GUINEA PIG LIFE STATISTICS
SCIENTIFIC NAME- Cavia porcellus
LIFE SPAN- 4-8 years
MALE PUBERTY- 8-10 weeks
FEMALE PUBERTY- 3-5 weeks
ADULT WEIGHT MALE-
ADULT WEIGHT FEMALE- 800g-1kg
BIRTH WEIGHT- 50-100g
WEANED UP UNTIL- Approx. 26 days
FEMALE- Between 12 weeks and 8 months
OESTRUS CYCLE- Every two weeks for 15 hours
GESTATION PERIOD- 60-78days
AGE TO STOP BREEDING FEMALE- 2-3 years
BEST AGE TO STOP BREEDING MALE- 4-5 years
It is extremely essential to carry out a regular
health check, in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle for your pigs. Personally I recommend that a good owner should carry
out a small health check on areas such as the eyes, feet, genitals and anus, one to three times a day. This is because most
of the problems occur in these areas and they are more noticeable. These areas can be observed from the comfort of their own
cage, so it doesnt cause any stress towards the pig.
Any other time handling will need to be the option if you wish to
make an accurate and thorough examination.
I tend to work my way from front to
back, firstly checking over the pigs eyes, ears, nose, teeth, mouth and neck. You need to check for any discharge, blood or
and discolouration in any of these parts. Discharge from the eyes could mean that your pig has Conjunctivitis, a foreign body
in the eye or problems with the teeth. A discharge from the ears or nose may be more serious so vet treatment is recommended.
Next check the condition of the pigs
coat and skin to make sure that there arent any bald patches, noticeable parasites, lumps and bumps or war scars. Sometimes
the bald patches indicate an external parasite such as lice or mites so you must be thorough when you are checking.
Next examine your pigs legs and feet
to check for any dry skin or tenderness. Lameness could also be an issue, so you should take at least 5 minutes to watch the
pig move about and carry out its normal activities. Ideally if you know your guinea pig inside and out, as soon as you come
into the shed or area you keep them in you will notice a problem straight away. A week ago I came into my pig shed in the
morning to feed them and noticed that one of my pigs was looking a bit under the weather. I examined her very closely and
noticed that she seemed slightly thinner than usual and she squealed in pain when I picked her up.
I wasnt greatly concerned as she
was still drinking and eating some of her food, so I placed her and her two companions in a carry cage and put them in my
bedroom. This was done so that I could keep an eye on her at night, which is the time when their health tends to deteriorate,
much to the annoyance of my boyfriend. She and her two sisters tended to drink at night, which sounded like thunder, but after
a few days she seemed a lot better so I decided to be sure and take her to the vets. The vet examined her thoroughly and tried
to look at her teeth, but unfortunately her mouth was full of food bits and she wasnt able to get a good look. She sent me
home with some antibiotics and told me to come back a week later for a check up and if she wasnt better she would put her
under an anaesthetic to check her teeth. This was the issue for two of my other guinea pigs about 3 months ago. They started
to loose weight rapidly and I was very concerned, so I took them both to the vets and she examined them both under the anaesthetic
and found that both of their teeth were overgrown and she also found hair balls. These are very rare in guinea pigs but it
was possibly due to the fact that the pigs were very stressed and over grooming. The teeth were rasped to the correct size
and the hair balls were removed and I was sent home with some antibiotics. After a while they both began to gain weight but
they are still quite thin and it might take a long time for them to get back to their normal weight.
These problems were noticed because
I knew their personalities and took the time to check each one over for any problems
Lastly the genitals and anus need
to be checked. Any sort of discharge, blood or runny stools could be a problem from both of these areas. These problems need
to be checked out straight away as they could be serious.
HEALTH CHECK LIST
EYES- they should be bright, clear and gunk free
EARS- they should be clean, shiny and dry, wax should
be yellow in colour
NOSE- should be clean, moist and free from crustaceans
MOUTH- should be well shaped, and there
should be no cuts or grazes
TEETH- should be the correct size and shape and not overgrown
SKIN- this should be clean,
free from parasites
FUR- clean, no bald patches, no tangles or dirt
COAT- should be shiny and clean and soft to the
CLAWS- they should be short, clean and not chipped or broken
FEET- should be free from faeces, dry with no dry
skin or sore patches
LEGS- they should be covered in fur and a suitable size and shape
GENITALS- they should be clean,
free from foreign bodies and hidden
ANUS- it should be free from any faeces, urine, discharge or any other foreign bodies
Another essential part of a health check is the weight of a guinea
pig. I personally weigh my pigs once a month using a set of kitchen scales as these are more accurate. It is best to use digital
scales which measure pounds and ounces or grams and kilograms. This is because any increase or decrease of weight can be spotted
Record keeping is an excellent way of maintaining
health and stability in an animal environment. Animals cannot tell you what is wrong with them when they are ill, so keeping
a regularly monitored record of any physical and behavioural problems the animal shows is good way to diagnose the problem.
They can be kept for a number of reasons such as for feeding and breeding records, growth charts, treatment records. They
are also good as a reference to any past illness, which have flared up again, so they can be easily recognized.
Records can be kept in all different
formats depending on whether you have the resources, such as computers, record cards, charts, daily diaries and data records.
There are several main pieces of information that must be stored on these records in order for them to function correctly.
These are as follows: -
Identification (type and name) and scientific name
Date of birth
male or female
Behavioural and life history
Date of death
Preferred food and special diets
keeping guinea pigs in large numbers a recording system should be devised.
In the Animal Care Unit they have
two systems. One which shows which guinea pigs have been cleaned out, fed and watered and when, and they also have a card
on the hutch which says the animals name, breed, colour, and it also shows a photograph of the animal.
The types of identification need to
be considered as well. I can identify each of my guinea pigs because they are mine, but when a family member has to look after
them they wont be able to tell which is which. This may also be the case in large animal collections but they will tend to
use different methods for different animals.
On a farm for example the cows, sheep,
pigs, chickens etc. may have ear tags, leg rings, freeze branding mainly because they all look alike.
In a laboratory
they may use microchips, cage numbers and DNA testing to identify each animal.
When it comes to pets such as cats
and dogs, which definitely need identification tags in case of getting lost, they use name tags or discs on collars, micro
chipping and kennel club registry.
I have my own record system, as it
is very difficult to remember which guinea pig prefers carrots and which prefer oranges etc. I like to keep a regular record
of each pigs weight to see if they have gained or lost. Because that way I can tell if they need to go on a diet or if they
are ill and loosing weight.
When handling a guinea pig the best method is to go in quick, but not as to give the pig a shock. The animals first usual
reaction is to squeal and run away, but if you have a good grip, gently place your free hand in front of its face, this soothes
them allowing them to be picked up.
The more the guinea pig is
handled, the more they will become accustomed to it. The best method for picking up the guinea pig for basic handling is to
slide your hand from its head towards its hind quarters, take its weight, and place the other hand firmly over its back and
lift it out, bringing it in close towards your chest.
Always handle a guinea pig over a table
or in your lap, as they have a tendency of leaping out of your arms to the floor below.
A health check can be carried
out each time the pig is and handled or restrained as he may have hurt himself, so when you go to pick him up, this could
injure him even more. Also never pick up a guinea pig without supporting its rear, as they are very delicate and have sensitive
limbs, which could dislocate easily.