(Cavia porcellus) Guinea pigs are also called cavies. The cavy is probably the best pet out of all the small furries as they rarely bite. They are wonderfully vocal and normally enjoy the company of their own kind.
Guinea pigs are also relatively cheap to feed, especially if you have a garden or allotment and provide their own contribution by way of fertiliser.
Guinea pigs are intelligent and social animals with a need for space company of their own kind as well as a healthy diet and proper housing.
One problem you may encounter, however, is an allergy to them. I’m allergic to them myself! It is very important if you are considering getting guinea pigs for the first time, that everyone in the household who will be handling the guinea pigs gets to handle an adult guinea pig so you can test for allergy before you decide.
There are two types of allergy, one is to guinea pig urine and the other to the dander in the coat. In addition though, as I know from my own experience, it is also possible to have an allergic reaction to hay or shavings.
Guinea pigs like the company of their own kind. Rabbits are rarely overtly aggressive to guinea pigs but there have been many cases of accidental injury when a rabbit stamps in warning or is over-amorous with a piggy companion.
Male guinea pigs are often kept in pairs because larger groups of males can develop territory related aggression issues unless given plenty of space and hiding places. Any number of females will normally live happily together given enough space.
Like humans, guinea pigs cannot produce their own vitamin C and must have a fresh supply in their diet everyday. This can come from fresh vegetables, fresh grass, dried grass or guinea pig food with vitamin C added. They need a constant supply of good hay and a safe hutch, cage or pen.
Guinea pigs are relatively robust if housed and fed correctly with the company of at least one other guinea pig. They can inherit health problems, some of which are specific to certain breeds, or contract infections just as we can.