There are more than a few good reasons to consider having a Guinea Pig for a pet. These wonderful creatures come in a range of furs and colors. They will also not fail to surprise you each day with their bundles of character.
Cavies can live for 4-8 years on average. Its lifespan is, however, dictated by several factors that we will discuss in this post.
It is imperative to understand that your pet care practices may play a significant role in determining the longevity of your Guinea pig. Some pets live for more than ten years while others die shortly after adoption because of loneliness, improper diets, or even poor pet care routines.
Some issues that impact the lifespan of guinea pigs, such as breed and genetics are not in your control. However, certain care routines may potentially extend the lifecycle of your pet. Providing a suitable living environment, for instance, can add a few months or years to the lifecycle of a guinea pig.
Average Life Expectancy of a Guinea Pig in Captivity
If your Guinea pig is genetically predisposed to live long, its odds of living a full life increase dramatically when it is in captivity. In this case, it could comfortably live for 8 years or more if all its basic needs are met. With adequate companionship, proper nutrition, and the right living environment, the pet will at least live for more than half a decade.
Average Life Expectancy of a Guinea Pig in the Wild
Wild guinea pigs hardly live for more than 4 years. They are enticing prey to a decent number of bigger animals, and this is a critical factor that contributes to their shorter lifespan in the wild.
It is important to note that the guinea pigs on sale in local pet shops differ genetically from their wild counterparts. Pet stores sell captive-bred pets that are somewhat modified to live longer.
How Does Breed Affect The Life Expectancy Of A Guinea Pig?
One of the deciding factors of the lifespan of your cavy is its breed. Studies conducted by various credible institutions show that exotic guinea pigs, such as the hairless variety, have shorter lifespans. Compared to Abyssinian and American guinea pigs, for instance, Teddy, Rex, and Skinny Guinea pig have considerably shorter lifespans.
As I mentioned earlier, captive-bred Guinea pigs are genetically modified to make them less vulnerable to diseases that can cut short their life expectancy. They have higher immunity, and this makes them live a few years longer, irrespective of their breed.
Does Gender Impact The Life Expectancy Of A Guinea Pig?
It is believed that male guinea pigs enjoy longer lifecycles than female ones. Some studies conducted over the recent past support these claims, although it is apparent that factors such as genetics and breed also play a crucial role in determining how long a cavy will live, regardless of its gender.
What is beyond debate is that female guinea pigs may have shorter life expectancies, mainly if they reproduce frequently. Improper care during pregnancy and after delivery tends to take a toll on their longevity.
What Can I Do To Enhance The Life Expectancy Of My Cavy?
From my research, I have gathered that proper pet care plays a huge role in enhancing the longevity of a guinea pig. If you desire to ensure that your pet lives a full life, worry not.
I come bearing gifts of a few proven tips that can help you enhance the well-being and by extension, the life cycle of your furry friend.
Create a Proper Living Environment
Let’s dive right into the most fundamental need of a guinea pig: a safe, clean, and comfortable living environment. One thing you must note is that your guinea pig is not a cat. It cannot live freely within your living spaces, so you should get it a proper cage.
To get a suitable cage, you must have a little faith and hope that your pet will grow to its adult size. Guinea pigs have an incredible growth rate, so it is best to buy a cage that is not less than 5-6 sq. Feet.
Finding the ideal location for the cage is also important. It needs to be placed within an area that enjoys stable temperatures. Any temperature fluctuations can make your pet sick.
Also, install proper bedding in the cage, perhaps a material that will not soak in the smell. Your cavy will also like its new home if you create some hiding spaces where it can sneak in to take a nap or relax during the day.
Keep Your Guinea Pig Physically Active
Your furry friend needs to be physically active for it to enjoy excellent overall well-being. First, make sure that the cage has enough space for your pet to run around, exercise, and play. It is also an excellent idea to supply it with chewing toys because guinea pigs love chewing things.
It is always advisable to get your cavy a companion. This will be of paramount importance, especially if you are often tied up with other errands. Two or more guinea pigs can have a field day of endless playtime without needing any supervision. Do not forget that guinea pigs can die of loneliness.
If you have decided that you only want one pet, consider letting it loose in the house or within a controlled outdoor area for an hour or more. This will help ensure it gets a healthy dose of workouts each day.
Give Your Guinea Pig a Balanced Diet
The need to ensure your furry friend gets a balanced diet cannot be emphasized enough. Guinea pigs need well-adjusted portions of vitamins, minerals, and fiber each day. A proper diet should consist of the following:-
Your pet’s diet should consist of at least 80% alfalfa hay or timothy hay, depending on its age. Hay helps to give the guinea pig a healthy quantity of fiber each day. It also helps to maintain a healthy digestive system and subject the teeth to tear and wear to prevent them from overgrowing.
Fresh Herbs and Vegetables
A guinea pig’s diet should contain at least 10-15% fresh herbs and vegetables. The right serving must be rich in vitamin C and low on both phosphorus and calcium. Remember that your pet needs vitamins because it cannot produce it on its own.
Fresh Fruits or Pellets
You can serve pellets and fresh fruit to ensure your cavy gets an extra dose of vitamin C.
Make sure your furry buddy can access clean and freshwater at all times. Guinea pigs differ in their water consumption rate, so always ensure its water bottle has clean, potable water.
Health Issues That Affect Guinea Pigs and Their Symptoms
If you desire to increase the odds of your guinea pig living longer, you should make sure it gets the right treatment as soon as it begins to show signs of illness. Unfortunately, guinea pigs are delicate creatures, and health issues tend to go from bad to worse within a few hours.
Let’s learn about the most common diseases that affect guinea pigs and the symptoms to expect.
Pneumonia and Respiratory Infections
Guinea pigs are prone to suffering from respiratory infections and pneumonia. These are bacterial infections that can show symptoms such as breathing difficulties, loss of appetite, and discharge from the nose and eyes.
The digestive system of guinea pigs is quite sensitive. Anytime your pet’s system has an improper balance of good and bad bacteria, it could suffer from diarrhea. This imbalance can be caused by parasitic or bacterial infections, frequent dietary changes, or bad diets. The symptoms of diarrhea include loss of appetite, dehydration, and low body temperature.
I did mention that guinea pigs need plenty of vitamin C in their diets. If they are deprived of these vitamins, they could suffer from scurvy, which causes symptoms like diarrhea, a rough coat, and swollen feet.
Guinea pigs need diets that are high on fiber and vitamin C and low in calcium. Bladder stones are caused by the calcification of excessive calcium in their bodies. This concern causes symptoms like blood spots in urine and trouble urinating.
If you notice signs and symptoms that imply that your cavy could be suffering from any of the above diseases, I recommend that you see a vet within 24 hours.
If you like cute animals, a Guinea pig is likely to be the right pet for you. These sociable rodents can warm your heart and enrich your life in more ways than you have ever imagined.
As a pet parent, I believe I am qualified to leave you with one proven tip; less stress, more life! The surest way to enhance the life expectancy of your cavy is to strive to ensure its health, well-being, and happiness.