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Guinea Pigs, also known as cavies, make wonderful pets. They are inexpensive and lots of fun. But they are also prone to illness if not properly cared for.

Feeding your Guinea Pig

Guinea Pigs love to chew, they will eat almost anything. So it is important to watch what is fed to them. Just because they eat something it isn't necessarily good for them.

Guinea Pigs are vegetarians. In the main they eat grains, grass, vegetables, peels and some herbs and fruit. The grains can be bought from your local supermarket, but be sure to buy the brand that has added Vitamin C. Guinea pigs are like humans in that they do not produce their own Vitamin C and must have a steady supply to remain healthy.

When feeding your Guinea Pig grasses and flowers from your garden be sure that they are not harmful, Guinea Pigs are susceptible to pesticides and herbicides. Also, when adding something new to their diet do it in small amounts for a few days and watch for any signs of illness. What is good for one Guinea Pig may cause problems for another.

Always make sure they have fresh clean water at all times. Guinea Pigs being Guinea Pigs, they tend to mess thier water supply.

Don't be alarmed if you see your Guinea Pig eating its own droppings, this is normal.

Housing your Guinea Pig

The first thing to decide in housing your Guinea Pigs is whether it will an indoor or outdoor pet. If it is to be kept outside, because Guinea Pigs in their natural state are prey, it is important to have an enclosed area for the Guinea Pig to run away to.

Indoor Guinea Pigs should have at least 2 square feet for each animal. They should also have a place to run away to.

The enclosed area should have fresh bedding, such as straw or newspaper strips, to help keep them warm. Their cages need to be cleaned every 1-3 days, particularly indoor ones.

If you allow your Guinea Pig to roam freely about the house it is essential that the animal does not have access to electrical wires as they find these irresistible and chew on them, sometimes through to the deadly wire.

Guinea Pigs also like to play so it is a good idea to put some objects in their cage that they can run over, under and through.

Grooming your Guinea Pig

Depending on the type of housing, Guinea Pigs should be bathed and brushed every 1-2 weeks. They should also have their nails clipped periodically.

It is also important for Guinea Pigs to have access to a piece of untreated wood. They will chew on this wood which will help keep their teeth short. Guinea Pigs' teeth grow continuously all their lives. If they do not have something hard to chew on their teeth will become too long and grow out of shape, thus making it hard for them to eat.

Petting your Guinea Pig

Guinea Pigs love to be petted, particularly if you only have one. Guinea Pigs are gregarious animals, and as such need companionship. You should nurse your Guinea Pig for at least 15 minutes each day, more if it is alone, and particularly if kept outside.

Most importantly, have fun with your Guinea Pig!