You are here:

Guinea Pigs/questions on guinea pig for pet


I want to get my daughter two female guinea pigs.  I read online that they can get lonely by themselves, that is why I thought about getting two.  This would just be to love and give them a good home, no other animals, and no breeding.  But I don't know where to start.  We want to get them as a Christmas present so I have a few months but should we go through a breeder.  I hesitate to use Petsmart etc., but msybe that is how it is done?  Also we have a gluten free house, I am a celiac but I believe I found a pellet without wheat, I know they need a certain kind of hay, and some veggies.  Do we need to train them to use the bathroom in a certain spot of their cage?  What happens if we let them out, will they use the bathroom everywhere?  Do we take them to the vet?  Also if we should go through accredited breeders, I live in NC and would love recommendations and we are willing to travel.  thank younfor your help.

There is nothing wrong with getting a pig from Petsmart or Petco. Years ago there was a lot of noise and controversy over how they housed guinea pigs, but that has been pretty much settled. The local stores near me take in only boars, that way they don't worry about unexpected pregnancies.

In the US we don't necessarily have accredited breeders. You can check on the ACBA website (American Cavy Breeders Assoc.) and find a breeder in your area. I recommend for first time pets that you purchase the short haired breeds such as Americans, Teddies, White Cresteds. That's because the longer haired breeders are high maintenance. It would be like getting a poodle when you don't like grooming.

The majority of guinea pig pellets are alfalfa based. If your daughter is to be the owner then she should be the one handling the food, cage cleaning, water, etc. Yes, they enjoy hay. If you happen to have a feed store near you they will often sell bags of loose hay from a bale that has broken open. My personal choice is Bermuda hay as it is cleaner than alfalfa and doesn't have the long hard stems in it.

They love fruits and veggies, but some take awhile to learn to like them just like we do. Mine absolutely love watermelon or cantaloupe, but they prefer the rinds. So you eat the good human part and give them what you don't like. Romaine lettuce is another treat for them, and parsley and carrots seem to go over especially well.

They do not potty train like rabbits will. But their little poo is odorless and looks like little Good and Plenty candies, oval shaped and firm. They are a bit like a goat and will go wherever they are.

If you have a grass area and can provide shade you can make a little fenced area to allow them to graze on the grass. Just make sure there is no possibility for a dog to reach them and be sure they have shade. A small beach umbrella works great for that.

They love to be held and they soon learn the sound of your voice as well as the sound of the refrigerator or plastic bag that holds the veggies. They will squeal with delight.

Guinea pigs carry no diseases that are passed to humans. They don't need immunizations like cats or dogs do. They can however get Kennel Cough aka Bortadella from an infected dog.

When you go on the ACBA website go to Club Locator.  Your area is in District 9. From there you will see the secretary for the North Carolina Cavy Breeders Assoc. Her name and number is there. Contact her and she may be able to give you a breeder contact close to you.

You will also be able to see pictures of the different breeds of pigs. There are 13 breeds and many different colors within each breed.

I hope this helps you, and good luck finding your new pets.

Guinea Pigs

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Pat VanAllen


As is sometimes the case, people in urgent need of information have a higher degree of expectation than those of us as experts are able to give. The experts on this site do their best to give the most accurate and responsible answers possible. We ask that you remember that it is not our intention nor place to criticize the professional advice given by your veterinarian, nor is it appropriate for us to comment on the correctness of a diagnosis made by a licensed physician. Our knowledge is experience based. Although many years of breeding and showing cavies gives me a wealth of experience it cannot change the fact that we as experts are not veterinarians and therefore may occasionally have to reject questions that appear to be asking us to criticize advice given by the licensed professional. Having raised and exhibited cavies for many years I have extensive experience in cavy care and husbandry. I currently have an active breeding program for pedigreed show animals but do not encourage backyard breeding for inexperienced owners. Although I don't encourage breeding for fun I'm always happy to answer any questions from an owner who is in sincere need of help. Pet owners wanting to breed should understand that even experienced breeders have litter losses. The mortality rate is high in cavies. The chance for losing both sow and pups is always present, even with experience. Although this is a site for experts to assist owners, there is no expert in any field who has all the answers. The wisest thing a good expert can know is their limitations. Not having an answer does not diminish one's ability or knowledge. It simply shows that we recognize our limitations and operate within them.


Raised and shown cavies for many years, having aquired my first cavies in the early 1970's as pets. My caviary currently handles 65 + animals in two different breeds and several varieties. Having been in the health care industry as a licensed nurse for 35 years I have hands on experience with care and needs in both humans and cavies. Member of American Rabbit Breeders Association and American Cavy Breeders Association.

Awarded Lifetime Membership in of one of the oldest cavy clubs in the United States, on whose Board I served as Sec/Treas for six years and currently serving as President. Also editor/publisher of the club's quarterly newsletter. We are strong supporters of our youth exhibitors, most of whom are 4H members who are working on cavy projects. Through these projects they become good responsible citizens. We deal with all aspects of showing, breeding, caring for and sharing experiences in the fancy. The cavy fancy is not a new one but in some areas is still relatively unknown. Our goal is to inspire interest in high quality, responsible breeding to improve the species, not just the reproduction of guinea pigs. Our job is to educate owners to help them make the right decisions and choices in the care of their cavies.

Graduate in nursing. Certified in emergency medicine.

©2016 All rights reserved.