Guinea pigs make an ideal first pet for children. The diminutive, furry creatures, also called cavies, are easy to care for and quite social. If you're planning on adopting a guinea pig, consider doing so by twos; a non-breeding pair that has been together since birth is a good choice. Be careful about adopting a male and female, as it could result in an unwanted population explosion.
Guinea pigs need a roomy, well-ventilated cage. The bottom should be solid and covered with bedding such as Aspen shavings or absorbent recycled paper; avoid beddings made from cedar shavings as they contain aromatic oils that may be harmful to a guinea pig's health. The bedding should be changed every other day and the cage cleaned weekly. Be sure to include a few small hidey-houses, and keep the cage in a place where the guinea pigs will receive plenty of attention.
Guinea pigs are very noisy when hungry, and you'll be notified when it's feeding time with a sequence of loud squeaks. They enjoy a diet of guinea pig pellets, a constant supply of Timothy hay, and fresh water in a bottle with a sipper tube. Guinea pigs need vitamin C, which is best obtained from a cup a day of fresh vegetables such as parsley, romaine and leaf lettuces, cilantro, kale, and bell peppers.
If your guinea pig has long hair, be sure to brush and comb it often. Clip your pet's nails often. Check his or her teeth to ensure they don't grow too long; like all rodents, their teeth grow constantly, and a guinea pig needs lots of chew toys to keep their teeth from overgrowing.
Learn more about guinea pig care in "Guinea Pigs: A Complete Pet Owner's Manual." Find products for your guinea pig at Oxbow Pet Products and get care tips and product recommendations at Cavy Cages and Cavies Galore.