First, you need to get the cage. Most people keep their guinea pigs in cages that are much too small. Guinea pigs are happier and healthier in big cages. I use a C&C cage, which I love because they are very customizable. The smallest cage you should have for 1 or 2 guinea pigs is approximately 30" x 44". I bought mine here through the Guinea Pig Cages Store: http://www.guineapigcagesstore.com/standard-guinea-pig-cages
You can also use more traditional cages, but make sure there is enough space, good ventilation, and that the cage has a flat bottom (no wire bottom cages!)
Second, figure out what kind of bedding system you want to use.
- Some people use wood shavings. These are relatively cheap, but are not very absorbent and do not help with odor control. Also, never use cedar wood shavings because they are harmful to guinea pigs!
- Other people use Carefresh or another absorbent paper product. This helps with odor and absorbs well, but is more expensive. I use Carefresh bedding or Vitkraft paper pellets in my skinny pig's litter box.
- Fleece bedding is very popular in the guinea pig community. Fleece is washable and reusable, so it saves money overall (although the initial investment can be pricy). Fleece bedding needs to be spot cleaned more often than other forms of bedding. I prefer fleece bedding because it saves me money (and looks pretty!). I bought my fleece bedding here at Piggy Bedspreads: http://www.piggybedspreads.com/MidwestPiggyBedSpreads.htm
- If you are not willing to spend the money on a fleece liner, there are other options. My friend has her own DIY fleece system for her guinea pig cage. She layers fleece, towels, and newspapers.
- Try a few of these options and figure out what works best for you! After many years of experimenting, my favorite system is: Fleece liners from PiggyBedSpreads and a litter box filled with absorbent paper bedding. Click here to see my cage setup.
Other things that guinea pigs need:
- A high quality pellet (with lots of vitamin C, no fruits, nuts, colored pieces, etc. I use Oxbow Cavy Cuisine).
- Fresh water.
- A constant supply of hay (Alfalfa hay for guinea pigs under 6 months, Timothy hay or Orchard Grass for guinea pigs over 6 months)
- Somewhere to hide/ sleep.
- Something to chew on.
- Vitamin C (can be given in the form of veggies and supplements).
- Oxbow Cavy Cuisine Young Guinea Pig Food (or another similar alfalfa hay based food): for young Guinea Pigs up to 6 months.
- Oxbow Cavy Cuisine Adult Guinea Pig Food (or another similar timothy hay based food): for adult Guinea Pigs over 6 months.
- Oxbow Western Timothy Hay
- Oxbow Orchard Grass Hay.
- Hay holder. I have a freestanding wooden hay feeder from Living World and make my own hay bags. You can also buy cheaper plastic or grid hay feeders from the pet store or get creative. For a while, I used a bird seed cake holder for hay. Here is a picture.
- Carefresh Natural Pet Bedding or VitaKraft Pellet Litter.
- Fleece absorbent liners.
- Plastic or glass water bottles ( I use Living World brand). Water bottles are better than bowls because guinea pigs will kick bedding and poop into bowls!
- Oxbow Daily C Stabilized Vitamin C Supplement (optional).
- Oxbow Natural Science Multivitamin (optional).
- Ceramic food bowl.
- Somewhere to hide/ sleep: Ex: cuddle cups, cardboard boxes, plastic igloos, tubes, tunnels, fleece or towels to sleep under, etc. Here are some of my beds/ tunnels.
- Chew toys, usually made of untreated wood, cardboard, or grass.
- Litter box (optional. Some pigs will use a litter box, some will not). I use a ferret litter box.
- Nail clippers. I trim my pig's nails every few weeks with regular human nail clippers.
- Shampoo. I use tearless baby shampoo. Skinny pigs/ guinea pigs do not need to be bathed very often. I only give my pigs a full bath about 4-5 times a year.
Guinea pigs do not make their own vitamin C, so providing fresh, vitamin C rich veggies is a great way to keep them happy and healthy. Here is a list of some of the treats that my guinea pigs love (to be fed in moderation):
- Red, Yellow, and Green Peppers
- Seedless Watermelon
- Seedless grapes
- Dandelion leaves
Keep following this blog for more guinea pig care tips and product reviews! Enjoy your new guinea pig(s) / skinny pig(s)! They are a lot of work, but definitely worth it. :)