Guinea pigs are small, sociable, ‘chatty’ rodents. There are different breeds and varieties of guinea pigs, with a wide variety of colour and coat lengths.
Guinea pigs are traditionally thought of as good first pets for children, but it should always be an adult that takes responsibility to ensure they are properly handled and cared for.
Typically guinea pigs live for 5-6 years, but some may live longer. Guinea pigs have specific dietary and housing needs.
Your duty to care
Owning and caring for a guinea pig can be very rewarding, but it is also a big responsibility and a long-term commitment in terms of care and finances. If you own or are responsible for a guinea pig, even on a temporary basis, you are required under the Animal Welfare Act to care for them properly.
Understanding Guinea pigs’ needs
There is no one “perfect” way to care for all guinea pigs because every guinea pig and every situation is different. It is up to you how you look after your guinea pig, but you must take reasonable steps to ensure that you meet all their needs.
Read our expert reviewed pet care information to find out more about the needs of guinea pigs: Environment, Diet, Behaviour, Company and Health and welfare.
Guinea pig factfile
Guinea pigs, or ‘cavies’, are social animals with a compact, rounded body shape, short legs and no tail.
They originate from the grasslands and lower slopes of the Andes Mountains in South America. Why not view our full Guinea pig factfile (PDF 44KB).
Guinea pigs are active
- Guinea pigs are active up to 20 hours per day and sleep only for short periods.
Guinea pigs are highly social
- Guinea pigs are social animals. In the wild they live in close family groups of 5 – 10 individuals, though several groups may live in close proximity to form a colony.
Guinea pigs’ need a high fibre diet that is supplemented with vitamin C
- Guinea pigs’ diet needs to be supplemented with plenty of vitamin C, as they lack the enzyme needed to synthesise vitamin C and can only store vitamin C for short periods.