Guinea pigs make excellent first pets for children. They mature at around three months of age, but should not be used for breeding until six months of age. After about eight months the female guinea pig’s pelvic bones become fused and if she has not had a litter by that time, producing young can be more problematic. This fact sets guinea pig’s apart from most other species. Pigs give birth to small numbers of physically mature babies compared to a mouse for example which has large numbers of immature young.
They are social animals and same sex pairs are advisable. Males should be castrated at around 5 months. If you have a male and female together consider a wire partition until 4 weeks after the male is castrated to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
Guniea pigs require vitamin C. Most other animals (excluding humans) can synthesise it. Vitamin C is relatively unstable and the levels in commercial foods drop rapidly after manufacture. It is important to supplement pigs fed on a commercial diet with fresh greens and fruit to prevent them developing a vitamin C deficiency (scurvy). Brocholli is a particularly good source.
Itchy, scabby guinea pigs are a very common reason for owners seeking veterinary advice. All guinea pigs carry low numbers of mites which do not bother the animal. However, their numbers can increase when immunity is depressed by other illnesses or by stress. Mite infestations are simple to treat with a spot-on type product that is only available from veterinary surgeries.