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6 guinea pig care tips for a safe winter

As winter marches on and temperatures nose-dive, you need to think about guinea pig care during these cold months.  Take extra steps to make sure that your beloved guinea pigs get through the winter safe and comfortable.  This is especially the case if you have a hairless guinea pigs!

Guinea pig care tip #1: Bring your outdoor guinea pigs inside

Care for your guinea pig by protecting them from extreme and fluctuating winter temperatures.  Bring any outdoor guinea pigs inside where they are safer from the cold. By bringing your guinea pigs inside, you’re also better able to keep an eye on how active they are, if they need more food or water and how their health is doing.

If for some reason you’re not able to welcome them into your home, make sure they are moved into an enclosed area such as a shed or porch. It should be a room that can have its temperature controlled either with a space heater or a built-in heater.  If your guinea pig is kept in a shed or porch, you should also consider adding extra installation over the hutch.  A sheet of reflector foil or even a heavy blanket are some good options. Make sure the hutch has good ventilation and that you are checking regularly to make sure they are fine and in good health.

Guinea pig care tip #2: Protect your guinea pig from winter drafts

Your guinea pig cage or habitat should be in an area of your home that is draft-free. We don’t like cold winter drafts and neither do guinea pigs!  Hairless guinea pigs, for example, should be kept in a non-drafty environment with the temperature kept between 68 ºF to 79 ºF.
guinea pig care

Guinea pig care tip #3: Give your guinea pigs extra bedding

Guinea pig care isn’t just about the shelter you give your guinea pig but also about how it’s insulated. Make sure your guinea pigs get extra bedding so they can create a warmer burrow if they’d like.  Recycled bedding like Carefresh Bedding is a good choice as its extra comfortable and absorbant.

Also add extra hay, which can also help your guinea pig retain its body heat. The extra hay is also a good source of food for them. Important since it takes a lot of energy to stay warm.
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Guinea pig care tip #4: Be wary of rodent poison or traps

When the temperature drops, you’re not the only one spending more time at home.  Mice and other rodents are also more likely to move indoors to seek shelter from the cold and find new sources of food.  And, they may pick your home as their new space!  You or your family may be tempted to get rid of the mice with either traps or rodent poison.  But, unfortunately, pets like guinea pigs sometimes end up eating the poison or getting caught in the traps.  For this reason, take extra precaution to not place any poisons or traps anywhere near your cavies.  Make sure to seal any holes in walls that might serve as passageways for mice.  And keep your home clean without food and crumbs lying around so not to attract any hungry mice.

Guinea pig care tip #5: Prevent joint pain in older guinea pigs

Do you have an older or elderly guinea pig?  Does your guinea pig have arthritis? If so, their joints may bother them a little more during the winter, just as they do among humans.

One way to make your guinea pig more comfortable is to give them a dietary supplement with glucosamine and chondroitin.  Glucosamine and chondroitin are natural substances that are part of normal cartilage in both guinea pigs and humans. As you know, cartilage acts as a cushion between the bones in a joint. Glucosamine and chondroitin are both safe and have few if any side effects.

Products like Oxbow Natural Science Joint Support Hay Tabs contain Glucosamine and chondroitin in a tasty tablet that is Timothy-hay based.  you might find that it puts some spring in your guinea pig’s step!
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Guinea pig care tip #6: Keep your guinea pigs dry and warm after bath time

Guinea pigs are susceptible to colds – especially after a bath when they’re nice and wet.  So make sure to dry them well.  You can even use a hair dry on the warm setting to help dry them.  You can aim the warm air around them quickly so as not to disturb them too much.  Absolutely do not use the dryer on the hot setting!


Image credit: timoroustimbit
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Do Guinea Pigs Bite? 11 reasons your cavy may bite

One way that your cavy pet can communicate is through guinea pig sounds. Another way is physically, including through nipping and biting.  When this is done, it’s not usually done as an act of aggression. In fact, guinea pigs are very gentle creatures and it’s uncommon for guinea pigs to bite or nip. If they do, it’s because something is bothering them. Below are 11 reasons for why do guinea pigs bite.

What is the difference between a guinea pig bite and a nip?

  • Nips: A nip is sometimes done as a warning from your guinea pig. For example, if your cavy nips you to have you move out of her space or if it wants to go back to its guinea pig cage.  Nipping can be also be playful. Nips shouldn’t break your skin, hurt or draw blood.
  • Bites: Biting is beyond warning, it is meant to cause some damage. Bites can say that your guinea pig is uncomfortable or scared, but they have been reported to draw blood in rare cases.

The following is a list of situations that help explain why do guinea pigs bite. Avoiding or understanding the causes of these situations can reduce the chance of being bitten by your guinea pig.

 1. Why do guinea pigs bite sometimes? Mishandling

Guinea pigs may bite when being carried from place to place since too much movement makes them nervous. They also generally don’t like being passed from person to person too quickly.

When guinea pigs are being held, they need to be well-supported in order to feel safe and secure. If you are holding them in a way that their legs are hanging down or they are being jostled around, they may not feel safe and will bite to let you know that they are nervous or uncomfortable. This is another reason for why do guinea pigs bite.

  1. They sometimes bite because they’re young

Young guinea pigs under the age of 12 months are a little more likely to nip and bite. This is because they are learning behaviors including when and when not to bite. Just like little puppies and kittens, baby guinea pigs got a lot of energy and may offer a friendly nip or bite.

Teddy baby guinea pig pictures. Do Guinea Pigs Bite? Sometimes baby guinea pigs give love nips.
Teddy baby guinea pig pictures
  1. Or they have to pee

If you’ve got your guinea pig held in your hands and they have to go to the bathroom, many will fidget. Some will fidget and wriggle and then take a nip.  Some will just nip you gently.  If you don’t pay attention, the nips can get stronger and ultimately end up turning into a bit.  It’s nothing personal, it’s just them communicatin, “I really, really, REALLY have to go to the bathroom!”  They would rather not do it on you and like to do it in their cage.  So keep this in mind, especially if 15 minutes have passed since this is roughly how long they can wait before having to go the bathroom.

  1. Another reason why do guinea pigs bite: pain or sickness can be a reason they bite

Sometimes, guinea pigs are just not feeling well or may be in pain for some reason, and triggering that pain will cause them to bite to let you know that. If your guinea pig bites when you touch them in a certain area, try carefully checking that area for bruises, bites or scrapes they might have gotten from other guinea pigs that day.

They could also have a skin irritation or, if they’re older, arthritis. Sick piggies also just don’t like to be carried that much, they just want to rest and feel better.  Also, check your guinea pig’s teeth and make sure they are not uneven, there are no sores and that your cavy is not drooling. If so, it may be suffering from malocclusion.

If you suspect that your guinea pig is injured or sick, take them to their veterinarian as soon as possible.

  1. Do they have mites?

Mites are terrible and can cause lots of discomfort to your guinea pig.  Mites, specifically mange mites, can’t live on humans. They can feed off your guinea pig and case hair loss and scabs. So if your guinea pig does bite and seems agitated when you pick it up or touch it, check for mites. If you see mites and/or notice your cavy scratching a a lot, take it to the veterinarian.

  1. Maybe they don’t like what you’re doing. I’d bite you too if that were the case!

You know how some cats resist and scratch when it’s time for a bath? Sometimes bath time or nail clipping time becomes a big reason for why do guinea pigs bite.  Some guines pigs just don’t like it and may squeek during the process. If this is the case, you can wear soft leather gloves as you do need to trim their nails as it’s for their good.

  1. Fear can be why do guinea pig bite

In the wild, guinea pigs are prey animals. This means that they are nervous by nature and like to run and hide if they feel as though they are in danger. While they rarely are in danger in your home, they still have instincts that cause them to panic in certain situations. If you are holding or touching them when these instincts kick in, they might bite to try to escape.

Sometimes, guinea pigs may have been abused by someone in the past which causes them to have a fear reaction when being handled by certain people or by all people. This is especially true if you adopted your guinea pig from a rescue or shelter. If you don’t know your guinea pig’s history, be prepared to deal with some fears that may have been caused by other people and try to be extra loving and considerate.

  1. Your piggy is unhappy

Despite being social animals, sometimes guinea pigs just aren’t in the mood for snuggles. They may be eating or playing. Either way, respect your guinea pig’s space and try again later.  Sometimes they’re just having a bad day; like people, they can get crabby sometimes!  This usually passes as guinea pigs are gentle animals.

Sometimes your guinea pig is unhappy with it’s living situation. Does it have another guinea pig with which it can socialize? Is your cavy’s cage is large enough?  Is it bored with its toys?  Is it getting enough time to exercise outside of it’s cage.  If you answer no to these questions, you can always expand it’s cage, get a playpen or some toys for it at our guinea pig cage store and guinea pig toy store.

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  1. Yum – you smell like food!

Sometimes, if you’ve been handling your guinea pig’s food and then try handling your guinea pig, they may smell the food on your hand and think that your finger is food. This is another reason for why do guinea pigs bite. This problem usually doesn’t last long as your guinea pig quickly realizes that your finger is not a tasty treat like they first thought!

  1. They want to go back to their cage

Sometimes, guinea pigs bite because they just want to go home to their cage. It’s perfectly normal and you should respect their wish.

  1. Another reason why do guinea pigs bite: Loud noises

Why do guinea pigs bite? Well, one of the things that causes a fear reaction in guinea pigs is a sudden loud noise. This can mean thunderstorms, loud radio or TV, doors slamming, vacuum cleaners, or children making lots of noise or yelling. If you know that there will be noises that may startle your guinea pig, let them go back into their cage where they can hide in their house until the fear has passed.

Once you find out what why do your guinea pigs bite, it’s easy to avoid that in the future so that they’re not being put in a situation that makes them more likely to bite.


Image courtesy of Tambako The Jaguar,

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Silkie Guinea Pig Pictures and Information about Silkie Guinea Pigs

The Silkie Guinea Pig: Learn about this beautiful guinea pig breed

The guinea pig has become very popular in recent years, and many people are owners as pets. These little furry friends make a good pet for many types of families and children alike. During my life, I have met many people who own a guinea pig and have no regrets. Many have more than one. Sometimes, owning a guinea pig can become a bit of an obsession!

Silkie guinea pig is a long-haired mammal belonging to the family of rodents whose scientific name is Cavia porcellus. Originally called the Angora guinea pig, the Silkie guinea pig is called a Sheltie in England.

History of the Silkie guinea pig

Breeders created this guinea pig in the 1970s. This guinea pig breed combines self black guinea pig, a breed of solid black short hair, and Peruvian guinea pig.

The Silkie guinea pig’s hair

Hair length is the most distinctive trait that makes these attractive guinea pigs as much a household pets as a pet show competitor. Silkies have a variety of coat colors. When competing in animal shows, all coat colors are acceptable except tan.

Тhе Ѕіlkіе guіnеа pіg’s hаіr іs sо sоft аnd shіnу уоu’ll fіnd thаt уоu wіll sооn bе unаblе tо rеsіst hоldіng аnd реttіng уоur Ѕіlkіе.

Тhе Ѕіlkіе guіnеа pіg brееd соmеs іn multірlе соlоrs. Тhе mоst соmmоn hair colors аrе blасk, whіtе, rеd, сrеаm, lіlас, bеіgе, bluе аnd соmbіnаtіоns оf соlоrs.

The Silkie guinea pig looks like the Peruvian. Here’s how they’re different

Тhе Ѕіlkіе guіnеа pіg, аlthоugh sіmіlаr tо thе Реruvіаn, hаs а numbеr оf dіffеrеnсеs. Fоr оnе, thе Ѕіlkіе’s hаіr іs shоrtеr thаn thе Реruvіаn аnd grоws іn а dіffеrеnt раttеrn. Оn thе Ѕіlkіе, іts hаіr grоws lіkе а mаnе, grоwіng frоm thе nесk оn bасk tо flооr lеngth, аnd lеаvеs thе fасе wіth а nоrmаl, shоrtеr hаіr раttеrn оf grоwth. Аt thе rеаr еnd оf thе Silkie, уоu wіll fіnd lоngеr hаіr.

The hair of the Silkie guinea pig does not cover her eyes. It is swept back towards the shoulders and forms a mane around her head. Her body hair has no part. The Peruvian has long hair covering her face and a natural part that separates the hair along her back.

Also, the fur of the Silkie guinea pig is brighter than the Peruvian’s, and the texture of its hair is thinner.

Тhе shаре оf thе Ѕіlkіе іs аlsо dіffеrеnt thаn thаt оf thе Реruvіаn іn thаt whеn іt’s vіеwеd frоm аbоvе, іt hаs а tеаrdrор shаре.

Silkie guinea pig pictures by S. Pamungkas
Silkie guinea pig pictures by S. Pamungkas

Have you heard of the Silkie Satin?

A Silkie Satin guinea pig is a breed of silkie guinea pig family. It resembles regular Silkie, but her hair is much softer and has a higher gloss. This type of guinea pig named because the hair on her body feels like satin.

Воth thе rеgulаr Ѕіlkіе аnd thе Ѕаtіn Соаt Ѕіlkіе аrе rесоgnіzеd bу thе American Cavy Breeders Association.

Caring for your Silkie guinea pig

  • Hair: Silkie guinea pigs need daily need daily brushing to keep her hаіr frее оf bеddіng mаtеrіаl аnd fооd раrtісlеs thаt саn mat up her hair. People that keep them as pets also trim the hair of their guinea pigs’ to reduce the mat. Like other breeds, the Silkie may shed hair, most often in spring and autumn. Gеttіng іntо а dаіlу rіtuаl of brushіng her hair wіll gеt уоur Silkie usеd tо bеіng grооmеd frоm thе gеt-gо аnd саn bе а sресіаl bоndіng tіmе wіth уоur реt.
  • Ноusіng: Guinea pigs kept as house pets usually live in cages. This provides a safe environment that decreases the chance of injury or getting lost. Make sure the hоusіng has рlеntу оf sрасе fоr mоvіng аbоut wіth рrореr bеddіng mаtеrіаls. Read our guinea pig cages page for more information
  • Dіеt: А dіеt rісh іn hіgh-fіbеr рlаnt fооd, Guіnеа Ріg реllеts, hау аnd grееn lеаfу vеgеtаblеs. Guіnеа Ріgs еаt соnstаntlу. Тhеіr hіgh mеtаbоlіsm саlls fоr іt, sо bе surе tо аlwауs hаvе рlеntу оf fооd аnd wаtеr аvаіlаblе tо thеm аt аll tіmеs. Read our guinea pig food page for more information
  • Exercise: Тhеу lоvе аnd nееd рlеntу оf ехеrсіsе. Guіnеа Ріgs саn bе lеt tо rоаm іn thе hоusе. Тhеу аrе іnquіsіtіvе lіttlе аnіmаls аnd shоuld bе gіvеn аt lеаst оnе hоur оf rоаm-thе-flооr tіmе еvеrу dау. Yоu саn sеt uр Guіnеа Ріg tоуs аrоund thе rооm so they can play with them.

Where can you get Silkie guinea pigs?

This breed is not as easy to find in pet stores as are other breeds of guinea pigs. People often get their Silkie guinea pig from a pet rescue organization or purchased from a professional breeder. A licensed guinea pig breeder is more likely to

Rеsеаrсhіng Guіnеа Ріg brееdеrs іn уоur аrеа іs thе bеst wау tо fіnd brееdеrs whо brееd аnd rаіsе Ѕіlkіе guіnеа pіgs. Yоu wіll рrоbаblу fіnd уоu hаvе а wіdеr sеlесtіоn, frоm gеndеr сhоісе, соlоr аnd реrsоnаlіtу and the Silkie guinea pigs are more likely to be healthy and raised in better condition.

Want to see some guinea pig pictures?

Take a look at some Silkie guinea pig images on our guinea pig Pinterest board!

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Ginny Pig? Ginnie Pig? No, it’s Guinea Pig

Spell it guinea pig, not ginny pig

You’ve seen it spelled Ginny Pig.  You’ve seen it spelled Ginnie Pig.  Either way, you’ve seen it spelled incorrectly, unfortunately . The correct spelling of our much loved animal is “Guinea Pig”

Using ginny pig sounds right phonetically. But “ginny” means something completely different.  According to the Urban Dictionary, a ginny is

A likable female that is caring and kind hearted with a goofy streak only her friends really understand. Often thought to be quiet and slightly reserved but really quite the opposite.

(Guy 1) “That girl is really awesome…”

(Guy 2) “That’s because she’s a Ginny”

So, although ginny pig isn’t the correct spelling, it does sort of make for a nice spelling since ginny means a likeable person.

But the ginny pig, er..I mean guinea pig, has quite a confusing name.  The names tells us quite a few things that actually aren’t accurate.  For example…

Guinea pigs are not pigs

Based on their name, you’d think guinea pigs are a type of pig, but they’re not.

Guinea pigs actually belong to the Cavidae, a large family of rodents that are characterized by their short tails, stout and chubby bodies, their short incisor teeth and legs that are nearly equal in length (unlike rabbits, for example). Their front feet have four-toes, and their rear feet have three toes. They are originally from South America and in their native habitats, they are hunted or farmed for their meat.  The guinea pig (not ginny pig) we know is a domesticated type of Cavidea.

When the Spaniards first invaded what is now known as Peru, they found large numbers of this animal domesticated and living in the homes of the Indigenous people, the Inca. The Incan people raised the guinea pigs not as pets but as food!  Guinea pigs were eventually carried to Europe by Spanish or Dutch traders during the late 1500s.  Since then, they’ve been kept in Europe and in North America mostly as a pet as you can see in some guinea pig paintings from the 16th century

So, the name “pig” suggests the shape of the guinea pig.  It is short and stout like a pig but it’s not related to them.

Guinea pigs are not from Guinea

There is even more mystery around why they are called “guinea” pigs.

You might think that a ginny pig, er…guinea pig…comes from Guinea, a country in Africa.  Guinea was a country well-known to European sailors and is home to a number of rodents including the greater cane rat which looks a little like a guinea pig (but more like a beaver). But the guinea pig does not come from Guinea. Guinea pigs actually originate in the Andes, which occupy a large part of Peru.

greater cane rat not ginny pig or ginnie pig
The greater cane rat (not ginny pig / ginnie pig / guinea pig)


The “guinea” in their name could come from the fact that in England, these beautiful creatures were sold for about a guinea (English coin) each  during the 1500s and 1600s.  It’s entirely possible that during the every day conversation of that era, especially among the people buying and selling them, they they became known as the little pig that sold for a guinea, or, as we call them now, a
guinea pig.


Guinea Pig is a term used for other things

The term “guinea pig” has also been used for centuries to describe someone or something that is the subject of a lab experiment. For example, sometimes people are called “human guinea pigs” if they are being used to test something.  How did this come about?

Well, it’s because biological experiments on guinea pigs have been happening since the 1600s.  And, especially in the 1800s and 1900s, guinea pigs were used as a model animal for science experiments.  This is unfortunate but was necessary.  If it weren’t for the guinea pigs used in research, for example, we would never have had cures for many diseases.  Tests using guinea pigs helped arrive at a cure for diphtheria, which resulted in the saving of millions of children’s lives.  Guinea pigs aren’t used for scientific experiments as much anymore.  Other rodents such as mice and rats are instead being used.

So, in the end, remember that this valuable creature and loving pet with a slightly confusing name, is a guinea pig not a ginny pig or ginnie pig.