Cavy Care

How to care for your cavy!


Guinea pigs HAVE to eat nearly constantly to keep their digestive tract moving and to prevent anorexia. If you provide no hay, then they will eat pellets to prevent this. Eating that quantity of pellets will make them fuller, with less work, leading to obesity. Chewing hay is also vital to keeping their molars, which are constantly growing, ground down.

According to Dr. Curt Nakamura, an exotic vet specialist at Adobe Animal Hospital in Los Altos, California, grass hay should be the most important staple in your guinea pig’s diet:

“One of the most important items in the guinea pig diet is grass hay, which should be fed in unlimited quantities to both adults and baby guinea pigs. It is important to provide an unlimited source of hay because pellets do not provide enough long fiber to keep their intestines in good working order. The long fibers stimulate muscle contraction of the intestines to improve and maintain gut motility (to prevent gastrointestinal obstruction).

Please see for more info.

Tired of purchasing tiny bags of overpriced hay?

Kaytee Hay is $11.99 for 48 ounces.
Alfalfa King is $10.17 for 48 ounces.
Oxbow Hay is $8.50 for 40 ounces.
That’s a lotta green for a little bit of hay.

OCCH’s hay is only $6 for approx. 5 POUNDS* of hay (1 flake), and only $18.00 for approx. 20 POUNDS of hay (4 flakes). You can choose either timothy hay, orchard hay, or a mix of the two.

Did you notice that you get ONE FREE FLAKE of with the big bag?

Our guinea pigs say that’s one squeal of a deal! To try our spectacular hay, email

* Because we pack the hay ourselves, weights may vary. Typical weights are 5.88 and 23.52 pounds.

*NOTE: Hay is available for local OC/LA area pick up only. We’re unable to ship hay at this time. If you’re looking to order high quality hay online, please visit Kleenmama Hay or Oxbow Hay.



The bigger, the better!

Most, if not all of the cages, sold in pet stores are too small to adequately house one guinea pig let alone a pair. Guinea pigs like to run laps, popcorn and explore their environment. They require adequate space to do so. Happy guinea pigs are more entertaining and healthier.

Cavy Cages

We recommend building a Cubes and Coroplast Cage. These cages can be built for less than a pet store cage and are often considerably more attractive.

Deco Design Blue Design (with loft)

Orange County Cavy Haven uses only the C & C (Cubes and Coroplast) style of cages pictured here: These cages are inexpensive compared to pet store cages and easy to clean! They require no tools and you can make them at home in a variety of colors. For instructions on how to make a C & C cage, click here:

The most popular cages are 2 x 3 C & C’s with lofts. Guinea pigs love to run up the ramps and lounge on their “upper deck.” And it helps boar couples get along to have a place to get away from each other periodically.

OCCH volunteers also make cages to help fund the rescue.

All proceeds from the sale of cages goes to provide food, bedding,cages, and medical care for our rescued guinea pigs.

Please email if you are interested in ordering a cage, or information on where to obtain the supplies.

Cages are available for local OC/LA area pick up only. We’re unable to ship cages. To order a C&C cage online, visit Sue’s store.

Guinea Pig Care Information

Printable version of Guinea Pig Care Sheet (82k pdf format)

The guinea pig’s endearing personality provides delightful companionship for both adults and families. Once settled in their new home they are inquisitive, friendly and talkative. At least one guinea pig friend of the same sex is recommended. With proper care and nutrition guinea pigs can live up to 10 years, though the average is 6-8 years.


  • Large Cage (as large as possible, no wire floor, no aquariums)
  • 2 water bottles
  • 1 ceramic food bowl
  • 1 hiding house
  • Bag of bedding, Aspen or Carefresh (no pine/cedar)
  • Large bag of green Timothy hay or Orchard Grass
  • Additional bag of Alfalfa hay for babies up to 6 months old and pregnant mothers
  • Plain Guinea Pig pellets (no seeds or nuts)
  • Fresh green vegetables (Variety! Romaine lettuce, cilantro, chard, carrot…)
  • Nail Clippers
  • Carrier for Travel


Regular exercise outside the cage is essential to your guinea pig’s health and is great fun for the whole family. A room can be made safe for guinea pigs by preventing access to electrical cords, blocking gaps under appliances and furniture and removing hazardous items. Alternatively, a playpen will allow your pets to romp in safety. Guinea pigs enjoy a variety of safe toys such as wide tubes, cartons, and wood bird toys. Most guinea pigs love being petted once they are on your lap, but are cautious about being picked up. Children must be supervised when holding a guinea pig and taught not to hold it too tightly or allow it to fall or jump. Guinea pigs are easily injured and may nip if not treated kindly.


Guinea pigs should be kept indoors, safe from predators and climate extremes. Choose or make as large a cage as possible, with plenty of room for exercise. Aquariums are not suitable, due to poor ventilation. Look for a cage with a solid bottom, as wire floors and ramps can injure guinea pigs’ feet. Cover the floor with bedding such as Carefresh or Aspen shavings. Avoid pine and cedar, which contain harmful oils, and sawdust. The cage is best in a room where your pets can enjoy your company, out of drafts and direct sunlight. A temperature range of 65-75 deg. F is ideal. Guinea pigs love a house or igloo to rest in and appreciate a few safe toys to play with, such as untreated wood bird toys. Choose heavy food dishes, or those that clip onto the cage, so the contents don’t spill. Many guinea pig enthusiasts build their own cages. The homemade Cube and Coroplast, or “C and C” cage is inexpensive and easily assembled in about 30 minutes. You can find out all about these cages at


A healthy diet for adults is based on quality grass hay, e.g. Timothy, and guinea pig pellets, both freely available at all times. Babies under 6 months and pregnant sows need alfalfa hay. A constant supply of hay provides fiber, vital to keep the teeth and digestive system in good shape. Guinea pigs must have adequate Vitamin C in their diet or they can develop a disease called scurvy and die. Look for plain pellets containing vitamin C but without seeds, nuts or colored treats. The bag should be date stamped to ensure freshness and Vitamin C potency. Also provide each guinea pig a cupful of mixed fresh vegetables and fruit daily. Choose produce with a high Vitamin C content, such as parsley, Romaine lettuce, bell peppers and dandelion greens. Nutritional supplements are not necessary if a good, varied diet is provided. Your guinea pig’s water should be changed daily so that the water is fresh and clean.


Spot clean soiled areas 2-3 times a week and add clean bedding. Scrub out the entire cage weekly, as well as food dishes and water bottles. Always rinse and dry the cage well before adding fresh bedding.


Male guinea pigs can be sexually mature at three weeks old. Make absolutely sure of your pet’s sex and keep males and females separate at all times to prevent unwanted babies.


Find a veterinarian specializing in exotic animals and experienced in treating guinea pigs before you have an emergency. Guinea pigs try to hide signs of illness, so by the time you notice something is wrong the illness is usually well-advanced. The following signs mean your pet needs URGENT veterinary care: not eating or drinking, lethargy, sneezing, wheezing, crusty eyes, fluffed up fur, diarrhea, blood in urine, loss of balance, tilted head, excessive scratching or hair loss. Keeping a weekly record of your pet’s weight will alert you to weight loss, which often indicates a health problem.


Penicillin-based drugs, commonly prescribed for other pets, are TOXIC to guinea pigs. Exercise wheels and balls can cause injury to guinea pigs and should never be used. Never leave your guinea pigs unsupervised where a predator or other pet could harm them.

More Info

Guinea Pig Care:

Guinea Pig Shopping List


  • Cubes and Coroplast Cage at least a 2 grid by 3 grid
  • 2 16 ounce water bottles
  • 1 non-tip food bowl
  • Hidey house or pigloo
  • Litter box – optional


  • Aspen – 9 cu feet bags are most economical
  • Kiln dried pine – never use pine that has not been kiln dried
  • Carefresh – recycled newspaper bedding
  • Beddings not to use – Cedar, pine that hasn’t been dried


  • Timothy Hay or Orchard Grass- guinea pigs must have fresh hay available at all times.
  • Alfalfa Hay – only for pregnant pig, nursing mothers, or babies – you must also give a grass hay such as orchard grass or timothy.


  • Pellets – preferably timothy hay based. We prefer Oxbow Cavy Cuisine for adults or Oxbow Cavy Performance for pigs under 1 year.
  • Never feed rabbit or hamster pellets or pellets with seeds or colorful bits.

Fresh Foods -This is not a complete list, but is a good starting point. Provide a variety of fresh foods daily that are high in vitamin C and low in calcium and oxalic acid. You should provide 1 cup daily per pig or fresh foods. Only small quantities of fruit should be given daily. Vitamin C data for a selection of foods is provided at Seagull’s.

  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Parsley – high in C, but also in Calcium
  • Carrots – no more than 1 baby carrot per day per pig
  • Apples
  • Dandelion greens
  • Red chard
  • Swiss chard
  • Kale
  • Cilantro
  • Cantaloupe
  • Honeydew
  • Grapes
  • Oranges
  • Strawberries
  • Bananas
  • Bell peppers – very high in vitamin C

Feel free to experiment and figure out what foods your guinea pig likes best.

What Not to Buy

  • Yogurt drops
  • Hay racks
  • Seed and nut treats
  • Exercise wheels and balls – these are very bad for guinea pig’s backs.

Good Toys

  • Paper bags
  • Small paper bags stuffed with hay or veggies
  • Toilet paper or paper towel tubes – these can be stuffed with hay or treats
  • Cardboard boxes with guinea pig size holes cut in them
  • Oatmeal containers
  • Mirrors
  • Small stuffed animals
  • Cavy cozies

Please see for more ideas.

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