Ask the Cavies Back Issues

Ask the Cavies


Twelfth Edition

20 Mar 98

Some Nutrition Questions

Twinblue ( Are there any herbs that guinea pigs can eat?

Wheeker: Ones that I know about are Basil, Oregano, and Cilantro. I love Cilantro. Anyone know of any others?

Sarah Kazell ( She is a real pig! She would eat all day if you gave her enough food. Recently she has gotten really fat, is this going to affect her health? Is there such a thing as guinea pig heart attacks? Is there anything I can do to help her, like give her guinea pig work-outs?

Michelle ( We have a 10 month guinea pig named Wilbur and he is a short-hair and nine inches long. We are just wondering how much he should weigh because we're worried he is too heavy. By the way he is not lethargic and quite active, but he is quite big.

Wheeker: By any chance are you just feeding pellets? If you are, you should try giving lots of grass hay (like timothy, orchard grass, bermuda grass) and only give a little pellets. If your piggies are used to getting lots of pellets, gradually decrease the amount you give and supplement with hay and veggies. It is really difficult to say how much your cavy should weigh. We can weigh anywhere from under two pounds all the way up to five pounds! Yes, we can get heart attacks. And yes, exercise is great for us as well and a sign of good health.

Andrea Potter ( I raise American cavies and also Netherland Dwarf rabbits. When not in breeding I seperate my boar from his sows, and to save space I put him in with a Netherland buck. They are best of friends and I haven't had any problems with them. For some reason though, this boar is the healthiest that i own. I give the other cavies vitamin C but the boar doesn't seem to require as many mg's as the others. since rabbits do produce their own vitamin C do you think the cavy could be benefitting from this?

Wheeker: I would not think cagemates would have any effect on the nutritional requirements of anything. Perhaps he just does not require as much vitamin C as the others. Also, how are you determining that he does not require as much vitamin C as the others?

CJ ( Could you tell me if feeding my guinea pig carrots everyday is OK? And are cabbage, lettuce, bananna peels, oranges, etc good for her also? Are there any side effects I should know about and what not to feed her? Thank you

Wheeker: I would not want carrots everyday, but then, I like other veggies better. Cabbage in small amounts is okay, but can cause gas and bloating in larger amounts. My personal favorites are parsley, spinach, romaine, endive, and radicchio.

Some New Owner Questions

Martha ( It just terrible to have only one cavy? I work three days a week, but am home otherwise. I am feeling guilty, but my husband really does not want two, and we really don't have room for anything other than a 20 gallon long aquarium.

Wheeker: The little one could get lonely if alone too often. I love having all my friends. But Sundae was by herself for two years and she was okay. Mama spent lots and lots of time with her every day. But when she started going back to school a couple times a week, she got me to keep Sundae company.

I would be more concerned about the aquarium. We need more space than that and the closed in sides are not good in such a small place because it does not offer enough ventilation. Think about getting a flat bottomed cage that has wire around it or make one of your own. If you'd like to see what a homemade cage might look like, see our home.

YooHalloo ( We bought 4-month-old Snowflake from a pet store 2 weeks ago. Instead of calming down, she seems to be getting wilder all the time and bites so much now (it doesn't break the skin but it hurts!) that we're all afraid to pick her up. Also, she runs around alot, jumping and "twitching" either her head or her whole body. Is this normal?

Wheeker: This is normal behavior. The biting may just be her trying to to tell you she does not like something you are doing or that she wants to go back in her cage. As for running and jumping and twitching, she is just telling you that she loves being alive.

Sarah Kazell ( and Lynne Graham ( I have just noticed that he has bald patches behind both ears. I heard from one of my friends that loss of hair behind the ear means that the pig is sick. Is this true?

Wheeker: It is not true. We all have small bald spots behind our ears. Sometimes our hair covers it up really well and some of us have smaller ones than others, but we all have them. If the bald spot seems to grow or if we are really itchy, there may be a problem with parasites, but that's all.

Ilovegpigs ( is it ok to put a new gpig in another gpig's cage? i'm thinking of getting a friend for my pig, Lucy, that i have had for a few months

Wheeker: You can, but you really should put a newcomer into quarrantine for at least a few weeks. My mama learned the hard way when I came to live with Sundae. She was going to wait to put me with Sundae until she took me to the vet, but I cried so much that she let me join my big buddy. Well, I shared my lice with Sundae and mama had to treat both of us.

Elizabeth Waskul ( The male guinea pig I took home from the pet store had some sort of skin condition (of course the pet store owner said, "it's nothing--it's normal"). But whatever it is started out as a little flaky, crusty, dandruff patches around the ears, that eventually spread to his entire body and became scabby, bare patches. I added a pregnant female from a different pet store that appeared to be in perfect health, and SHE has contracted it.

Wheeker: This is a perfect example of why you should quarrantine newcomers. Whether a cavy you already have has a condition or the newcomer has one, it is best to keep them separated for at least awhile to see if anything turns up. That way, you only have to treat one rather than both.

Elizabeth: Now, the female just gave birth to a litter of three and not more than 24hrs afterwards she has a huge bare spot on her back leg/groin area. 48hrs. later it's starting crust a little, but now she has a HUGE bare spot on her front right shoulder spreading all the way back to the end of her rib cage.

Wheeker: It could be that the stress of giving birth made her condition worse. It is a good thing that you took her to the vet (I did not respond to you earlier since I did not receive your e-mail until today). I hope he was able to give you what she needed to get to heal so she can properly take care of her babies.

Katherine ( I just got 2 baby cavies that are about 2 weeks old today. Would like to know when and how it would be possible to determine their gender cause we read off the net that the best companions for cavies are two females or a male and a female. Can you help out with this one?

Wheeker: If you turn us over and look at our genital area, a little boy's looks kind of like a donut (some say it looks like an "i"). If you look at a little girl, hers looks like a "Y". Also, if you press gently right in front of a little boy's genitals his penis will pop out. Be careful if you do this because you could hurt him if you press too hard.

Mauro DiBenedetto ( My cavy, Furball, was given too us by Santa on Jan 5, 1998, he is really cute and cudlly, but he is scared to death of me, running around the cage and kicking up and down when I pet him.

Wheeker: It can take time before he gets used to him. Just talk to him gently. Move slowly and quietly when you are near him. Hand feed him when he is in the cage or while you are holding him. Also, when you pick him up, scoop him up with two hands, but do not move quickly. He might think you are a big predator swooping overhead.

Jon ( I recently switched to cedar shavings and instantly she was walking funny.

Wheeker: Cedar is not a good bedding for guinea pigs. See the Safe Pet Bedding FAQ for more information.

Steve ( The problem is that, the new cavie, is aggressive all the time, and will only go to the other one when it is out on the floor, or when it is scared (ie the car alarm). So when they are not sleeping, the new ones seems to spend its time trying to fight with the other cavie. While the one it keeps trying to fight with wants nothing to do with fighting, and seems to be friendly towards it, but the other one wants nothing to do with it, and tends to go for it.

Wheeker: The first thing to consider is how large your cage is. If it is too small, cavies are more likely to act out their aggression. Since it sounds like they might be okay on the floor, this may be the problem. There is always the possibility that two cavies will not get along and that they might need to be separated all the time. If they really do not want to get along, the only thing you can do is keep them in separate cages and perhaps allow them to have supervised play time together.

Some Other Questions

Christina & Chester ( How is the Guinea Pig rated as far as intelligence?

Wheeker: We are very smart. I know I am going to go to the University one day. I already help my mama with all the reading she has to do in grad school. I help her digest what she is reading.

Christina & Chester: How fast can gpig run and the distance they're endurance holds.  Personally, my little Chester could probably win the Daytona several times over in one running.  He's like a baby that's just learned to stand and run around.  Blink and he's GONE!!!

Wheeker: We are very fast. And we even seem faster to humans when we are slick from shampoo. Just try to catch us then!

Muffy ( Hello! Well, I was wondering if why my piggie (Snuggles) goes wild when I pet him around his bum! I don't actually mean to pet his bum, just around his talbone. And when I get even that close, he goes wildly jumping up and runs away and makes little squeaks. I have another guinea pig, but he doesn't do that. What is wrong with Snuggles??

Wheeker: Nothing is wrong with Snuggles. He just does not like you doing that. I would not like that either. But my big buddy Sundae used to like it.

Thanks for your questions. Please keep writing. I will try to write more often.

Copyright 1998 M. E. Barr.


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