Introduction

Guinea Pig Genetics ( Cavia porcellus ), sometimes known as cavies, originated in South America. The length and direction of these animals fur give a practical basis for classification.

Cavies consume a completely vegetarian diet, similar to rabbits. They are really easy to train, extremely healthy and hardy, and not noisy, guinea pigs have clean habits, and have no foul odour. There is perhaps no other animal on the planet that is more handled. They adapt well to changing conditions and appear to thrive as well in cities and rural areas, in large and little quarters.

They are practically free from the diseases and epidemics that make chicken and rabbit farming so risky. Of course, some of them become ill and die, but this is usually due to a local cause or being neglected or incorrectly fed or housed, but contagious diseases such as those that frequently wipe out entire flocks of poultry or pens of rabbits are unknown among Cavies.

All of these factors contribute to the enjoyment and profitability of keeping Guinea Pigs.

Best Guinea Pig Breeds To Have As Pets

English American Guinea Pig

English American cavy must have a cobby appearance. Its head should be huge and chubby, with an attractive Roman nose; the eyes should be bold, bright, and prominent, and the neck should be short, has a deep shoulder, a broad and strong back, and well-formed hindquarters; the ears should be placed on nicely.

And gracefully droop, not enough to be considered stylish umbrellas, but just enough to create a lovely, well-turned droop.

Prick ears give the head a rat-like look. In all variations, the coat should be short, completely smooth, and extremely soft and silky to the touch.”

At the moment, this variation includes six self-contained, or solid colours: black, red, cream, white, chocolate, and blue. The final two colours are still in their infancy, despite significant progress toward perfection.

The tortoiseshell ( black and red ), tortoiseshell and white ( black, red, and white ), Dutch, Golden Agouti, Silver Agouti, Himalayan, and Brindle all fall under the broken or varicoloured category.

Additionally, steady progress is being made in pro by combining agouti, red and white; chocolate, red and white; and cinnamon-colored. These, when eventually perfected, will generate considerable attention due to their difficulty of production.

Peruvian Guinea Pig

The Peruvian has long silken hair and is often referred to as Cavy’s aristocrat. While it was undoubtedly developed in the same country as the English Cavy, it is widely believed that its outward characteristics were developed in France and then enhanced by English pioneer fanciers.

The length of the coat, the head decoration, and the texture or silkiness of the coat are the primary goals of the Peruvian lover.

Perhaps the significance of these three characteristics is understated. The Peruvian is larger than the English American or the Abyssinian; nonetheless, the head alone is not as massive as the others. The colours produced by this type are identical to those produced by the other two.

The Peruvian is unable to endure prolonged dampness. Due to the fact that its coat appears to absorb moisture.

It should be bred indoors under a normal, dry temperature.  For bedding, either sawdust or hay should be used. Straw that has been chopped into six-inch lengths creates an excellent sleeping material. When the hair reaches a length of eight inches, for example

Hair may be chopped once a week, rushed well, and restyled.

Abyssinian Guinea Pig

The Abyssinian does not have a geographical origin.

It has progressively improved in terms of coat roughness and rosettes, which are the coat’s primary characteristics.

The Abyssinians hair should be rushed toward the head, and each rosette should be meticulously sculpted with a toothbrush.

The least amount of attention paid to the coat of this kind will produce the finest results, as regular grooming will diminish the coat’s roughness. For this species, it is prudent to maintain outside hutches.

The Abyssinian is equally amenable to color breeding as the English and Peruvian, and the same rules for increasing the coat and color quality apply to this type as they do to the others two.

Given that the sow is typically the source of the coat’s quality, it is desirable to employ only harsh-coated sows as breeders; whereas, the boar should be densely covered with rosettes of good color and size.

The “weeding out” process can begin as soon as the young are born, as it is easy to tell which young are the best in rosettes and color.

Feeding Guinea Pigs

Guinea Pigs are really easy to feed. Their primary dietary source is healthy hay or dried grass. This should be kept in front of them at all times since they will not consume an excessive amount. However, ensure that it is not musty or mouldy.

Along with hay, they should receive green food feeding at least once a day. This is critical to preventing constipation.

Green food includes lawn clippings, green clover, spinach, green corn stalks, lettuce, celery tops, plantain, dandelion, and grasses, which are all plentiful throughout the summer.

When these are unavailable during the winter, carrots, beets, apples, cabbage, mangle beets, and yellow turnips will take their place.

Grains such as oats, wheat, com, bran, and chops, among others, should be fed to them since they provide flesh and vigour. Oats are probably the best of all of them. Stale bread is also acceptable, but it should be free of grease and mould.

A smart approach is to feed hay and grain or bran or chopped mash in the morning instead of grain. At noon, some greenery or roots, as well as night hay. Provide them with as much hay as they can consume.

Keep it in front of them at all times, but feed them only as much green stuff as they can consume in a few hours. Additionally, they are less likely to consume excessive grain, which should be fed in an earthen or wooden bowl.

If you just feed them twice daily, serve them green food in the morning along with the hay.

Guinea Pigs consume only a small amount of water when eating green food, but they should have a vessel of freshwater in their hutch or cage each morning. Additionally, each hutch should have a piece of rock salt.

In the spring or summer, you can feed them more green food than you can in the winter. We have raised them exclusively on green food in the summer by moving the hutches about the lawn.

However, during the winter and fall, when greens are scarce and they are unfamiliar with them, unexpected overfeeding may result in severe loss. Avoid drastic dietary changes.

Bread and milk are both excellent meat producers and should be fed to the weak, including nursing moms. It should be warmed in the winter.

What Foods Are Bad For Guinea Pigs?

Breeders are so dissimilar to dubious meals that it’s difficult to advise on what not to use. While alfalfa produces excellent results, some breeders claim it is overly rich and causes kidney problems.

We successfully feed alfalfa hay in the winter, but have limited experience feeding it green. However, we would encourage you to take easy on it.

While some breeders feed cabbage, others do not. However, everyone agrees that potatoes, white turnips, and parsnips should be avoided. Naturally, no meat or oily meals should be fed.

Guinea Pigs Housing

Guinea Pigs do not require huge or complicated quarters, and an average man or boy may readily provide them with a decent environment. Generally, two types of housing are used: hutches and pens.

Hutches

Generally, breeders favour the hutch approach. They take up less space, measuring approximately 20 inches broad by 18 inches high. They may house a male, three or four females, and young ones until they are weaned.

The door, which spans nearly the entire front, is constructed entirely of wire netting. A screened ventilation opening is located in the back. Each hutch should have a back shelf about four inches high, as they enjoy climbing on.  These hutches are stackable to maximize available space and are maintained indoors.

It is not recommended to use the home wall as the back of the hutch; it may be too cold. These can be constructed in three-tiered configurations, each layer around 18 inches or two feet high.

Each hutch is different in size, depending on the number of Guinea Pigs you have. The entire front should be made of wire, with wide doors for ventilation and easy cleaning. In the winter, a small box for sleeping quarters might be placed in each one and filled with straw.

Pens

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Certain breeders prefer pens, and there are some advantages to the pen method, it provides more space for the animals, requires less frequent cleaning, and is more inexpensive.

It is acceptable to use them if you have a suitable location. Naturally, it’s more difficult to protect them from cats, rodents, and dogs in pens, and it’s also more difficult to keep them warm during the winter. In the summer, pens are preferable.

If you have space in a barn, woodshed, attic, or basement that is sheltered from wind and rain, as well as cats, rats, and dogs, you may simply provide them with a home. A six-by-ten-foot space can house between 30 and 50 Guinea Pigs.

Divide your room into numerous distinct pens using 12 to 18-inch board or wire netting. The floor should be coated in some form of litter. Sawdust is an excellent choice for the bottom layer.

On top of the sawdust, hay or straw can be placed. In the winter, if the area is not heated, sleeping quarters should be provided in boxes with a little opening for them to run in and out of and should be filled with hay or straw.

While many successful breeders believe that winter heat is unnecessary, we believe they should have some protection, especially in extremely cold weather, and the warmer you can keep them the better.

They do best when the temperature does not drop below zero. If provided with well-protected, compact quarters and lots of bedding, they will survive quite well without heat. Females that are ready to litter, should be kept warm, as the young will freeze if the temperature is extremely cold.

After about a month, you can move them out with the others during a warm time. 

OutDoor Hutches

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In the summer, you can construct a wire netting pen for them to run in, complete with a little tight box for sleeping quarters and storm protection.

For the sides, use small mesh chicken wire. Netting or boards might be used for the top. Naturally, the size of the pen will be determined by the number of Cavies you have.

These pens may be moved over the lawn, providing them with healthy green grass. Thereafter, very little additional food will be necessary.

General Instructions

Give your stock as much space as possible. Consider how little space you can use if you have space to spare. Verify that they have adequate ventilation, even in the cold.

Animals, like humans, require fresh air to survive. Maintain a clean and dry environment for your hutches. Do not let your Cavies to become wet.

There is no reason to construct expensive and complex hutches, particularly at the beginning.

When you have a larger herd, you might choose a standard kind of hutch or pen for them all. This enables them to be easily handled and enlarged.

Guinea Pigs Breeding

Guinea Pigs are extremely prolific, producing approximately five litters per year and between two and five at a time. Three is a reasonable number.

Females reach sexual maturity at one month, but should not be bred at that age. Three months is an adequate amount of time, and some breeders wait until the young ones are even older.

Gestation lasts between 65 and 70 days. When the young ones are born, they are completely formed and can run around within a few hours. Within a day or two, they begin consuming other foods.

They should be weaned about three weeks of age and separated into separate pens, with young males separated from females. It is then prudent to allow the mother two or three weeks to recover before reintroducing her to the breeding pen.

It is preferable if each female has no more than four litters per year. The young ones are likely to be stronger and more numerous in a litter.

You will obtain approximately the same number of them per year with four litters as with five and will have superior stock. Certain breeders, particularly those breeding for show stock, produce only three litters every year.

When your young girls reach the age of approximately four months, they should be transferred to the breeding pen.

The best and most certain outcomes are obtained by pairing one male with four or five females and allowing them to remain together until each female is bred.

They begin to exhibit signs of pregnancy in approximately 30 days or sooner and grow to enormous proportions before giving birth.

It is ideal to keep many females with young in the same pen, as they will nurse each other’s young without discrimination, and the young seem to have no concept of distinction.

While males are not predators, they should never be placed in the pen with nursing mothers since they will disturb them.

Many breeders do not have dedicated breeding pens, preferring to keep females together and males apart. This is far from the optimal strategy, however. Females must never be let to litter in the pigpen, but must always be housed in separate pens or hutches.

It is preferable to have distinct breeding pens or hutches so that you can obtain unrelated young stock. You will have numerous opportunities to sell breeding stock, and it is inadvisable to supply men and females who are complete siblings.

By exercising caution, you can breed your stock in such a way that you can preserve distinct batches that are not genetically connected.

By “line breeding,” we imply reproducing the same stock without acquiring new men. It is the process through which breeders of fancy stock obtain any unique color or marking. This is not actual inbreeding. You breed the father to his daughter and the son to his mother through inline breeding. This configuration works well and produces excellent results.

However, you must avoid breeding entire brothers and sisters. Additionally, it is beneficial to breed Guinea pigs with similar colouring and markings.

Consider the following: Breed whites with white-sand blacks and blacks with blacks, and so forth. You may obtain practically any colour you desire through line breeding.

If you want to breed your reddest male to your reddest female, for example, from a mixed lot, you should do so. The father should then breed with his reddest daughter, while the reddest son should breed with his mother. Continue in this manner until you obtain solid reds.

However, for business purposes, we believe it is best to acquire new males on a regular basis. If you begin with only one male, you should acquire another when the young of your first litter reach breeding age.

This enables you to acquire stock that is not genetically connected to one another and that you may sell for breeding and pet purposes.

It is preferable to breed men and females of varying ages together. Ensure that one is older than the other. Females should not be handled excessively while pregnant, as this is likely to damage them, and no animal thrives as well when fondled.

Keep your strongest and best guys for breeding purposes only.

Too much littering weakens both the mother and the young. If you have a female who produces weak young who die at birth or shortly thereafter, give her several months off before breeding her again. Having fewer litters and stronger stock is preferable.

While older males can fight while in the pen together, females rarely get along well. If you have a fighting male, keep him separate from the other guys, as he is prone to injure them.

A good young breeding stock is favoured when beginning to raise Cavies because they have a longer life ahead of them and you cannot determine how old the older stock is.

Guinea Pigs live to be approximately seven or eight years old, and if you purchase young stock, you will keep them for the whole of their breeding years.

How To Prepare The Guinea Pig For The Exhibition?

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Guinea Pig showing or exhibiting is fast gaining popularity, and practically all pet stock and poultry shows feature multiple pens of Guinea Pigs. Numerous fanciers throughout the country specialize in display animals and fancy stock.

Cavies are judged on their size, shape, condition, and color. The selfs or solid colours must have identical hair.

Any white substance will disqualify an otherwise red guinea pig. The individual patches should be uniform in size and the colours should not blend together in the broken colours.

Fancy stock is almost usually line bred, and care should be made to avoid inbreeding. To ensure the highest quality stock, females are bred only two or three times a year and are given meticulous care from birth.

They are bred specifically for their size, shape, and color.

Even if you are not breeding for fancy stock, it is frequently beneficial to enter your best specimens in local poultry and pet stock shows, as this provides excellent publicity and frequently results in substantial rewards.

It informs them that you have stock and that you can always obtain reasonable rates for your award winners. Always enter in singles, pairs, or trios, or even larger pens, as close to a homogeneous lot as possible.

While producing fancy stock is more expensive, the higher prices you can charge for it make it worthwhile.

If you are growing a small number of pigs, it may be worthwhile to invest in fancy stock. Even if you have a huge stock, you can separate a few of your best specimens and devote additional attention to them.

Of course, many huge commercial raisers never bother with fancy stock because it is not profitable when raising vast quantities of them.

The majority of shows are sanctioned by a pet stock association, and a book with the standards can be obtained from the secretary.

We’ve included a few of the categories in which stock is classified below:

  • Selfs

Solid colours throughout with no odd coloured hairs.

  • Tortoise Shells

Black and red colours with patches clear and dis- tinct and as nearly as possible equal in size.

  • Tortoise and White

Red, black and white patches, each clear cut with no running in of colours. The more patches and

the more uniform in size the better.

  • Dutch Marked

The blazed face of wedge shape. A band of white straight hair around the middle with no blending of colours. Feet white. Very rare.

  • Brindle

Red and black are evenly intermixed and perfectly brindled.

  • Agouti

They are two shades, golden and Gray. The golden should be rich brown under color with even ticking and belly of deep red. The Gray should be a light shade with even ticking and a belly of silver hue.

The eyes of all English Cavies should be large and bold. Head and shoulders heavy, nose roman, ears drooping.

In the Abyssinians, the rosettes should be as plentiful as possible and the coat rough and wiry.

In Peruvian, the main thing to be considered is the length and silkiness of the coat.

Diseases Of Guinea Pigs

Guinea Pigs are disease-free, therefore breeders have little to fear in this line. Of course, inappropriate food, irregular feeding hours, and inadequately ventilated or exposed quarters frequently cause problems, but it is almost unheard of for an epidemic to infiltrate a herd and wipe it out.

As long as you feed them carefully and keep their quarters clean and properly shielded from wind, rain, and snow, you should have no issue.

Although they are incredibly healthy small animals, they will not tolerate neglect or improper care. Contribute your fair amount and you will rarely lose a Cavy.

Diarrhea

This is one of the most frequent issues that a Cavy raiser faces. Excessive green food, mouldy and half-cured hay, and a sudden shift in diet are frequently the culprits. Provide them with plenty of nice, sweet hay and abstain from green food for a time. A tiny spoonful of olive oil or a few drops of castor oil is beneficial for cleaning the bowels.

Constipation

Caused by a deficiency of green food. This issue is more likely to arise during the winter, when greens are sparse. Provide them some apple parings, any green vegetables you can find, and a drizzle of olive oil. Always try to feed a little green things at least once a day and you will have no problems.

Birth Before Due Date

Females are occasionally lost when they give birth early to little newborns, and sometimes the youngsters are born too weak to survive. This is caused by excessive pollution, fear, obesity, or physical weakness.

Overcrowding in a cold drafty hutch during harsh weather may diminish the mother’s strength to the point that she bears weaklings.

Take extra care of pregnant women. Allow them to select their own food and quarters. Allow them to breed infrequently or at an early age. Allow them to remain unhandled and unfrightened.

Worms

If a Guinea Pig is an excellent feeder but does not grow, he may have worms if he appears unwell and his coat is not lustrous. Give a half teaspoon of any worm medication such as children use. Feed sparingly, if at all, until the medication takes action.

Going Light

Occasionally, in spite of everything, you can do a Guinea Pig goes light. If treatment for worms is ineffective, tuberculosis may be the cause. Separate yourself immediately from the others. Provide a special milk and bread or bran and oats diet. 

Colds and Pneumonia

When they are diagnosed with pneumonia, they typically receive little assistance. Typically, the reason is cold, damp, and drafty quarters.

The only thing you can do is transfer them to a warmer location and offer them warm milk and a few drops of whatever decent cold cure you may have on hand.

As an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of treatment, you should take every precaution to avoid them from being sick.

Lice

Utilize any effective insect powder or poultry lice killer. Clean and clean the hutches or pens using a decent disinfectant. They are rarely troubled if kept in good condition.

Wounds

Males occasionally injure one another during conflicts. Cleanse the wound with warm water, trim any surrounding hair with sharp scissors, and apply a nice healing salve.

Running at the Eyes

This is frequently brought on by a cold. Wash the eyes with a boric acid solution that any druggist may prepare for you.

Paralysis

Cavies occasionally drag their hind limbs. While some claim alfalfa causes it, it is more often than not caused by a kidney ailment. Give about 25 drops of sweet spirits of niter three times a day and rub the limbs with a good liniment. Feed carefully for several days and they will often get over it.

General Instructions

Because it is far easier to keep Cavies healthy than it is to cure a sick one, attempt to avoid difficulties.

Individuals who are ill should be isolated from the rest and placed in comfortable quarters. Feed only high-quality food. Maintain a clean, pleasant, and well-ventilated quarters for them.

Allow them as much air and sunlight as possible and as much exercise space as possible. No mouldy, wet, or half-cured hay or grass should be fed. Give your Cavies a chance and you will discover that sickness will have a minimal effect on your Caviary.