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Vet's Clinic with Liam Moriarty - Starter Pets

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Guinea Pigs

Guidelines for kids:

. They are docile and easy to handle
. Indoor or outdoor hutches
. Social animals so best kept in pairs (same sex unless you want more)
. Mature around 3 months of age
. Need vitamin C - most animals can produce their own vitamin C but guinea pigs cannot
. Fresh fruit for Vitamin C, green vegetables, dry mix and hay or grass is an appropriate diet


. Nice pet - simple housing needs and relatively odourless
. They fight so are best housed alone
. However nocturnal so not always great for kids
. Best picked up in cupped hands
. Make sure that cage is escape proof
. Plenty of bedding should be used - sawdust or wood chippings
. Avoid cotton wool bedding as ingestion can result in constipation
. feed on commercial rodent mix - they are used to a fairly dry environment so they don't need too much vegetable matter
. water should be freely available


. Desert animals
. Rodent mix
. Don't need much water
. They mate for life
. Usually kept alone - if under 8 weeks can form pairs

Rats and mice

. Mice not great pets
. Rats are better - form a good bond with owner and respond to their name
. They are escape artists - make sure cage is secure.
. Pellet food, not too much seeds and nuts
. Generally rats are easier to handle than mice - they don't tend to bite so much
. Care to make sure same sex pairs as population explosions are common!

For all of these pets...

. Make sure to select a healthy pet to begin with, look out for runny eyes/nose, scabs or sores on skin. Make sure they are kept in a clean environment in pet shop
. Watch our for coughing, sneezing or "wet tail" (diarrhoea)
. Rodents that fight may need to be separated
. Temperature is important - susceptible to heat stroke especially guinea pigs
. Pneumonia is common - often with poor hygiene. Cage needs to be cleaned regularly. Clean bedding essential. Shredded paper or wood shavings best. Ventilation is important too
. Pelleted food is best. Be careful about mixed seeds and nuts - can be too high in fat. Fruit and vegetables
. Make sure cage/hutch is escape proof.
. Toys are a good idea to keep them busy, they also need a place to hide in their cage
. Avoid "open track" wheels - they can get their legs caught and be injured.


. Goldfish are good to introduce kids to looking after pets
. Food flakes - avoid overfeeding
. Clean water regularly


The Pet Shop, 96 Patrick's Street, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin - 01 280 8940

Purrfect Pets on the Long Mile Road, near the Naas road, Dublin 12 - 01 429 9938

For further information contact your local vet or ring:

ISPCA: - 043 332 5035

Or Dublin SPCA: Tel. 01-493 5502/4

Or Wicklow SPCA - - Tel. +353 404 44783