Guinea Pigs/guinea pig

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Question
I bought a male guinea pig yesterday and when I hold him he stays in my hands but he doesn't squeak  and when I put him in his cage he goes under his little plastic hideaway.  I never see him come out of his little hide away thing and I'm not sure he's eating or drinking. He is 5 to 6 weeks old and I bought him timothy hay and wild harvest guinea pig advanced nutrition diet it said on  bag with fruits vegetables seed and grains.  Is this food okay since he's 5 to 6 weeks old and I bought the little pieces of wood for him to chew on.

Answer
At five to six weeks he's still a young baby and hasn't been away from his mom for very long. Most babies are weaned at about 4 weeks.  He's doing just what I would expect him to do at this point.  He's getting used to his new surroundings and is naturally shy and skittish. That will change in time.

I usually recommend that the first week be one of total quiet for a new pig. Don't try to handle him, just give him time to smell the new surroundings and get used to the noises of his new home.  After that you can begin to take him out and hold him.

When they are very small you have to be careful that he doesn't leap right out of your arms. They can be very fast and move without notice. Be patient. He will learn that you are the food lady and the one he will recognize first.

As for the food he's eating, I am not in favor of those pellets with seeds and other goodies in them. The best food is the alfalfa pellets that have nothing else added. Most of the colored pieces that are added by manufacturers are just eye candy for the owners and don't really have a great deal of nutrition in them.

He will enjoy having a small piece of carrot of lettuce and it's fine to offer that every day or so. But remember, he is a baby.  He's not ready to eat a lot of different fruits and veggies just yet. His little tummy is not able to digest too much in the way of goodies.  His main diet should be guinea pig pellets.

Although rabbit food is less expensive it isn't the same as guinea pig food. Many rabbit foods have added antibiotics and should not be given to your pig. Rabbits manufacturer their own Vitamin C, guinea pigs do not. That's why it's added in the guinea pig pellets.

However, Vit C loses it's strength quickly so it's not wise to buy a large bag of feed that you can't use up within a month. If you want to purchase a large bag you can keep it in a plastic container and that will help keep it fresh.

Parsley is the best source of Vit C.  Just a small amount every day or so will benefit him to keep his growth healthy and prevent Vit C deficiency. Go slow about offering new foods. Remember he's very young and isn't used to too many things. So don't get anxious and push foods he isn't ready to eat yet.

Guinea pigs have to chew on something in order to keep their teeth worn. Their teeth never stop growing. A chunk of wood is a good chew toy. Hay is also excellent for that.

You've got a good start and he should grow quickly. Give him time to settle in and don't expect too much just yet. When you do hold him you might want to put a towel on your lap because being a baby he will wet on you when he needs to go.

Enjoy your new pet. He will be a good companion and give you many hours of enjoyment.  

Guinea Pigs

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Pat VanAllen

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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.

Experience

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.

Organizations
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.

Education/Credentials
Graduate in nursing. Certified in emergency medicine.

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