Guinea Pig Care In Temporary Shelters
DIET: Sudden diet changes can cause severe illness. Try to find the brand of food they were fed in their original home when possible. Feed 1/4 cup commercial guinea pig pellets daily.
Can use rabbit pellets in emergencies if no guinea pig pellets are available. Provide unlimited timothy, oat, or orchard grass hay daily. Give 1/4 orange or 1/4 cup leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, parsley, carrot tops, cabbage). Maximum 1-2 tablespoons of alfalfa cubes, apple, or other vegetables daily. Do not feed seeds, nuts, or dried fruits. Water must be available at all times in both bottle and bowl, watch for clogging of tube.
HOUSING: Minimum temperature 60 degrees, maximum 80 degrees. Move to indoor climate controlled facility if needed to prevent heat stroke over 80 degrees.
Use original cage if possible to decrease stress. Wire cages with maximum 1 bar spacing and a solid floor, or plastic totes or wading pools at least 12 inches tall can be used for temporary housing. Use bedding of pine shavings, hay, or recycled or shredded paper. Clean out urine daily. Do not use cedar shavings, corn cob, cat litter or straw as bedding. Provide a cardboard or commercial hiding box to decrease stress. Keep families together. Sick animals may do better with a cage mate.
RESTRAINT: Rarely bite, but will panic if approached from above.
Scoop from underneath, then use one hand over shoulders and one under hindquarters Wrap in a towel like a burrito.
COMMON MEDICAL PROBLEMS: Overgrown teeth may cause drooling and loss of appetite.
Overgrown nails are common. Dehydration or poor diet may cause bowel impaction requiring manual expression. Bordatella bacteria from dogs, cats, or rabbits can cause severe illness or death. Do not house near any rabbits, or near dogs or cats with upper respiratory symptoms! Never use antibiotics without consulting an experienced veterinarian to avoid toxicity.
OTHER: Chewing on plastic is dangerous, provide cardboard paper towel tubes for chewing.
Fruit tree branches (not sprayed with pesticides) are safe chew toys. If housing for more than 3 days and greens are unavailable, a water soluble vitamin C supplement available from pet stores will be needed at 50 mg per large water bottle.
Compiled by Julie Burge, DVM, Burge Bird Services and Burge Bird Rescue, August 2016
Immediate Intake Care of Small, Unusual & Exotic Pets by Critter Camp Exotic Pet Sanctuary
Exotic Companion Medicine Handbook for Veterinarians by Cathy Johnson-Delaney, DVM, Diplomat ABVP-Avian