You will need to feed them and check their water daily.
You will need to buy food and water dispensers. For water, most people recommend one of those rodent bottles (available in pet stores) with a stainless steel tube coming down to drink from with a stainless steel ball at the end of it. Don't give water in a bowl (as one might do with a dog or cat) because it will get soiled. For the pellets and the hay, you can experiment with what works for your guinea pig. I've had some success with food dishes designed for parakeets, but your mileage may vary.
A guinea pig's main diet should consist of dried timothy hay (or another grass hay), supplemented by pellets and fresh vegetables. If grass hay is not feasible, a legume hay such as alfalfa may be substituted, although that should be avoided if possible because too much calcium can cause bladder stones. Whichever hay you use should be available at all times.
If grass hay isn't available at your pet store---or even if it is, and you want something a lot fresher than what most pet stores sell---there are a couple companies that mail order hay. Sandi Ackerman reports that a person at PraireHay@aol.com delivers Brome, a grass hay, for $30.00 (shipping and handling included) for ten 16 oz bags. Also, several people (including me) have had good luck with the Oxbow Hay Company in Nebraska, which ships UPS. Three 15 oz bags of Timothy costs $11.55, including shipping and handling. You can call 800-249-0366 to order or to ask for more information. This is a family business and the number goes into their home, so you may get an answering machine sometimes even during office hours. It helps if you leave numbers where you can be reached both by day and in the evening.
Use ONLY the plain kind of guinea pig pellets (without nuts and dried fruits, which are high in fat and not good for your guinea pig). If you are concerned about your guinea pig becoming obese, you should probably limit pellets to a small amount per day. They should also get a cup or two of fresh vegetables daily---aim for ones with high vitamin C, which guinea pigs need to keep healthy. Avoid iceberg lettuce (the pale lettuce that comes in heads and is the main ingredient in most American salads), since it has next to no nutritional value, and can cause gas and other more serious health difficulties. Other than that, most fresh vegetables and fruits that are safe for humans are safe for guinea pigs.
A list of some vegetables with high vitamin C content is below, thanks to Dr. Susan Brown from America OnLine's "Ask A Vet". Keep in mind that guinea pigs need about 10 mg of vitamin C per day (20 mg for pregnant moms), so if you aren't giving them the appropriate amount of the high-C foods below on a daily basis, you will need to give vitamin C supplements. Crushed chewable C vitamins dissolved in the water works well for this.
The following chart shows the vitamin C content in milligrams (mg) of 1 cup portions of selected foods.
Vitamin C (mg)
- Turnip Greens --- 260 mg
- Mustard Greens --- 252 mg
- Dandelion Greens --- 200 mg
- Kale --- 192 mg
- Brussels Sprouts --- 173 mg
- Parsley --- 140 mg
- Collard Greens --- 140 mg
- Guavas --- 125 mg
- Beet Greens --- 100 mg
- Broccoli Leaf* --- 120 mg
- Cauliflower --- 100 mg
- Kohlrabi --- 100 mg
- Strawberries --- 100 mg
- Broccoli Florets* --- 87 mg
- Spinach --- 60 mg
- Raspberries --- 60 mg
- Rutabaga --- 52 mg
- Orange --- 50 mg
- Cabbage (all leaves and Chinese cabbage also) --- 50 mg *Broccoli stem has 0 mg of vitamin C
(Notice that oranges have less vitamin C than dark leafy greens!....stay with the greens for these little guys) -Dr. Brown
As long as they are given pellets, a salt wheel is not necessary, but it can't hurt, and lasts nearly forever.