This is "King Arthur" our mascot. He was surrendered to our shelter in a cage that was only just a little bigger than a hamster cage. He was an older pig and his nails were very very long. He was also very mean. He was one of the very few pigs I had to wrap in a towel to cut his nails to make sure I didn't get bitten (unusual because guinea pigs rarely bite) . I didn't think he was adoptable so had him fixed so he could stay at the shelter in a bigger cage and live with the ladies. And then something amazing happened. He became the sweetest, tamest and funniest little guy and I fell so in love with him. He lived to 8.5 yrs old and passed away in March 2013 of old age. He is greatly missed.
LOS ANGELES GUINEA PIG RESCUE TAKE HOME INFO SHEET
We recommend these veterinarians. Make sure to insist on seeing these vets only.
Dr Jody Milburn – Animal Hospital of Thousand Oaks 1772 Avenida de Los Arboles, Suite F
Thousand Oaks, CA 91362
Phone# (805) 493 5540
Dr Sari Kanfer at the Exotic Animal Care Center – 2121 East Foothill Blvd, Pasadena CA 91107 – phone # (626) 405-1777
Dr Fowell at East Ventura Animal Hospital - 10225 Telephone Rd, Ventura, CA 9300 - Phone: (805) 647-8430
Dr Robert Goldman at The Veterinary Care Center - 6455 Santa Monica Boulevard. Los Angeles, CA 90038 323 919 6666
Dr. Anne Dueppen - Conejo Valley Vet Clinic
3580 Willow Lane
Thousand Oaks, CA 91362
Or try the Orange County Cavy Haven veterinarian page. (fyi - we have no 1st hand experience with the vets on that page and can only wholeheartedly recommend the four vets above)
Guinea Pigs need a bath at least 4 times a year.
Put a small towel in the sink to prevent slipping and use lukewarm water. Use baby shampoo and lather them up real good and rinse. You want to do this twice to make sure all the loose hairs are rinsed out. You must wash the face and ears also. Most guinea pigs do not like to be bathed but this is something that needs to be done to keep your piggie healthy.
After you towel dry the animal really well you must blow dry it. Never put a wet or damp guinea pig back in its cage. It will take a long time before they dry by themselves. They will get catch a cold and get sick.
Before the bath clean the ears. Use a few drops of either Olive or Mineral oil in the ear and massage it in. Then get a Q tip and gently remove the oil and with it will come the ear wax. Make sure you go into each fold in the ear with the Q tip. You are not cleaning the inner ear canal just the many folds in a guinea pigs ear. You will notice also that the ear wax is the color of the skin of the ear. You want to do the ear before each bath. That way you can wash away the oil that makes them look like they have greasy sideburns if not washed out.
You want to clip their nails at least every 6 weeks. With light colored nails you will be able to see how far you can clip. With the dark nails it sometimes helps shining a light underneath to see how far the “quick” grows.
Easiest would be to put the animal on a surface that is higher than a regular table. That way you can steady and restrain the pig against your body and then grab hold of its little foot to cut each nail. Sitting on a chair with a towel in your lap will also work.
If you are having a hard time doing this yourself we offer free health checks and nail clips. Appointments can be made online. Alternatively any vet office will do nail clips for a reasonable fee also. In some older guinea pigs we sometimes see a tough growth on the sides of the front paws. This is referred to as “spurs” and perfectly normal. This is basically dead skin (callus) and you want to cut these off to prevent the foot pad from ripping if the spur snags on something. Always check for these in older pigs.
Please feed off the list you were given. Variety is the key. If Guinea pigs are fed the same food all day after day they can actually get fed up with the lack of variety and not eat that cilantro the 3rd day. One big bunch of parsley is one meal for two adult Guinea. Three big Romaine leaves is a meal. If you feed an within 4 minutes they are done eating you did not feed enough and want to give them some more.
Something is wrong if your guinea pig refuses its food. They may have an URI (upper respiratory infection) or a teeth issue. You want to pay attention and take action at that point. Guinea pigs rarely recover by themselves and almost always need medical help.
Good news is that most guinea pigs will live healthy lives if cared for correctly and never need veterinary intervention.
Kids under 11 should not be allowed to pick up the animals by themselves and walk around with them. Guinea pigs are not very agile and rarely land on their feet if dropped. If dropped they can break their front teeth, fracture or dislocate a jaw, suffer internal bleeding, break a leg or their back. In short it is really not a good thing when a guinea pig gets dropped. The best thing is to set the kids up on the sofa with a towel or lap pad and sit quietly and pet their guinea pigs under adult supervision. Also be aware that visiting friends have not been instructed and may grab a guinea pig and drop it. Make sure the kids and their little friends know this!
Dogs and Cats
Some dogs and cats couldn't care less about guinea pigs and others will go to great lengths trying to get to one. As a rule do not trust ANY other animal with your piggies. Some dogs may feign disinterest but are just waiting for their chance. Please use caution!
Whether you adopted a buddy for your existing guinea pig or two piggies it is likely we had some “play dates” to make sure it was a potential match before it was determined that they got along well enough to try at home.
That is not a guarantee that when you get home they will continue to get along. They may decide that they don’t like each other after all. Stay with them for at least 2 hours when a new pair is getting settled in.
The first week may still be unsettled as they are getting to know each other. After that they should be bonded into a happy unit though some pairs may take a little longer. What we don’t want to see is a full on fight. That is when it looks like they are rolling around in a big ball of fur and you can’t make it where the front of end is. This is a fight and intervention is required.
Word of caution – do not use your hands to break up a fight. You may accidently get bitten. Use something like a roll of paper towel or newspaper. If it looks like they really are not getting along then
Baby Guinea Pigs
If you have a CandC cage with the metal grids you have to keep those holes covered till the guinea pig is big enough not to be able to squeeze through. You can do this by covering the grids with a towel or card board. Babies also need to eat an alfalfa rich pellet for the first three months. We sell 10lbs bags of Young Guinea Pig oxbow cavy cuisine. This is a high quality pellet. Please take care when picking up your new baby. They are very fast and squirmy at this age and it is easy to drop one. If you have kids please do not let them walk around with the baby or pick them up themselves.
Hot / Cold / Inside / Outside
Guinea Pigs cannot be kept outdoors. They need be in a climate controlled environment. So if it is too hot or cold for you it is too hot or cold for the guinea pigs. You can take your pigs outdoors have them enjoy some time on the lawn in a pen and nibble on some grass. However, never ever leave the animals without a cover over the pen. Hawks are always on the prowl and direct sun even on a cool day can be result in a heat stroke that may be fatal.
Spaying and Neutering
You should only consider neutering if you have a male that does not get along with other boys. (that way he can live happily with girls)
Or if you really love a particular boy and his only option would be to live with a girl.
We do not ever spay the females because the surgery is way too risky unless it is a medical emergency ((really huge ovarian cyst at risk of bursting or prolapse uterus to give an example). Unlike with rabbits (who are fixed to prevent uterine cancer), there is no medical reason to have boy or girl guinea pigs fixed unless any of the above apply.
Not all vets neuter / spay guinea pigs and some that do have often done only a handful so it is important to pick the right one and ask the right questions. A good question to ask how many of these surgeries has the vet performed.
Let’s talk about water bottles. I am a big fan of glass bottles. Those cost a little more but are worth it in the end because they last forever (unless you drop them of course). They are easier to clean and better for the guinea pigs because the plastic ones eventually start to get smelly and from there on are harder to clean and to get that musty, swampy smell out. Plastic bottles are also porous and will retain organisms that contribute to a bad smell and in really bad cases green “slime” build up. If you can’t find a glass bottle then buy a 2nd plastic one. Reason for this is that after a cleaning, the plastic bottles should be allowed to dry out completely first before filing it up again. Doing this will prevent the plastic from becoming smelly.
Go for a clear plastic bottle. Easier to clean and not as porous as the thicker dark colored ones. Also a dark color plastic bottle will not allow you to see what is really going on inside the bottle and the water it contains . How do you know a bottle needs a good scrub and dry? Just empty it out, put it to your nose, squeeze it and smell the air that comes out of it.
Lastly – Always use filtered water, not tap water. Clean the bottle out at least once a week with a suitable bottle brush and change the water in the bottle at the very least every other day.
Change of circumstance
If for any reason you cannot keep the animals you are adopting today then know that we will take them back, often same day, no questions asked.
What you absolutely cannot do is try to find them a home yourself. They have to come back to LA Guinea Pig Rescue. This is also in the adoption contract you signed.
GUINEA PIGS DO NOT OVER EAT – FEED A LOT AND FEED IT OFTEN
They love diversity so try not to feed the same thing over and over
MUST HAVE READILY AVAILABLE IN THE CAGE AT ALL TIMES
TIMOTHY HAY & TIMOTHY PELLETS Hay and pellets should be 75% of the diet
STAPLE VEGGIE SUGGESTIONS
CILANTRO and PARSLEY
ROMAINE LETTUCE / GREEN LETTUCE / RED LETTUCE
FRESH GRASS (make sure no fertilizer and chemicals are used on the grass - free food!)
VEGGIE SNACK SUGGESTIONS
BASIL (some love it others run away when they take one whiff of it)
CELERY (no need to remove the strings – rodent teeth chew through the tough strings easily)
BELL PEPPERS (no need to de-seed a pepper first, they eat the whole thing)
DANDELION LEAVES (sold in stores and also grows wild- free food!)
CHARD OR GREENS LIKE IT
SWEET TREAT SNACK SUGGESTIONS (all fruits are ok but in moderation)
ANY KIND OF BERRY
CORN (THE ACTUAL CORN AND THE HUSK ALSO) try to feed organic only
DO NOT FEED
BROCOLI and CABBAGE veggies as this may cause bloat - has not been proven but why take the chance right?
ICEBERG LETTUCE – too much water and zero nutrition
Supplementing liquid Vitamin C with a syringe is needed only when an animal is sick, stressed or not eating enough veggies. Giving a daily Oxbow Vit C cookie is also great if you are concerned that your guinea pig is not getting enough or needs extra vitamin C.
There are many care books out there and most contain inaccurate information.
This is our list of recommended reading.
Gurney, Peter. Piggy Potions: Natural Remedies for Guinea Pigs. ISBN 1-85279-004-0.
Gurney, Peter. The Sex Life of Guinea Pigs. ISBN 1-85279-133-0.
Gurney, Peter. The Proper Care of Guinea Pigs. ISBN 0-7938-3151-2.
Gurney, Peter. What’s My Guinea Pig?. ISBN 1-85279-034-2.
Gurney, Peter (April 2007). Last of Their Kind. Diggory Press. ISBN 978-1846856570.