Why Guinea Pigs Are Amazing Small Pets

Posted - March 6, 2024

By Carol Bryant, Professional Pet Blogger

Every March, the world celebrates National Adopt a Guinea Pig Month. However, Small pet owners celebrate sharing life with guinea pigs and other small pets all year. Good things come in small packages, but what is it about ‘pocket pets’ that animal lovers find so appealing? According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA)’s recent statistics, 6.7 million U.S. households own a small animal. Emmy Scammahorn, a former pet sitter, says guinea pigs have so much personality packed in those little bodies.

“They make their signature sound—a “wheek”—when you have food, and they do zoomies and “popcorn”— jump up with all four feet,” Scammahorn says. “They love to cuddle on your chest or lap.”

Keeping Guinea Pigs Healthy

These social critters do best in a well-ventilated wire cage with a solid floor. It is helpful to line it with soft material for comfort and burrowing.

In Scammahorn’s experience, one guinea pig needs a minimum of 7.5 square feet of floor space. She says C&C (cubes and coroplast) are ideal. Cages should be spot cleaned daily but thoroughly cleaned weekly. Emmy’s fun fact: “Guinea pigs generate a prodigious amount of poop!”

“Feed them a healthy diet of pellets, hay, and fresh vegetables with plenty of fresh water,” she advises. Like all pets, guinea pigs require veterinary care to stay healthy and happy for many years. Routine checkups help stop any problems in their tracks and allow your veterinarian to address more serious concerns. A guinea pig’s teeth continue to grow, so dental problems can occur. Without proper care, teeth can become overgrown, causing pain and difficulty eating. Regular dental care and plenty of food to chew on will keep this in check.

Why Are Small Pets Popular?

Aside from smaller animals taking up less space, more and more pet parents find them ideal for their lifestyles.

Low Maintenance: Smaller pets don’t need to be walked and their feeding routines are pretty straightforward.

Sociability: Guinea pigs have fun personalities and can form strong bonds with their human providers.

Therapeutic Rewards: The overall warm, fuzzy feeling people get in the company of an animal they love is the best reward of all. Interacting with a pet such as a guinea pig may help reduce anxiety and help pet parents feel relaxed.

Longevity: With proper care, a good diet, and paying attention to your small pet’s needs, they can live for several years.

What Should New Guinea Pig Owners Know?

For such small pets, they do come with expenses. For example, a cage, accessories, food, vegetables, bedding, and hay are all part of caring for a guinea pig. “A guinea pig is for life,” Scammahorn muses. “They can live six to eight years.” She advises interested pet lovers to contact a guinea pig rescue or shelter, where they can help you find a companion pet. Since they are social animals, she advises keeping them together in pairs.

Small animals are affected by conditions such as:

  • Dermatitis
  • Ear infections
  • Ringworm
  • Dental disease
  • Hair loss
  • Pneumonia

Always check with your veterinarian if your small pet appears uncomfortable or shows signs of infected or irritated skin or ears. Keep a bottle of ZYMOX® Small Animal & Exotic Topical Solution on hand to support your guinea pig or small pet’s skin and ears. Made without any irritating harsh ingredients such as steroids or antibiotics, it can be applied directly to the ears, head, and other small body areas.

If you prefer a spray format, ZYMOX offers a Small Animal & Exotic Topical Spray that can sprayed directly onto the affected areas. The LP3 Enzyme system is patented and soothes wounds as it helps in the healing process.

Resources and Fun Facts About Guinea Pigs:

  1. Guinea pigs have 14 toes: Four on each front foot and three on each back foot.
  2. They often sleep with their eyes open to be alert for predators.
  3. They play and groom one another.
  4. Guinea pigs are not pigs, but they are rodents.
  5. Baby guinea pigs are called pups.
  6. Some like to do tricks and can be trained with patience and food rewards.
  7. Guinea pigs will often eat their own poop. It’s normal.
  8. Munching on food helps to keep guinea pig teeth ground down.
  9. They are good at hiding pain, so veterinary visits are essential.
  10. A trusted resource for more information is the Metropolitan Guinea Pig Rescue

With proper care and affection, your guinea pig will thrive and become an invaluable family member, bringing happiness and laughter for a long time. Cheers to small pets!

About the Author

Arden Moore

Gayle King introduced Carol Bryant as a “dog lover of the highest order” when she and her Cocker Spaniel, Dexter, appeared on Oprah Radio. Carol is well-known in the pet industry, having appeared on television, radio shows, and podcasts, as well as in articles from CNN and Yahoo to Dogster and Today.com. She is the founder of the award-winning blog FidoseofReality.com and is the Immediate Past President of the Dog Writers Association of America.




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