Selecting Your Guinea Pig
Although guinea pigs may easily be obtained from pet shops there are also many available from rescue shelters. Rescue guinea pigs are often already bonded with a companion and already being mature their future temperament is more predictable than a youngster.
Alternatively, guinea pigs may be obtained from breeders where the parents can be met to check their health and temperament. The breeder should be able to provide an idea of what the youngster may be like as an adult and will be able to tell you the medical history of related guinea pigs.
There are many varieties of guinea pig, from the short smooth coated English Self to the mop-topped Peruvian. The British Cavy Council is able to provide information on varieties and should be able to put you in contact with a breeder should you wish.
How to Check Your Guinea Pig is Healthy
Wherever obtaining a guinea pig, check that they are in general good health;
- the teeth should be short and straight
- the coat clean all over and free from parasitic disease (particularly around the rear end)
- the guinea pig should not be either thin or overweight
- The eyes and nose should be free from discharge
- the guinea pig should be generally bright and alert
How to Handle Your Guinea Pig
Guinea pigs are often initially nervous of being handled so should be treated gently. Grabbing at a nervous guinea pig will probably just make him more scared!
Always support their whole body and supervise children as a dropped guinea pig is easily injured.
Grabbing a guinea pig in the middle (rather than lifting at both ends) can lead to liver rupture and it is also possible to distress guinea pigs to the point that they have fits.
With regular gentle handling they will be much happier about being picked up and tasks such as toe nail trimming and health checks will be much less stressful for them.