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One of our favorite small mammals to take care of at St. Michaels Companion Animal Hospitals are guinea pigs! We wanted to celebrate their special month by telling you some interesting things about them and their care.

Guinea pigs usually live 5-8 years. Our oldest guinea pig on record was 14 years old. They originate from the high Andes mountains in South America. Their diet consists of grass hay, pellets and fresh veggies. Their most interesting dietary need is for Vitamin C which they must have supplemented at 25mgs per day when healthy and at least twice that per day when they are sick.

Guinea pigs come in a variety of colors both solid and splotched. Their hair coats can be smooth, long haired or our favorite full of swirly cowlicks. They are easy to handle, rarely bite and show quite a bit of affection. They make a “piggy” squeal when excited to see you or their food. They will also make this sound with us when we are performing veterinary procedures on them as I am sure they are a bit frightened.

We think guinea pigs make an excellent choice for children but do not advise parents to allow them outside as they are a perfect meal for many of our Rocky Mountain predators such as hawks and coyotes or domestic dogs or cats. A large stimulating cage indoors makes for hours of fun observation and interactions with these adorable animals. Happy National Guinea Pig Month to all our guinea pig patients! Dr. Patten says have a great holiday! And then don’t forget to have your guinea pigs checked annually for optimum health!