We have been raising animals on our farm for over 10 years—sheep, dogs, cats, chickens, turkeys, guinea pigs, ponies, donkeys, and a pig.
Why on earth did we adopt four intact male guinea pigs? That is a good question, and the answer is simple: We wanted guinea pigs and somebody wanted to get rid of their four male guinea pigs, so we adopted them.
Getting our guinea pigs was easy but actually caring for four semi-aggressive males is a whole different story. There are many ways to keep guinea pigs, but here is how we keep ours happy and healthy.
Living Arrangements for Our Guinea Pigs
Before our piggies moved in with us, all four of them lived together in two large cages that were connected. Apparently, these living arrangements worked in their previous home, because we received our pigs without any marks or scratches on them. Their group harmony might have been connected to their young age (they were all just under a year old). Also, brothers are said to get along well, but our guineas are definitely unrelated.
We don't know what happened in their first home, but a couple of weeks into living with us, our pigs tore each other apart—tearing chunks out of the other pigs’ ears, lips, bums, and necks. This is obviously a serious problem that we had to fix immediately.
Neutering our boys came to mind, but hearing that we would have to pay $200 a pig (yes, two-hundred!), and that chances are they would still fight afterward, we dropped that matter quickly.
So, instead, we separated the two dominant pigs from the more docile guys and put the two groups in separate cages. And while this solution kept our piggies from eating each other, it was a whole lot of work to care for them. Cleaning the cages, feeding our pigs, or even finding a good space for those ginormous wire things our pigs lived in was pretty labor-intensive. Needles to say, we had to come up with a new idea.
Building a New Cage With a Divider
That’s when I put my husband to work to build a nice cage for our guinea pigs that is easy to maintain. The new cage is lined with fleece, is furnished with piggie-friendly items like the Living World Log House, and has a divider to keep the two groups separated.
The cage turned out so much more beautiful than I imagined. Although it is big, it doesn’t look bulky and the fact that it’s just one cage with a removable divider makes it so much more practical to clean. Now that our guinea pigs' living arrangements are all figured out, we can really enjoy them, and best of all, our piggies are happy, too!
How and What We Feed Our Guinea Pigs
One thing all guinea pig owners can agree on: They love eating! In fact, they love eating so much that they spend six hours a day on it. And because eating is so important to your guineas, it is crucial to provide enough food and fresh clean water in their Living World glass bottle to keep these little guys content.
We feed our guinea pigs two times a day: once in the morning and again in the evening. Each time, we give our piggies a mound of hay (the most important food for guinea pigs) in their hay feeder which keeps the hay clean and dry for them.
Hay is the most important food for guinea pigs
Along with the hay, they get two tablespoons of Oxbow Essentials Guinea Pig Food (the amount recommended on the label) and a vegetable (carrot, cucumber, celery, bell peppers, etc.) or fruit like a kiwi that is high in vitamin C.
Reminder: Guinea pigs shouldn’t be fed too many sugary foods as this can lead to diabetes.
Sometimes we give them special things to eat, like parsley or homemade treats with applesauce in them, to keep their tummies happy.
Cleaning the Cage
Our guineas definitely like being fed the most, but they also enjoy a clean, nice-smelling cage.
Every day in the mornings and at night when it’s our boars’ feeding time, we take the fleece liners out of the cage and shake the dirt off on top of our compost pile. During this process, our pigs patiently wait in a box, so we don’t have to shoo them around their cage to get the liners out.
Keeping Them Safe While We Clean
To prevent them from attacking each other, the box is made out of four cells, with cardboard on the outside and wood on the inner walls.
This box also comes to use when we clean the entire cage with vinegar and switch up the fleece liners once a week. We lined the box with reusable absorbent pads that we wash with the fleece liners in our washing machine on a heavy-duty cycle.
Fun fact: Male guinea pigs love to spray all over their cage once its cleaned, so be prepared to open your windows.
Whenever we handle our pigs, we make sure that their teeth look good and that their nails are nice and trimmed.
On average, our guineas' nails need trimming about twice a month but know that the speed of nail growth can vary greatly from pig to pig.
Two of our boys are long-haired, and while the one keeps himself nice and clean, the other is well. . . a pig. To keep our dirty pig clean, we cut his fur short and bathe him at least once a month, or whenever he needs it.
What We Do to Keep Our Pigs Happy
Happy guinea pigs are the best guinea pigs, and although the previous points cover the basics of what our pigs need to be happy, there are still more things that bring them joy.
Give Them Branches to Chew on
We have two huge willow trees behind our house that provide delicious branches for our piggies to chew on. The branches are switched weekly, and on occasion, we offer fruit or nut tree branches, and sometimes poplar.
Let Them Spend Time Outside
As soon as the temperature rises above 10 degrees Celsius, we put our pigs in their outside pen that we built for them (and yes, it has a divider). Before we set our guineas outside, we make sure that the ground is dry and not too cold. In the summer, our pigs spend most of their days outside grazing and sunbathing.
Guinea pigs love the sun, yet we ensure to provide enough shade for our guys to avoid heatstroke. To keep the grass fresh, we move their outdoor pen every couple of hours to a new area in our yard.
Snuggle With Them
Naturally, our piggies get a lot of quality snuggle time where we (sometimes) spoil them with extra treats.
It's Possible to Care for a Group of Male Guinea Pigs
Our guinea pigs are a joy to us, although they show us regularly that they are “real men”. Keeping an all-male group is definitely not the most ideal way to keep guinea pigs, but it is doable. You might have to try out a whole bunch of things to make it work, but in the end, you will not regret it.
Make sure that the ground is dry and not too cold if you plan to let them spend some time outside.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
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