Question about food..

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Post   » Thu Sep 06, 2018 8:44 pm

Hi there. I'm a new member and our family just recently got ourselves a guinea pig. My wife is very allergic to cats and dogs and the kids really wanted a pet, so after researching pets, we decided to try a guinea pig. So far, it's been a huge success. I did have a couple of questions and the pet store folks were less than helpful. I'm so glad I found a place where there seems to be a lot of knowledgeable folks!

The guinea pig's name is Colonel Fitzwilliam but the kids call him Fitzy. My wife is an English Teacher so she gets to name him...

My first question is about his food. ImageI bought some "VitaSmart Complete Nutrition" food from the local pet store. It's basically the normal pellets I saw in other food plus some other treat-like stuff? I attached a picture so you can see what I mean.[/url] The problem is, he ONLY eats the treat-like parts of the food. He always leaves his bowl with nothing but the pellets in it. Is this bad? Should we only feed him pellets (and the normal fresh veggies/fruit)?

Secondly, the water bottle that came with his cage seems to be working and he works on it often like he's drinking, but it does not appear that he's getting much water out of it due to how much water remains in the bottle. How much should he be drinking per day? I ended up putting a small bowl with water in there with him because I worried about him getting dehydrated. However, he seems to be peeing a lot (normal, I guess?) so I assume he's drinking.

Lastly, we've had him now for about two weeks. Yet he seems as scared of us as he was on the first day. He's constantly startled when we go near his cage. Is this normal also? I figured he'd start getting used to us. We've tried to all go and speak with him while he's in the cage and when he's out. But he just seems so terrified all the time that it's kind of sad... We have debated on getting another guinea pig so maybe if he had a buddy, he wouldn't be so afraid.

Anyways, thank you for your insight!


Post   » Thu Sep 06, 2018 9:00 pm

Welcome to the joys of having a guinea pig! There are a lot of things you'll learn here from people who know a lot from a lot of experience.

Here's a few things I've learned:

First, never feed them pellets with other stuff in them, because, like you said, they'll eat the treat stuff (which is junk food and not really good for them) and not eat what they need to eat. It's like your kids filling up on candy and then not eating their nutritious supper. There are two brands of pellets that most people here swear by:
Oxbow and KMS.

Oxbow can be found in pet stores or online, and KMS can be ordered online. My guinea pigs love KMS pellets the best because they are fresher and seem to taste better.

You also need to feed them unlimited access to hay.

Second, the water levels of your bottle should be visibly changing through the day, but they aren't going to drop a whole lot from one drink.

Third, if your cage came from a pet store it is too small, even for one guinea pig. Most people here use C&C cages, which can be bought online from or you can make your own more cheaply.

Fourth, guinea pigs usually do better with the companionship of another guinea pig. They are herd animals, social with their own kind, and they are much happier when they have a companion. You do have to triple check and make sure they are both of the same sex, however, lol!


Post   » Thu Sep 06, 2018 9:10 pm

As for being scared of you, guinea pigs are prey animals and their instinct is to run and hide whenever something flies overhead, whether that something is an eagle or a human hand. Even when they get to know you well, it is difficult for them to overcome that inborn instinct, and many never do. That does not mean they can't come to trust you as their human. However, two weeks is nothing. It can take months for guinea pigs to get comfortable with you, and some never get as comfortable as you might like.

The best things to do to help your piggy learn to trust you is to speak softly and soothingly to it while you sit next to the cage, always come bearing yummy treats like fresh veggies, and never come at them from above since your hand will seem like an eagle or a hawk swooping down to grab them.

It is better to scoop them up from below, and especially at first you may need to shoo them into a box or hidey before you pick that up with them in it.

BTW, hideys should have two openings (those plastic pigloos in pet stores are terrible -- they have no ventilation and with multiple pigs one pig can get trapped inside).

When I first got my pigs, I would do the above and when I held them I'd hold them against my chest so they could hear/feel my heartbeat. I'd also cover their back with one of my hands or use a small towel because it helped them feel more "hidden" from all the eagles that -- as far as they knew -- fly through my house.

Guinea pigs have poor depth of vision, and mine learned my scent and the sound of my voice before they learned to recognize me by sight. They know my footsteps (as opposed to the steps of other family members) too.

If being picked up and held always means yummy treats, then that is also a huge plus. The way to a guinea pig's heart is through its tummy.

Lots of patience on your part is a must.

Once your pigs get comfortable with you, they will still run from you 99% of the time. I've had my pigs for over three years, and they hate being caught still. They do love to be held, though, and will sprawl out on my lap as they only will when they are totally relaxed and also make their happy noises.

They are also very smart and you can teach them tricks if you are persistent enough. My daughter taught one of our pigs to run an obstacle course.
Last edited by JX4 on Thu Sep 06, 2018 9:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.


Post   » Thu Sep 06, 2018 9:11 pm

Most people here use C&C cages, which can be bought online from
Thanks for the reply and the useful info! Quick question about cages..

I saw on that cage store site that there are "kitchens" where you only have the paper or 'litter' or whatever and the rest of the cage is covered in cloth or something. Do guinea pigs really become like litter box trained? Will they learn to only soil in the area with the litter/paper? Or will I just end up having to clean up the cloth areas also? Ha!


Post   » Thu Sep 06, 2018 9:21 pm

Some people claim guinea pigs can be litter box trained, but I highly doubt it. What usually happens is guinea pigs pee and poop a lot while they sit and eat. So areas where their hay and pellets are tend to get more pee and poop than other places in the cage. If you have a "kitchen" where you put all their hay and pellets and these are not available anywhere else in the cage, then yes you can make it so that much of their poop ends up in the kitchen. That is not litter box training. That is guinea pigs being guinea pigs and sitting for a long time munching and pooping while they munch.

The cloth you see is fleece. You can make your own, but I bought ours because I don't sew and it was easier. The site sells fleece that has U-Haul furniture liners sewn inside it. The liners absorb all the pee so that the fleece remains fairly dry. Then it's pretty easy to sweep or vacuum up the relatively dry poo pellets. I keep a little hand vac next to our cage that is used ONLY for guinea pig poo. Just don't vacuum up hay bits, because those do clog the vacuum.

I sweep hay and poo from the fleece liners and then toss them in the washing machine.

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Post   » Thu Sep 06, 2018 10:26 pm

You got some great advice!

Some of your questions would have been answered if you'd read

There is a lot of info on this site. Oh, and get a scale so you can weigh your guinea pig weekly to keep track of health.

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Post   » Fri Sep 07, 2018 11:23 am

Here's a couple thoughts on the water bottle I don't think anyone else mentioned. If you haven't already, tap the spout a few times and check if water is coming out. I have plastic bottles and sometimes I need to give them a squeeze to get the water flowing after I refill them. Also, if the bottle is very small, you might consider going up a size. The really little ones don't let out enough water at a time for a guinea pig and they'll spend a lot of time at the bottle without getting much water.

Also, I'd recommend looking for an exotics vet now, just in case, since it's a little harder to find than a dog or cat vet. Always good to be prepared =)

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Post   » Fri Sep 07, 2018 10:53 pm

Good advice! I do think the larger bottles work better (once you find a good brand).


Post   » Sat Sep 08, 2018 12:40 am

Thanks for all the advice! I sure have some planning to do. I really wish I had done a bit of research (i.e. reading this forum...) before we jumped in with this little guy.

As far as his bottle goes, it's fairly large but I'm sure it's cheap as it was a freebie that came with the cage. I have tried pushing in on the little ball thing at the end of the spout and water comes out so I *think* it's working...

One more thing I wanted to ask about. I'm having a tough time trying to determine this little guy's gender. I've looked at all the pictures on here and even looked up a few youtube videos but I'm still confused lol! It's not as straight forward as some of these things make it sound. Would posting a picture of his privates be allowed? I don't want to get in trouble for posting cavy pr0n :P

Thanks in advance!


Post   » Sat Sep 08, 2018 10:30 am

Shake the bottle when it's empty and make sure you can hear the ball rattle freely up and down the tube. You want that kind. If it doesn't, you might have the kind that has a spring that holds the ball to the end of the tube. This kind is hard for guinea pigs to drink from because it takes pressure from the pigs mouth to move the ball up and allow the water to flow. Most pigs cannot do it. So even though you got water by pressing the ball, your pigs may not be getting water if they have that kind of water bottle.

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Post   » Sat Sep 08, 2018 1:07 pm

If you have clear crisp photos, you can send them to me and we'll give it a go.

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Post   » Sat Sep 08, 2018 6:16 pm

Congrats on your new piggie! There is so much info out here it’s amazing! I had a few different water bottles and what worked best for Lacey was a clear plastic BPA free bottle with a ball and light spring. I can watch when she drinks and see the bubbles coming up so I know she’s getting water. If you have one with a spring that you think is too strong, take the spring out, cut it, stretch it a bit and put it back. I had one with a ball and no spring but it dripped all the time. And it’s hard to see the bubbles or water level in the colored ones. If you have a shallow water dish in the cage, you could drape some lettuce or a few herbs like cilantro or parsley over the edges.

Litter training is hit and miss. I have a piece of newspaper and paper towels in the back corner of Lacey’s play pen. She goes there to pee so the rest of the pen stays dry. However, she seems to poo whenever the spirit moves her so I have a mini broom and dustpan for quick cleanup.

Good luck with your new piggie - how exciting!

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