Owning Guinea Pigs After Owning Rats

skyperch

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So I'll preface--I work at a pet store, I've own a fair amount of different animals (hamsters, rats, birds, fish, etc.). The last time I owned a guinea pig I was 7, so we're going on nearly 15 years. I've gained quite a bit of knowledge since then, but I could really use some help. Due to the overwhelming number of health issues and short life span, I have decided to start moving away from owning rats and moving onto something that lives a little longer and doesn't have nearly the same number of issues.

I have a pig at work that I intend on getting--female, a little over 2 months old. There are two pigs there right now, and one may be going to my coworker, so she may be alone for a short while until we get more into the store, in which I am hoping to get one or two others--three total is my goal.

For three guinea pigs, what cages would be recommended? I've seen minimum cage requirements, but the cage examples given seem so small (just from looking at it; for all I know they're the exact minimum or larger) and I'd like to go for something pretty large. The important note, though, is that the cage must have a top to it, as I have cats and they get a little too curious when it comes to my small animals (I've found my cat inside my hamster cage on more than one occasion when I was building a top).

Other than the cage itself, what "bedding" is preferred with them? Before now, I had no idea that some people actually use fleece for their guinea pigs. I've used it in the past for my rats and their platforms, but decided to take them out after a while and leave their platforms bare because of how often they peed on them (the issue wasn't necessarily the fleece being bad, but rather my rats choosing to pee on their blankets rather than using their litter box).

Is it better to use fleece versus actual bedding?

Other than that, are there any more very basic tips that you can share?
 

Mo & Stubbins & Vani

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Hi! Welcome to the forum! :)
First of all, are the two piggies you have at work currently housed together? If so, I would strongly advise that you do not separate them. Guinea pigs are highly social creatures -- if they are bonded, and you do plan on separating them -- imagine what it would be like to lose your best friend! The lone piggy will likely grieve the loss of their cagemate and may even become depressed.
Secondly, I strongly advise that if you plan on making a large enclosure, purchase c & c grids. They are "DIY", so you can make the cage as large as you wish.
Here is an example:
Amazon.com: LANGXUN 16pcs Metal Wire Storage Cubes Organizer, DIY Small Animal Cage for Rabbit, Guinea Pigs, Puppy | Pet Products Portable Metal Wire Yard Fence(14" H): Kitchen & Dining
In terms of a lid, you can make your own using the grids and cable ties, or you can buy one. (I tried finding the link but was unable to).
Here is the member gallery for some lid/cage inspiration:
Member Gallery: C&C cages/homemade cages
Please read as many of these guides as possible, as well:
Wannabe and New Owners Information and Resources
I love to use fleece! If you are shooting for a large cage, you are going to find that fleece is a lot easier to use than traditional bedding. I use mostly GuineaDad fleece (linked below).
GuineaDad
The backup fleece I use (less expensive):
https://www.amazon.com/KOOLTAIL-Was...ords=guinea+pig+fleece&qid=1594083101&sr=8-14
Although guinea pigs can almost never be litter trained, it is still a good idea to have litter boxes when using fleece, as they contain most of the mess.
I use Kaytee Clean and Cozy (unscented, non-dyed), as well as Yesterday's News Pellet Litter in my litter box. You can purchase a litter box online, or you can purchase a large, under-bed storage bin (less expensive and larger).
I use these (linked) underneath my hidey houses (they are easy to throw in the wash):
https://www.amazon.com/FLAdorepet-S...words=guinea+pig+pillow&qid=1594083285&sr=8-4
Here is the detailed guide to fleece bedding:
A Detailed Guide For Fleece Bedding
Your piggy is only two months, so do be cautious that you are using the proper c & c grids for safety reasons.
I hope that this helps!
 

Mo & Stubbins & Vani

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So I'll preface--I work at a pet store, I've own a fair amount of different animals (hamsters, rats, birds, fish, etc.). The last time I owned a guinea pig I was 7, so we're going on nearly 15 years. I've gained quite a bit of knowledge since then, but I could really use some help. Due to the overwhelming number of health issues and short life span, I have decided to start moving away from owning rats and moving onto something that lives a little longer and doesn't have nearly the same number of issues.

I have a pig at work that I intend on getting--female, a little over 2 months old. There are two pigs there right now, and one may be going to my coworker, so she may be alone for a short while until we get more into the store, in which I am hoping to get one or two others--three total is my goal.

For three guinea pigs, what cages would be recommended? I've seen minimum cage requirements, but the cage examples given seem so small (just from looking at it; for all I know they're the exact minimum or larger) and I'd like to go for something pretty large. The important note, though, is that the cage must have a top to it, as I have cats and they get a little too curious when it comes to my small animals (I've found my cat inside my hamster cage on more than one occasion when I was building a top).

Other than the cage itself, what "bedding" is preferred with them? Before now, I had no idea that some people actually use fleece for their guinea pigs. I've used it in the past for my rats and their platforms, but decided to take them out after a while and leave their platforms bare because of how often they peed on them (the issue wasn't necessarily the fleece being bad, but rather my rats choosing to pee on their blankets rather than using their litter box).

Is it better to use fleece versus actual bedding?

Other than that, are there any more very basic tips that you can share?
I also wanted to add that if you are moving away from rats due to health issues, I would be cautious when bringing in a piggy.
A guinea pig's health can decline very quickly, and vet bills can add up to huge amounts.
Just be mindful that you may find yourself setting your alarm for 3 am to syringe-feed an ill piggy!
 

skyperch

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I also wanted to add that if you are moving away from rats due to health issues, I would be cautious when bringing in a piggy.
A guinea pig's health can decline very quickly, and vet bills can add up to huge amounts.
Just be mindful that you may find yourself setting your alarm for 3 am to syringe-feed an ill piggy!
I've spent probably over 2,000 in vet bills for my rats, so I'm fairly prepared. I've lost many to respiratory infections that hit within a day, and lost a few girls to mammary tumors, so if I'm being honest, anything would be better in comparison to how much stress I've dealt with when it comes to their health. :/ Especially the short lifespan, which only makes it worse.

The two pigs were only put together today. I only made the decision recently, and unfortunately the pigs that "my" one came with were sold fairly quickly unfortunately.

I actually have a playpen similar to the first one you posted, although the sides are solid. This is it: Amazon.com : SONGMICS Pet Playpen, Fence Cage with Bottom for Small Animals Guinea Pigs, Hamsters, Bunnies, Rabbits, Pet Exercise Run and Crate, Transparent Plastic Panels, ULPC02W : Pet Supplies

Would something like that work?
 

Siikibam

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I would try and get your piggies from a rescue if I were you. I know you work at a pet shop but there is the risk of pregnancies in pet shop piggies - evidenced on here by many members who found themselves unexpectedly getting a pregnant one from a pet shop.

At her age she really needs guidance from another piggy. They’re still learning about how to be piggies at two months of age. I really wouldn’t split her from the other one.

In terms of space, a pair of sows needs 120x60cm. Three would need 182x60cm, but if you can go bigger then it’s always better. Be aware that with trios you may sometimes get the odd one out that’s left out. So I’d say perhaps stick to two for now.

There is a variety of bedding and what you use depends on you. I’ve used shavings, aubiose, biocatelet and fleece. I moved away from fleece previously but ended up coming back to it. Have a read of the guides linked above. As well as the ones I’ll link in here.

If you do decide to go with the girls, I would suggest you double check their sex. In fact that should be done now.

Good luck deciding. As always said here, better to adopt if you can - the piggies are already well bonded and have been health checked.
New Owners' Most Helpful How-To Guides and Information
 

Mo & Stubbins & Vani

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I would try and get your piggies from a rescue if I were you. I know you work at a pet shop but there is the risk of pregnancies in pet shop piggies - evidenced on here by many members who found themselves unexpectedly getting a pregnant one from a pet shop.

At her age she really needs guidance from another piggy. They’re still learning about how to be piggies at two months of age. I really wouldn’t split her from the other one.

In terms of space, a pair of sows needs 120x60cm. Three would need 182x60cm, but if you can go bigger then it’s always better. Be aware that with trios you may sometimes get the odd one out that’s left out. So I’d say perhaps stick to two for now.

There is a variety of bedding and what you use depends on you. I’ve used shavings, aubiose, biocatelet and fleece. I moved away from fleece previously but ended up coming back to it. Have a read of the guides linked above. As well as the ones I’ll link in here.

If you do decide to go with the girls, I would suggest you double check their sex. In fact that should be done now.

Good luck deciding. As always said here, better to adopt if you can - the piggies are already well bonded and have been health checked.
New Owners' Most Helpful How-To Guides and Information
I forgot to add that! Always go with rescues first! :)
 

skyperch

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Unfortunately there are not many rescues in my area that specialize or even have small animals. They are mainly dog and cat based, with the occasional rabbits. :/ I am hoping to branch out and see if there are more privately owned groups that do these types of rescues, but especially with COVID things have been a bit limited.

I managed to pair my current one up with another from a store associated with ours (both locally owned) and they get along great. I am waiting for the cage to come in so that hopefully they will be more comfortable.

Something I have seen people go back and forth on, however, is the food. Right now they are eating Vita Prima pellets because they are closest to what they ate before and I wanted to transition them without much fuss. I'm hoping to move them off of that eventually, but I'm not sure which brands are rated highest for guinea pigs. I know the hamster forum I frequent has a list of hamster foods rated worst to best and their ingredient lists, so is there anything similar to that here?

I also heard that pigs should be getting fresh foods like veggies every day/every other day. Is there a list for this as well of what they can/should be eating and in what quantity? Almost every small animal I own eats greens/veggies/fruits of some sort, but each has their own restrictions so I'm afraid of mixing up who can eat what.
 

Piggies&buns

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Unfortunately there are not many rescues in my area that specialize or even have small animals. They are mainly dog and cat based, with the occasional rabbits. :/ I am hoping to branch out and see if there are more privately owned groups that do these types of rescues, but especially with COVID things have been a bit limited.

I managed to pair my current one up with another from a store associated with ours (both locally owned) and they get along great. I am waiting for the cage to come in so that hopefully they will be more comfortable.

Something I have seen people go back and forth on, however, is the food. Right now they are eating Vita Prima pellets because they are closest to what they ate before and I wanted to transition them without much fuss. I'm hoping to move them off of that eventually, but I'm not sure which brands are rated highest for guinea pigs. I know the hamster forum I frequent has a list of hamster foods rated worst to best and their ingredient lists, so is there anything similar to that here?

I also heard that pigs should be getting fresh foods like veggies every day/every other day. Is there a list for this as well of what they can/should be eating and in what quantity? Almost every small animal I own eats greens/veggies/fruits of some sort, but each has their own restrictions so I'm afraid of mixing up who can eat what.
I have attached our pellet comparison chart for you to look at. You are ideally looking for a pellet which is grass/Timothy based and ideally one without alfalfa. Pellets should be fed at just one tablespoon per pig per day. Don’t leave them with constant access to pellets as overfeeding pellets contributes to too high a level of calcium Intake (too much calcium contributes to bladder problems). You can also filter their drinking water to ensure they don’t get too much calcium that way.

I have just looked up vita Prima as I hadn’t heard of it. Vita Prima is a muesli and is therefore not an ideal food for them. It can lead to selective feeding. You would ideally feed a plain pellet. Pellets Or Muesli / Dry Mix?

They need around one cup of veg per day and some fresh grass. You can give lettuce, cucumber, bell pepper and coriander daily. High calcium veg such as parsley, kale and spinach should be kept to once per week.

Fruit does not need to feature in their diet at all but if you wish can be given one small piece once per week as a treat. Carrots and tomatoes also fall into this category.

I’ve added feeding guides below

Nugget Comparison Chart
Long Term Balanced General And Special Needs Guinea Pig Diets
Edible And Forbidden Veg And Fruit List With Vitamin C Grading
 

Freela

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I can relate a bit here, I have also had a lifetime of rodents/small animals (mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, and hedgehogs, in my case) and I hear you on the short lifespan wearing you out emotionally... we have guinea pigs and hamsters right now, and the hamsters just tear my heart out because their lifespan, even best case scenario, is just so brief. The longer lifespan on a guinea pig is a really nice benefit (my current pigs are almost 6 and 3... the last two pigs we lost were close to 7. Lots more time to spend with them than the hammies.) Unfortunately vet bills do still add up (one of my past pigs with dental issues and bladder issues literally cost me thousands over the years) and pigs can still go from mild URI to dead in less than a day, so I think those risks are kind of inherent to any small animal.

Is the piggie you're looking at male or female? You said your ultimately goal is three- although three girls can live together, three boars are very unlikely to get along in the long term. You're far better off with a pair of boars, with sows you can potentially hope for a trio. On our bonding page there is great advice on introducing new pigs... be sure to do so on neutral ground (I actually stick mine in the bathtub with towels underneath to meet new friends- no corners for anyone to feel trapped in, totally unfamiliar so no one is territorial, and I can get a good view to see that things are going well.) Be sure to go over the bonding info before going from one to two (or three), as it will increase the chances that your pigs will get off to a good start.

Good on you for doing your research first, wishing you a smooth transition to life with piggies!
 
D

DMS260820

If you want a rodent, that lives longer than a rat, but has a lot less health issues (not definite but likely) keep gerbils, and keep them in aubiouse substrate, not wood shavings, I've had a few gerbils live to 4, my record is 5, some 3 and a bit 👍. They are the hardest rodent out there I believe.

From a Guinea pig, rat and gerbil keeper 👍
 

Bluebell

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spdbernie - I just saw that you were recommending aubiose bedding for rodents - I'm having to temp change my bedding and wondered if you had used this Megazorb stuff - it's so expensive I'm assuming it's really good = but I don't want to get it if it isn't!
 

skyperch

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Ahh I'm getting overwhelmed by the food again. This always seems to occur with me because there's so many things to feed and some are better than others. I know there quite a few types of lettuce, but what are the major differences? At least from what I've fed other animals, I believe I read that Romaine lettuce is one of the better ones whereas Iceberg lettuce doesn't have as much nutritional value? Is this about correct?

I also apologize, but I've been looking through the pellet chart and I'm still a bit confused as to what foods are better than others. I'm aiming towards the timothy/grass based foods, but I'm not sure which are better in general when it comes to protein/fiber/etc.

Unfortunately I did have a bad incident bringing in a new rat to my group quite a while back, so I've definitely learned from that experience going forward with introducing new animals to a pre-existing group. In fact, I may be a bit overly paranoid. I would be looking for a female, yes, but I am open to getting a male (fixed) if that would work out better. To be honest, I'm not really actively searching for three, but rather, I am open to the possibility.

I did take a look at the rescues already, and unfortunately the only one is about an hour and a half away, and I can't say I'm too comfortable driving that distance. Maybe if I really got to speak with the people in charge it's a possibility, but probably not now (I've been driving for years, it's just a distance thing that makes me nervous).
 
D

DMS260820

spdbernie - I just saw that you were recommending aubiose bedding for rodents - I'm having to temp change my bedding and wondered if you had used this Megazorb stuff - it's so expensive I'm assuming it's really good = but I don't want to get it if it isn't!
Sorry never used megazorb I can't afford to keep buying it. Aubiouse is more natural and very cheap
 

Piggies&buns

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Ahh I'm getting overwhelmed by the food again. This always seems to occur with me because there's so many things to feed and some are better than others. I know there quite a few types of lettuce, but what are the major differences? At least from what I've fed other animals, I believe I read that Romaine lettuce is one of the better ones whereas Iceberg lettuce doesn't have as much nutritional value? Is this about correct?

I also apologize, but I've been looking through the pellet chart and I'm still a bit confused as to what foods are better than others. I'm aiming towards the timothy/grass based foods, but I'm not sure which are better in general when it comes to protein/fiber/etc.

Unfortunately I did have a bad incident bringing in a new rat to my group quite a while back, so I've definitely learned from that experience going forward with introducing new animals to a pre-existing group. In fact, I may be a bit overly paranoid. I would be looking for a female, yes, but I am open to getting a male (fixed) if that would work out better. To be honest, I'm not really actively searching for three, but rather, I am open to the possibility.

I did take a look at the rescues already, and unfortunately the only one is about an hour and a half away, and I can't say I'm too comfortable driving that distance. Maybe if I really got to speak with the people in charge it's a possibility, but probably not now (I've been driving for years, it's just a distance thing that makes me nervous).

Any lettuce except iceberg is fine
 
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