Before adopting a Guinea Pig
Before you decide to adopt a guinea pig, there is much to consider before bringing a guinea pig into your life. On this page, I've included both questions and answers that will hopefully help you decide if a guinea pig is right for you. Just click on each question and you will be taken directly to the answer.
Do guinea pigs make good pets?
Where will my guinea pig live?
Will my guinea pig need a cage mate?
Can my guinea pig live with my rabbit?
Can a guinea pig share the same household with other pets?
Can I afford to keep a guinea pig?
Do I know how to care for a guinea pig?
Are guinea pigs good pets for children?
Will I have enough time to care for a guinea pig?
What will happen when I go on holiday?
1) Do guinea pigs make good pets?
Indeed they do! guinea pigs are wonderful little animals, my list is endless to why I think guinea pigs make ideal pets. They are charming, very affectionate, intelligent, talkative, all have unique personalties, can be very comical, cuddly, inquisitive and they rarely bite. For me personally and from my own experience with other smaller animals, I would go as far as saying guinea pigs are the most ideal pet to share your life with. Of course I am biased and I do appreciate all animals are different and all have endearing qualities, but for me, a guinea pig is awarded 10/10 for being so idyllic. Guinea pigs can live up to 5 to 7 years, so you'll hopefully have many happy years with your little friend.
2) Where will my guinea pig live?
I personally believe that guinea pigs should live in-doors as part of the family. You'll notice more quickly if they are poorly and be able to give them care and attention throughout the day or night. Another option if you really don't have room in your house is that you have a secure hutch inside an out-building like a shed, with heating for the cold winter months. I would not keep guinea pigs in a hutch outside, they can be exposed to all sorts of weather and be vulnerable to predators. So please don't consider this as an option. If you need cage ideas please visit my Housing Page
3) Will my guinea pig need a cage mate?
Yes, guinea pigs are a herd animal and need the company of their own kind to be truly happy. Even if your able to donate a lot of time to your piggy, you can't possibly give them 24hr attention, so getting another guinea pig as a cage mate will stop your piggy becoming lonely when your absent. Together, guinea pigs can develope a close bond with each other, play, talk and do all things piggy, even enjoy a game of tug war with a piece of carrot. Guinea pigs really do love the company of their own kind. You'll find lots of information about guinea pig compatibility on my Companionship page.
Peachy whispering a secret to Clover
4) Can my guinea pig live with my rabbit?
There are many reasons why you shouldn't allow a guinea pig and a rabbit to live together or even have their free range time together. Rabbits have very strong, powerful back legs and even a small rabbit could really hurt a guinea pig or even kill a guinea pig. You may think that your bunny likes your guinea pig and wouldn't hurt them, but rabbits only have to get excited and they can easily kick out by accident. Having been kicked by accident by our two bunnies, who are the most friendliest bunnies I have ever known, their kicks really hurt and can even cause bruising so imagine what they could do to a guinea pig! Rabbits also have different dietary needs. Rabbits have also been known to bully a guinea pig or try and mount them, so please don't consider mixing guinea pigs and rabbits at any time.
5) Can a guinea pig share the same household with other pets?
Yes, but you need to be extremely cautious. If you have free range predatory animals like a dog or a cat, never leave them together unsupervised, not even for a few seconds. Cats and dogs have natural instincts to hunt and a quick moving piggy could arouse their natural instincts. Even if your cat or dog is very friendly, they may even think that they are just playing with the piggy, not realising they are hurting them. A possible solution would be while your guinea pigs are having their free range time in a safe room ( for example: no wires, no household plants that the inquisitive piggy can reach ) then you could place your cat or dog in another room, leaving messages on doors to alert other family members. You will have to make sure you have a very secure cage for your guinea pig, as some cats or dogs might work out how to open the cage door! Remember young inquisitive toddlers can also learn how to open a cage door. Pets like rabbits, ferrets, hamsters, rats and mice should not be introduced to a guinea pig. Pets like hamsters can bite a guinea pig, even though they are much smaller. In the interest of the guinea pigs safety, its best not to introduce any other type of pet to your guinea pig and be very cautious at all times.
6) Can I afford to keep a guinea pig?
You will need all the initial supplies, cage, bedding, food, accessories like food bowls, water bottles, toys, a secure carrier for vet visits. The accessories will last quite a while, but you will need a constant supply of bedding, hay, pellets and fresh vegetables. One of the most expensive as well as one of the most important things to consider are veterinary bills. If your guinea pig became poorly and needed treatment, would you be willing to pay the veterinary bills?. If the answer is no, please do not adopt a guinea pig or any other pet. As an owner of any pet, you should be fully be prepared to take on the responsibility of making sure your pet is well cared for, happy and trips to the vet when needed.
7) Do I know how to care for a guinea pig?
If the answer is no, then you would be very wise to buy a book about guinea pigs before you bring a guinea pig home. Of course, the internet is also a great source of information, but its also good to have a few favourite books to curl up with and read. I have 3 favourite authors, firstly is Peter Gurney who has written several books about guinea pigs. I own a copy of ~Guinea Pig Family Pet Guide~ which is an exellent book. Dale Sigler who has written a marvellous book called ~A Grown-up Guide to Guinea Pigs~. Myra Mahoney another great author who has written ~The Really Useful Guinea Pig Guide~ If you are thinking of getting a guinea pig for a child, it would be a good idea to buy a book that is aimed at children. This way they can become involved in their guinea pigs care and learn lots of facts about them. Depending on their age of course, but a book called ~Guinea Pigs (ASPCA Pet Care Guides for Kids)~ by Mark Evans, is an easy to understand book for children. To buy these books on-line, just click on each title or you could try ordering them from your local book store.
Guinea Pig Family Pet Guide: by Peter Gurney
A Grown-ups Guide to Guinea Pigs: by Dale sigler
The Really Useful Guinea Pig Guide: by Myra Mahoney
Guinea Pigs (ASPCA Pet Care Guides for Kids): by Mark Evans
I have my very own library of guinea pig information books, I've still more to buy, but some books really do stand out above the rest. I have shared some of my books with Treen from Treen's Pigs and Treen has created an excellent book section on her site. To see a large list of guinea pig care books which have also been rated by Treen, visit the link below.
Treen's Pigs: Information and Reference Books
8) Are guinea pigs good pets for children?
Guinea pigs can make wonderful pets for children, but because guinea pigs are timid by nature and also fragile, great care must be taken and very young children should be supervised at all times and be taught that a guinea pig is not a toy. If your child isn't mature enough to know that, then it would be better to wait until your child is older. Remember that even if your child has promised to look after their guinea pig, some children become bored within a short space of time and they forget about all the promises they made. So as an adult it would be you that is responsible for the guinea pigs welfare for the whole of their life. If you won't be able to take on that responsibilty, ( just incase your child becomes bored ), then please don't bring home a guinea pig or any other pet. Unless your child is mature enough to take on the full responsibilty of taking care of a piggy, then with younger children, you will still need to supervise and make sure the guinea pig has lots of care and attention.
Unless your child is well into their teens and is very responsible, always keep a guinea pigs cage where you can see it for much of the day and evening so you can keep a watchful eye on them. A childs bedroom isn't an ideal place. Often a child is out, attending school all day, so thier room won't be frequently visited during the day. Guinea pigs can also be quite noisy, even just drinking from their water bottle can be a disturbance for a sleeping child.
Always supervise a young child when holding a guinea pig. For safty tips and how to learn how to hold a guinea pig correctly, visit my Handling your guinea pig page.
My daughter Jenna holding Clover
9) Will I have enough time to care for a guinea pig?
Obviously it depends if you are doing a full time job and how many other commitments you have. It also depends on how many guinea pigs and other pets you have to look after. Remember each animal will need your individual attention. I have 6 guinea pigs, we also have two bunnies, a few fish and I can comfortable look after all of them. If you are new to guinea pigs, I really wouldn't recommend you bring home more than two or three until you have gained experience in looking after these wonderful little animals. Guinea Pigs have been a part of my life now for almost 8 years. I also kept piggies as a child and in that time I have gained a lot of experience, but I'm still learning, its never-ending, but learning is one of my favourite pastimes.
Depending on the size of the cage, your guinea pigs cage will need to be cleaned out regular. Visit my Cage Cleaning page, for more information. Keeping a nice clean cage will help go along way to hopefully keeping your piggies not only healthier but happier.
Although guinea pigs don't need to be taken for long walks like a dog, they will need daily free range time out of the cage. Ideally 3 to 4 hours, longer if possible, especially if their cage isn't large enough for them to run-around in at a great speed. Exercise will help to keep your guinea pig fit, healthier and they will also have mental stimulation with lots different things to explore. I take great pleasure when I see my piggies running around in my hall or the piggy/bun palace. Playing in cardboard box's, going through tubes, hiding under newspaper, you can see how happy they are not being confined to a cage all the time. A guinea pig in a small cage 24/7 will be an unhappy guinea pig. You will need time to give them a daily health check, make time for trips to the vets, if needed. You will need to make time for *cuddle time* as most guinea pigs love to be handled and be given lots of cuddles. They will quite happily sit on you, some will become so relaxed they will have a little sleep.
10) What will happen when I go on holiday?
A very important thing to consider! If you are going on holiday, even if its just for a weekend, you will need a responsible adult who loves animals, to come in at least twice a day to take care of your piggies. You would need to make a detailed list of do's and don'ts. Please don't be afraid to include lots of detail, no matter how small, your friend or family member will understand. It will be less stressful for your piggies if they aren't subjected to too much change in their routine. Whoever you give responsibility too, to look after your guinea pig, if they can't respect your wishes or respond to your list with, "Oh never-mind that, I won't need it", then I certainly wouldn't feel confident leaving my piggies with them. Remember to leave extra money with the carer to buy fresh vegetables and give them your vets telephone number and of course a contact number where they can reach you.
If you think you are unable to find a responsible person to look after your guinea pig, there are some excellent boarding services available. Always ask to inspect the premises and make a list of questions you may like to ask before allowing any boarding service to look after your guinea pig. Remember it will be their little holiday too and you'll want to make sure your piggies will be well cared for and happy while you are away. Some veterinary practices will board guinea pigs for a fee, but I would check they have separate facilities for guinea pigs and quieter pets. You don't want your guinea pig near poorly animals or barking dogs.
Art work by Tracey Sammie
If you have decided after much thought that a guinea pig is the right pet for you, then please visit my page Choosing a Guinea Pig
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