Guinea Pig Quick Care Guide

Huggable handfuls of awesome, guinea pigs are entertaining and easy to care for.

Did you know?

Guinea pigs come from South America and are also called ‘cavies’.

They live for four to seven years.

They are most active at dawn and dusk.

A guinea pig’s teeth never stop growing.

They need lots of fresh hay every day because chewing it wears the teeth down. Keeping a wood block or fruit branch in their enclosure also helps.

Like humans, they can’t store vitamin C.

They need a daily dose from fresh fruit and vegetables.

Guinea pigs are shy to begin but will form a close bond with the humans who look after them once trust is built.

Talking softly while offering food is a good way to start.

They love being picked up and stroked.

Guinea pigs love to burrow and hide in their sleeping area.

They make lots of weird sounds to communicate. Figuring out what they all mean is a lot of fun.

When guinea pigs are super happy or excited they jump around their enclosure.

This is called ‘popcorning’.


  • Hutch and exercise run – roomy and weather-proof with an enclosed part for sleeping and hiding. 120cm x 60cm x 45cm will house two guinea pigs

  • Water bottle

  • Bedding straw

  • Grass hay: timothy or lucerne hay

  • Pellets

  • Heavy ceramic food bowl

  • Treats


  • Place hutch away from rain, wind and direct sunlight

  • Layer bedding hay over an absorbent base like shredded ink-free paper, cat litter or wood shavings

  • Feed two large handfuls of timothy or lucerne hay, 1/4 cup of green leafy vegetables, 1/4 cup of guinea pig pellets

  • Occasional guinea pig treats are ok

  • Change water daily to keep fresh

  • Remove droppings, wet spots and uneaten vegetables daily

  • Replace bedding hay weekly

  • Allow free range exercise but supervise carefully

  • Handle gently and regularly. Use two hands to pick up


  • Long claws. Clip them every few weeks

  • Overgrown teeth. Provide a gnawing block if needed

  • Wood shavings from cedar or other fragrant woods — they can be poisonous

  • More than two guinea pigs per hutch. Fights will break out

  • Handling too often or too roughly. It causes stress

  • Giving access to things that shouldn’t be chewed, like electrical cables

For more detailed information on keeping guinea pigs, see The New Zealand Cavy Club

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