When setting up for your new guinea pigs it is a minefield seeing all the different hutches, runs, toys, food, etc to know what to buy for the best. Many of the products in the pet shop are not suitable for guinea pigs, i.e. sticky treats, exercise ball, flavoured chew sticks to name just three.
I hope the information below is of help to you. The majority of the items are available for purchase in our shop.
The run should be solid and secure with a door which gives you easy access to catch your guinea pigs. Some cheaper runs are held together with staples and are so flimsy they can be easily knocked over. So please, for the safety of your guinea pigs, spend a few more pounds and buy a run that is suitable.
The run should have an area that is covered for shelter against the sun, but please remember that the sun moves round all day so you will need to add a cover so that the guinea pigs will always have a shaded area. (Don't forget to move their water bottle and dried food to the run as well).
It is not recommended to use shavings or sawdust as bedding for guinea pigs as it can cause health problems. There are several types of bedding that are suitable, at Wheek & Squeak we use Megazorb which is made of wood pulp and has proved to be very absorbent, very good for composting and most of all much healthier for your guinea pigs. It is much cheaper than shavings from pet shops and can be bought from either the Wheek & Squeak or any equestrian retailers.
Hay is the most important food for guinea pigs, and is also lovely and warm to sleep in. You can buy this by the bale from equestrian retailers, buy small bags from pet shops or buy online from good quality hay suppliers. If you want the best for your guinea pigs then I recommend soft hay online which has been dust extracted from http://www.dustfreehay.co.uk/ There are all kinds of hay available now, if you see timothy hay, botanical hay, orchard grass, readigrass, oat hay these should be used solely as a feed hay. The best hay to get for bedding and feed is the longer stalked hay ie meadow hay which makes ideal nests for them to snuggle into and munch away at the same time.
There is a large range of guinea pig food on the market and is difficult to know not only what are the best foods to buy but what foods your guinea pigs will eat. There are two main types of food; muesli or nuggets. There is nothing wrong with either type other than muesli type food may encourage your guinea pigs to be selective feeders, only picking out the bits they like, which will mean they are not having a balanced diet. The best place to start is to find out what food they have been fed before you got them and continue with that food.
Sadly there are many foods/treats on the market that have E numbers, colours, and a lot of added sugar and should be avoided. If you look at the list of ingredients on the packet this will help you choose something suitable. The foods we recommend are Cavy Cuisine, Wagg Guinea Pig Crunch, Harringtons Optimum Guinea Pig Food, Burgess Excel and Pets at Home Nuggets.
This is the same for treats as well. Look at the ingredients, if the treats are very bright in colour then they are usually best avoided. Guinea pigs do not naturally have a high sugar diet and overfeeding of honey covered treats will cause health issues. There are a large variety of natural treats for guinea pigs which is a much healthier option.
You will need a bowl that is around 5 inch diameter and that is non tip. This is easy to check, just push your fingers gently on the side (as a guinea pig would do when eating) and if it tips easily then that would not be suitable.
There is not a large range available on the market, but most advertise as being non-drip. I have yet to find any that do not drip! We use Classic 320ml water bottles. They do have a white piece of wire that comes with the bottle, so you can fix to the hutch, but this is not very easy to use and in most cases very annoying. We use bottle springs to attach bottles to the wire on cages and hutches which is so much easier. We sell them in our shop for £2.00 each. They are very hardwearing and should last for years.
Please do not use household cleaners to clean the hutch/cage. There are special pet cleaners available on the market which can be bought from pet shops or our Shop, make sure it says that it is for small pets and not dogs and cats.
Guinea pigs nails will need to be trimmed about once a month. Running on hard ground will not wear them down enough to avoid trimming. If you find it hard to do we are happy to trim your guinea pigs nails, free of charge, or teach you how to.
From time to time your guinea pig will need a bath. We recommend Gorgeous Guineas shampoos which are made from natural safe ingredients especially for guinea pigs. There is a wide variety to chose from ranging from general shampoos to shampoos to treat lice and fungal infections. There are also some fantastic lotions and creams to treat sores, bumblefoot, ringworm and many other problems. Chrissie who runs Gorgeous Guineas will only be too happy to advise you on the right products. We sell a small stock of Johnson's shampoos here at the rescue in our shop.
It is important to have a safe carrying case when your guinea pigs need to travel. Cardboard boxes are not secure enough, they can tip over in the car especially if you have to put the breaks on quickly. It is far safer to buy the correct carrying case and you know they will be safe and secure. I would also recommend a top opening one which makes it far easier to handle your guinea pigs.