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The Guinea Pig Has Its Day

August 5, 2009

GuinepigstarterMANSFIELD, Mass. – The Guinea pig never had it so good. Thanks to its starring role in the Disney blockbuster G-Force, interest in the little critter has never been so high. As Cavy lovers themselves, the folks at Rolf C. Hagen (USA) Corp. applaud this development, but they are quick to point out that even though the Guinea Pig is a relatively easy animal to keep, caring for this pet properly requires a serious commitment on the part of owners.

For starters, Guinea pigs are relatively long-lived by small animal standards. They can easily enjoy a lifespan of six years, which is almost biblical in longevity compared to the two years or so that most hamsters and mice enjoy before they pass on to that big exercise wheel in the sky. So anyone buying a Guinea pig today should be aware that their pet will still be there needing care, long after G-Force has disappeared from the top shelf of their local movie rental store.

Rolf C. Hagen (USA) Corp, which is a leading maker of food and supplies for small animals, including Guinea Pigs, offers the following tips on caring for this lovable, sweet natured pet:

•Guinea pigs are social animals and do better when living in same-sex pairs, but males should be introduced at a very young age to make sure they get along.
•A solid-bottom, well-ventilated wire cage that opens from the top is recommended. Give your guinea pig toys and make sure he has a hideaway for when he wants to be alone.
•Guinea pigs love exercise, and allowing some time each day outside of his cage is essential. Letting him run free in a safe area (a “pocket pet-proofed” room or play area) makes for a perfect playtime for your cavy.
•Guinea pigs’ teeth continue to grow throughout their lifetimes, so if they cannot wear them down through gnawing and chewing, the teeth will grow too long and the guinea pig will starve. So, a guinea pig needs plenty of safe wooden chew toys and grass hay, which will wear down the teeth and prevent overgrowth.
•Guinea pigs cannot manufacture their own vitamin C; they must get it from their food, such as Hagen’s Living World Guinea Pig Food, which is enriched with vitamin C. This should make up the bulk of a guinea’s diet, but it can be supplemented with washed leafy greens, green bell peppers, carrots and turnips daily, and fruit such as strawberries and apples may be given occasionally.

Whether obtaining a guinea pig from a breeder or a pet shop, you want to bring home a healthy pet. A healthy guinea pig should be active and running around on all four paws, have bright, clear eyes and a nose free of discharge. He should also have steady breathing, a strong heartbeat and skin free of flakiness or bald patches. His body should be plump without lumps or swellings. Finally, he should have a clean bottom and properly aligned teeth – the top two should neatly overlap the bottom two. Checking the guinea pig’s health before you bring him home will save a lot of heartache – and money – down the road.

Welcoming your new guinea pig home is simplified when you have everything you need in advance. Hagen’s Living World Guinea Pig Resort Starter Kit comes with everything needed to set up a first-class home for a guinea pig…except the guinea pig! The kit includes a spacious wire cage; Classic Guinea Pig Food; Alfalfa, a great source of fiber; Drinking Bottle; Pine Shavings for bedding; Food Dish and a care booklet. Guinea Pig Treats and Sticks (sold separately) are also available for nutritious snacking and to help keep teeth in proper condition.

Hagen’s Living World Guinea Pig Resort Starter Kit and Guinea Pig Treats and Sticks are available at pet retailers nationwide. For more information, visit http://www.hagen.com.

Rolf C. Hagen (USA) Corp is a wholly owned US subsidiary of Rolf C. Hagen Inc., Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Founded in 1955, Rolf C. Hagen, Inc. is a leading international manufacturer and distributor of products, food and supplies with facilities located throughout North America, Europe and Asia.

Fascinating and fun facts about guinea pigs:

•Guinea pigs are related to the chinchilla, the porcupine and the capybara, a semi-aquatic South American mammal weighing 75-140 pounds.
•The origin of the name “Guinea pig” is a mystery. One theory is that because the animals were brought to Europe through Guinea, or Guyana, in South America, the 16th century, people mistakenly thought they came from there. “Guinea” was also a term used by the English to reference any far-off, unknown place, so it could have been a nod to the cavy’s foreignness. Some believed that the animals were originally sold for the price of one guinea coin, but the term “guinea pig” predates the guinea coin.
•Compared to most mammals which are born naked and blind, the Guinea pig is off to a fast start, coming into the world with fur and their eyes open. Within a day or two of birth, they are able to the same diet as their parents.
•The largest Guinea pig weighed in at 5 ¼ pounds and lived in Australia
•Queen Elizabeth I was one of the first people in Europe to have a pet Guinea pig, which led to its popularity on the continent. Another famous cavy owner was President Teddy Roosevelt, whose son named the guinea pigs after important people in his life, including his pastor, a priest and Admiral George Dewey, who was in charge of the U. S. Navy during the Spanish-America War (1898).

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