Guinea pigs can be reared at home like chicken, pigs, cows and other domestic animals. Guinea pigs are good for beginning farmers especially children, as they make the home or farm lively. Below are some of the issues any aspiring guinea pig farmer must consider:
Guinea pigs are social animals that prefer to live in small groups. Like any other rodent, they multiply rapidly. It is highly recommended to keep males and females separated to control the breeding.
The best materials for their cages are plastic, metal or wire. Wood shavings or shredded paper make good bedding material. Extra bedding material should be used during the whelping and nursing periods.
Cleaning should be done at least once a week using a detergent and hot water, followed by a thorough rinse. They are very clean animals.
Guinea pigs are best kept at a room temperature between 18ºC and 24ºC.
Guinea pigs love to play hide and seek, so be sure to place cardboard tubes and empty coffee cans with smoothened edges in their enclosure for this purpose. Plastic pipes and flower pots are also good plus some bricks and rocks for climbing. All guinea pigs need a cave like structure for sleeping and resting in.
Guinea pigs will not eat what they do not like: some have very discriminating tastes, while others will eat anything that you put in front of them. Each guinea pig has its own preferences, and it may take some time to figure out what it likes best. These are some of the food they eat; apples, pears, bananas (including the skin-but wash well first), carrot greens, carrots and celery (very important to cut into small pieces first), cucumber, dandelion greens, grass, green leaf and romaine lettuce.
Others are mustard greens, oranges, spinach, tomatoes, seedless grapes, cabbage, and cauliflower stalks and many others.
However, make sure that the grass has not been sprayed with chemicals, or contaminated by droppings or urine from other animals. Fresh, clean water should be available at all times. Use an inverted bottle with a drinking tube, and change the water daily.
Feed your guinea pigs twice a day, in the morning and in the evening. Breeding If you intend to breed your guinea pigs, the female should be bred before seven to eight months of age.
Breeding for the first time after this age can lead to problems during delivery due to a narrow birth canal.
Guinea pigs are born fully hairy with eyes open and teeth erupted. They are nearly self-sufficient at birth and require little hand rearing if orphaned shortly after birth. After 48 hours, the young guinea pigs can be fed guinea pig chow softened with water or milk.
Caring for the guinea pig
It requires proper care by ensuring that it remains happy and healthy. If one of your guinea pigs is sick, seek medical attention from a small animals doctor immediately.
Common signs that something is not right include sneezing, coughing, diarrhea and lethargy. Guinea pigs are also susceptible to external parasites such as mites and lice. If you think your pet is infected, go to the veterinary doctor for treatment.
Importance of guinea pig
Biological experiments are usually carried out on guinea pigs by researchers. They have mainly been used as models for human medical conditions such as TB, scurvy and pregnancy complication and juvenile diabetes.