What to Know Before Getting a Pet Guinea Pig

Guinea pig with brown and white hair sitting outside on wooden floor

The Spruce / Kristie Lee

Guinea pigs can be lovely pets, but there are a few things you should know before making that big commitment. From the expected lifespan to the social nature of guinea pigs, here are some things to consider before choosing a guinea pig as a pet.

  • 01 of 07

    Guinea Pigs Are a Long-Term Commitment

    Guinea pig with brown and white hair resting on owner's shoulder

    The Spruce / Kristie Lee

    While a guinea pig doesn't live nearly as long as a cat or dog, they're still a large time commitment. Guinea pigs live on average around five to seven years, sometimes longer, so be prepared to provide care over the long term.

  • 02 of 07

    Guinea Pigs Are Social

    Three guinea pigs with brown and white hair, all white hair and a mix of brown, black and white hair

    The Spruce / Kristie Lee

    Guinea pigs are very social animals and are at their happiest living with other guinea pigs. Keep a same-sex pair to ensure you don't have any unwanted litters. Females can be kept together, as can males without any issues. Be aware that sometimes personality differences in the animals will mean certain guinea pigs won't get along. Introducing them as babies is the best way to get a pair to bond, though even adults can usually be introduced with care.

  • 03 of 07

    Guinea Pigs Need a Large Cage

    Guinea pigs sitting in a large cage with indoor and outdoor space

    The Spruce / Kristie Lee

    Guinea pigs need a lot of floor space, and most cages marketed as guinea pig cages are much too small, especially for a pair. Making a homemade cage is very easy, though, and since guinea pigs are a good size and not escape artists, a homemade cage is a great option.

  • 04 of 07

    Guinea Pigs Are Quiet, Sometimes

    Guinea pig with brown and white hair poking its head out of wooden tunnel

    The Spruce / Kristie Lee

    Guinea pigs make a distinctive wheeking or whistling type sound, often in anticipation of getting a favorite treat or when in need of some attention. Though generally not loud enough to annoy the neighbors, a wheeking guinea pig can be surprisingly loud. If you're looking for an animal whose vocals will never interrupt a dinner party or afternoon nap, a guinea pig might not be for you.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Guinea Pigs Are Generally Easy to Tame

    Brown and white guinea pig held in owner's arms while tame

    The Spruce / Kristie Lee

    While guinea pigs may be nervous or skittish at first, with consistent gentle handling, they usually become tame very easily. Careful handling is a must, and children should be supervised with them, but they are unlikely to bite even when stressed.

  • 06 of 07

    Guinea Pig Require Vitamin C

    Close-Up Of Cute Guinea Pig Indoors

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    Guinea pigs are one of the few animals (humans are another) that cannot manufacture their own vitamin C, so they need to get it from their diet. Choosing a good quality diet and providing a variety of fresh foods and roughage is important, but most owners choose to also give their animals a vitamin C supplement. Vitamin C tablets are considered a better way to supplement than adding vitamin C to your pet's water.

  • 07 of 07

    Guinea Pigs are Often Available at Shelters

    Close-Up Of Guinea Pigs In Cage

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    Before heading out to buy a guinea pig, check with your local shelters or rescues for guinea pigs in need of a new home. Many guinea pigs end up at shelters and are in need of a second chance at a forever home. Shelter guinea pigs are generally social and easy-going. It should be easy to bond with an older guinea pig.

  • How big does a guinea pig get?

    Guinea pigs grow to be from 1 to 3 pounds at maturity. They're about 5 inches tall.

  • What does it mean when a guinea pig purrs?

    If your guinea pig is purring, it means she is happy! Good job, pet parent!

  • How do you wash a guinea pig?

    These little guys don't need to be bathed too often because they generally groom themselves. If there's a need to bathe yours, do it in a warm room, with guinea pig shampoo, in a basin in your kitchen sink or bathtub. Wet your guinea pig, gently shampoo, and rinse in warm water. Towel dry and keep your pet away from drafts till it's fully dry.