The Rays of Sunshine Animal haven

Good Advice


Good Advice

Please think very carefully before taking on a pet. Can you give it a home for life? Can you afford all the costs such as vets bills? Can you afford vaccinations? Flea and worming treatments? All these things must be taken into consideration before getting your pet. What if your circumstances change? What happens when your children get bored with it? Will you then take on the responsibility? So many animals end up in rescue centres due to bored children and marital break ups.


It is much kinder to give an animal from a rescue centre a second chance rather than encouraging breeding by buying from pet shops.

Think very carefully, Buy and read a specialised book so you have a good all round knowledge of the needs of the animal. Then keep the book to hand so you can refer to it as and when you need to. Books with glossy pictures might appear wonderful but you need proper clear information!

Please NEVER buy opposite sexes of animals and keep them together (Unless they are spayed/neutered) THEY WILL BREED! and there are enough unwanted animals on the earth as it is!

Why You Shouldn't Breed From Your Guinea Pig

So you want to breed from your guinea pig?

Please stop and read this first!!

The sad and simple fact is that there are already too many guinea pigs being bred and too few caring, permanent, pet homes available.  At the time I write this, I have guinea pigs waiting patiently at my home for that special person to come along.  Many more sit forlornly in rescue centres up and down the country, indeed throughout the world.  This isn't just a problem in the UK.  Do you really want to be responsible for adding to the problem?

Ask yourself the following:

Are you willing to risk the life of your female guinea pig?

Most guinea pig pregnancies are uneventful.  Pregnancy and birth are the most natural things in the world.  However, things can and do go wrong.  Sows can die before, during and after delivery.  A baby may be stillborn, as indeed may the whole litter.  Are you prepared do deal with this?  How will you feel if your pet dies?  Because if you planned the litter, you will only have yourself to blame.  I would never risk a much loved pet in this way.

Have you put money aside to deal with emergency vet bills that may occur?

If your sow develops toxaemia and becomes ill, are you willing to take her to a vet at any time day or night?  Do you have the funds to pay for an emergency cesarean section if needed?  The cost for such surgery in my area is about 80.00 -90.00  Add an emergency call out fee of 80.00 if your sow gets into difficulty overnight and you are looking at a vet bill of about 160.00+.  Are you, or your parents willing or able to pay this?

If the sow dies, do you have the time and skill to hand rear her offspring?

Hand rearing any baby animal is very time-consuming and there is no guarantee the young will survive.  Would you know what to do?  Could you make this commitment?  How would you feel if you lost the babies too?

Do you have responsible people waiting to offer a home to the babies when they arrive?

Your guinea pig may have up to six little ones, will you really be able to find caring, forever homes for all of them.  People who will provide the care and attention these animals need for possibly the next seven years?  I find it incredibly hard to find ONE such home, do you think you will find it any easier?  Taking them to the local pet store, to a guinea pig show or selling them in the local "free ad paper" is not the way to place these little babies.

Will you take the babies back at any time, if the home doesn't work out?

You bred these babies, they are your responsibility.  Will you take the time to follow up their progress and ensure that they are still loved and cared for throughout their lifetime?  Or will you pass them on and hope for the best?  Many owners lose interest when their pets reach around the age of six month to a year.  Will you have the space to take these youngsters back, access them and find them new homes?  Please be a responsible pet owner and do not add to the already massive number of unwanted animals languishing in rescue centres in the UK and throughout the world.  Why not simply cherish your pets and allow them to live out their lives as pampered piggies!  My anti-breeding sentiments are the result of over fourteen years active involvement with local animal welfare.  The guinea pigs I have at the moment were all bred by someone.  Where are those people now?  These people neither know nor care that their guinea pigs young have ended up with a rescue group.  If you already breed.....perhaps one is yours?


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Keeping Guinea pigs
When housing guinea-pigs I always like to think the more room the better. On the whole, most people decide to keep their guinea-pigs in outdoor hutches, which seems to suit them very well. A hutch should always be placed in a sheltered position; away from extremes of temperature, wind and rain. It is also advisable to place the hutch in a place where you can look at it often from inside, to check that it is still secure. Guinea-pigs who live outside are also vulnerable to predators, particularly cats, dogs and foxes. This is why many people decide to keep the hutch inside a garden shed or summerhouse, in order to keep their guinea-pigs safe.



In the wild, guinea-pigs live in large groups and as pets they enjoy company. Sows particularly like to live in groups, so it is kindest to take a pair or more if you can accomodate them. Boars are a different matter.
The general rule seems to be that two boars will live together if they have:
1) been brought up together from very young or
2) a young boar (less than eight weeks old) is introduced to an older boar.

Handle with Care

As long as they are handled regularly and with care, Guinea-pigs are easy creatures to tame. Almost all guinea-pigs are naturally docile and accept handling, and they are unlikely to struggle or bite when they are picked up competently by a regular handler. It must be taken into consideration, however, that they are vulnerable creatures. They are rather heavy for their size and if they are dropped they can easily sustain injuries to their limbs and spine.
Young guinea-pigs are often quite skittish, and likely to jump from your hands if startled. As they get older, they become far more blase about the whole thing, and will usually curl up on your lap, far too comfortable and lazy to bother shifting!
The recommended way to pick up a guinea-pig is as follows:
Slip your palm under your guinea-pig's tummy (if your pig is young, you'll have to corner it first!).
Place the other hand over the guinea-pig's back and hold it gently but firmly in place.
Lift up the guinea-pig and hold it against yourself, with one hand supporting it's rump and one hand over it's back and shoulders.
If you think your guinea-pig is likely to jump from your hands as you put him back in his cage, there are a couple of things you can try. If a guinea-pig jumps, he risks banging his face or teeth on the floor of his hutch, which can break the teeth.
Put him in backwards i.e. bottom first - certainly less dignified, but that way he doesn't risk banging his teeth by jumping out of your hands.
Cup a hand over his face as you lower him - this will prevent him from lunging forward as he can't see where he is going.


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They may be small, but guinea pigs require ample space to move about. Make sure their living quarters are at least 18 inches wide, 14 inches high, and 25 inches deep. Guinea pigs housed in larger cages are more likely to be active. Do not use aquariums, as they provide poor ventilation, and mesh or wire-floor cages hurt guinea pigs' tender feet.

When choosing floor linings and cage furnishings, keep in mind that guinea pigs will chew on just about anything to wear down their constantly growing teeth, so everything placed in the cage must be nontoxic. Use plenty of lining material shredded ink-free paper or commercial nesting materials available at pet-supply stores, for example because guinea pigs will use the material as both bedding and bathroom.

Remember also to provide plenty of high-quality hay, which they use for nesting and snacking. Use Megazorb or wood shavings as the absorbent layer on the bottom of the cage. Do not use materials such as sawdust, cedar chips, or fabrics that may cause respiratory or other health problems. Finally, provide your guinea pig with a gnawing log (such as an untreated fruit tree branch), tunnels to crawl through, and platforms to climb on. Add a heavy food bowl resistant to tipping and gnawing and a water bottle.

Guinea pigs are easily stressed, so they require careful handling. To pick up a guinea pig, slowly place one hand under his chest just behind the front legs, and gently cup your other hand under his hindquarters. Once you have a firm but gentle grip on the animal, lift him. Then immediately pull him close to your chest or lap so he feels safe and doesn't thrash around.

Feed your guinea pig a commercial guinea pig food, formulated especially for Cavies. These herbivores require a lot of vitamin C, so provide veggies such as cabbage and ask your veterinarian about vitamin supplements. Treat guinea pigs to fruits, including melon slices and apples (but remove the seeds, which are toxic). PLEASE SEE THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE FOR MORE INFORMATION.

Guinea pigs try their best to keep clean, fastidiously grooming themselves with their front teeth, tongue, and back claws. But pigs particularly the long-haired breeds require frequent brushing and combing to stay clean and tangle-free.

Also, because their cage lining doubles as bedding and toilet, guinea pigs require daily housekeeping assistance. Scrub and disinfect the cage, then let it dry before lining the floor with fresh bedding and replacing the cage furnishings. Also clean the water bottle and spout daily to prevent build up of food, algae, and bacteria.

Guinea pigs are happiest when with other guinea pigs, so many pet care books urge owners to keep two or more together. Choose pairs that are the same sex and compatible. (For example, more than two male pigs together are likely to fight.)Two males can be compatible though. All our males have companions. Sometimes it is easiest to put a baby boar that's just left it's Mum in with it's Dad as company. The Dad is automatically the boss being the biggest so no squabbles break out.

If your Cavies are to be kept outdoors, please keep them near the house as they love human company. It also helps to keep a check that the cage is secure from predators such as rats or foxes. Please bring the piggies indoors or place the hutch in a shed or garage during the winter months as they cannot stand low temperatures.

You will also need plenty of fresh fruit and veg as Guinea Pigs are unable to produce their own vitamin c. Buy a specialist food for Guinea Pigs-NOT RABBITS as it will have the best nutrients in and also provide:

Carrots (in moderation)
Cucumber (quite a favourite!)
Spring Greens
Apple (but not in large quantites - the acid can make their lips sore)
Oranges (in moderation due to acid making their lips sore)
Banana including the skin
Strawberries inc leaves
Raspberries inc leaves
Corn on the Cob inc leaves


I hope you will find this information helpful


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© The Rays of Sunshine Animal Haven/ Rosah Rescue 2009