Guinea Pig Protozoa

Guinea Pig Protozoa

Guinea Pig Protozoa. Protozoa are a diverse group of unicellular eukaryotic organisms many of which are motile. Protozoa were defined as unicellular protists with animal like behaviour such as movement. Today Protozoa are normally defined as single celled organisms. Many protozoan species are symbionts, some are parasites and some are predators of faeces bacteria. There has been an estimated 30,000 protozoan species.

In general Protozoa are referred to as animal-like protists because of movement(mobility). Protozoa commonly range in length between 10 to 52 micrometres but can grow as large as 1mm and they can easily be seen with the use of a microscope.

Motility & Digestion

Tulodens are two of the slow moving form of Protozoa, and move around with whip-like tails called Flagella 5-10µm long, hair like structures called cilia 20-30µm long, or foot like structures called pseudopodia 2µm thick by 20µm and others do not move at all. Protozoa may absorb food via their Cell Membranes.

Amoebas surround there food and engulf it where others have openings or mouth pores in to which they sweep food in to.

Life Cycle

Some protozoa have life stages alternating between proliferative stages (Trophozoites) and others being cysts. As cysts, Protozoa can survive harsh conditions such exposure to extreme temperature or harmful chemicals or long periods without access to Nutrients, Water or even Oxygen. Being a cyst enables parasitic species to survive outside of the host and allows their transmission from one host to another. Protozoa can reproduce by Binary fission or multiple fission. Some Protozoa reproduce sexually and some even asexually while others may use a combination. An individual Protozoan is hermaphroditic.

Possible Symptoms Of Infection

Possible signs or symptoms of infection by a protozoa. Please note however these symptoms could be a sign for another condition.

  • Diarrhoea (Cow Patty Droppings, Watery Diarrhoea)
  • Smelly Faeces (From what I have observed smells like sewage)
  • Hunched Posture
  • Gastric Bloat
  • Anorexia (Unwilling to eat)
  • Weight Loss (Eating Normally)
  • Weight Loss (Including Anorexia)


In most cases Diagnosis is found by performing a Faecal Float (This is where a sample of poop is placed in a vial with a liquid with a specific gravity of lower then 0.1 which is then mixed and a microscope slide placed on top to allow Eggs to float to slide which is then placed under a microscope)


Treatment is al dependant on the protozoa/flagellate found. Some treatments are very successful with a course of an Anti-Parasitic like Metronidazole (Flagyl), and Fenbendazole. In the treatment of Coccidiosis a 5-7 day course of Septrin (Septra) at 30mg/kg.

Your Veterinarian will decide which treatment will work for the protozoa found.


In all cases of Protozoa Infection the following steps should be taken :-

  • Good Hygiene Practises Should Be Followed (Regular Cage Cleaning)
  • Toy Disposal (All Toys, Tubes, Grass Ball, Hay Balls should be disposed off to prevent re-infection)
  • Infected Animals should be kept separate from un-infected animals.
  • PPE Clothing (Change of clothing between handling is paramount)

Types and Species Found In Guinea Pigs

The following table is a list of Protozoa which can be found in Guinea Pigs although the list provided is not an exhaustive list.

Balantidium Cavia

Chilomastix Spp

Cryptosporidium Wrain

Monocercomonas spp

Eimeria Caviae

Giardia Duodenalis