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Guinea Pigs are small rodents related to Hedgehogs and Chinchillas. They come from the highlands of South America where they are used for meat.(!) They are strict herbivores, (no meat) but are unusual in having a requirement for dietary Vitamin C. They are generally more active around dusk and dawn, but can be active during the day.

GPs are social and active animals and have a wide range of vocal calls. They are gentle, rarely scratching or biting and can be accustomed to human company quite readily. However they are messy animals and often scatter food and bedding. Frightened Guinea pigs can freeze or may stampede - if this occurs young pigs can be crushed or trampled. Non circular enclosures may help prevent stampeding.

Guinea pigs come in a great variety of colours and may be a solid colour, or a mixture of two or three. The hair coat can be English (short), Abyssinian (long hair arranged in whorls), Peruvian (long straight hair) or Silky (medium length fine hair). Guinea pigs can become imprinted on particular diets within a few days. Therefore it is important to make sure that they have the full range of food available from birth in order to reduce the risks of Vitamin C deficiency. Like the other herbivorous rodents, all their teeth continually grow and they must have plenty of roughage and fibre in the diet to prevent overgrowth. Take out pellets for half the day so that they are forced to eat hay and veg. This helps to avoid teeth overgrowing.