Guinea pigs and rabbits are popular domestic pets, they are often bought as children’s pets and can be very rewarding as such. However, rabbits and Guinea pigs have specific needs to keep them healthy.
Rabbits can live up to 10-12 years, Guinea pigs up to 8 years – important facts to take into account before buying on a whim! Your pet will need lots of care, companionship, time for play and grooming. It can cost as much as £25 per week to look after a rabbit or Guinea pig including food, bedding and vet care.
Housing should be considered carefully, it is not sufficient to cage your rabbit or Guinea pig in just a hutch. Both species require access to outside runs and ‘environmental enrichment’ with toys, tunnels and different feeding places.
Diet is very important in rabbits and Guinea pigs, both these animals are herbivorous and more importantly considered to be ‘fibrevores’ meaning the bulk of their diet should be high in fibre, hay and grass are ideal with a small quantity of high fibre pellets – muesli mixes are not considered suitable. Guinea pigs need a regular intake of fresh vegetables because they need a high intake of vitamin C, if this is not provided Guinea pigs can suffer from scurvy. Incorrect diet can lead to significant health problems most commonly dental disease, digestive discarders and obesity, these problems can shorten the life expectancy of your pet.
Routine healthcare is as important in rabbits and guinea pigs and you should regularly examine your pet,paying particular attention to their teeth and claws to make sure these are not overgrowing.
If you groom your pet regularly you should be able to detect any problems with their skin or fur quite quickly. Particularly in summer months, it is essential to check that there is no soiling around your rabbit’s bottom as this is quite a common problem and can result in fly strike (where flies lay eggs in the soiled coat and maggots infest the skin) which can make your pet very sick very quickly.
If you would like advice on selecting a pet and what it needs to stay healthy, please talk to the team at Lanes Vets and we will be happy to help.