COVID-19 Worried about Covid-19 (coronavirus) transmission risk to your cavies and care during illness?

Not open for further replies.


Staff member
Mar 10, 2009
Reaction score
Coventry UK
1 Updated risk transmission risk assessment to and from guinea pigs
2 Detailed forum hygiene recommendations during acute illness
3 Food alternatives in an emergency

1 Updated transmission risk assessment to and from guinea pigs

It is very rare that things jump over from humans to guinea pigs, especially as many viruses are species specific.

A new study by UC David on genomic modelling of a wide range of species has shown that guinea pigs (like other rodents) are at a very low risk of being affected by the virus. (August 2020)
There is a very small and yet not researched risk that pet fur can act as a transmission angle from one human to another. That is the rason why our general hygiene recommendations are as important as never before.
One Health Institute (shared by The Guinea pig Guru)

This also goes for Covid-19, the new coronavirus on the block. Just because it has jumped one species barrier doesn't mean that it will jump all others automatically, too! However, good hand washing hygiene (before and after any interaction), no kissing and no interaction when acutely affected with ANY pet is vital common sense practice.
Here is the latest stance on pets cats: British Veterinary Association - BVA

Here is the new poster with recommendations (25th March), which tally with our own forum recommendations since the outbreak re. looking after your piggies:

2 Detailed forum hygiene recommendations during acute illness

Keep any handling and grooming to the absolutely necessary minimum and do not cuddle until you are over the acute and highly contagious phase. Good hand washing hygiene before and after, no kissing and ideally no direct contact or as little as you can get away with are crucial. Most problems come from virus fragments in the fur coat that can stay live for a few hours.

If possible ask a healthy household member to feed, groom, clean and medicate your guinea pigs until you are past the highly infectious acute stage and back on your feet again without being in danger of falling or fainting. If possible, have the piggies moved out of your room and their cage etc. deep cleaned.

Make sure that you make arrangements to have your pets looked after in case you are very ill and need hospitalisation; especially if you are in a higher risk group with pre-existing problems (diabetes, heart problems, asthma, immune problems or old age) and have become infected.

If you are on your own and are very ill/sick, please just feed, water and medicate your guinea pigs (ideally with single use gloves and plenty of thorough hand washing) but refrain from poo patrol, cleaning and grooming. Your guinea pigs will survive a little temporary neglect for a few days without problem.
Speak with your neighbours, family or local friends about helping each other with shopping or even booking joint supermakret deliveries in case slots become difficult to obtain.

It is more important that you get back on your legs and get well quickly! If you fall over and hurt yourself or faint and wind up in hospital, you won't do your piggies any favour, either...

Please keep in mind that unless you are already in a higher at-risk group for flu deaths/secondary complications etc., you are much more unlikely to experience any severe symptoms or die.

But it would be good for you to consider NOW your pets' provisions and care during any quarantine and in case you need to be hospitalised so a number of people around you are informed and can help if necessary.
The overwhelming majority of us will come out of this at some point but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't do our best to protect the vulnerable - everybody of us will know somebody or several people who are either old or have underlying health problems - and that we shouldn't make any sensible provisions to protect our pets as best as we can.

3 Food alternatives in an emergency

If you worry about a quarantine for yourself or if supply chains struggle in the coming months with imported goods like branded hay or fresh veg, make sure that you have ideally got hay and pellets for 2-3 weeks at home in case you/your household has to self-isolate.
Please do not panic buy and stockpile - there are enough supplies around.
All you are achieving is making access to them worse over the coming months.

Sourcing hay

If pet shops are running low on hay, try local equine providers or farmers for meadow, orchard or timothy hay.

Veg alternatives
- Fresh grass

If access to fresh veg is difficult, your piggies can make do without it for a while or can live off fresh grass from your garden (which is high in vitamin C) as long as an uninfected person can go out and pick some. Please do not introduce a large quantity of fresh, damp grass on an unprepared digestive system and inroduce it gradually.
Feeding Grass And Preparing Your Piggies For Lawn Time

- Growing fresh herbs and cut-and-come lettuce indoors
In case of veg supplies in shops running low in the coming months, getting herb seeds and growing them in seed trays on the window sill is another way to ensure some fresh food. Cut-and-come lettuce is also an option you can consider for indoors food. Any container will do.

- Wild forage
Foraging is also going to be an alternative option as spring is getting underway: Safe wild weeds/plants you can feed your piggies (UK plants)

If your pellets are running out and getting more is a problem, then please do not panic: it is the smallest and most disposable part of the guinea pig diet. You should feed only 1 tablespoon per piggy per day anyway - and your piggies will not suffer if they do not get any for a while. The piggies in my childhood never had pellets and still lived to 6-10 years without any serious illnesses.

If you have access to fresh herbs, grass or dandelions, then you can replace your pellets with feeding that.
PS: All parts of a dandelion are edible.
Not open for further replies.