Picking out a Healthy Guinea Pig to Be Your Pet

Good Physical Attributes, Temperament, and Selection Tips

Close-Up Of Guinea Pig

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When choosing a guinea pig, you will want to look at a few things that can help you decide if you are choosing a healthy one. This is an easy process that takes about 10 minutes.

Good Physical Attributes

Look at the overall body condition. A guinea pig should be neither fat nor skinny, with no swelling, lumps, or bumps.

The guinea pig's coat should be well groomed (full, fluffy and smooth looking), with no bare patches. Avoid guinea pigs with bald patches or red patches of skin. Also check for soiling around the rear end, as this may indicate a problem with diarrhea.

The eyes, nose, and ears should be clean and free from discharge. Check the fur around the eyes and nose for signs of wetness, staining, or crusts.

Try to get a look at the teeth, they should not be overgrown and should be well-aligned. Also, check for wet or matted fur on the chin.

Observe the guinea pig's breathing, which should be quiet and not labored, with no wheezing, clicking, or gurgling noises.


Guinea pigs should be bright and curious in attitude and never lethargic. You want an active and alert guinea pig. Watch the guinea pig move around. It should have no signs of lameness, stiffness, or reluctance to move around.

Observe how the guinea pig reacts to people. Many might be skittish at first but ideally, try to pick a guinea pig that is relatively calm about being approached and OK with being handled.

Look at the guinea pig's surroundings. The cage should be clean, with good access to fresh food and water, and not overcrowded. Guinea pigs kept under good conditions will be less stressed and have less exposure to disease.

Guinea Pigs to Pass On

If any of the guinea pigs in the same cage, shelter, breeder, or store seem ill, resist the temptation to adopt from there. If there is a contagious illness, then your guinea pig may be next, and there may be possible heartbreak ahead.

Familiarize yourself with the differences between males and females. Make sure that wherever you get your guinea pig has the males and females separated. If the place does not separate them or seems unsure about the gender of the guinea pigs, then move on. It is best to avoid the possibility of surprise litters, especially in very young guinea pigs. Guinea pigs can become pregnant by about 4 weeks old, but this would be extremely dangerous for a very young mom-to-be.

Do not get a piglet younger than 6 weeks old. Female piglets should remain with their mothers until at least 4 weeks old. Male piglets should be separated at 3 weeks old since they can get their mother and sisters pregnant by 4 weeks of age. You want to add in these few weeks after mother separation to make sure the piglet can thrive on its own.

Where to Get Your Guinea Pig

Before you try a store or breeder, try a shelter first or your local guinea pig rescue. There are many guinea pigs who need a second chance at a forever home

If you go to a breeder, make sure they are breeding for specific goals such as temperament and health.

And, if you go to a store, make sure you can handle the guinea pig before you buy it. Do a quick health check and assess its temperament.