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Owning a guinea pig can be very rewarding, but it’s a big responsibility that requires long-term commitment as they can live up to eight years of age. Not sure how to go about caring for your very first furry friend? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

The very first thing that you need to do is to make sure that you have all the necessary goodies and supplies for your new pet. Take a look at this checklist to ensure that you’re well prepared and ready:

•  Cage with a solid bottom (about 76cm x 92cm)
•  Water bottle
•  Food bowl
•  Hay rack
•  A hiding house
•  Chew toys (like wooden chew sticks or hay balls)
•  Aspen, pine, or recycled paper bedding
•  Grass hays (like Timothy hay, orchard grass, or oat grass)

There's No Place Like Home

When looking for an area to place your guinea pig’s cage, try to find a spot that is secluded from your other family pets (especially from Fido and Puss) and away from windows.

Guinea pigs don’t do well in direct heat or cold environments, so that means no air-conditioning too!

On his first day home, give him some time to adjust to his new surroundings by only taking him out of his home for a few minutes each time. When you’re ready to pick him up for the first time, try offering a treat or a piece of fruit and gently stroke his head while he eats.

If your little one scurries away, don’t feel disheartened! Simply try again in 10 to 15 minutes, making sure not to over-stress your furry friend.

Daily Care

Hay should be the main food in your guinea pig's daily diet. Different types of hay like Timothy hay, orchard grass and oat grass will help keep them healthy.

Always place fresh hay in a hay rack or food bowl as placing it directly on top of the bedding can cause your cavy to consume some of the bedding. Change the hay daily, and ensure that the hay only takes up about 3/4 of the hay rack or food bowl.

Every other day, you can feed fresh vegetables like zucchini, shredded carrots, and even cucumber slices as treats. Remember to remove all foods that cannot be consumed within four hours in order to prevent spoilage!

As guinea pigs are unable to store or produce Vitamin C, you might want to include foods high in Vitamin C (like papayas, broccoli and dark leafy greens) in order to keep them healthy.

Cage Maintenance

The food bowl and water bottle should be cleaned out every day, and the cage should also be spot-cleaned (remove any excess food and waste, and ensure that the bedding is completely dry) daily. The bedding must be completely changed out every month.

We hope that this guide has come in handy for you first-time cavy paw-rents! Just adopted another furry animal? Please see here for our other guides:

*This article was updated on 11 Sept 2020. It first appeared in on 5 Aug 2016.