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Quality Americans since 1970
SLM CAVY CARE PAGE
The caging in our caviary is rather eclectic. Some have been handed down from friends who left the hobby, some are commercially made, and some have been made by us. The older (handed down) cages are made of wood. They are open in the front with a slide in panel that is about 7" tall to keep the animals in. The panel is lifted out and the shavings can be scooped out with a dust pan when it is time to clean cages. The wire cages are of two types but all use pans to hold the shavings. The commericial ones are 2'X2' with a door cut into the front. The ones we made ourselves are a combination of wood and wire with a drop down panel on the front to allow us to remove the tray. The nice thing about these cages is that there is a divider that can be raised and lowered to make two 2'X2' cages or, for breeding or babies, one cage that is 2'X4'. Our particular strain of Americans is quite large, running routinely from three to four pounds, so a large breeding cage is really a necessity for us. It will comfortably hold one boar and two sows for breeding. We always separate the sows into one 2'X2' cage when they are ready to deliver. The best pans are ones we have made in PA for us. They are 4" deep and are of a medium heavy thickness so they are not too hard to handle but they last really well.
Feeding a cavy is not very difficult. The major things to keep in mind are that a cavy needs some source of Vitamin C each day (just as we do) and that Vitamin C in commercial cavy pellets only lasts for three months. You will probably be feeding your cavy a commercial pellet so be sure you buy it from a reputable feed dealer who is willing to sell to you in a quantity that you can use in a month or so and who is aware of the volatility of the Vitamin C. This way you can be sure he or she keeps the feed they sell fresh. I, personally, would not buy a box of cavy pellets at a pet shop or grocery store because you would have no way of telling just how old that feed is. Vitamin C can also be supplemented in a couple of ways. Feed your cavy fresh greens (kale, spinach and parsley are particularly high in Vitamin C) or fruits each day. They will love you for it and once accustomed to it will probably demand it when they see you. You can add a water soluble vitamin c to their water. We have included an address where you can get a good quality vitamin C on our links page. While we are on the subject of water, be sure to dump and refill the water bottle every day. The animals love the cool fresh water.
Cavies love hay! We do not feed hay to our cavies because Steve is very allergic to it. We have recently tried some alfalfa cubes and they seem to be accepting these now. This is one point about feeding a cavy. It may take them awhile to accept a new food. It is much quicker if there is another animal in with them who is already familiar with it. One exception that we found to this rule was bananas. They had never had them before but I had a few that were quite ripe so I decided to try feeding them to the crew. They went crazy for the smell! As soon as I hit the top cellar stair they began to whistle. They ate them like they had had them all their lives!!
We bed our animals on pine shavings. It is often a challenge to find a good quality pine shaving. Once when we traveled to Tulsa for a National Convention we were stunned to learn that you could not buy pine shavings there. We are fortunate that there is a wholesaler in Portland, CT who consisitently produces a high quality kiln dried pine shaving. You can also use other bedding such as Care Fresh or plain old hay. DO NOT however use cedar shavings. These will harm the lungs of your animals. Change the cage at least once per week if using shavings and every couple of days if using hay. You can also provide a place for you cavy to hide. One easy and inexpensive way to do this is to go to a carpet dealer and get some of the cores that the rug comes rolled on. Cut these into lengths and put them in the cages.