Keeping your pets and their homes clean and hygienic is one of the best ways to prevent illness or distress. It’s obvious when your Guinea Pig is happy and in good health, as they will be running, playing, chattering and acting as they usually do. However, if your Guinea Pig seems to be under the weather, but a trip to the vet has identified no underlying problems, this could be a sign that better hygiene in the hutch and run is required.
A healthy Guinea Pig is a relatively clean animal that relies heavily on the nature and safety of their habitat. The cage, hutch and enclosure are the best places to start when looking at ways to improve your pets’ environment. Depending on the the material your enclosure is made of, you will need specific products to clean it. Using the right sort of cleaner will ensure you get the most out of every home and piece of play equipment you buy for your Guinea Pig.
How should I clean Guinea Pig hutches?
If your Guinea Pigs live in a cage or caged hutch, a pet-safe liquid spray disinfectant is perfect for cleaning the cage and any plastic base or play equipment. It’s a good idea to soak the cage in water and let it dry before disinfecting, as this will loosen any large pieces of dirt and allow the spray to do its job! If regular disinfecting isn’t doing the trick and the hutch retains unpleasant odours, try using hutch cleaning granules, which have been specifically designed to eliminate smells from your pets home. Omlet has a selection of suitable products.
How should I clean wooden hutches?
If your Guinea Pigs lives in a wooden hutch, you need to disinfect it as you would with a regular cage, and it’s also a good idea to clean it every month or so with hot soapy water and scrub the wooden surfaces. Try to minimise soaking the wood by squeezing out most of the water from your sponge before cleaning. If the hutch contains any fleece liners, these are usually machine washable, and it’s good practice to give them a clean more regularly than you would the rest of the hutch. Regardless of which type of hutch you use, always let it dry thoroughly after cleaning before reintroducing the Guinea Pigs.
Does my Guinea Pig need a bath?
If your Guinea Pig’s coat is in need of a good clean, there are some important things to bear in mind. Bathing Guinea Pigs in water can actually be bad for their health – Guinea Pigs naturally maintain a good level of cleanliness through self-grooming or group-grooming. As a result, they can develop dry skin if they are bathed in water. Instead, you could invest in a grooming kit. This is a particularly good idea if your Guinea Pig lives alone, as you can take the place of their fellow Guinea Pigs in maintaining their lovely coats.
If a Guinea Pig coat becomes matted with dirt, you may need to use a chemical-free wipe to slightly wet the fur, enabling you to clean it thoroughly. If your Guinea Pig’s coat gets wet in the process of cleaning, make sure they have plenty of blankets and warm toys to surround themselves with afterwards.
How often should I replace Guinea Pig equipment?
Everything you buy for your Guinea Pigs has a different lifespan, but it is often a good idea to replace items before they deteriorate completely. A typical pet’s water bottle could last many years without breaking, but replacing it every year or so is a good idea. This is because repeated wear and tear of the plastic bottles can result in the animals ingesting plastic, in small pieces or as microplastics in the water itself.
Likewise, if you feel that any piece of equipment is no longer possible to fully clean, even after a thorough attempt, it is a good idea to replace it. Your pet would appreciate having something new to play with – although you might want to think twice before throwing out a favourite toy that the Guinea Pigs have had since they were very small, as sentiment is just as important to Guinea Pigs as it is to us!
Should Guinea Pig teeth be brushed?
Guinea Pig teeth are naturally either yellow or orange, so there is no need to worry about struggling to find the smallest possible toothbrush to get them white! However, if you notice that your Guinea Pig’s teeth have grown very long, or they’re having trouble eating, it’s a good idea to check with your vet if any action needs to be taken. Equally, you should consult the vet if you’re concerned about the length of the toenails on your Guinea Pigs.
Although there is no way to ensure your Guinea Pigs will always stay healthy, paying attention to their hygiene and nutrition will set your pets up for long and healthy lives. Doing plenty of research on your Guinea Pigs is one of the best things you can do as a pet owner. Guinea Pigs, for example, need lots of vitamin C, and they have been known to lack this essential nutrient in their diets. They will benefit from the occasional use of supplements.
Keeping up to date with the latest research and advice on Guinea Pig health has never been easier than on the Omlet Blog, so be sure to keep checking back in for new articles!
Some pets, including rabbits and guinea pigs, are naturally vegan. Hamsters and gerbils, although omnivorous, can thrive on a vegan diet in which the protein content is supplied by plants and vegetables. Others, including omnivorous dogs and out-and-out carnivore cats, cannot be easily pleased on meat-free diets.
All animals need to have their nutritional needs satisfied. But this does not mean you can’t have a vegan dog. Vegan cats, though, are a lot trickier.
Can my dog have a vegan diet?
If you were to meet a species of animal for the first time and had to make an accurate guess about its diet, you would get lots of clues by looking at its teeth. The teeth of a dog, like the teeth of a bear, proclaim loud and clear that this animal is an omnivore – that is, one that eats both meat and vegetables. If you think of your dog as a domesticated wolf, you get a good idea of its natural diet.
However, as the panda proves, a supposed meat-eater can sometimes get by perfectly well on a vegan diet. A panda’s teeth are similar to any other bear’s – long canines for meat-eating and molars for grinding vegetation. And yet pandas don’t eat anything other than bamboo. So, if a bear can be vegan, does that mean you can have a vegan dog?
The answer is yes – but it’s a yes with lots of small print! A dog requires a diet that contains the fats and proteins it would get from meat. It is dangerous to ignore this basic need and simply feed your pet with whatever you please. Some dogs have delicate stomachs at the best of times, and a low-fat, high-fibre diet can cause potentially life-threatening problems. A diet that excludes meat should never be fed to a dog without the advice of a professional pet dietician.
The collagen, elastin and keratin found in meat diets are not easily replaced by vegi equivalents. Your dog will also need the ‘long chain’ omega-3 fats found in animal products such as egg, fish and some meats. Vegan omega-3 fats are not the same as animal-derived ones.
All of which presents a headache for the vegan dog owner. There are, however, products available that claim to let your dog live a healthy, meat-free life. Before you take the plunge, it is essential to seek professional, scientific advice and guidance. Compromise is usually the best choice here – a vegan diet supplemented by some of the animal-derived essentials. Crickets, for example, can provide lots of the amino acids and keratin a vegan diet lacks, and they’re 65% protein.
Can my cat have a vegan diet?
The compromise approach is even more important for cats. These are amongst the planet’s true carnivores, obtaining all their dietary requirements from other animals.
The main challenge with minimising the meat in a cat’s diet is that, unlike many mammals (including dogs), cats cannot produce certain proteins. They have to absorb these from the meat and fish in their diet. Amino acids are another issue – cats deficient in the animal-derived amino acid taurine, for example, usually succumb to a specific type of heart problem.
Even a fortified vegan cat food cannot be confidently recommended. Turn the situation on its head, and try to imagine weaning a rabbit onto a meat-only diet, and you get some idea of the challenge – and the ethics – involved.
There are some lab-grown ‘meat’ products in development, with vegan and vegetarian cat owners in mind. However, whether these will arrive – and remain – on the market any time soon is hard to guess.
For many vegan pet owners, there is a huge ethical issue involved in feeding the animals they share a space with. Ethics, however, include the animal’s needs too, and it’s an almost impossible issue to resolve when it comes to cats. If you are able to reduce but not eliminate the meat in your cat’s diet, that’s the safer option.
Top 10 pets for vegan households
There are, of course, plenty of other pets that don’t eat meat, or that eat some meat but can still thrive on a meat-free diet. Here are our ten favourites.
1. Rabbits. No problems here – rabbits are happy vegans, with diets based on hay and vegetables. You could argue that the soft pellets they eject and then eat are animal products of a sort, but they are simply semi-digested vegetation.
2. Guinea pigs. Like rabbits, these wonderful little characters thrive on a 100% vegan diet.
3. Hamsters. As most hamster owners feed their pets with shop-bought hamster food, they may not be able to say exactly what the ingredients of that food are. However, vegetarian and vegan hamster foods are readily available.
4. Gerbils. Like hamsters, gerbils are omnivores that can live happily on a vegan diet. They tend to have rather delicate stomachs, so feeding them with a high-quality pellet mix is essential. Too much fresh stuff can cause problems.
5. Mice. Although they will eat pretty much anything in the wild, mice can thrive on vegan diets; but it is still best to use a food mix prepared specifically for them. This ensures that they will not be deficient in any of the vitamins and minerals they need.
6. Rats. These are the most omnivorous of rodents, but as long as you feed them a vegan mix that has been fortified with all the nutrients they need, they will thrive. Indeed, rats who eat too much animal fat tend to become fat and die prematurely.
7. Chickens. If you watch a free-range hen, it soon becomes clear that she will eat anything – grass, beetles, worms, and everything in your veg patch if you’re not careful! Most chicken feed emulates this mix of plant and animal products. However, it is possible to buy vegan chicken feed, and circumstantial evidence suggests that hens can thrive on it. However, they are likely to produce fewer eggs, and you will not be able to stop them scratching for worms and bugs, no matter how vegan the layers pellets are!
8. Budgies and parrots. Vegans will have no obstacles to face with budgies and parrots, unless the birds are being bred. Egg-brooding female birds need a protein boost, normally delivered via an egg-based food or cooked meat. Vegan alternatives are available, though.
9. Finches. Many finch species enjoy bugs and mealworms as treats, but these are not an essential part of an adult finch’s diet. These birds thrive on a mixture of seeds and fresh vegetables.
10. One for reptile fans. When you think of pet snakes and lizards, you probably have an image of dead mice or doomed crickets. However, there are a few commonly kept pet reptiles that eat a 100% vegan diet, the most popular being the Green iguana. Getting the balance of vegetables just right is very important for the animal’s health, but meat is certainly something you won’t have to worry about.
There is no shortage of choice when it comes to vegan pets. Keeping a vegan cat or dog is a much trickier proposition, though. And with all these animals, a balanced diet that matches the pet’s nutritional requirements should be your primary goal.
There are lots of things you can do to make your guinea pigs’ lives safer and more engaging. In this article, we cover the different dos and don’ts that all guinea pig owners should be aware of, to make sure you create a happy home for your pet.
For starters, did you know that it’s illegal to own just one guinea pig in Switzerland? This may be surprising, but it’s one of many laws that protect our furry friends from mistreatment – in this case, loneliness. Guinea pigs, just like us, need a companion if they are to live a happy and fulfilled life, and Switzerland has made sure that no guinea pig ever has to live its life alone!
Guinea pigs bedding dos and don’ts
Do use a bedding material with good absorbency, as this will reduce smell and create a more hygienic and comfortable environment for your guinea pigs.
Don’t use dusty or sandy bedding, as guinea pigs have delicate lungs and will suffer if they breathe in wood or sand dust. In their natural habitat, guinea pigs create their homes from larger pieces of wood and debris. Your pets will enjoy constructing complicated nests using larger bedding materials.
Do choose kiln-dried wood shavings, as the drying process removes any toxins and oils from the wood.
Don’t choose colour over comfort! If you want to use a multi-coloured paper-based bedding, consider mixing it in with a more natural tone that replicates the wood-and-grass colours of the guinea pig’s natural habitat.
Do use an aubiose-based bedding if possible, as this is naturally less dusty, more absorbent and made from a natural, sustainable material.
Guinea pigs food dos and don’ts
Do give your guinea pigs natural treats such as spinach or broccoli, as this is an essential source of vitamin C in their diets! If your guinea pigs refuse to eat leafy greens, it may be necessary to purchase a vitamin C solution that can be added to your pet’s water.
Don’t overfeed your guinea pigs – if they are leaving bits of food in their bowl each day, feed them a little less.
Do regularly clean out your guinea pigs’ food bowl, as their bedding, fur and general mess will quickly soil the bowl. Consider cleaning your pets’ bowls after each feeding with a wipe or spray.
Don’t give your guinea pig any type of meat or fish, as this could lead to illness. If your guinea pig has accidentally eaten meat, it’s best to take them to the vet immediately.
Do change your guinea pigs’ water every few days, not only once the bowl is empty. This ensures a clean water supply.
Don’t give your guinea pigs too many treats if you are attempting to train them – the treats will go further in training if your pet sees them as something special!
Guinea pig toys dos and don’ts
Do regularly change the toys in your guinea pigs’ run. Your guinea pig’s play will remain stimulating if you often swap the toys around. Your guinea pig may let you know if it’s bored of a toy by chewing or even eating it!
Don’t give your guinea pigs your leftover loo roll cards as a treat, as the chemicals used to treat them could be bad for your pets’ health. Instead, invest in a small tunnel system such as Zippi tunnels, which not only last longer but are safer too.
Do provide plenty of chew toys for your guinea pigs. Your pets will naturally nibble and bite any objects in their cage to maintain the length of their teeth. This can be dangerous if all they have to bite on is the metal cage, so having plenty of different things to chew on is essential.
Don’t put your guinea pig into a wheel or ball toy. Although these are great for our smaller furry friends, the guinea pig’s body is not designed to fit into such a small space. Your guinea pigs will be much happier getting their exercise in a large run or enclosure.
Do change the layout of any tunnels or playground you have for your guinea pigs. Many of the play sets available are modular and can be changed to keep the experience fresh for your pets.
Guinea pig cohabitation dos and don’ts
Do make sure that your guinea pigs have plenty of space in their enclosure. If you are keeping a small family of guinea pigs, then it’s important that they have enough room to play and establish their own space within the cage or hutch.
Don’t punish your guinea pigs by putting them into isolation. If your guinea pigs are being naughty, separating them from the others will only create further problems and is widely thought to be unhealthy and distressing for them.
Do keep your guinea pigs in pairs of sisters or neutered brothers. This will reduce aggression between the animals, as it lessens their mating urges. It is also possible to keep a neutered male with females, but you will need to wait six weeks after the neutering before introducing them, as males can still successfully mate in those early weeks.
Don’t keep just one guinea pig. Switzerland has the right idea when it comes to animal laws, as your guinea pig will get very lonely when left alone for long periods. This loneliness can actually shorten their lifespan. Your guinea pig will live a longer and happier life with a friend, so it’s a great idea to get a pair if you are considering becoming a guinea pig owner.
Keeping guinea pigs is simple and highly satisfying. By providing them with a stimulating environment and healthy diet and observing these few dos and don’ts, your pets will have long and happy lives.
Guinea pigs are sociable, intelligent and playful – and they can get easily bored without enough stimulation. To have a happy and healthy guinea pig you should always have enough toys to keep them occupied. From toys that satisfy their chewing instincts, to those that offer mental stimulation and even their need to explore and exercise. It’s easy to learn how to keep your guinea pig healthy and entertained with these helpful tips.
Guinea pig playtime is something both you and your guinea pigs can happily enjoy together. First, pay attention to your guinea pigs personality, find out what it likes to do: Is he or she timid or curious? Does your guinea pig show interest by chasing a rolling ball? Do they like to chew? This will help you to create games which build around these activities to keep your guinea pig entertained. Always make sure to play in a safe place.
Serve food interestingly
Don’t just put the food in the cage or enclosure, give them a treat that they have to work for! Use our Caddy Treat Holder or fruit and vegetable holders to keep food off the ground and entertain your guinea pigs at the same time. You may also hide the food in a Hay Rack or in a rolled-up kitchen roll. For example, place a piece of cucumber in the middle of the roll and “close” the two sides with hay. Here, the guinea pigs have to eat their way through the hay in order to get to the actual treat. Or simply lure your guinea pigs by offering you the food from your hand. But don’t hold it tightly, release it as soon as the guinea pig has bitten.
Another playful way to keep guinea pigs busy with their food is to threaded or fastened vegetables, fruits and herbs on a rope or knotted with clothespins. The guinea pigs then have to make an effort to get to the food. It’s important that the cord is thick enough so that a guinea pig doesn’t get tangled up in a way and won’t get injured.
A great way to give your guinea pig something to nibble would be to buy some chew toys. They love chewing and what would be more suited than chew toys?
You can also play a chase game with your furry one! Tie a small treat or a toy that your guinea pig loves to piece of string and drag across the floor for them to chase. Make sure you are moving a bit faster than your guinea pig so they can chase after it. This activity is a good way to keep your guinea pig exercising and alert! If you try this out, be extra cautious as to not let your guinea pig get caught in the string or swallow small parts.
You should also make sure to offer your guinea pigs alternatives when it comes to feeding them. For example, in summer they can enjoy fresh grass and seasonal produce like corn. This not only brings variety to the menu, but also new ways to occupy your guinea pigs.
Obstacles, tunnels and tubes
Tunnels invite you directly to explore and are very popular amongst all guinea pigs. They are prey animals, so having lots of areas for them to hide will make them feel much safer. Set up an obstacle course made of tubes and switch it up every week or so. Your cavy will happily walk through and dash around the tunnels. To make it a bit extra fun for your guinea pig, you can hide some treats in the tunnel/obstacle and your little friend can have a sniff around. A great way to animate your furry friends to move and exercise. Afterwards, they can also even take a nap in the tunnel. Our Zippi Tunnel System and Zippi Run Tunnels offer more space and an exciting new level for your guinea pigs to enjoy, while encouraging interactive play and exercise to strengthen your pet’s muscles. You can also combine it with our Hay Rack for even more fun!
Why not try out an obstacle course? Just like other animals, guinea pigs enjoy stimulating activities and they are very smart as well! Set up obstacle courses with cardboard boxes or random objects from around the house. Make sure to provide them with enough space to run around and play. If you’re feeling extra crafty, you can make them a maze!
It’s certainly a good idea to create new vantage points. These do not always have to be houses with flat roofs. Cork tubes, bricks or hay racks also offer enough space for guinea pigs to make themselves comfortable there. Guinea pigs like to keep track of possible dangers and to warn the group. Alternatively, small wooden boxes can be used for this purpose, upside down with a towel as a support or check out our Zippi Platforms.
Provide your guinea pigs with toys such as balls made from plastic, untreated willow or dried grass, and small stuffed toys. Ensure that there are adequate toys for each of your guinea pigs to have at least one of their own at any one time. Make sure to have items, which won’t harm your little friend, e.g. buy a light and small ball which can’t hurt your cavy and which can’t be swallowed.
Try sitting on the floor with your guinea pig and rolling balls to him. You can also use a variety of appropriate and safe bird or cat toys here as well. The hanging bird toys with bells and wooden chew sticks are reported to be safe enough to leave with a piggy, but please remove the bell, unless it’s too large to fit inside a guinea pig’s mouth.
Soft sounds are great tools for training your guinea pig. Use a bell to signal feeding time, and soon your guinea pig will react to the sound. As mentioned in the beginning, if you know the personality of your cavy, you will find the right toy for your guinea pig.
Log bridges are a very popular enrichment for guinea pigs too. They are very versatile and can be used as a tunnel, shelter, ramp, divider and much more. Garden border edging works great too!
Paper/toilet paper rolls always make a great toy, whether you’re using it as a feeding roll or tunnel. However, at some point we would advise you to cut it lengthways so that any pig poking their heads into it cannot get stuck.
Guinea pigs need variety to keep themselves mentally and physically fit. A very simple trick to keep your furry friends entertained is moving the furnishings to a different place after each cleaning of the cage or enclosure. Your guinea pigs will immediately embark on an exploratory tour, sniffing every little house and shelter and jumping on it! Guinea pigs love to rediscover their surroundings while finding even better shelters, playgrounds and viewing platforms. You can hide some treats if you wish, to keep your guinea pig extra amused.
You can attach some nice cosy sleeping areas to the furniture. There’s nothing guinea pigs love more than cosy sleeping areas (unless you include food..). Some popular options include fleece huts or blankets, just be warned that they might toilet in these.
Make their environment varied and interesting with different levels and areas for your guinea pigs to explore; you can use things like ramps and boxes.
Not suitable for Guinea Pig Exercise
Toys: Guinea pigs love to play, but some toys are safer, healthier, and more enjoyable than others. Please always use toys with smooth edges as sharp edges can pose a danger and might hurt your little friend. Moreover, use safe and non toxic toys to gnaw and avoid toys that can be swallowed.
Exercise balls and wheels: These can be even deadly for guinea pigs. Cavys have a different anatomy, and they can badly injure their backs with an exercise ball or wheel. Also, exercise balls are too enclosed and do not provide enough air circulation which can lead to heat stroke. This condition is often fatal for guinea pigs. These activities may be appropriate for some pocket pets like rats, mice, gerbils, and hamsters, but they should never be used for guinea pigs.
Bridges: Bridges are great for your furry friends but please keep in mind, guinea pigs are not necessarily known as the most skillful pets. So, wobble bridges are much more of a danger than a great toy, especially if the pet is not alone in the cage…
Leash/harness: If you think about putting a harness or leash on them, please avoid this. Guinea pigs are by nature flight animals and do not belong on a leash. If you keep in mind this guidance and advice, your guinea pig will have a lot of fun and will be kept entertained. Try to promote the health of your furry friend and keep your pet amused and happy- your loving little buddy deserves it!
When considering whether or not to keep chickens, it’s important to take into account the pets you already have around your home. The most obvious examples are cats and dogs, who sometimes let their chase instincts get the better of them. However, all your pets can get along just fine, as long as you lay down a few ground rules.
Keeping chickens with dogs
If you’re a dog owner, the first thing to consider is the temperament of your pet. Does it often chase rabbits or deer when out on a walk? How does your dog react to birds in the garden? If your hound tends to lose control in these situations, this behaviour is likely to carry over into their relationship with chickens. Equally, if your dog is of a more relaxed temperament, they may show little if any interest in your coop.
The likeliest scenario falls somewhere between the two extremes, in which case you’ll see your dog taking an interest in the chickens, and spending plenty of time watching and attempting to play with them, but not moving in ‘for the kill’. What’s important here is that your dog needs to understand that the chickens are part of the pack, and not something to be hunted. It’s also important that your dog understands that chickens are fragile, and that dog-style rough play is out of the question.
Teaching dogs to get along with chickens
You can teach your dogs that the chickens are part of the family by letting them watch you spending time in the coop – initially keeping them separated with chicken wire or fencing. Many breeds of dog are naturally cautious around small animals and will be protective of your chickens once they consider them a part of the pack. The behaviour you want to see is your dog cautiously sniffing at the chicken, as opposed to adopting the head-down-bottom-up ‘let’s play’ stance.
One of the most important considerations when it comes to dogs and chickens is the temperament of the dog breed. Hunting dogs such as greyhounds and beagles will cave in to their chasing instincts if the hens begin to flap around, and they should never be allowed to mingle with the chickens. In contrast, farm dogs such as sheepdogs have protective and herding instincts, and they will be less likely to harm your chickens.
There is no sure-fire way to guarantee your dogs and chickens will get on, but spending plenty of time introducing them goes a long way. As with all dog training, this can be an extended process, so be prepared to spend a few weeks introducing your chickens to your dogs with a barrier before you let them meet face to face. When you do introduce them, it’s a good idea to keep the dog on a short leash at first, just in case.
Keeping chickens with cats
Cats are a completely different story to dogs – they are harder to predict and less susceptible to training. However, they are unlikely to view a big fat hen as potential prey. Many farmers concur that their farm cats have no interest in hunting poultry, and are much more interested in the rats and mice that are inevitably attracted by birds. When keeping chickens, the occasional rat is standard, and having a cat around can greatly reduce their numbers.
Although most chickens are too large for a cat to hunt, this largely depends on the breed of chicken and the size of your cat. If you find that your cat is beginning to stalk your chickens, a sturdy and secure coop and run that your cat can’t access will deter trouble. This is good practice either way, as even if your cat is friendly with your chickens, your neighbour’s cat might not be! The ideal answer here is the Eglu, which is super-secure and comes with its own attached chicken run.
Keeping chickens with guinea pigs
You may already have a guinea pig hutch or run in your garden, and while this won’t be a problem for your chickens, it is not recommended for chickens and guinea pigs to share living quarters. This is for several reasons, one being that rats will be further attracted to your pets’ food, and they may attack your guinea pigs. Another reason is that when establishing a pecking order, your chickens will peck at each other and any other animal they live with. This can cause serious harm to guinea pigs, who do not have thick feathers to protect them.
Keeping chickens with rabbits
Rabbits can be great companions for your chickens if you introduce them to each other when they are all very young. You will also need to ensure that you care for their different needs within the same run, in terms of food and equipment.
Rabbits, for example, like to have a clean space to sleep in, so you may need to muck out your coop and run more regularly than you would if the chickens were alone. You will also need to ensure that the chickens and rabbits all have a safe space within the coop where they can have privacy and space. You can achieve this by separating your run into three areas, one to house the roosting chickens, another for your rabbits, and a communal space.
Having a large and secure garden run will make your chickens feel safer in general, and plenty of space will maximise the chance of the hens getting along with each other and their rabbit and guinea pig neighbours.
Chickens and other pets
Chickens can also rub along happily with goats, and with female ducks (males will tends to bully them). Ironically, they do not mix with birds in an aviary. They will eat anything that falls to the aviary floor, but they will also happily peck the other birds whenever they can and may attract rats and mice, which will cause problems for the smaller birds.
Small mammal pets such as hamsters and gerbils should never be kept in the same enclosure as chickens. The rodents will be pecked and killed.
By following these few ground rules, you will be able to keep the various members of your mixed menagerie happy!
Guinea pigs are quite popular among pet owners. They are effortlessly the best pets for children, and it’s easy to learn cavy care. They’re adorable, cuddly, easy to keep and their minuscule droppings mean that caring and cleaning are kept to a minimum. Their small size and accessibility make them a top pick.
However, it can be hard to get to grips with the behaviours of your guinea pigs. By using sounds and postures cavies can actually say a lot. Though you may not understand all the noises and body language they sometimes make, there are things they do that have a fairly clear meaning and that can help you understand your guinea pigs.
Positive Sounds- how do you know your guinea pig feels comfortable?
Chutting: Aka “I’m having fun!”. Sometimes referred to as a “clucking” sound, like a mother hen would make, this is a sound of contentment. Your guinea pig may make this sound towards you when you’re interacting with him, or towards his house mates, when he enjoys the moment. Guinea pigs may also make this sound when they’re curious and exploring their surroundings.
Cooing: This sound communicates reassurance in guinea pigs. It’s a sign of affection, cavies will do it for humans they love and for their young.
Purring: Guinea Pigs who feel contented and comfortable while being petted or cuddled, will make a deep purring sound, accompanied by a relaxed, calm posture.
Snoring: Yes, you’ve heard right. Guinea pigs can snore as well. If your buddy is relaxing on your lap and snores, it means he feels comfortable. NOTE: Just to be on the safe side, if your guinea pig starts to make similar sounds to snoring or wheezing/clicking when breathing, be sure to check for any symptoms of illness.
Wheeking: Aka “Feed me!”. This is a distinctive and common vocalisation made by guinea pigs and it’s most often used to communicate excitement or anticipation of getting some tasty treats when their owner opens the treat box. It sounds like a long and loud squeal or whistle.
Whistling: Guinea Pigs may sometimes whistle without intending to because they are very excited about something.
Negative Sounds – how do you know your guinea pig feels uncomfortable?
(Teeth) Chattering: Aka “Stop that!”. This is an aggressive vocalisaiton and shows an agitated or angry guinea pig which is ready to attack. As the name implies, teeth chattering is often accompanied by the guinea pig showing its teeth, which looks like a yawn.
Purring: If the purr is higher pitched, it’s often an indicator of annoyance and sometimes sounds like a piercing vibration. Ashortpurr may indicate fear or uncertainty and you will notice your guinea pig remain motionless. In both circumstances, it is best to reassure your guinea pig softly.
Hissing: Like chattering, this is a sign of a guinea pig who’s angry or aggressive. It’s just like the hissing noise that a cat makes. Image by Summa from Pixabay
Shrieking: A piercing, high-pitched squeak called a shriek is a fairly unambiguous call of alarm in terms of fear or pain a guinea pig feels. If you hear this sound, it would be good to check on your guinea pig to make sure everything is alright and it’s not hurt.
Squealing: You will hear this sound if your furry friends are feeling unhappy or distressed. Usually this sound comes when they’re bullied or bitten by other guinea pigs.
Whining: Aka “I don’t like this.” A whining or moaning type of squeak can communicate annoyance or dislike for something you or another guinea pig is doing.
Chirping: Just like a bird, chirping is perhaps the least understood or heard noise that guinea pigs make. This sound is made when cavies are taken away from their family. A chirping guinea pig may also appear to be in a trancelike state.
Body Language – what are Positive Postures?
Popcorning: This gesture consists of hopping straight up in the air, sometimes repeatedly, just like popcorn does while it is popping. The usual reason is happiness and excitement. They’re simply having a good time, they become excited, and pop – they are literally jumping for
Licking: This is a super friendly signal! If your guinea pig is licking you, it is usually a sign of affection, that they’re content and are trying to groom you – it’s possible though that they just like the taste of salt on your skin.
Sprawling out: This is usually a sign that your guinea pig is feeling comfortable and safe with you while relaxing on your lap.
Backing away: If you’re trying to pick up your small friend and he’s backing away from you, this could be a sign that he feels threatened and uncomfortable in a way and it’s worth giving your pet some space. Guinea pigs are prey animals, so their instinct is to run away if they feel threatened.
Fidgeting or Biting While Being Held: This can often be a sign that your guinea pig just needs to go to the bathroom. On the other side, it can also indicate that your guinea pig feels uncomfortable, stressed or even scared – or is just tired of being held. Either way, try returning your guinea pig to its cage for a bit.
Freezing: If a guinea pig is startled or uncertain about something in its environment, it will stand motionless. Reassurance will release them from their nervous freeze.
Strutting: Moving side to side on stiff legs can be seen as an act of dominance or aggression, often accompanied by teeth chattering. Photo by Satynek from Pixabay
Tossing Head in the Air: A guinea pig will toss its head back when it’s getting annoyed being petted as a way of asking you to stop.
Standing on two legs: If your cavy stands on two legs and bares its teeth, it could be a sign that a fight is about to happen among him and his mate(s). To prevent injuries, it may be necessary to intervene here. It is recommended and important to try and prevent this behaviour if you’re introducing other guinea pigs for the first time.
What are Neutral Sounds & Postures?
Mounting: This can be either sexual behavior (males to females) or behavior used to show dominance within the guinea pig herd’s social structure, especially between females.
Scent Marking: Guinea pigs will rub their chins, cheeks, and hind ends on items they wish to mark as theirs. They may also urinate on things or other mates to show their dominance.
Sniffing: Sniffing is a way to check out what is going on around them and to get to know others. Guinea pigs particularly like to sniff each other around the nose, chin, ears, and back end. Sniffing is a way guinea pig’s explore.
Raising heads: This is usually a sign of dominance when they raise or stretch their heads with their cage mates.
Rumbling: A guinea pig rumble or rumble strutting is deeper than a purring noise. A male guinea pig makes this sound while trying to mate with a female, it is part of their mating ritual and often accompanied with a typical “mating dance”.
Running Away From Being Picked Up: Guinea pigs tend to be timid, especially at first. If they’re running away from you it’s not a rejection intrinsically but rather a natural defense mechanism. Just give them a bit of time and patience and they’ll be happy being picked up for cuddles and playtime outside of the cage from time to time.
Yawning: Like raising heads, your guinea pigs could be showing dominance when exposing their teeth to others.
Be sure to take a careful note of your little friend‘s behaviours and after a while, you‘ll have a better understanding of it. Remember it may take a while for your furball to get used to being handled. Your guinea pig may interact with you differently than the way it does with its cage mates.
To provide your cavy a happy and healthy life and in order to prevent stress or depression, socialising and playtime are important parts of a guinea pig’s life. If you want to know how to teach your furball some nice tricks, please visit our previous articleHow to teach your guinea pigs and rabbits tricks.
Rabbits and guinea pigs are sociable animals, and they greatly benefit from spending time with their owners learning and playing. It can be a great way to establish trust between you and your pets, as well as a lot of fun!
Training a rabbits or guinea pig works best when you can repeat it every day – even if it’s only for five or ten minutes. Not only will your pets love the attention, having the repeated routine will help them remember the tricks you perform together.
The first thing you will need is a quiet space away from distractions. Zippi Rabbit Runs and Playpens are ideal, giving you the secure and familiar space in which your pets can relax and enjoy the training. You will also need some of your rabbits’ and guinea pigs’ favourite treats to encourage and reinforce the learning. It
can be helpful to separate your pets when training them, but equally, some pets benefit from learning from each other – for example, if you have an older trained rabbit or a young, untrained one, the young rabbit can learn tricks faster by copying his older friend. And forget what you’ve heard about old dogs and new tricks – your pets are never too old to pick up new things! Image by Rolf Neumann from Unsplash
Rabbit and Guinea pig tricks for beginners
When you start to train your guinea pig or rabbit, it’s all about patience and perseverance. Your pet might not seem that interested initially, but as you continue to reinforce their learning with treats, you will find they keep coming back for more. You should always start with something simple, such as ‘Circling’, a perfect trick for both rabbits and guinea pigs.
Training your guinea pig or rabbit to Circle
To teach your pet how to perform Circle, simply grip a treat tight between your fingers, and hold it close to your pet’s mouth. Then lead your pet around in a circle with the treat – so that it spins on the spot. Repeat this until your pet spins around without you leading them, occasionally reinforcing them with the treat. It is important that you only give them a reinforcement treat when they successfully do the trick. Don’t feel bad if they manage to sneakily steal the treat from you – it’s all part of the fun!
Don’t worry if this takes some time to learn – the first trick can be the hardest for your rabbits or guinea pig, and once they have mastered Circle, a whole world of tricks opens up for you and your pet to enjoy together! If your pet is struggling with Circle, try making them turn in the other direction – just like us, our pets are either left or right-footed.
There are all sorts of tricks that you can teach your pets using a similar method – teach your guinea pigs to go through a play tunnel in your Zippi Run by guiding them with a treat to the beginning of the tunnel, then place the treat at the other end of the tunnel as a reward. You can also teach your rabbits to first stand up by holding the treat just out of their reach – then, when they have learnt to stand, you can start slowly moving the treat, and you will soon find your rabbit taking its first steps on two feet to get that treat.
How to teach rabbits and guinea pigs ‘Figure of Eight’
If you’ve succeeded in all of these treat-leading tricks, then maybe challenge yourself by trying to teach your pet to walk a figure of eight weaving between your legs – in the same way as with Circle. With some perseverance, you’ll be amazed at what your pet can learn and remember. This is a great trick for showing off to your friends, and you’ll find that your pets are a lot more comfortable around strangers after training.
Don’t forget that the treats which you give your pets are a part of their diet, and if you’re repeating your training daily as recommended, you may need to give your pet a touch less feed each day to make up for the extra nutrition they’re getting from the frequent treats. You can further increase the effectiveness of your training by exchanging your dried treats for fresh leaves. Keeping the treats healthy is important.
How to make rabbits and guinea pigs come when called
As with many tricks, the key here is treats. Offer the treat when you are close to the pet, and say the pet’s name as you do so. Eventually, they will come to associate their name with the treat. The next step is to call your pet from further away, showing the treat. Repeat the name as they take it. Call your rabbit’s name and give them a treat after they approach. After two weeks of this regular exercise – calling, treating – try calling your pet’s name without showing the treat.
If the rabbit or guinea pig does not respond, they have not yet made the connection. Revert to the first steps, and call while showing – and giving – the treat. Once your pet has made the link, they will scurry towards you when they hear their name. There’s no harm in reinforcing this with a bonus treat now and then!
How to make rabbits and guinea pigs jump through hoops
The key to this trick is stick-training. You will also need the pet training device known as a clicker. To start training your guinea pig or rabbit– and over the first few days of training – simply hold the stick near your pet. When it turns to sniff and investigate the training stick, click the clicker and offer a treat. In time, your pet will come to associate the stick with a treat.
The next stage is to hold the hoop close to your Rabbit or guinea pig, slightly off the ground. Hold the stick on the other side of the hoop, and eventually your pet will jump through to get the treat. Guinea pigs will only manage a slight hop, whereas over time you can raise the hoop quite high for a rabbit.
How to make rabbits give you a High-5!
This is a complex one, and it is only suitable for rabbits. It involves a certain amount of ‘click training’, using a clicker.
The starting point is to sit with your rabbit and wait for it to lift a paw – they do this frequently – clicking whenever it does so. For the first few days, this is far as you’ll get – raised paw, click! You can speed thing up by offering a treat high off the ground – the rabbit will lift its nose, and then its paw. Be ready with that clicker when the paw is raised!
For the next stage, position your hand near the rabbit, on the ground. When the raised paw is put down again, it will touch your hand. As soon as it does, give the clicker a click and offer a treat. Once the rabbit begins to understand, you can move your hand further away. The key is to make the rabbit realise that the click and the treat only occur when they touch your hand.
By keeping your hand on one side of the rabbit, rather than in front, you’ll make sure the paw-to-hand contact only involves a single paw – a key detail of the high-5. The rabbit will eventually know that touching the hand delivers the treat. So, the next step is to put your hand out and wait for the rabbit to make the connection and high-5 it. Once it does, give it the click and treat treatment!
This process can take time – but it’s a great trick, and one that will genuinely amaze everyone who watches it!
Runs and platforms for rabbits and guinea pigs
One of the key ways you can enrich your pets’ lives and keep them mentally and physically fit and healthy is by getting them a proper enclosure and suitable play equipment. Giving your pets the right amount of space is essential to their wellbeing, and this is easy with custom-made Zippi Tunnels and Zippi Run Platforms. These expand the space within your run and bring the many benefits of constant exercise.
Zippi Platforms increase the daily exercise possibilities for your pets and tap into their meerkat-like instincts of getting up high and acting as a lookout. Having a fun environment goes hand in hand with good training, as your pets’ happiness and healthiness is key to their engagement in learning.
If you have a large group of rabbits or guinea pigs, training them is a great way to give your pets some individual attention – you might soon find that it’s both you and your pets’ favourite part of the day!
Guinea pigs are small animals that are increasingly finding their place in homes. Affectionate, they will make your children happy. However, in order for them to flourish at their best, it is necessary to take care of your pets by meeting their needs perfectly. The health of your pet depends on vitamins and a specific diet.
Follow our advice to ensure that your guinea pig receives an adequate daily intake of vitamins and stays healthy.
Why should I give my guinea pig vitamin C?
Just like humans, guinea pigs do not synthesize vitamin C (also called ascorbic acid). Due to an old genetic mutation, our favorite little pets can no longer make vitamin C from glucose. The intake of vitamin C in their diet becomes a necessity.
Vitamin C is a molecule that slows down the aging of cells, helps prevent the risk of infections and accelerates healing, therefore, vitamin C intake should not be taken lightly since deficiencies can cause serious health problems in your pet.
The signs of vitamin C deficiency are plentiful and here is what should alert you:
Your guinea pig is losing weight, does not want to eat or eats differently
For young guinea pigs growth retardation may be visible
Your guinea pig’s immune system slows down which can cause many infections. There are also problems with the joints and difficulties for moving. It is important that you be alert to any lesions or sores that may have difficulty healing. If your guinea pig squeals when you pick him up, that’s not a good sign.
Should I give my baby guinea pig vitamin C?
The answer is yes. It is recommended that you give your guinea pig the vitamin from an early age so that it does not suffer from deficiencies.
In addition to vitamin C, which we will focus on in the rest of our article, your guinea pig also needs its dose of vitamin E. Much less mentioned than the previous one, vitamin E is also necessary for maintaining the good health of your pet. If your guinea pig is deficient in vitamin E it may be suffering from muscle problems and this may also be the cause of high mortality in female guinea pigs. This vitamin participates in the production of cells, it therefore has an essential role.
A little tip for vitamin E: between 3 and 5g of vitamin E should be contained in 100g of food.
Foods rich in vitamin E: fennel, broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, peppers and oatmeal.
What foods naturally contain vitamin C?
Many fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C. These foods are easily found in the supermarket. It’s even better if they come from your small vegetable garden! Always wash vegetables and fruit before feeding them to your guinea pig. It is important to present them to your pet as a treat, he will appreciate it more. Do not hesitate to vary his diet by offering different vegetables according to the seasons.
Key figures: the daily intake of vitamin C in guinea pigs should be 20 mg / kg of body weight for an adult guinea pig. This dose can rise to 60 mg / kg of body weight for a growing guinea pig, a pregnant female or a sick guinea pig. If you want personalised advice for your guinea pig, do not hesitate to ask your vet.
Foods rich in Vitamin C suitable for guinea pigs in 150 g portions (be aware, it is not a question of giving 150g of the same vegetable but of varying the plate):
Horseradish:contains 141 mg.
Parsley: contains 140 mg.
Kale: contains 120mg. Be careful, this food should be eaten in moderation since it may cause bloating in your animal, just like other types of cabbage (Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, white cabbage, red cabbage, green cabbage, etc.)
Fennel: contains 120 mg.
Red Pepper: contains 126 mg. Red peppers contain more vitamin C than green peppers.
Broccoli: contains 93 mg.
Dandelion: contains 58 mg.
Chicory: contains 24 mg.
Radishes: contains 23 mg.
Tomatoes: contains 19 mg. In addition to providing vitamin C, they are rich in water.
Zucchini: contains 10 mg.
Celery: contains 7 mg.
Cucumbers: contains 5 mg.
This list is not exhaustive, but gives you an overview of foo
ds rich in vitamin C which you might already have at home! We advise you to vary your intake and ask your vet for more information.
Small dietary reminder: do not feed guinea pigs rhubarb, onions, leeks, chives, garlic, avocado and lettuce (rich in nitrate) and avoid carrots as they are often too sweet.
We often forget it, but grass is also a source of food for guinea pigs as it is a complete food. You can also supplement the diet with leaves of strawberries, raspberries (beware of thorns), mulberries, willows…
Fruits must also be integrated into their diet, but be careful as they are highly concentrated in sugar and should be given in moderation.
Sometimes, despite a varied and balanced diet, vegetables and other plants are not enough. Guinea pig owners are therefore advised to provide them with vitamin C supplements.
How to give vitamins to my guinea pig? In what form should they be favored?
Vitamin C is available in a variety of forms so you should be able to find something to suit your guinea pig’s preferences. Just like humans, some will prefer capsules while others prefer a liquid form.
Image by ivabalk from Pixabay
Liquid form: Ask your vet for advice on the brand you should choose. The vitamin is injected with a syringe. This method is complex because you have to succeed in getting your guinea pig to ingest the desired dose by placing the syringe in the side of the mouth. Avoid putting it face-on or pushing it into his mouth, he could choke. Do not put vitamin C in liquid form in water. Vitamin C is sensitive to light and air, and could break down very quickly. Protect the bottle from light and recap the bottle quickly after use.
Capsules / tablets: this is an effective way to make sure that your guinea pig is getting its daily amount of vitamin C. There are brands on the market that allow you to get the optimal dose. If your guinea pig has difficulty swallowing the tablet. You can hide it in a banana for example, or in other fruits that your guinea pig enjoys.
Powdered: This form of vitamin C should be taken with caution. The powdered sachet, once opened, must be quickly consumed by the guinea pig or the benefits may be lost. Powder on contact with air will simply lose its effectiveness. The powder has a positive though; you can put it on a piece of cucumber or another treat that your pet loves, the vitamin will then be easily ingested.
Vitamins C and E should be supplied throughout the life of your guinea pig. However, avoid overdosing. Indeed, too much vitamin C can also be dangerous for your animal and cause urinary stones. Check with your veterinarian for the exact dose of vitamin C to give your guinea pig, to help him/here stay in great shape to live life happily and healthily.
Like humans, rabbits and guinea pigs need exercise! If your doctor recommends 30 minutes of exercise a day, know that the same goes for your small pets. So rabbits and guinea pigs, get your little paws ready, it is high time to get back to sport! First, let’s take a look at why exercise is so important for rabbits and guinea pigs.
Physical and mental well-being
Exercise is necessary to keep your rabbit and/or guinea pig healthy. Movement contributes to your animal’s mental and psychological balance. It is therefore essential, in addition to the balanced food you provide, to devote time to physical exercise.
The muscles of your rabbit or guinea pig need to be trained. Your pet should be able to test their abilities, their limits, practice, have fun, and jump around. A stimulating environment will offer your animal dynamic days, without monotony, allowing it to flourish. Why not personalise your rabbits’ play area; add toys, create several spaces for it on raised platforms? They will thank you for it!
When your pet starts to play and run, it is a sign they’re happy and having fun. Get involved and engage with them in play to stimulate their senses and reflexes.
Prevent the risk of injury and obesity
Unlike a life in the wild, full of twists and turns, life for our domestic pets is a little different, with less movement and activity, rabbits and guinea pigs are at risk of becoming ill. Obesity is a common example of this. In the wild, they tend to run, to flee dangers, to fight against bad weather and to test their reflexes. They have to work hard to get food, dig a shelter, watch out for predators that are both high up (raptors and other birds) and on land. Their metabolism is used to such conditions, so they naturally have less weight problems.
Domestic rabbits and guinea pigs sometimes live in small places. As well as their daily feed, pets are also given extra treats throughout the day. Without exercise, they can easily gain weight. They must therefore be stimulated, otherwise a vicious circle sets in. By not exercising, your pets gain weight and the more weight they have, the harder it will be for them to engage in play and movement. Exercise is therefore recommended as soon as your rabbit or guinea pig arrives in your home.
A little tip to find out if your rabbit or guinea pig is the ideal weight: you should lightly feel your animal’s ribs by pressing on its belly.
In addition to obesity, a lack of exercise could lead to urinary problems, osteoporosis or even fractures. Rabbits and guinea pigs are therefore more fragile when raised in apartments and homes. By training your rabbit or guinea pig you are helping to strengthen its heart and to reduce the risk of injury from lack of movement. It’s not about overtraining, but allowing it to let off steam and move their bodies! Like humans, rabbits and guinea pigs experience problems relating to old age: strained muscle, wear and tear of the skeleton. The solution to try to get around your problems: exercise!
How do I keep my rabbit and my guinea pig occupied? What exercises are recommended to keep my pet in good health?
Platforms: a multitude of possibilities
Platforms are the ideal solution for keeping your pet healthy. They allow you to create different levels and customise your pet’s play environment as you see fit. By jumping up and down on organised level platforms, your rabbit or guinea pig will keep their bones and muscles in good shape. The platforms allow adaptation to the natural behavior of rabbits and guinea pigs.
The levels allow your rabbits and guinea pigs to exercise their muscles, jumping up and down the ramp. By reproducing natural climbs and descents, just like in the wild, your animal can, in complete safety, strengthen their core muscles and stimulate their minds.
The creation of a platform on several levels, allows you to vary the daily exercise of your pets, keep them in good health and in addition to that, it allows you to optimise the space. Completely modular and customisable, the Zippi Platforms from Omlet offer your pets new sensations and allow them to experience new adventures.
Vets and animal experts also recommend the use of different levels to stimulate small pets. Your rabbit or guinea pig may need some encouragement to begin with, but if you choose a sturdy and safe structure, your pet will soon realise taking their playtime to new heights is a lot of fun!
Zippi Platforms from Omlet are non-slip and allow your beloved pet to hop without fear of slipping. Always be sure to choose platforms that ensure your pet’s safety.
This multi-functional play area is suitable for all breeds of rabbits and all breeds of guinea pigs. It’s up to you to organize the space and platforms as you see fit according to your pet’s preferences.
Here are some ideas for setting up the platforms in the Zippi runs.
Nothing prevents you from adding many accessories to further personalize your pet’s play area: tunnel, shelters … You have endless possibilities! Your rabbit or guinea pig will feel comfortable to indulge in their favorite activities: jumping, running, skipping over obstacles and hopping around!
Perching high up, your animals can see the world around them from a new perspective. Curious by nature, they can finally enjoy their environment.
Platforms: an easy way to have fun together
What could be more important than enjoying this new play environment together? Your animals love to be admired and encouraged, and will love to spend time with you!
The height of the platforms will allow you to enjoy your animals from a new angle. Platforms allow you to sit down and be at their eye level, making interaction much easier. Comfortable for your back, of course, but also a new way to spend time and have fun with your rabbit or guinea pig. The possibilities to stimulate your pets will be diverse and you will be able to teach them how to use their new platforms.
Your children will be able to enjoy their pet in complete safety. This will make it much easier for them to play together. Interaction will be easier thanks to a height that will suit your pet as well as your children.
Exercise is essential for your pets. Don’t neglect this aspect of their lives: making an exciting playground they will love, can be great fun for you too!
When a guinea pig is happy and excited, it will often ‘popcorn’. This describes the sudden jumps performed by guinea pigs, sometimes from a standing position, sometimes in mid-stride, and often involving a change in direction and an endearing squeak!
Not all guinea pigs entertain their owners with popcorning, but most of them do. The usual reason for guinea pigs popcorning is happiness. They’re simply having a good time, they become excited, and pop! They are literally jumping for joy. Well, most of the time…
Do guinea pigs popcorn when scared?
Popcorning in guinea pigs is certainly not abnormal, although guinea pigs may occasionally popcorn out of fear. You can easily tell when this is the case – was there a sudden noise, for example, or did the guinea pig spot a cat or dog or some other potential danger? If fear is the trigger, the guinea pig will run for cover after landing, and will often make some alarm calls too.
In most cases, however, a guinea pig will ‘freeze’ rather than popcorn if it perceives danger. This is a behaviour common to all rodents (and rabbits too).
Popcorning can be seen in many young mammals (although it is only called popcorning if a guinea pig is involved). Young lambs are a classic example. The behaviour is often part of a running and jumping combination, actions known to guinea pig lovers as zoomies.
Encouraging a Guinea Pig to Popcorn
Although guinea pig popcorning can’t be taught to a guinea pig as such, your pet can be encouraged in various ways. Offering a favourite treat often inspires the behaviour, and in a keen guinea pig popcorner, the very sight of the treat might, in time, produce the behaviour. At this point, it crosses over into training territory, and if you use a command word (such as ‘Popcorn!’) each time a treat is offered, you are in with a chance of making your pet associate the word with the treat. This means, in theory, that simply saying ‘Popcorn!’ will cause the guinea pig to jump for joy!
Guinea pigs love exploring new toys, and these will often produce a spell of guinea pig popcorning, too. The excitement often lasts, too, and a new hay station, ball, ramp or section of tunnel will often produce a popcorn jump several weeks after the item was first introduced.
Regular play sessions with your guinea pig will be a source of pleasure for your pet, too. If they feel safe with you in their run, guinea pigs will sometimes popcorn their way into double figures. If you pick them up, and cuddle them, it will often inspire popcorning when the guinea pigs are back on the ground.
If you have a secure space outside the cage, this can provide great stimulation for inquisitive guinea pigs. Supervise your furry friends as they nose through the space, and count how many times they perform a popcorn! This should only be allowed outdoors if the space is completely secure and safe for guinea pigs (i.e. no gaps in the fence, no other pets, no toxic plants), and if the outdoor temperature is warm (a minimum of 18C).
Why do guinea pigs do Zoomies?
It’s a little odd that the guinea pig, a short-legged animal that lacks the ability to climb very well and is usually unable to jump over an obstacle, should be able to perform these vertical take-off manoeuvres. Younger guinea pigs tend to jump highest, and more portly specimens will seldom attempt to perform zoomies and popcorns. Younger guinea pigs, in general, will do most of the running and jumping, letting off all the excess energy associated with youth and vigour!
Novice guinea pig keepers have been known to mistake guinea pig popcorning for a seizure. Once you take time to watch your guinea pig you will soon spot the difference, however, as the guinea pig popcorning will become a very familiar sight, and there is no confusing the two. A guinea pig that is having a seizure will fall on its side and wave its legs around, often with jerky motions to the head. The attack will last several seconds too, unlike a swift popcorn. If, after jumping or falling, a guinea pig fails to get back to its feet immediately, it’s time to consult the vet.
What does it mean when guinea pigs popcorn?
Guinea pigs, being naturally portly, need all the exercise they can get in order to stay trim. It is thought that when guinea pigs popcorn it is part of their natural workout. It may also be a behaviour that causes predators to stop in their tracks, out of sheer surprise, giving the guinea pig an increased chance of escaping unscathed.
Guinea pig popcorning and guinea pig zoomies are two of the things that make guinea pig keeping such great fun. These little furry characters are so full of fun, it’s contagious!
Guinea pigs are not built for marathons, but they still love to exercise those little legs. Given enough space, they will not need any extra exercise equipment, so hamster-style wheels and balls are not required (and can, in fact, be very dangerous for guinea pigs). What they do need, though, is a combination of hutch and run – and, ideally, extra tunnels, too – to give them plenty of exercise space.
Guinea pig exercise is all about exploring and interacting. They are very sociable animals, moving around their enclosure in groups or dashing away on little adventures of their own. Being instinctively nervous and alert animals has the side effect of making them very active. If there’s a strange noise or sudden movement, they are likely to dash for the safety of a familiar corner.
How Much Space Do Guinea Pigs Need To Exercise In?
The floor area for a hutch containing two guinea pigs should be a minimum of 0.75 square metres. The hutch is where they’ll spend much of their time, so the bigger the living quarters, the better. The indoor part of a hutch is only half the story, though, and guinea pigs need some outdoor space, too. It is recommended that they should have at least three hours free-ranging time each day. This is easy to arrange if you combine a hutch and run, and an all-in-one living space such as The Eglu Go Hutch for Guinea Pigs is the ideal option.
Guinea pig runs can also be linked to outdoor playpens using an arrangement such as the Zippi Guinea Pig Tunnel System. This kind of flexible system allows you to construct anything from a simple A to B tunnel, to a full-blown maze. You can also accommodate fun features in your tunnel set up, such as lookout posts and feeding stations.
For a pair of Guinea pigs, a one- to two-metre-square run provides ample space. If you are able to give the pets more space than this, they will only really use it fully if it has plenty of tunnels and bolt holes to head for – guinea pigs don’t like to be too far away from somewhere safe and cosy, and will not usually roam in a large garden. What you can do in a large space, though, is construct an obstacle course or maze of tunnels, giving your pets endless fun and exercise.
Encouraging Guinea Pigs To Exercise
Guinea pigs are more inclined to run around and have fun if they have companions to play with, So, rule number one for ensuring that your pets get enough exercise is to provide them with at least one playmate. In the wild, extended family groups tend to number at least 10, but you should always keep the numbers to a level dictated by the size of the hutch and run. You need to get the mix right, as a male and a female will inevitably mate, which has obvious consequences in terms of space and mouths to feed.
Groups of males or groups of females are the best option. A castrated male will mix very happily and placidly with females, and any small disagreement and scuffles among your guinea pigs is unlikely to result in injury, and is all part of their exercise routine.
Incorporating hiding places in your run/hutch/tunnel set up is an important detail. Guinea pigs instinctively have one eye on a safe bolt-hole when they are out and about, and scurrying back to safety is probably their most strenuous form of exercise.
You can encourage your pets to scout around and stretch their legs by putting interesting objects in their run, such as hay balls, wicker toys stuffed with treats, chews, tunnels and simple hideaways in the form of terracotta caves and igloos. They will also play happily with the cardboard tubes from the inside of loo-rolls and paper towels, or a simple cardboard box, especially if these items are stuffed with hay and fresh veggie treats.
One of the things that gives guinea pigs such a unique character is their loveable combination of endless inquisitiveness and nervousness. They follow their noses, explore everything, and then dash back to safety, making those wonderful wheep wheep sounds as they do so. With this mixture of playing and bolting, their exercise needs are easily met – all you need to do is provide the hardware.
Here’s why the Caddi is the perfect choice for your treat-loving pets…
The Caddi Treat Holder decreases the rate at which your pets will eat their treats. Slower treat release through the gaps in the holder means more satisfaction for longer, and prevents over indulgence.
The Caddi Treat Holder swings around and creates a rewarding, interactive game to keep your pets entertained, which is especially great for rainy days! Your pets will love the stimulating experience of foraging for their treats, and enjoy hours of rewarding fun.
The Caddi allows you to feed your pets treats without having to throw them on the ground. This improves run cleanliness, reduces food waste and prevents pests, as well as being a healthier solution for your pets. Simply hang the Caddi from the roof of your pet’s run with the plastic hook and use the string to adjust the height to suit your pets.
Endless treat opportunities! With the Caddi Treat Holder you can feed a range of fresh greens, fruits and vegetables to your pets, you can use it as a hay rack for rabbits, or fill it with pecker balls for hens. Get creative and reward your pets with exciting new flavours in the Caddi.
You can save 50% on the Caddi Treat Holder until midnight on Monday, just by signing up to the Omlet newsletter. It’s a great deal for you, and an exciting new treat dispenser for your pets! Enter your email address on the Caddi page to claim your discount code.
Now available for just £4.99 if you sign up to the Omlet newsletter!
Terms and conditions This promotion is only valid from 12/08/20 – midnight on 17/08/20. Once you have entered your email address on the website you will receive a unique discount code that can be used at checkout. By entering your email you agree to receive the Omlet Newsletter. You can unsubscribe at any point. This offer is available on single Caddi Treat Holders only. The offer does not apply to Twin Packs or bundles with Omlet Peck Toys or Feldy Chicken Pecker Balls. Offer is limited to 2 Caddi Treat Holders per household. Subject to availability. Omlet ltd. reserves the right to withdraw the offer at any point. Offer cannot be used on delivery, existing discounts or in conjunction with any other offer.
Choosing a small pet is a big decision. Although their needs differ, hamsters and guinea pigs require equal amounts of planning. Where will the enclosure go? Is there enough space? Who is going to carry out the daily feeding and weekly cleaning? Can you afford all the equipment – and all the food the pets will nibble through?
Small mammals of the rodent and rabbit families may all look cute, fluffy and vaguely similar, but there are important differences in the needs and personalities of each species. There are two broad groups – animals that spend all their time indoors, such as hamsters; and those that spend part of their time outdoors and therefore need runs and tunnels, such as the guinea pig.
Hamster keeping – simple, but brief
There’s no doubt that hamsters suit people who want a pet that can pretty much look after itself. But it’s important to have some kind of interaction with your pet, otherwise there’s little point in having it in the house in the first place.
The defining feature of the hamster is its nocturnal lifestyle. This means hamster owners only get to interact with their furry friends in the evening, or early in the morning. Waking them up in the daytime will only make them confused and irritable.
These night-time habits mean that bedrooms are not the ideal location for a hamster cage. Busy little hamster feet, squeaky hamster wheels, rattling water bottles and gnawing rodent teeth are the kinds of sounds guaranteed to disturb a good night’s sleep. This is an important consideration for a child – if the hamster cage is not going to be in the bedroom, will it still be appreciated and looked after?
The answer might still be yes, if the kids are happy to interact with the hamster just before bedtime. The animals can be hand-tamed, and perhaps half an hour each day is exactly what the children are looking for. They can replenish the food and water each morning before school while the hamster settles in for another day’s deep sleep.
But if your kids want a pet who sticks around during the day, a hamster isn’t the best choice. With a lifespan of just two years, their pet won’t be around for very long, and children may feel they hardly had time to get to know their little friend.
Guinea pigs – garden lovers
Guinea pigs require lots more attention than hamsters, and that’s what a lot of pet owners are looking for. Getting to know a pet GP takes time, as they are nervous little creatures, but once you’ve gained their trust, you have a friend for life.
Children will have a real sense of being part of the animals’ community. There’s a lot to be done in GP upkeep, including replenishing hay – lots and lots of it – and chopping up veg for the food bowl. Hutches, runs and tunnels need weekly maintenance. If you have a good tunnel system such as the Zippi as part of your set up, the animals can freely move between their hutch and one or several runs or playpens at their own will. Watching the animals in action will give everyone hours of fun.
A guinea pig that is well taken care of can easily live for five to eight years, so it’s a long term commitment that shouldn’t be entered into lightly.
Guinea pigs are active in the day time, so their waking, eating and sleeping patterns match those of their human neighbours.
10 questions to decide: Hamster or Guinea Pig?
Still undecided? Answer the following questions, and then total up your score, H vs. GP. The higher number reveals the ideal pet choice for you!
1. Is someone around during the day to look after the pets?
Yes – score 1 GP
No – score 1 H
2. Is the pet for a child?
Yes – score 2 GPs
No – score 1 H and 1 GP
3. Do you have some space in the garden for an enclosure or run?
Yes – score 1 GP
No – score 1 H
4. Does anyone in the household have a pet allergy? (This may mean keeping the pets outdoors)
Yes – score 2 GPs
No – Score 1 GP and 1 H
5. Do you want to keep just one pet?
Yes – score 1 H
No – score 1 GP
6. Is someone prepared to prepare fresh veg each day for the pet?
Yes – score 1 GP
No – score 1 H
7. Do you only have room for a small cage?
Yes – score 2 Hs
No – score 1 H and 1 GP
8. Is the pet owner ‘late to bed, late to rise’?
Yes – score 2 Hs
No – score 1 GP and 1 H
9. Is the cage within earshot of your bedroom?
Yes – score 2 GPs
No – score 1 H and 1 GP
10. Are you looking for a pet as a long-term companion?
Yes – score 1 GP
No – score 1 H
More GPs than Hs, or the other way round? Either way, you will hopefully now have a firmer idea of which pet will best suit you and your household.
Guinea pigs have many little ways of showing how much they love you. They may not be as obvious as dogs or cats in this respect, but once you know the signs they’re actually quite easy to read.
Your Guinea Pig Likes Being Held
GPs are timid creatures by nature, so it takes a lot of confidence for them to come to you for stroking or holding. You can interpret that confidence as affection. To reach this stage you need to hand-tame your pet with care and patience. Once they’ve built the trust, they’ll bond with you. They won’t approach everyone in this way – it’s just you they love!
Your Guinea Pig Likes Being Hand-Fed
It will take a little while to reach this stage. Rather than holding a tasty treat in your hand and hoping for the best, it’s best to train the guinea pig in stages. Leave a little trail of treats, and call to your pet gently. Eventually they’ll make it to your hand, and once they’ve become accustomed to this contact, the special bond between pet and owner will be complete.
Your Guinea Pig Follows You Around
By nature, a guinea pig wants to hide from humans, freeze on the spot or run away. It’s a sign of affection when they become so comfortable with you that they happily follow you around. Even if there’s no treat waiting for them, at this stage in the relationship they’ll stay with you simply because they like you and you make them feel safe.
Your Guinea Pig Doesn’t Bite!
This may sound like an odd demonstration of love, but it’s actually a sign that your pet feels very comfortable in your presence. If the GP is in any way afraid or nervous, it will bite if you try to make contact. There are ways of getting round this nervous reaction; and before you know it, the instinct to bite will have been replaced by an urge to nibble your toes…!
Your Guinea Pig Nibbles You, Very Gently
Yes, nibbling is a sign of affection! It’s something these animals do to each other as part of their grooming and bonding. Nibbling your shoes or finger ends will come naturally, once they’re comfortable with you. It’s very different from a bite – so don’t simply stick a finger into the cage hoping for a nibble and getting a nasty surprise instead!
Your Guinea Pig Climbs On You
When a guinea pig loves you, you become one of its favourite ‘safe places’. Sit down with your furry friends and they will climb into your lap. Lie down, and they will climb onto you and explore.
Your Guinea Pig Comes To Say Hello
When your guinea pigs first arrive, they will run for cover when you approach their enclosure. Familiarity takes time and patience, and you have to lead the taming process yourself in a hands-on way. Start by holding your guinea pig correctly and comfortably. Continue with a bit of treat-training, and they’ll soon be running to greet you whenever they see you approach.
Your Guinea Pig Responds To Your Voice
Guinea pigs can’t recognise their own names, but they can come to recognise your voice. You should talk, quietly and gently, from the moment you first get them. Always chat to them during hand training and feeding. They will soon come to associate that voice with all that love, and will love you back by coming when you call – no matter what you actually call!
Your Guinea Pig ‘Talks’ To You All The Time
You’ve been talking to them constantly, and they will soon return the compliment. A Guinea pig that chatters to you is very happy indeed in your company.
Your Guinea Pig Just Can’t Stop Playing!
A happy affectionate Guinea pig will dance around your feet, or will perform what is known as ‘popcorning’. This involves jumping in the air, and then running in circles, turning, and repeating the whole wonderful exercise. What better way to demonstrate love than with a good helping of popcorn?
If you’ve ever needed to get inside your Zippi run to refresh food and water, or pick up your pet, you will likely have noticed the smaller openings make it difficult to reach inside, and removing a whole panel is rarely worth the hassle. The Zippi Locks have been designed to solve this problem.
Available in varying pack sizes to suit your needs, the Zippi Locks allow you to replace clips between mesh panels on three straight edges of any panel you wish to open up.
The Zippi Lock encases the edge of two mesh panels and secures them together in the same way as a run clip, however, once unlocked both mesh panels are still held in position until all locks are opened to lift open the panel you wish to use as an entry point, without it collapsing into your run and endangering your pets.
You can even use multiple Zippi Locks to convert adjoining panels of larger runs so you can open up a larger door or run roof. Simply follow these handy diagrams to see how many Zippi Locks you need to create your desired run opening.
With this improved accessibility to your run it is much easier to reach or climb in to feed your pets, tidy and clean the run floor and accessories, pick up your pet to take out of the run, or play with them inside. Making it easier for adults and children to access the run and play with their rabbits and guinea pigs inside ensures pets get as much playtime as possible to be happy, healthy and closely connected to you.
The Zippi Locks are durable, predator resistant and super simple to operate – even little hands can do it! The integrated safety button requires you to push and turn simultaneously in order to open the lock, making it harder for unwanted visitors to gain access.
Watch the Zippi Locks in action in this YouTube video…
The new Zippi Locks are now available online, from £2.75 each.
Guinea pigs are fun, quirky companions for people of all ages and make fantastic pets. Though small, these little animals have bags of character and very distinct, individual personalities. If you’re thinking of bringing some guinea pigs into your home, you’ll be rewarded by conversational squeaks, affectionate nuzzling, and the comical sight of your pets devouring hay and vegetables like there’s no tomorrow. If you’re already an owner, then you’ll know firsthand what enjoyable and easy pets they are to look after.
If you are thinking of getting a guinea pig here’s a checklist of everything you need to keep your new pet happy and healthy!
1 – A friend
Guinea pigs are very sociable animals, and will need to live together with a friend, or else they will get very depressed. Siblings of the same sex is normally the best combination, but males of different ages normally get along well as long as there are no females around. If you’re planning to keep a male and a female guinea pig together and don’t want plenty of guinea pig babies you must make sure to get the male castrated.
2 – A safe and dry house
Your guinea pigs will need a hutch to live in, even if you intend to keep them in your home. Whether you opt for a modern hutch like our Eglu Go Guinea Pig Hutch, or a traditional wooden hutch is up to you, but which hutch and run you choose, and where you keep it, requires some careful thought.
A good hutch is vital to a guinea pigs’ wellbeing. It’s their home, and where they’ll spend the vast majority of their time. Well-made hutches provide a secure environment for your guinea pigs to sleep, socialise, and exercise, and a good hutch can last you and your pets many years, especially if you invest in a solid, robust model.
The Eglu Go Hutch is the simple, stylish, straightforward way to keep pets. Suitable for two to three guinea pigs, this will make a wonderful home for your new friends. It has been designed to enable your pet guinea pigs to express their natural instincts, offering them a fun environment that will make them feel really at home.
3 – Space to run around and play
Guinea pigs love exercise and space to play, so they need to spend time in their run each day. If your guinea pig hutch has a run attached, like the Eglu Go Guinea Pig Hutch, simply open the door to the run when you bring your guinea pigs their food in the morning. If your hutch doesn’t have a run attached, then it’s a good idea to give your guinea pigs an opportunity to stretch their legs each day by purchasing a standalone guinea pig run. If your run is outside then, weather permitting, your guinea pigs would like to be be put out there each morning and brought back each evening. Take this opportunity for a cuddle!
You can enhance their living space by providing Guinea pig activity tunnels linking hutches to runs and playpens. It’s a practical add-on that appeals to the animal’s instincts too – in the wild they are wary of open spaces, darting for cover under a bush or in a grass tunnel, whenever they sense danger.
The Zippi Guinea Pig Tunnel System is custom made with all this in mind – something that keeps the Guinea pigs happy at an instinctive level, while providing a practical addition to your set up, and bringing hours of fun for the family. The Zippi’s Guinea pig burrow pipes connect all the different areas used by your pets. Its Guinea pig hutch connector is suitable for whatever house you have provided for your pets – whether that’s The Eglu Go Hutch, a traditional wooden hutch, or something you’ve put together yourself. It connects very handily to The Zippi Playpens and Runs and The Omlet’s Outdoor Pet Runs.
4 – Food and Water
Guinea Pigs need constant access to food, so make sure you refill their dry dry food bowl twice a day. Fill their hay rack and cut up some fresh fruit and veg for them to munch on. Be sure to keep their water bottle nice and fresh, too.
Guinea pigs will eat virtually anything! As well as grass in the summer, they can be given a variety of wild plants such as dandelions, plantains, chickweed and milk thistle. When wild plants are not available they can be given vegetables, herbs and fruit. The key is to introduce as many different fresh foods when they are young, as they may be reluctant to try something new as they get older. Do however stay away from potatoes, onions, raw beans and beetroot, as well as anything bloating.
Hay is another important daily component of their diet. Only the best quality hay should be fed, and it should not be either dusty or mouldy. If you have somewhere to store it, it is often worthwhile to buy a bale from a farm, of a quality that would be fed to horses. As well as eating it, they will snuggle under it for warmth. Straw should not be used; it has no nutritional value, and the sharpness of its stalks often causes eye injuries as the guinea pigs burrow around in it.
5 – Vitamin C
The most important fact to know about guinea pigs is that, like us humans, they need a daily intake of Vitamin C. This can be provided by providing a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables. Most good guinea pig dry mixes now also contain vitamin C. Carrots and Broccoli are great sources of vitamin C, and a carrot a day keeps the vet away!
6 – And finally……..a routine!
Guinea pigs soon get used to a routine, and will reward you with welcoming squeaks as soon as they hear you open your back door. It is important to check on your guinea pigs at least twice a day, in the morning and evening. However guinea pigs love human company and the more time you can spend with them the happier they are.
Last month, the Danish championships for guinea pigs were held in Copenhagen. The championships were hosted by Dansk Marsvineklub (The Danish Guinea Pig Association). The association’s purpose is to spread knowledge about the animals, and how to best care for and feed them and shows are held throughout the country where members meet up and exhibit their animals.
There were 3 main classes:
Pure bred: Judged by the standard for each breed, for example whether the hair is properly coloured, if the eyes and ears are large and are placed correctly etc.
Pets: All animals are welcome and emphasis is placed on the animal’s general condition, well-being and temperament. Denmark is known for the best pets throughout the Nordic region. We will return to this point…
Juniors: A class for exhibitors under the age of 15. Same requirements as for the pets class, however, here emphasis is also placed on the interaction between children and animals and the child’s knowledge of the daily care
In addition, there are also some “for fun” competitions:
Dress up competition
WINNER OF THE DRESS UP COMPETITION
The winner of the dress up competition was 5 month old Bluebells Teddiursa who was dressed as a dinosaur!
Here’s some of the other dress up entries!
WINNER OF THE CUCUMBER-EATING COMPETITION
How did you prepare for this competition?
“The animals feel safe with us – this is the theory. They feel so safe when we’re standing down there at the table. So they come to us and because they know we’re there and looking after them, they just dare to sit and eat and relax. Even the little one there who’s 2 months old, he was number 3 in the competition. We were number 1, 2 and 3 – and that happens almost every time. We take the guinea pigs up and feed them every day, they’re real pets! So you could say that we are practicing every day.”
This family (mother and two sons) were number 1, 2 and 3 in the cucumber-eating competition this year. The boys are both 14 years old, so it’s the final year that they’re allowed to compete in the junior class. Next year they have to compete with the pets. How do they feel about this?
“Well we’re already allowed to compete with the pets now – it’s only the adults that can’t compete with the juniors.”
The family has only once returned home from a guinea pig show without the cucumber-eating rosette.
“This was in February. Their favourite guinea pig was ill and they decided that she should be allowed to compete in the cucumber competition one last time, even though they knew she probably wouldn’t win it.”
Meet Badger and Melanie, our Pets of the Month for June! These adorable Guinea Pigs belong to our Omlet Graphic Designer, Jen.
She got Badger from a pet shop 2 years ago and Melanie was from a rescue centre a year later, they’ve been inseparable ever since.
Jen said she was looking for a pair of pigs but felt too guilty leaving Badger in the pet shop after buying his brothers Oink and Pearl so she bought him too.
“Badger tended to get bullied though so we decided to separate him from the others and buy him a girlfriend.”
“Badger is a bit pathetic and makes a terrible fuss about things but is very affectionate, Melanie is rather quite and content but does put Badger in his place when he is flapping and annoying her.”
Here at Omlet HQ we find it quite difficult to tell them apart (is it Badger on the left…?) but Jen said that it’s easy to tell the difference as Badger squeals all the time. He’s also very smooth despite his hair lying in the wrong direction whereas Melanie is wirey, fuzzy and big.
They like hay and green vegetables and spend the majority of their time climbing up a ramp in and out of their hutch and jumping onto the roof of their sleeping pods. SO CUTE! <3