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Member Comments & Cavy Care Info

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This is a sticky subject but one that everyone needs to know that owns a boar.  First of all, whenever you pick up your guys, rest your hand under his behind so that you feel the testicles.  If he is starting to get an impaction, you will feel a hardness within the pouch instead of the usual “mushy” feeling.  His testicles are shaped like a doughnut with the pouch in the middle.  The pouch is coated with a horrendous smelling white pasty-like substance normally.  An impaction would be darker colored with bits of poop, shavings, hair, and the secum (white stuff) forming a lump.  Use cotton swabs soaked in mineral oil to wet the inside of the pouch around the impaction.  Continue in a circular motion with as many oil soaked cotton swabs as it takes to get the impaction out.  Don’t pull on the lump, you may hurt your boar.  If it is really hard you may have to soak it in warm water to soften it and then use the oil soaked cotton swabs.  I check all my fellas at least once a month no matter how gross this task is.  Most boars don’t have a problem with impactions at all, but some do so check your boys regularly just to be an the safe side. 

(Especially those really zealous bottom draggers.)


Impactions are such a rare occurrence in my house that it be would safe to say that my boars do not get them….but then again, as soon as I said that, I would find someone, somewhere with a pouch full so I won’t even say it. I believe the reason my guys don’t get impacted is that I keep hay available for them all the time. Keeps their systems regular? J



Cavy Caboodle’s Guinea Pig Care Sheet



There is so much information out there on guinea pig care; it is hard to know what to follow! I have been raising cavies since 1979, (with a few breaks here and there when times were bad.)  I’ll let you in on how I care for mine and you can take it from there.


First of all, get the biggest pen that you possibly can for your cavies.  They will live longer and be happier that way.  You should also keep them with at least one buddy.  They are social creatures. Guinea pigs love to run and jump, I call it popcorning because they look like kernels of corn popping around in a popper.  The minimum size for a pair should be 16” wide by 32” long and at least 12” tall.  I have several boars that will shimmy right over a 14” tall slick wall though so it is really up to the individual pig.  I also have some that will just sit there with 6” sides! I do not recommend aquariums (yes, I have tried this) because not only are they heavy, but they build up odors very quickly and most are too narrow.  You can find plastic storage containers that work wonderfully at places like Wal-Mart and they are cheap too.  I really love the super tubs from Lowe’s hardware.  Add several inches of wire to the tops and they make great pens for pairs or even trios since they are 2’ X 3’ in size.


We use kiln dried pine shavings and pelleted pine for bedding. If you can find wood pellets, they are far superior to shavings. Try a Tractor Supply if you can’t find them at your feed store. Never use cedar shavings or corncob, as they are harmful to your pig.  Also never use clay cat litter.  Cavies eat the bedding and cat litter can kill them. Also, do not keep guinea pigs on wire-bottomed cages, no matter what anyone tells you, it is not worth the pain it can cause.  Take it from one who knows.  I’ve had too many little broken legs to ever use wire bottoms again.  I change my bedding once a week.  With the wood pellets you can either remove wet spots or stir them into the rest of the bedding and it will last up to two weeks.  If it begins to look dusty, give it a good misting with water.


I use water bottles for all my pens.  Bowls are just about worthless when it comes to guinea pigs.  Not only do they get contaminated quickly but also, lots of silly pigs delight in tipping it over the minute you walk off.  I do keep my pellets in bowls though.  If they dump that, well they can forage.  Since I have so many FAT pigs, I feed Manna Pro Gro rabbit pellets (no CORN!) and add vit. C to the water. I give mine Puritan’s Pride vitamin c crystals in the water every day. Use 1/4 teaspoon to one gallon of water of these crystals. The c that I use can be purchased via the Internet at  They are 5000mg per teaspoon and made for humans.


You can purchase Mazuri guinea pig pellets in a 25 pound bag for your piggies instead of the Manna Pro. It can be purchased at feed stores much cheaper than the stuff you get from a pet shop and it is much fresher.  Put your extra food in freezer bags and freeze it!  Check the date on the bottom of the bag and get one fresher than three months old.  After that the vitamin c is virtually gone. If you feed guinea pig pellets, you do not have to supplement with vitamin C unless you are not sure of the freshness of your pellets. If you are not sure then use 1/8th tsp. of the vitamin C crystals per gallon of water or make sure to give your pigs cilantro or parsley often for the vitamin c it contains.


I also give supplements of Omolene 300 sweet feed daily, 1 tsp. per pig on top of the pellets every morning. (Less for fat pigs.) Don’t give more as it can be very fattening. The 300 contains molasses and milk replacers which is great for babies, pregnant sows and lactating sows. This can also be purchased at the feed store though you may want to find a breeder close by and just purchase small quantities if you only have two pigs.  Hay needs to be available to your cavy all the time also.  I use timothy hay purchased from the feed store or from Oxbow Hay Company via the Internet.  Coastal Bermuda can be used if no timothy is available. Alfalfa hay is high in calcium and they are already getting lots of alfalfa in their pellets.  However, I do like to give mine alfalfa cubes because they are very hard so they help keep those continuously growing teeth ground down.  One a week is plenty.


Give fresh foods every day.  A baby carrot, a sprig of parsley or cilantro, a slice of apple, almost anything fit for human consumption is good for pigs. Not only is this great for your pig’s health but it strengthens your bond with him and it is the very best way to discover if he isn’t feeling well.  The first sign of illness in cavies is usually the lowered food intake.  Watch for this and catch problems before they become serious. If one day he doesn’t run up for his favorite treat he needs to be checked out thoroughly.  He may just have decided that he doesn’t like that food anymore but more than likely he is not feeling well.  If he is sitting with his nose in the corner then you definitely have a problem.





Most of the time cavies are healthy robust little creatures.  Keep them out of drafts and extreme heat, don’t feed spoiled or dirty food, keep other pets away from him, and do not let a sick human close to your pet.  Do not overdo it with the treats and I recommend not feeding iceberg lettuce at all since it has almost no nutritional value and can cause diarrhea if over fed.  All fresh foods can cause diarrhea when over fed though so keep those quantities small and watch for soft mushy poops.


Warning:  do not feed potatoes or potato skins.  If they are even the slightest bit green they can kill your pig.  I’ve seen it happen.  Also be sure there are no pits or seeds left in the fruit that you give him.  Did you know apple seeds and peach pits are poisonous?  Watch out for gas when feeding “gassy” foods. No avocados or bulbs like onions either. Watch out for your houseplants when he is out playing too, he will eat them and many houseplants are also poisonous.


I let mine get out of the pens to have floor time as often as possible.  They love to really get out and run, run, run!!!!  You can build all kinds of toys and houses for your pet, just make sure it is nontoxic since he will taste it!  Don’t let them out unsupervised either, electric cords look just as tasty to them as a tree branch. Your cavies will appreciate toys to play with.  Cat toys with bells in them are favorites around here as are wind chimes that you hang from the top of their pen. Just make sure the plastic is hard enough that they can’t eat it, those soft plastic toys will not last and are a choking hazard.


Grooming is relatively easy.  They only need bathing when they get dirty or smelly which isn’t very often.  Mine generally only get baths before shows.  I clip the nails almost every time I clean the pens, just taking the tips off with fingernail clippers or cat nail clippers for those large back nails.  Keep ears clean with Q-tips and mineral oil.  Just use common sense about keeping him clean.  If you feel a bath is needed, any shampoo safe for cats will do just fine.  Always get him completely dry with towels and a blow dryer.  A damp pig can easily get sick. Always remember, HEAT KILLS.  But then again, so do chills.  Don’t roast your pig with the highest setting on the hair dryer and keep the nozzle moving so it does not burn one area. Now that I’ve scared you to death about bathing let’s continue… Seriously, it’s not as hard as it sounds.  You just want to get the pig clean, and get the pig dry without him getting chilled or burned by the hair dryer.


If you ever suspect lice (looks like light colored specs of dust that move) put one drop of Advantage or Revolution behind each ear on the bald spot you will find there.  Shampoos are less than adequate and must be repeated several times until the parasites are finally gone. I highly recommend the use of Revolution.  It not only takes care of lice, but also all types of mites and internal parasites as well and generally with only one dose.  Advantage may take a second dose two weeks later and is only effective against lice.


Boars have an anal gland that needs to be checked once a month when they reach adult size and start that male strutting behavior.  I have made a separate sheet on impactions.


The most important thing of all to remember is to love your piggy!  They thrive on attention and the more you give them the more they will return.  Don’t let a day go by without a cuddle or a scratch on top of the head. If your pig runs from you, especially at first, don’t worry; he will eventually come to trust you.  Cavies are prey animals so their natural instincts are to run when something comes at them. If you’ve been to visit my caviary, I know you noticed that most of my adults (and many of the babies) just sit there and let me pick them up, but realize that they have been here their entire lives and they are accustomed to me!




Special note for pregnant sows: You should always keep liquid calcium on hand.  We put liquid calcium in the water along with Karo syrup for big as a barn sows or sows that seem, “just not right”.  The Karo helps prevent toxemia and the calcium puts back in the calcium taken from the sow by the growing young.  Signs of an immediate need for calcium are stiffness in limbs, crying when you try to pick her up, sometimes slobbering, wet chin, and seizures.  I purchase Neo-Calglucon or Calcionate syrup at the pharmacy and use one capful per 32 ounces of water.  When administering orally, one cc every 30 minutes until symptoms subside.  ALSO, for large pregnant sows and lactating moms with their litters, especially, large litters, CALF MANNA is a wonderful supplement for them, high in calcium and protein for growing babies. I give them approximately a tsp. each per day. (this is just a few pellets, don’t overdo it) Calf Manna can be purchased at your local feed store.


Thank You Lisa for your insight.