Guinea pigs are very popular small pets! Not only are they adorable and cuddly, but are great with children, making them a top pick.
But, it can be initially tricky to get to grips with the behaviours of cavies. However, by using sounds and postures, guinea pigs can say a lot. Though you may not understand all their body language and the noises they make, you can learn to understand what have clear meanings.
Positive sounds – how do you know your guinea pig feels comfortable?
Chutting: AKA “I’m having fun!”. Sometimes referred to as a “clucking” sound, like a mother hen would make, this is a sound of guinea pig contentment. Your cavy may make this sound towards you when you’re interacting with them, or towards their house mates, when enjoying the moment. They may also make this sound when they’re curious and exploring their surroundings.
Cooing: This sound communicates reassurance. It’s a sign of affection that cavies do for humans they love and for their young.
Purring: Guinea Pigs who feel contented and comfortable while being petted or cuddled, will make a deep purring sound, accompanied by a relaxed, calm posture.
Snoring: Yes, you’ve heard right. Guinea pigs can snore as well. If your buddy is relaxing on your lap and snores, it means he feels comfortable. Please note that if your guinea pig begins to make similar sounds to snoring or wheezing/clicking when breathing, be sure to check for any symptoms of illness with your vet.
Wheeking: AKA “Feed me!”. This is a distinctive and common vocalisation made by guinea pigs and it’s most often used to communicate excitement or anticipation of getting some tasty treats when their owner opens the treat box. It sounds like a long and loud squeal or whistle.
Whistling: Guinea Pigs may sometimes whistle without intending to because they are very excited about something.
Negative sounds – how do you know your guinea pig feels uncomfortable?
(Teeth) Chattering: AKA “Stop that!”. This is an aggressive vocalisation and shows an agitated or angry guinea pig which is ready to attack. As the name implies, teeth chattering is often accompanied by the guinea pig showing its teeth, which looks like a yawn.
Purring: If the purr is higher pitched, it’s often an indicator of annoyance and sometimes sounds like a piercing vibration. A short purr may indicate fear or uncertainty and you will notice your guinea pig remain motionless. In both circumstances, it is best to reassure your guinea pig softly.
Hissing: Like chattering, this is a sign of a guinea pig who’s angry or aggressive. It’s just like the hissing noise that a cat makes.
Shrieking: A piercing, high-pitched squeak called a shriek is a fairly unambiguous call of alarm in terms of fear or pain a guinea pig feels. If you hear this sound, check on your guinea pig to make sure everything is alright and it’s not hurt.
Squealing: You will hear this sound if your furry friends are feeling unhappy or distressed. Usually this sound comes when they’re bullied or bitten by other guinea pigs.
Whining: AKA “I don’t like this.” A whining or moaning type of squeak can communicate annoyance or dislike for something you or another guinea pig is doing.
Chirping: Just like a bird, chirping is perhaps the least understood or heard noise that guinea pigs make. This sound is made when cavies are taken away from their family. A chirping guinea pig may also appear to be in a trancelike state.
Body Language – what are positive postures?
Popcorning: This gesture consists of hopping straight up in the air, sometimes repeatedly, just like popcorn does while it is popping. The usual reason is happiness and excitement. They’re simply having a good time, they become excited, and pop – they are literally jumping for joy! Not all guinea pigs entertain their owners with “popcorning”, but most do. For more information on this, please refer to our previous blog Why Do Guinea Pigs Popcorn?.
Licking: This is a super friendly signal! If your guinea pig is licking you, it is usually a sign of affection, that they’re content and are trying to groom you – it’s possible though that they just like the taste of salt on your skin.
Sprawling out: This is usually a sign that your guinea pig is feeling comfortable and safe with you while relaxing on your lap.
Body language – what are negative postures?
Backing away: If you’re trying to pick up your small friend and they’re backing away from you, this could be a sign that they feels threatened and uncomfortable. Please back away and give your pet some space. It’s important not to forget that guinea pigs are prey animals, so their instinct is to run away if they feel threatened.
Fidgeting or biting while being held: This can often be a sign that your guinea pig just needs to go to the bathroom. On the other side, it can also indicate that your guinea pig feels uncomfortable, stressed or even scared – or is just tired of being held. Either way, try returning your guinea pig to its cage for a bit.
Freezing: If a guinea pig is startled or uncertain about something in its environment, it will stand motionless. Reassurance will release them from their nervous freeze.
Strutting: Moving side to side on stiff legs can be seen as an act of dominance or aggression, often accompanied by teeth chattering.
Tossing head in the air: A guinea pig will toss its head back when it’s getting annoyed being petted as a way of asking you to stop.
Standing on two legs: If your cavy stands on two legs and bares its teeth, it could be a sign that a fight is about to happen among him and his mate(s). To prevent injuries, it may be necessary to intervene here. It is recommended and important to try and prevent this behaviour if you’re introducing other guinea pigs for the first time.
What are neutral sounds & postures?
Mounting: This can be either sexual behaviour (males to females) or behaviour used to show dominance within the guinea pig herd’s social structure, especially between females.
Scent marking: Guinea pigs will rub their chins, cheeks, and hind ends on items they wish to mark as theirs. They may also urinate on things or other mates to show their dominance.
Sniffing: Sniffing is a way to check out what is going on around them and to get to know others. Guinea pigs particularly like to sniff each other around the nose, chin, ears, and back end. Sniffing is a way guinea pig’s explore.
Raising heads: This is usually a sign of dominance when they raise or stretch their heads with their cage mates.
Rumbling: A guinea pig rumble or rumble strutting is deeper than a purring noise. A male guinea pig makes this sound while trying to mate with a female, it is part of their mating ritual and often accompanied with a typical “mating dance”.
Running away from being picked up: Guinea pigs tend to be timid, especially at first. If they’re running away from you it’s not a rejection intrinsically but rather a natural defence mechanism. Just give them a bit of time and patience and they’ll be happy being picked up for cuddles and playtime outside of the cage from time to time.
Yawning: Like raising heads, your guinea pigs could be showing dominance when exposing their teeth to others.
Be sure to take a careful note of your furry friend‘s behaviours and after a while, you‘ll have a better understanding of it. Remember it may take a while for your furball to get used to being handled. Your guinea pig may interact with you differently than the way it does with their mates.
To provide your cavy a happy and healthy life and in order to prevent stress or depression, socialising and playtime are important parts of a guinea pig’s life. If you want to know how to teach your furball some nice tricks, check out our previous blog How to Teach Your Guinea Pigs and Rabbits Tricks.
This entry was posted in Guinea Pigs
One of the most rewarding experiences you can have with your pets is teaching them tricks, and despite what you may have heard, it’s a lot easier than you might think.
Rabbits and guinea pigs are sociable animals, and they greatly benefit from spending time with their owners learning and playing. It can be a great way to establish trust between you and your pets, as well as a lot of fun!
Training a rabbits or guinea pig works best when you can repeat it every day – even if it’s only for five or ten minutes. Not only will your pets love the attention, having the repeated routine will help them remember the tricks you perform together.
The first thing you will need is a quiet space away from distractions. Zippi Rabbit Runs and Playpens are ideal, giving you the secure and familiar space in which your pets can relax and enjoy the training. You will also need some of your rabbits’ and guinea pigs’ favourite treats to encourage and reinforce the learning. It can be helpful to separate your pets when training them, but equally, some pets benefit from learning from each other – for example, if you have an older trained rabbit or a young, untrained one, the young rabbit can learn tricks faster by copying his older friend. And forget what you’ve heard about old dogs and new tricks – your pets are never too old to pick up new things!
Rabbit and guinea pig tricks for beginners
When you start to train your guinea pig or rabbit, it’s all about patience and perseverance. Your pet might not seem that interested initially, but as you continue to reinforce their learning with treats, you will find they keep coming back for more. You should always start with something simple, such as ‘Circling’, a perfect trick for both rabbits and guinea pigs.
Training your guinea pig or rabbit to circle
To teach your pet how to perform Circle, simply grip a treat tight between your fingers, and hold it close to your pet’s mouth. Then lead your pet around in a circle with the treat – so that it spins on the spot. Repeat this until your pet spins around without you leading them, occasionally reinforcing them with the treat. It is important that you only give them a reinforcement treat when they successfully do the trick. Don’t feel bad if they manage to sneakily steal the treat from you – it’s all part of the fun!
Don’t worry if this takes some time to learn – the first trick can be the hardest for your rabbits or guinea pig, and once they have mastered Circle, a whole world of tricks opens up for you and your pet to enjoy together! If your pet is struggling with Circle, try making them turn in the other direction – just like us, our pets are either left or right-footed.
There are all sorts of tricks that you can teach your pets using a similar method – teach your guinea pigs to go through a play tunnel in your Zippi Run by guiding them with a treat to the beginning of the tunnel, then place the treat at the other end of the tunnel as a reward. You can also teach your rabbits to first stand up by holding the treat just out of their reach – then, when they have learnt to stand, you can start slowly moving the treat, and you will soon find your rabbit taking its first steps on two feet to get that treat.
How to teach rabbits and guinea pigs ‘figure of eight’
If you’ve succeeded in all of these treat-leading tricks, then maybe challenge yourself by trying to teach your pet to walk a figure of eight weaving between your legs – in the same way as with Circle. With some perseverance, you’ll be amazed at what your pet can learn and remember. This is a great trick for showing off to your friends, and you’ll find that your pets are a lot more comfortable around strangers after training.
Don’t forget that the treats which you give your pets are a part of their diet, and if you’re repeating your training daily as recommended, you may need to give your pet a touch less feed each day to make up for the extra nutrition they’re getting from the frequent treats. You can further increase the effectiveness of your training by exchanging your dried treats for fresh leaves. Keeping the treats healthy is important.
How to make rabbits and guinea pigs come when called
As with many tricks, the key here is treats. Offer the treat when you are close to the pet, and say the pet’s name as you do so. Eventually, they will come to associate their name with the treat. The next step is to call your pet from further away, showing the treat. Repeat the name as they take it. Call your rabbit’s name and give them a treat after they approach. After two weeks of this regular exercise – calling, treating – try calling your pet’s name without showing the treat.
If the rabbit or guinea pig does not respond, they have not yet made the connection. Revert to the first steps, and call while showing – and giving – the treat. Once your pet has made the link, they will scurry towards you when they hear their name. There’s no harm in reinforcing this with a bonus treat now and then!
How to make rabbits and guinea pigs jump through hoops
The key to this trick is stick-training. You will also need the pet training device known as a clicker. To start training your guinea pig or rabbit– and over the first few days of training – simply hold the stick near your pet. When it turns to sniff and investigate the training stick, click the clicker and offer a treat. In time, your pet will come to associate the stick with a treat.
The next stage is to hold the hoop close to your Rabbit or guinea pig, slightly off the ground. Hold the stick on the other side of the hoop, and eventually your pet will jump through to get the treat. Guinea pigs will only manage a slight hop, whereas over time you can raise the hoop quite high for a rabbit.
How to make rabbits give you a high-5!
This is a complex one, and it is only suitable for rabbits. It involves a certain amount of ‘click training’, using a clicker.
The starting point is to sit with your rabbit and wait for it to lift a paw – they do this frequently – clicking whenever it does so. For the first few days, this is far as you’ll get – raised paw, click! You can speed thing up by offering a treat high off the ground – the rabbit will lift its nose, and then its paw. Be ready with that clicker when the paw is raised!
For the next stage, position your hand near the rabbit, on the ground. When the raised paw is put down again, it will touch your hand. As soon as it does, give the clicker a click and offer a treat. Once the rabbit begins to understand, you can move your hand further away. The key is to make the rabbit realise that the click and the treat only occur when they touch your hand.
By keeping your hand on one side of the rabbit, rather than in front, you’ll make sure the paw-to-hand contact only involves a single paw – a key detail of the high-5. The rabbit will eventually know that touching the hand delivers the treat. So, the next step is to put your hand out and wait for the rabbit to make the connection and high-5 it. Once it does, give it the click and treat treatment!
This process can take time – but it’s a great trick, and one that will genuinely amaze everyone who watches it!
Runs and platforms for rabbits and guinea pigs
One of the key ways you can enrich your pets’ lives and keep them mentally and physically fit and healthy is by getting them a proper enclosure and suitable play equipment. Giving your pets the right amount of space is essential to their wellbeing, and this is easy with custom-made Zippi Tunnels and Zippi Run Platforms. These expand the space within your run and bring the many benefits of constant exercise.
Zippi Platforms increase the daily exercise possibilities for your pets and tap into their meerkat-like instincts of getting up high and acting as a lookout. Having a fun environment goes hand in hand with good training, as your pets’ happiness and healthiness is key to their engagement in learning.
If you have a large group of rabbits or guinea pigs, training them is a great way to give your pets some individual attention – you might soon find that it’s both you and your pets’ favourite part of the day!
This entry was posted in Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs are small animals that are increasingly finding their place in homes. Affectionate, they will make your children happy. However, in order for them to flourish at their best, it is necessary to take care of your pets by meeting their needs perfectly. The health of your pet depends on vitamins and a specific diet.
Follow our advice to ensure that your guinea pig receives an adequate daily intake of vitamins and stays healthy.
Why should I give my guinea pig vitamin C?
Just like humans, guinea pigs do not synthesize vitamin C (also called ascorbic acid). Due to an old genetic mutation, our favorite little pets can no longer make vitamin C from glucose. The intake of vitamin C in their diet becomes a necessity.
Vitamin C is a molecule that slows down the aging of cells, helps prevent the risk of infections and accelerates healing, therefore, vitamin C intake should not be taken lightly since deficiencies can cause serious health problems in your pet.
The signs of vitamin C deficiency are plentiful and here is what should alert you:
- Your guinea pig is losing weight, does not want to eat or eats differently
- For young guinea pigs, growth inefficiency may be visible
- Your guinea pig’s immune system slows down which can cause many infections. There are also problems with the joints and difficulties for moving. It is important that you are alert to any lesions or sores that may have difficulty healing. If your guinea pig squeals when you pick him up, that’s not a good sign.
Should I give my baby guinea pig vitamin C?
The answer is yes. It is recommended that you give your guinea pig the vitamin from an early age so that it does not suffer from deficiencies.
In addition to vitamin C, which we will focus on in the rest of our article, your guinea pig also needs its dose of vitamin E. Much less mentioned than the previous one, vitamin E is also necessary for maintaining the good health of your pet. If your guinea pig is deficient in vitamin E it may be suffering from muscle problems and this may also be the cause of high mortality in female guinea pigs. This vitamin participates in the production of cells, it therefore has an essential role.
A little tip for vitamin E: Between 3 and 5g of vitamin E should be contained in 100g of food.
Foods rich in vitamin E: Fennel, broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, peppers and oatmeal.
What foods naturally contain vitamin C?
Many fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C. These foods are easily found in the supermarket. It’s even better if they come from your small vegetable garden! Always wash vegetables and fruit before feeding them to your guinea pig. It is important to present them to your pet as a treat, he will appreciate it more. Do not hesitate to vary his diet by offering different vegetables according to the seasons.
Key figures: The daily intake of vitamin C in guinea pigs should be 20 mg / lb. of body weight for an adult guinea pig. This dose can rise to 60 mg / lb. of body weight for a growing guinea pig, a pregnant female or a sick guinea pig. If you want personalized advice for your guinea pig, do not hesitate to ask your vet.
Image by Viola ‘ from Pixabay
Foods rich in Vitamin C suitable for guinea pigs in 150 g portions (be aware, it is not a question of giving 150g of the same vegetable but of varying the plate):
- Horseradish:contains 141 mg.
- Parsley: contains 140 mg.
- Kale: contains 120mg. Be careful, this food should be eaten in moderation since it may cause bloating in your animal, just like other types of cabbage (Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, white cabbage, red cabbage, green cabbage, etc.)
- Fennel: contains 120 mg.
- Red Pepper: contains 126 mg. Red peppers contain more vitamin C than green peppers.
- Broccoli: contains 93 mg.
- Dandelion: contains 58 mg.
- Chicory: contains 24 mg.
- Radishes: contains 23 mg.
- Tomatoes: contains 19 mg. In addition to providing vitamin C, they are rich in water.
- Zucchini: contains 10 mg.
- Celery: contains 7 mg.
- Cucumbers: contains 5 mg.
This list is not exhaustive, but gives you an overview of foo-
ds rich in vitamin C which you might already have at home! We advise you to vary your intake and ask your vet for more information.
Small dietary reminder: Do not feed guinea pigs rhubarb, onions, leeks, chives, garlic, avocado and lettuce (rich in nitrate) and avoid carrots as they are often too sweet.
We often forget it, but grass is also a source of food for guinea pigs as it is a complete food. You can also supplement the diet with leaves of strawberries, raspberries (beware of thorns), mulberries, willows…
Fruits must also be integrated into their diet, but be careful as they are highly concentrated in sugar and should be given in moderation.
Sometimes, despite a varied and balanced diet, vegetables and other plants are not enough. Guinea pig owners are therefore advised to provide them with vitamin C supplements.
How to give vitamins to my guinea pig? In what form should they be favored?
Vitamin C is available in a variety of forms so you should be able to find something to suit your guinea pig’s preferences. Just like humans, some will prefer capsules while others prefer a liquid form.
Liquid form: Ask your vet for advice on the brand you should choose. The vitamin is injected with a syringe. This method is complex because you have to succeed in getting your guinea pig to ingest the desired dose by placing the syringe in the side of the mouth. Avoid putting it face-on or pushing it into his mouth, he could choke. Do not put vitamin C in liquid form in water. Vitamin C is sensitive to light and air, and could break down very quickly. Protect the bottle from light and recap the bottle quickly after use.
Capsules / tablets: This is an effective way to make sure that your guinea pig is getting its daily amount of vitamin C. There are brands on the market that allow you to get the optimal dose. If your guinea pig has difficulty swallowing the tablet. You can hide it in a banana for example, or in other fruits that your guinea pig enjoys.
Powdered: This form of vitamin C should be taken with caution. The powdered sachet, once opened, must be quickly consumed by the guinea pig or the benefits may be lost. Powder on contact with air will simply lose its effectiveness. The powder has a positive though; you can put it on a piece of cucumber or another treat that your pet loves, the vitamin will then be easily ingested.
Vitamins C and E should be supplied throughout the life of your guinea pig. However, avoid overdosing. Indeed, too much vitamin C can also be dangerous for your animal and cause urinary stones. Check with your veterinarian for the exact dose of vitamin C to give your guinea pig, to help him/her stay in great shape to live life happily and healthy.
This entry was posted in Guinea Pigs
What is popcorning in guinea pigs?
When a guinea pig is happy and excited, it will often ‘popcorn’. This describes the sudden jumps performed by guinea pigs, sometimes from a standing position, sometimes in mid-stride, and often involving a change in direction and an endearing squeak! But why do guinea pigs popcorn?
What does it mean when guinea pigs popcorn?
Guinea pigs, being naturally portly, need all the exercise they can get in order to stay trim. It is thought that when guinea pigs popcorn it is part of their natural workout. You can find out more about guinea pigs and their exercise requirements in our How Much Exercise Do My Guinea Pigs Need? blog. It may also be a behavior that causes predators to stop in their tracks, out of sheer surprise, giving the guinea pig an increased chance of escaping unscathed.
Not all guinea pigs entertain their owners with popcorning, but most of them do. The usual reason why guinea pigs popcorn is happiness. They’re simply having a good time, they become excited, and pop! They are literally jumping for joy. Well, most of the time…
Do guinea pigs popcorn when scared?
Popcorning in guinea pigs is certainly not abnormal, although guinea pigs may occasionally popcorn out of fear. You can easily tell when this is the case – was there a sudden noise, for example, or did the guinea pig spot a cat or dog or some other potential danger? If fear is the trigger, the guinea pig will run for cover after landing, and will often make some alarm calls too.
In most cases, however, a guinea pig will ‘freeze’ rather than popcorn if it perceives danger. This is a behavior common to all rodents (and rabbits too). Read more about rabbit behavior in the Learn to Read your Rabbit’s Body Language from Omlet.
Popcorning can be seen in many young mammals (although it is only called popcorning if a guinea pig is involved). Young lambs are a classic example. The behavior is often part of a running and jumping combination, actions known to guinea pig lovers as zoomies.
Encouraging a guinea pig to popcorn
Although guinea pig popcorning can’t be taught to a guinea pig as such, your pet can be encouraged in various ways. Offering a favorite treat often inspires the behavior, and in a keen guinea pig pop-corner, the very sight of the treat might, in time, produce the behavior. At this point, it crosses over into training territory, and if you use a command word (such as ‘popcorn!’) each time a treat is offered, you are in with a chance of making your pet associate the word with the treat. This means, in theory, that simply saying ‘popcorn!’ will cause the guinea pig to jump for joy!
Guinea pigs love exploring new toys, and these will often produce a spell of guinea pig popcorning, too. The excitement often lasts, too, and a new hay station, ball, ramp or section of a guinea pig tunnel will often produce a popcorn jump several weeks after the item was first introduced.
Regular play sessions with your guinea pig will be a source of pleasure for your pet, too. If they feel safe with you in their run, guinea pigs will sometimes popcorn their way into double figures. If you pick them up, and cuddle them, it will often inspire popcorning when the guinea pigs are back on the ground.
If you have a secure space outside the guinea pig cage, this can provide great stimulation for inquisitive guinea pigs. Supervise your furry friends as they nose through the space, and count how many times they perform a popcorn! This should only be allowed outdoors if the space is completely secure and safe for guinea pigs (i.e. no gaps in the fence, no other pets, no toxic plants), and if the outdoor temperature is warm (a minimum of 64 F).
Why do guinea pigs do ‘zoomies’?
It’s a little odd that the guinea pig, a short-legged animal that lacks the ability to climb very well and is usually unable to jump over an obstacle, should be able to perform these vertical take-off maneuvers. Younger guinea pigs tend to jump highest, and more portly specimens will seldom attempt to perform zoomies and popcorns. Younger guinea pigs, in general, will do most of the running and jumping, letting off all the excess energy associated with youth and vigor!
Novice guinea pig keepers have been known to mistake guinea pig popcorning for a seizure. Once you take time to watch your guinea pig you will soon spot the difference, however, as the guinea pig popcorning will become a very familiar sight, and there is no confusing the two. A guinea pig that is having a seizure will fall on its side and wave its legs around, often with jerky motions to the head. The attack will last several seconds too, unlike a swift popcorn. If, after jumping or falling, a guinea pig fails to get back to its feet immediately, it’s time to consult the vet.
Guinea pig popcorning and guinea pig zoomies are two of the things that make guinea pig keeping such great fun. These little furry characters are so full of fun, it’s contagious!
Whilst guinea pigs do a pretty good job entertaining us with popcorning, make sure that they have everything they need to stay amused with Omlet’s range of guinea pig products. From the Zippi Guinea Pig Tunnel System to the Caddi Guinea Pig Treat Holder, your furry friend will absolutely love these awesome accessories!
While guinea pigs do a pretty good job entertaining us with popcorning, make sure that they have everything they need to stay amused with Omlet’s range of guinea pig products. From the Zippi Guinea Pig Tunnel System to the Caddi Guinea Pig Treat Holder, your furry friend will absolutely love these awesome accessories!
This entry was posted in Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs, AKA Cavia porcellus originate from the South American Andes, where they lived amongst the varying terrains of the mountains. Foraging comes naturally to this species as their ancestors spent their days exploring the rocky landscapes and grasslands to find their next source of food. And whilst these pets are not built for marathons, what they do need is a combination of hutch and run along with extra tunnels and accessories to provide them with plenty of exercise space and mental stimulation. Omlet’s guinea pig products have been expertly designed to encourage this instinct, ensuring that today’s household cavies get the exercise they need.
How do guinea pigs exercise?
Whilst small mammals of the rodent families may all look adorable, fluffy and vaguely similar, hamsters and guinea pigs do not have the same needs. Therefore, hamster-style wheels and balls are not required (and can, in fact, be very dangerous for guinea pigs). You can discover more about this topic in our What’s The Difference Between a Hamster and a Guinea Pig? blog. Instead, you should make sure that the floor area of your guinea pigs’ hutch is a minimum of 0.75 square meters for hutches containing two cavies.
The floor area is where they’ll spend much of their time, so the bigger the living quarters, the better. The indoor part of a hutch is only half the story, though, and guinea pigs need some outdoor space, too. It is recommended that they should have at least three hours each day exploring, filled with plenty of exciting exercise, where they can run, skip, and popcorn! This is easy to arrange if you combine a hutch and run, and an all-in-one living space such as The Eglu Go Hutch for Guinea Pigs is the ideal option.
Guinea pig runs can also be linked to outdoor playpens using an arrangement such as the Zippi Guinea Pig Tunnel System. Whilst guinea pigs no longer have to search amongst the terrains of the Andes for food, this kind of flexible system allows you to construct anything from a simple A to B tunnel, to a full-blown maze with a delicious vegetable hunt, allowing them to practise this behavior. Did you know that a guinea pig’s sense of smell is actually 25x better than humans?! Therefore, a tasty vegetable hunt using your Zippi Tunnel System, Zippi Shelter, and Guinea Pig Tunnels, is the perfect setup for physically and mentally stimulating your cavies!
For a pair of Guinea pigs, a one- to two-metre-square run provides ample space. If you can to give the pets more space than this, they will only really use it fully if it has plenty of tunnels and bolt holes to head for – guinea pigs don’t like to be too far away from somewhere safe and cosy, and will not usually roam in a large garden.
How do you exercise a guinea pig? – encouraging your cavy
Guinea pigs are more inclined to run around and have fun if they have companions to play with. So, rule number one for ensuring that your pets get enough exercise is to provide them with at least one playmate. In the wild, extended family groups could be at least10, but you should always keep the numbers to a level dictated by the size of the hutch and run. You need to get the mix right, as a male and a female will inevitably mate, which has obvious consequences in terms of space and mouths to feed.
Groups of males or groups of females are the best option. A castrated male will mix very happily and placidly with females, and any small disagreement and scuffles among your guinea pigs is unlikely to result in injury and is all part of their exercise routine.
Incorporating hiding places in your run/hutch/tunnel set up is an important detail. Guinea pigs instinctively have one eye on a safe bolt-hole when they are out and about, and scurrying back to safety is probably their most strenuous form of exercise.
You can encourage your pets to scout around and stretch their legs by putting interesting objects in their run, such as a Caddi Treat Holder, wicker toys stuffed with guinea pig treats, chews, tunnels and simple hideaways in the form of terracotta caves and igloos. They will also play happily with the cardboard tubes from the inside of loo-rolls and paper towels, or a simple cardboard box, especially if these items are stuffed with hay and fresh veggie treats.
One of the things that gives guinea pigs such a unique character is their loveable combination of endless inquisitiveness and nervousness. They follow their noses, explore everything, and then dash back to safety, making those wonderful wheep wheep sounds as they do so. With this mixture of playing and bolting, their exercise needs are easily met – all you need to do is provide the hardware.
Guinea pig exercise is all about exploring and interacting. They are very sociable animals, moving around their enclosure in groups or dashing away on little adventures of their own. You can find everything you need for your fluffy friends on the Omlet Guinea Pig shop and for even more ideas on guinea pig exercise why not take a read of our Guinea Pig Activities blog?
This entry was posted in Guinea Pigs
Here’s why the Caddi is the perfect choice for your treat-loving pets…
- The Caddi Treat Holder decreases the rate at which your pets will eat their treats. Slower treat release through the gaps in the holder means more satisfaction for longer, and prevents over indulgence.
- The Caddi Treat Holder swings around and creates a rewarding, interactive game to keep your pets entertained, which is especially great for rainy days! Your pets will love the stimulating experience of foraging for their treats, and enjoy hours of rewarding fun.
- The Caddi allows you to feed your pets treats without having to throw them on the ground. This improves run cleanliness, reduces food waste and prevents pests, as well as being a healthier solution for your pets. Simply hang the Caddi from the roof of your pet’s run with the plastic hook and use the string to adjust the height to suit your pets.
- Endless treat opportunities! With the Caddi Treat Holder you can feed a range of fresh greens, fruits and vegetables to your pets, you can use it as a hay rack for rabbits, or fill it with pecker balls for hens. Get creative and reward your pets with exciting new flavours in the Caddi.
- You can save 50% on the Caddi Treat Holder until midnight on Monday, just by signing up to the Omlet newsletter. It’s a great deal for you, and an exciting new treat dispenser for your pets! Enter your email address on the Caddi page to claim your discount code.
Now available for just $6.49 if you sign up to the Omlet newsletter! – PROMO NOW ENDED
Terms and conditions
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This entry was posted in Chickens
Choosing a small pet is a big decision. Although their needs differ, hamsters and guinea pigs require equal amounts of planning. Where will the enclosure go? Is there enough space? Who is going to carry out the daily feeding and weekly cleaning? Can you afford all the equipment – and all the food the pets will nibble through?
Small mammals of the rodent and rabbit families may all look cute, fluffy and vaguely similar, but there are important differences in the needs and personalities of each species. There are two broad groups – animals that spend all their time indoors, such as hamsters; and those that spend part of their time outdoors and therefore need runs and tunnels, such as the guinea pig.
Hamster keeping – simple, but brief
There’s no doubt that hamsters suit people who want a pet that can pretty much look after itself. But it’s important to have some kind of interaction with your pet, otherwise there’s little point in having it in the house in the first place.
The defining feature of the hamster is its nocturnal lifestyle. This means hamster owners only get to interact with their furry friends in the evening, or early in the morning. Waking them up in the daytime will only make them confused and irritable.
These night-time habits mean that bedrooms are not the ideal location for a hamster cage. Busy little hamster feet, squeaky hamster wheels, rattling water bottles and gnawing rodent teeth are the kinds of sounds guaranteed to disturb a good night’s sleep. This is an important consideration for a child – if the hamster cage is not going to be in the bedroom, will it still be appreciated and looked after?
The answer might still be yes, if the kids are happy to interact with the hamster just before bedtime. The animals can be hand-tamed, and perhaps half an hour each day is exactly what the children are looking for. They can replenish the food and water each morning before school while the hamster settles in for another day’s deep sleep.
But if your kids want a pet who sticks around during the day, a hamster isn’t the best choice. With a lifespan of just two years, their pet won’t be around for very long, and children may feel they hardly had time to get to know their little friend.
Guinea pigs – garden lovers
Guinea pigs require lots more attention than hamsters, and that’s what a lot of pet owners are looking for. Getting to know a pet GP takes time, as they are nervous little creatures, but once you’ve gained their trust, you have a friend for life.
Children will have a real sense of being part of the animals’ community. There’s a lot to be done in GP upkeep, including replenishing hay – lots and lots of it – and chopping up veg for the food bowl. Hutches, runs and tunnels need weekly maintenance. If you have a good tunnel system such as the Zippi as part of your set up, the animals can freely move between their hutch and one or several runs or playpens at their own will. Watching the animals in action will give everyone hours of fun.
A guinea pig that is well taken care of can easily live for five to eight years, so it’s a long term commitment that shouldn’t be entered into lightly.
Guinea pigs are active in the day time, so their waking, eating and sleeping patterns match those of their human neighbours.
10 questions to decide: Hamster or Guinea Pig?
Still undecided? Answer the following questions, and then total up your score, H vs. GP. The higher number reveals the ideal pet choice for you!
1. Is someone around during the day to look after the pets?
Yes – score 1 GP
No – score 1 H
2. Is the pet for a child?
Yes – score 2 GPs
No – score 1 H and 1 GP
3. Do you have some space in the garden for an enclosure or run?
Yes – score 1 GP
No – score 1 H
4. Does anyone in the household have a pet allergy? (This may mean keeping the pets outdoors)
Yes – score 2 GPs
No – Score 1 GP and 1 H
5. Do you want to keep just one pet?
Yes – score 1 H
No – score 1 GP
6. Is someone prepared to prepare fresh veg each day for the pet?
Yes – score 1 GP
No – score 1 H
7. Do you only have room for a small cage?
Yes – score 2 Hs
No – score 1 H and 1 GP
8. Is the pet owner ‘late to bed, late to rise’?
Yes – score 2 Hs
No – score 1 GP and 1 H
9. Is the cage within earshot of your bedroom?
Yes – score 2 GPs
No score 1 H and 1 GP
10. Are you looking for a pet as a long-term companion?
Yes – score 1 GP
No – score 1 H
More GPs than Hs, or the other way round? Either way, you will hopefully now have a firmer idea of which pet will best suit you and your household.
This entry was posted in Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs have many little ways of showing how much they love you. They may not be as obvious as dogs or cats in this respect, but once you know the signs they’re actually quite easy to read.
Your Guinea Pig Likes Being Held
GPs are timid creatures by nature, so it takes a lot of confidence for them to come to you for stroking or holding. You can interpret that confidence as affection. To reach this stage you need to hand-tame your pet with care and patience. Once they’ve built the trust, they’ll bond with you. They won’t approach everyone in this way – it’s just you they love!
Your Guinea Pig Likes Being Hand-Fed
It will take a little while to reach this stage. Rather than holding a tasty treat in your hand and hoping for the best, it’s best to train the guinea pig in stages. Leave a little trail of treats, and call to your pet gently. Eventually they’ll make it to your hand, and once they’ve become accustomed to this contact, the special bond between pet and owner will be complete.
Your Guinea Pig Follows You Around
By nature, a guinea pig wants to hide from humans, freeze on the spot or run away. It’s a sign of affection when they become so comfortable with you that they happily follow you around. Even if there’s no treat waiting for them, at this stage in the relationship they’ll stay with you simply because they like you and you make them feel safe.
Your Guinea Pig Doesn’t Bite!
This may sound like an odd demonstration of love, but it’s actually a sign that your pet feels very comfortable in your presence. If the GP is in any way afraid or nervous, it will bite if you try to make contact. There are ways of getting round this nervous reaction; and before you know it, the instinct to bite will have been replaced by an urge to nibble your toes…!
Your Guinea Pig Nibbles You, Very Gently
Yes, nibbling is a sign of affection! It’s something these animals do to each other as part of their guinea pig grooming and bonding. Nibbling your shoes or finger ends will come naturally, once they’re comfortable with you. It’s very different from a bite – so don’t simply stick a finger into the cage hoping for a nibble and getting a nasty surprise instead!
Your Guinea Pig Climbs On You
When a guinea pig loves you, you become one of its favourite ‘safe places’. Sit down with your furry friends and they will climb into your lap. Lie down, and they will climb onto you and explore.
Your Guinea Pig Comes To Say Hello
When your guinea pigs first arrive, they will run for cover when you approach their enclosure. Familiarity takes time and patience, and you have to lead the taming process yourself in a hands-on way. Start by holding your guinea pig correctly and comfortably. Continue with a bit of treat-training, and they’ll soon be running to greet you whenever they see you approach.
Your Guinea Pig Responds To Your Voice
Guinea pigs can’t recognise their own names, but they can come to recognise your voice. You should talk, quietly and gently, from the moment you first get them. Always chat to them during hand training and feeding. They will soon come to associate that voice with all that love, and will love you back by coming when you call – no matter what you actually call!
Your Guinea Pig ‘Talks’ To You All The Time
You’ve been talking to them constantly, and they will soon return the compliment. A Guinea pig that chatters to you is very happy indeed in your company.
Your Guinea Pig Just Can’t Stop Playing!
A happy affectionate Guinea pig will dance around your feet, or will perform what is known as ‘popcorning’. This involves jumping in the air, and then running in circles, turning, and repeating the whole wonderful exercise. What better way to demonstrate love than with a good helping of popcorn?
This entry was posted in Guinea Pigs
If you’re considering getting a guinea pig, you’re in good company. Guinea pigs (also known as “cavies”) are fun, quirky companions for people of all ages. Though small, these little animals make great pets that are full of character and personality. They’ll happily greet you with a series of adorable noises, affectionately nuzzle you during cuddling sessions, and provide you with hours of entertainment through their various eating and play habits. If you’ve ever owned a guinea pig, you know firsthand how enjoyable and rewarding it can be to have a guinea pig in your family. But, if this is your first time owning a guinea pig, here’s a checklist of everything you need.
A friend for your guinea pig
In the wild, guinea pigs live in groups called “herds”. They’re very social by nature and do best when they have a friend or two. Often guinea pigs will establish bonded pairings, but sometimes a group of 3 can be inseparable. A lone guinea pig will become depressed quickly, so be sure to plan on keeping at least 2 guinea pigs from the start.
Same-sex siblings are often a desirable pairing. Other same-sex pairings may also be successful, but you’ll want to introduce them slowly before housing them together. Be sure to only keep neutered males with females — otherwise, you’ll end up with accidental guinea pig pups. The idea of baby guinea pigs may sound cute, but behind the cuteness is a lot of extra care and having to separate males from females when they’re old enough to be weaned. And, unless you’ve got a lot of space or multiple setups, you’ll also need to find homes for the pups.
A cozy cavy hutch
Your guinea pigs will need a hutch to live in, even if you intend to keep them in your home. Whether you opt for a modern hutch like our Eglu Go guinea pig hutch or an indoor hutch option, you’ll need to weigh your decision carefully.
A good hutch is vital to a guinea pigs’ wellbeing. It’s their home, and where they’ll spend the majority of their time. Well-made hutches provide a secure environment for your guinea pigs to sleep, socialize, and exercise, and it will last you and your pets many years. And, by investing in a high-quality hutch, you won’t have to worry about maintenance or replacements.
The Eglu Go hutch can comfortably house 2-3 guinea pigs, and is the easiest cavy home you’ll ever have the pleasure of cleaning. Our unique design encourages your guinea pigs to express their natural behaviors, making them feel right at home from the beginning. And, with twin-insulated walls, your cavy will stay comfortable in any season.
It’s a common misconception that guinea pigs can’t be housed outdoors year-round. When they’re provided with quality shelter and space, they adapt well in natural settings. Special care should be taken during extreme weather conditions and temperatures, but guinea pigs can live outdoors safely the majority of the year in a setup like the Eglu Go guinea pig hutch.
It’s important to note that guinea pigs should be brought inside when temperatures are consistently above 80 degrees or below 50 degrees. Unless you’re able to check on them every couple of hours during temperature dips or spikes, it’s best to bring them in a temperature-controlled environment.
Space to exercise and play
Like most pets, guinea pigs thrive when they have as much space as possible. It’s especially important for guinea pigs to have room to exercise, as they are prone to obesity. Their little legs are adorable, but struggle under extra weight. The attached run of the Eglu Go guinea pig hutch offers your cavy room to run and play, but you can give them even more space by adding Zippi Guinea Pig Runs and Playpens.
The Zippi Guinea Pig Tunnel System brings all of this together by creating a route between their hutch and playpen. In the wild, guinea pigs seek shelter in burrows or tunnels constructed by other animals. They’re constantly on the lookout for potential threats, so providing hideouts and tunnels appeals to their desire to seek shelter. And, with convenient attachment kits, the Zippi guinea pig tunnel system can be connected to wooden hutches or any wire run easily.
For additional exercise, Zippi Guinea Pig Platforms can be installed inside of our playpens. The ramp is specially designed for little cavy legs, and the safety rails help prevent accidental tumbles. Zippi platforms are a great way to utilize aerial space, and to help you interact with your guinea pig on a whole new level — literally.
A quality diet and fresh water
Guinea pigs should have free-choice access to quality pellets and fresh water at all times. Their feed should consist of timothy hay-based pellets, rather than the “trail mix” variety of food. When offered this mix, cavies will pick out their favorite bits and leave the more nutritious pieces behind. Since guinea pigs can become overweight easily, it’s important to only feed them foods that offer nutritional value and not empty calories.
Cavies are in the rodent family, and as such, their teeth continuously grow. To combat this, make sure they have access to loose timothy hay at all times. In the wild, guinea pigs graze on grasses and plants all day long to help keep their teeth trimmed and their bellies in working order. In addition to their hay, offer your guinea pigs fresh herbs, leafy greens, and guinea pig-safe vegetables in moderation to round out their diet. As an occasional treat, you can serve your guinea pigs small pieces of fresh fruit.
Guinea pigs are among a small group of mammals that can’t make their own vitamin C. Like humans, they need their daily dose of this essential vitamin in order to stay healthy. Most commercially made guinea pig pellets have vitamin C added, but be sure to check labels.
There are multiple other ways to make sure your guinea pigs are getting enough vitamin C. These include:
- Store-bought vitamin C drops to add to their water
- Offer vitamin C-rich veggies like broccoli, bell pepper, or dark leafy greens
- During playtime, reward your cavy with vitamin C-rich fruits like strawberries
A predictable routine
Guinea pigs will find comfort in their daily routine and soon come to expect their meals, playtime, and bedtime. They’ll also quickly learn that you are the bringer of food, playtime coordinator, and provider of safety — and will reward you with friendly squeaks and other noises from guinea pig vernacular.
Plan to check in on your guinea pigs at least once a day, but the more you interact with themes, the better your bond will be. Your cavies will soon anticipate your visits and will be more active when you spend time with them.
Omlet has all your guinea pig needs
We’ve designed comfortable cavy homes that keep your guinea pigs safe while making caring for them easier than ever for you. Our Eglu Go guinea pig hutch, Zippi Guinea Pig Tunnel System, and Zippi Guinea Pig Runs and Playpens are instant housing and enrichment solutions for cavy keepers of all ages and experience levels. With Omlet, you’ll be able to start keeping guinea pigs with success from the beginning.
This entry was posted in Guinea Pigs
Small animals like rabbits and guinea pigs need to run. If provided enough room, your bunny will “boing” across the grass, and your guinea pigs will “popcorn” their way across their play space. But if you haven’t noticed these behaviors from your small pet, it may be time to add more space for them to exhibit these natural expressions of joy.
In addition to the joy that exercise brings your rabbit or guinea pig, it’s also vital for their health. Rabbits crave running, and guinea pigs need to move their little legs throughout the day to avoid becoming dangerously overweight. An under-exercised rabbit can easily become bored and depressed, and overweight guinea pigs experience joint pain and metabolic issues.
How much space should my rabbit or guinea pig have?
Realistically, you may not be able to take your rabbit for a run every day, or make sure your guinea pigs are getting their steps in. To ensure they’re getting enough exercise, try to offer as much space as possible. But unlike a pet dog, rabbits and guinea pigs can’t simply be turned out into your backyard to stretch their legs.
A high-quality hutch for rabbits and guinea pigs with an attached run is one of the best and easiest ways to help your small pet get their steps in throughout the day. Our attached runs can be extended to up to 12 feet long, giving your bunny room to boing and your guinea pig plenty of room to popcorn. And, with our heavy-duty mesh roof, sides, and flooring to help prevent bunnies from burrowing out, your small pet can enjoy their time outside safely.
How can I add more space for my rabbit or guinea pig?
Ready for even more space, or need a space away from your rabbit or guinea pig’s hutch? We’ve invented Zippi Runs and Playpens for Rabbits and Guinea Pigs to be the ultimate space for your bunnies and cavies. The same heavy-duty wire that is used for our attached runs make our Zippi Run and Playpens a safe, secure, and resilient place for your small pets to experience their world.
Choose from a variety of options to fit both your pet and space. For rabbits, our double-height playpens and runs are the perfect height to keep boisterous bunnies contained, and optional underfloor mesh keeps burrowing to a minimum. Cavies can safely enjoy our single-height runs and playpens, with or without underfloor mesh. Both our single and double heights have the option to add roof panels and anti-dig skirting for even more security.
Double the fun that our double-height runs have to offer when you add Zippi Platforms for Rabbits and Guinea Pigs. Utilize aerial space in their run, and give your pet a platform to perform tricks, meet for mealtime, or see you at eye level. Bunnies and cavies alike will feel the benefits of “taking the stairs” when they use the non-slip ramps to access our Zippi platforms. After all that exercising, the space below the Zippi platform offers a shady spot to take a post-workout nap.
Connect their spaces with a tunneling system
We didn’t just stop at playpens and runs – we also invented the ultimate tunneling system for both rabbits and guinea pigs to fulfill their natural desires to burrow. Our one-of-a-kind Zippi Tunnel System for Rabbits and Guinea Pigs can act as a standalone track set up for playtime, or connected to any run or hutch. Design routes for your rabbit or guinea pigs to go from their hutch to playpen or run and watch them enjoy being in their element.
Our Zippi tunnels are made of durable materials that are meant to last, and can be customized with our intuitive Zippi Tunnel Builder. Create twists, turns, look-out hay feeders, intersections and more when you design your own course. And keep your rabbit or guinea pig on their toes by adding onto or reconfiguring the Zippi Tunnel System at any time.
Other enriching activities for rabbits and guinea pigs
Zippi Runs and Playpens also give you an opportunity to add even more engaging activities to your pets’ space. Create a treat-filled maze for your cavy out of repurposed cardboard boxes, or make a digging box for your rabbit with a litter pan or cardboard box filled with treats and shredded paper. Add bunny or cavy shelters and play tunnels to your pets’ home to incorporate even more fun into their enclosure.
Along with exercise, diet is important to keep your rabbit or guinea pig in optimum health. Offering treats occasionally is fine, but the bulk of their diet should be timothy hay-based pellets and free-choice timothy hay. You can also offer fresh greens in our Caddi Rabbit and Guinea Pig Treat Holder to attach to their run. This elevated treat dispenser reduces waste and encourages your pets to stretch their bodies and mind to reach their treats.
Omlet and your small pets
Omlet’s goal is always to bring people and pets closer. Our entire line of Zippi products are designed to foster natural behaviors in rabbits and guinea pigs, while bringing enjoyment and wonder to their owners. Zippi Rabbit and Guinea Pig Platforms, the Zippi Rabbit and Guinea Pig Tunnel System and Zippi Outdoor Rabbit and Guinea Pig Runs are all creative accessories that let you and your pets experience their world like never before. You’ll be amazed by how happy and at ease rabbits and guinea pigs are when they’re in an environment that they truly enjoy.
This entry was posted in Guinea Pigs
Guinea Pigs are not pigs but, rather, rodents. They are also not from Guinea; they originated in the Andes mountains of South America
A male is called a boar; females are sows and babies are referred to as pups.
“Pups” are born with fur and their eyes open.
A healthy weight of a Guinea pig is between 700 and 1200g (1.5 – 2.5lbs)
Guinea pigs are around 20 and 25 cm long (8 – 10 inches)
The life span of a guinea pig is between 4 – 7 years
They have 4 toes on their front feet but only 3 on their back ones
Their teeth continue growing throughout their lives which is why it’s important for them to constantly gnaw on the things they like to eat so they wear their teeth down
Guinea pigs only sleep for about four hours during a 24- hour period and usually nap from between 20 seconds to six minutes.
Guinea pigs are extremely vocal and have a broad range of sounds which include purring, whining, shrieking, cooing, rumbling, hissing and teeth chattering.
They are very social animals and they are much happier when kept in pairs or groups
All breeds of Guinea pigs have five different types of hair that make up their coat.
This entry was posted in Guinea Pigs