Guinea Pigs are much easier to keep than rabbits and are therefore more suitable as “children’s pets”. They can still develop dental disease for similar reasons as rabbits but it is not as common. Therefore still follow the advice on the rabbit page with regards to feeding rabbits. However, it is imperative to feed guinea pig food, not rabbit food. This is because guinea pig food is supplemented with Vitamin C and guinea pigs, like ourselves, cannot manufacture Vitamin C and are therefore prone to scurvy. You can also add Vitamin C to the drinking water if you wish but it is not necessary if they are fed correctly.
Although traditional, it is advisable NOT to keep rabbits and guinea pigs together. This is for several reasons. Firstly, rabbits can suddenly kick out and break a guinea pig’s back – this can happen even if they have known each other for some time. Guinea pigs can “barber” rabbits’ fur. Also they both naturally harbour bacteria in their lungs, but different sorts of bacteria. Therefore if they are kept in a small air space together, there is an increased chance of developing pneumonia in both species.
Common diseases of guinea pigs include mites (mange) and pneumonia. It is also important to check your guinea pig regularly to make sure the droppings are not loose. Be on the lookout for sore eyes too – we often see guinea pigs with corneal ulcers as a result of straw poking into their eyes or even small bits getting stuck under their eyelids.
Guinea pigs do not need vaccinating and neutering is more for management or behavioural reasons rather than medical ones.