfortunately, it is always the animal who suffers.

Though guinea pigs may be small and considered "cheap" pets, they deserve the same level of respect, care, and commitment as a dog or cat.

Guinea pigs can make excellent family pets, but an adult needs to be the primary caregiver. Children can help out in the care of the pet, but should be supervised, especially when handling the guinea pigs.

The Magic Taco
11-28-05, 02:05 am
Guinea pigs don't need exercise or floor time


Just like you, your guinea pig needs exercise.
Guinea pigs can develop health problems and illnesses such as ulcerative pododermatis (bumblefoot), spurs, bladder, heart and respiratory problems and male guinea pigs (boars) can get impaction.

For more information, see

11-29-05, 12:10 am
I don't need to quarantine my piggie, he/she seems to be in good health.


Any new pig coming into your house needs quarantined. Most illnesses take 3 weeks to incubate and if you do not quarantine, you run a high risk of letting your current pigs catch an illness or mites. You definately need to quarantine if you "purchased" your new pig(s) from a petstore for 3 weeks. You definately need to quarantine your new pig(s) if they came from a shelter for 3 weeks and even if your pig comes from a reputable rescue, we highly advise doing at least a 1-2 week quarantine.

I can just put my new piggie in with my old piggie


You must never just put a new pig into your existing pigs cage. You need to introduce on a neutral ground or in a thoroughly cleaned cage. The reason the cage needs thorougly cleaned is to eliminate all markings, scents, etc. of the pig(s) that live there to decrease the chances your pigs will fight. If you don't follow this procedure, your pigs will have a harder time establishing dominance and may not get along. You can use straight vinegar, a vinegar/water solution or a mild bleach/water solution to wipe down the coroplast, hidey houses, hay racks, toys, water bottles, food dishes, etc. and make sure you have changed the bedding.

Further info on introductions can be found at www.cavyspirit.com/sociallife.htm.

11-30-05, 06:38 pm
You can house unaltered males and females together


You can only safely house mixed pairs (male/female) if one of the guinea pigs has been spayed or neutered. Never house an unaltered pair together, otherwise you will end up with pups (baby guinea pigs). Even an elderly boar can produce offspring, because they produce viable sperm until they die.

12-28-05, 08:43 am
Any bedding designed for Guinea Pigs is safe


Just because the packaging says the bedding is safe for cavies does not mean it is. Many beddings are harmful to cavies and should never be used.

The following beddings do not make suitable bedding for cavies:

Pine (non kiln-dried or non aired pine)
Cat Litter

They are unsafe due to various reasons - some give off certain aromas which can lead to respiratory distress in piggies, while others are dangerous if ingested. Straw in particular is dangerous in physical ways, causing injuries such as pieces stuck in the eye.

There are lots of safe bedding alternatives: Aspen, Kiln-dried Pine (or plain pine aired out for a few days), CareFresh, Megazorb/Cell-sorb, Fleece, Towels and Vetbed amongst others. Newspaper and Hay also makes an acceptable bedding choice.

12-28-05, 09:20 am
My guinea pig lays around all day so that means he is content and peacful


Most likely your guinea pig is very bored and possibly depressed. Guinea pigs need toys for stimulation and fun. Every time the cage is cleaned, the toys should be changed. You should have enough toys for a few rotations each time. Your cage needs to be large enough for toys and plenty of floor space for laps and popcorning.

If you guinea pig is an only pig, he needs a friend. Guinea pigs are herd animals and love to be in the company of each other. They are very social and a pig being alone has nobody to socialize with. Getting your guinea pig a friend will not make your guinea pig not want to be with you anymore. On the contrary, you will have a happy healthy pig who will be so thankful to you.
"Happy guinea pigs are more entertaining and well-adjusted guinea pigs. "

01-31-06, 08:44 pm
Guinea pigs smell:


Guinea pigs do not have a musk gland. A musk gland is what causes odour in rodents; without this gland it is impossible for a guinea pig to have body odour.

Therefore guinea pigs cannot and will not smell at all, unless you do not clean their bedding. A responsible owner should never let their pets cage smell, if you clean it out regularly your guinea pig will not have any body odour.

02-04-06, 02:49 am
I am closing this thread. If you have anything you feel needs to be added to this thread, then send it via private message to either me or VoodooJoint and we will review it and if we feel it's valuable information, we will post it. If we don't feel it will add value, it won't be posted. Thanks all.

03-15-06, 07:36 am
Guinea Pigs are Cheap or Economical Pets.


Guinea Pigs often require more financial resources to keep healthy and happy then the average cat or dog.

In addition to the cost of building the cage they require:

Unlimited hay. (Grass hay for adults, with alfalfa for young pigs or pregnant / nursing mothers)

Fresh vegetables on a daily basis.

High quality pellet (Although some people to skip pellets and supplement with an appropriate vegetable mix in addition to unlimited hay, not advisable without a lot of research)

Appropriate litter for the cage, such as Aspen Shavings, Recycled Paper products (Care Fresh or Yesterdays News) or a material that needs frequent washing such as Fleece, Vet Bed, Puppy Pads, gauze or towels. (Never use sawdust or clay)

Vet Care, when the pig develops a medical condition. Some vets charge more, some less to see a Guinea pig then a cat or a dog. Other expenses with the visit may include additional charges for running tests, taking x rays, and for medication.

All of these costs are highly variable, depending on the prices you can source these items at. However, be prepared to spend $15.00 - $20.00 a week not including less frequent expenses, such as toys, medication, and vet visits just to meet basic pig necessities.

03-15-06, 07:42 am
If a Guinea Pig gets sick, their is nothing that can be done to help it get better.


A sick pig with a cold should get better on its own.


Guinea pigs do not get "colds". They get Upper Respiratory Infections (URI's) and Pneumonia. Ill Guinea Pigs rarely get better on their own, however; bringing your Guinea Pig to a "Cavy Savvy" vet at the first sign of illness is a sure way of seeing your four legged friend get better.

Learn and know the signs of illness listed in the GuineaLynx Medical Care Guide. It could mean the difference between life and death in your guinea pig. http://www.guinealynx.info/emergency.html

Quick action needs to be taken as they can and usually do go down hill very quickly. Do not wait if your Guinea Pig is showing signs of illness, indeed, be proactive by finding a good vet before you need one.

07-12-06, 12:43 pm
I am (or my wife is) pregnant so I have to get rid of our guinea pig(s).


Guinea pigs are no threat to the health of a developing baby.

This concern stems from the possibility of contracting Toxoplasmosis from infected cat feces, which is also a low risk occurance.

In short, you need not get rid of any pets you have.

This link from the Humane Society of the US has great information regarding Toxoplasmosis and how to reduce chances of possible infection from cats during pregnancy.

Info courtesy of LobsterOverlord.

07-07-07, 08:42 pm
Guinea pigs don't need a hidey house, and without one they will be less shy.


All guinea pigs need a hidey house available to them at all times. Guinea pigs are prey animals and their instinct is to run and hide whenever something frightens them. Failing to provide a secure hiding place does not make a guinea pig more comfortable with people and will only cause unnecessary stress.