Guinea Pigs profile - housing, diet and behavior

Cuddly and comical, guinea pigs are tail-less rodents with long, short, or sometimes wild hair that ranges in color.

Guinea pigs love to vocalize with squeals, chirps, squeaks, and whistles. Guinea pigs are hardy little animals and they make wonderful pets and can be very social animals. 

Not native to Guinea and not biologically related to pigs, guinea pigs are domesticated are domesticated species of SouthAmerican rodent belonging to the cavy family (Caviidae).

There are several varieties of guinea pigs with different coat types and color patterns. Popular varieties includes the American (short, smooth coat), Abyssinian (short coat with swirls called rosettes), and Peruvian (long coat). There are also the hairless varieties called skinny pigs.

A pair of American guinea pigs, one of the more common types of guinea pigs at pet stores.

physical characteristics and overview

Adult Size

  • 8 to 10 inches long


  • 2 to 3 pounds

Life Expectancy

  • 5 to 8 years

diet and nutrition

Guinea pigs require unlimited amounts of fresh green grass (timothy) hay. Chewing hay helps wear their teeth down which grows continuously and aids their digestion.

Vitamin C is essential in a guinea pig’s diet as their bodies cannot produce this vitamin. Feed pellets made specifically for guinea pigs formulated with vitamin C. Do follow the package instructions and throw away uneaten pellets daily and before the next feeding.

Fresh water must always be available, in an easy-to-reach water bottle. Food bowls and water bottles should be cleaned and refilled with fresh food and water daily.

Supplement the hay and pellets with fresh greens and vegetables such as bell peppers, romaine lettuce, and carrot tops. Fresh foods should always be thoroughly rinsed. Introduce any new food item in small amounts to allow a guinea pig’s system to adjust to it gradually.


Guinea pigs are very social creatures and require daily attention. They are the happiest when others of their own kind.

They are crepuscular, which means they are most active during dusk and dawn. Their waking hours are spent feeding, grooming or investigating their cage,

offspring and breeding

Females mature in two months, males in three. Females are called sows, males are called boars and babies are called pups.

They breed all year in captivity. Females bear up to 13 pups per litter, at three or four babies on average. Gestation takes 59 to 72 days.

Although the pups are not fully weaned for about three weeks, they can scamper about and eat solid food the day they are born.


Big is best for guinea pigs. The minimum cage size for two guinea pigs should be 120cm x 60cm x 45cm, however for the sake of your guinea pig’s health and happiness, consider providing as large a cage for them as possible.

A larger cage provides space for the guinea pigs to exercise, and giving them plenty of space to run and play. The housing should be smooth bottomed, as wire cages can easily damage your guinea pig’s feet.

Both indoor and outdoor accommodation should provide a separate sleeping area where your guinea pig can retreat and hide. Ideally outdoor cages should be housed in a shed.

As prey species, your pet guinea pig will retain some of these characteristics. As such, you will need to provide your guinea pig with a place to hide, so that he can run for cover if startled. Do provide runs and tunnels for your guinea pig to explore and play in as guinea pigs can become listless or frustrated if they become bored.

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