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Guinea Pigs - Fabulous Facts

Milton Keynes and North Bucks branch don’t have a traditional animal centre but instead rely on a network of volunteer fosterers to care for the animals which are rescued. Our fosterers help us to care for the animals which need a temporary home while they wait for adoption.

Fosterers help to rehabilitate animals who have come into our care due to neglect, abuse, injury or suffering. These animals need patient care and support while they recover and wait for adoption. ​We provide all the equipment and supplies required to look after the animals while they are in foster care, plus all the advice and guidance to help the fosterer fulfill their role.

Before you consider adopting, please take a look at the following guinea pig welfare information. This page is for information purposes only. For specific information please consult a professional or veterinarian.


Guinea pigs may be small but they actually need a large living space! This is often a misconception many people have when getting piggies. They are made to live in incredibly small enclosures where they can't exhibit natural behaviours.

They need to have a large area for exercise and a secure shelter within this.

Piggies should be able to stand up fully on their back legs and have lots of room to run around. They are very intelligent and enjoy gnawing, chewing and exploring - avoid giving them any plastic toys as these can be harmful. Provide lots of safe enrichment to keep them mentally and physically stimulated!

Any indoor accommodation should be well-ventilated, dry and away from direct heat sources and draughts. Room temperatures of 17-20 Celsius are ideal. Some areas of the house with central heating may get too hot, so be careful where you put their enclosure. Outdoor accommodation needs to be sheltered from direct sun and wind. Any temperatures below 15 degrees and they should be moved indoors. They need sufficient bedding throughout the whole enclosure to keep them warm.

You should always aim to keep them in quieter, calm and safe areas away from any other animals they may see as a threat. Providing warm bedding that is safe to eat is ideal (dust free hay). Avoid pine, cotton wool, fluffy bedding products and paper shreddings. These can pose a serious risk to their health.

To find out more information about suitable environments - please follow these links!


Guinea pigs are grazing animals, they should always have access to good quality non-dusty hay to keep their digestive systems working well. They can have a small amount of guinea pig pellets and should be given a daily supply of fruit and vegetables that are a good source of vitamin C, as they lack the enzymes to produce this themselves.

It's always best to check which foods are safe for your piggies to eat and the right quantity for them-

Lots of commercial treats for guinea pigs are very high in sugar and not always suitable for their diet. You can give them fruits such as apple, orange, melon as an occasional treat. Avoid muesli foods where possible! You should always keep an eye on their feeding quantities to prevent them from becoming underweight or overweight.

Guinea pigs need constant access to clean fresh water, and check daily to top up where required.


Piggies are very inquisitive animals, who can get bored easily. They need lots of enrichment and stimulation to keep them happy. They are incredibly social animals, and need to interact with other friendly guinea pigs. Some also love playing with humans!

Best placed in pairs, females live well together or a mixed sex pairing (who must be neutered). Males can live together if they are siblings or have grown up together from a young age. Adult males do not tend to bond well. Guinea pigs can live in groups, best mixes would be females or a neutered male with a group of females.

They are active animals during the day and night, they need to be able to exercise to stay fit and healthy. Piggies love to tunnel, so make sure they have suitable materials to allow tunnelling behaviour, such as pipes and deep areas of hay. Provide them with lots of safe toys to play with and chew - always check safe ones to use.

Similar to rabbits, guinea pigs are prey animals and need secure hiding places where they can take comfort when feeling threatened.

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Carrying out regular health checks on your guinea pigs, can help to spot any early signs of concerns with their health and welfare. Make sure to frequently check their teeth and nails, with their nails being trimmed when required! You will also need to keep an eye on their rear end during warmer periods, as they are at risk of flystrike an often fatal disease.

They need to be regularly groomed to keep well-maintained coat, long haired breeds will need grooming daily. It's important to try and get your piggies used to handling, to help make health checks and grooming as un-stressful as possible for them. However, always be patient and take this at their own pace. As prey animals, being picked up can make them feel vulnerable so it's important to interact with your piggies in the right way to build a good relationship of trust.

It's important to keep up to date with mite and worm treatment, where required. Always consult your vet if you have any queries relating to parasite treatment.

Please remember - if you plan on having an opposite sex pairing, you must get them neutered. Unplanned breeding is getting severely out of control in recent years and it is a simple preventative way of stopping this from happening. Neutering can also have many health benefits and helps with behavioural issues.

Similar to rabbits, guinea pigs will show signs if they are stressed, unhappy or possibly in pain. If you notice any changes to appetite and general behaviour, you should contact your vet immediately for advice.

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