Guinea pigs have lots of appealing qualities so it can be so easy to by one on impulse. However, you should realize that they are not small toys but living creatures that need a certain amount of your time, love and attention. Before buying an adorable guinea pig, consider the following factors that should help you decide whether it’s the right pet for you.
Photo by Mikhail Koninin
What are the main needs of a guinea pig?
First of all, you should remember that guinea pigs are social animals that do best in a group of other guinea pigs. Of course, your guinea pig will not die if it is kept as a sole pet, but it has much more chances to become lonely and unhappy. To avoid it, you’ll have to spend a significant amount of time with your little companion every day. Obviously, it is not always possible, so please do consider getting several guinea pigs of the same sex.
Even if your guinea pigs live in a group, they still need your attention, daily interaction, and time spent out of the cage even if it’s just stretching their legs. Let them cuddle in your lap, play with them, let them explore the surroundings, pet them, and they’ll thrive.
Guinea pigs need to be groomed regularly. Shorthaired breeds can be fine with a once-a-week brushing while longhaired breeds require daily grooming.
A guinea pig’s cage should be placed in a warm place away from direct sunlight and draught. It should be thoroughly cleaned on a weekly basis and spot-cleaned every few days. If you don't like the smell of a dirty cage, imagine how your guinea pig feels like spending most of the day just a couple of centimeters above the bedding.
Do guinea pigs make good pets for children?
Guinea pigs are charming, very affectionate, intelligent, all have unique personalities, can be very comical, cuddly, inquisitive, and they rarely bite. So yes, they can make wonderful pets for children. However, you should remember that young kids often lack fine motor control and self-restraint, which means they may unintentionally drop a guinea pig, squeeze it, or scare it into biting. Guinea pigs need gentle handling and may be easily startled by sudden movement and loud noises. Always supervise your kid when he is handling a guinea pig.
How long do guinea pigs live?
Guinea pigs live longer than many other smaller pets such as fancy mice, rats or hamsters. Their average lifespan is 5 to 7 years, and sometimes even more. . If your life is in transition, a guinea pig may be more portable than a dog or a cat, but remember that five years or more is a significant period of time.
What gender should my guinea pig be?
Sows (girls) tend to live better in larger groups whereas Boars (boys) are limited to pairs or trios as they will fight for dominance in larger groups, and this can lead to very nasty bites.
Guinea pigs and other pets
Guinea pigs can live in a household with other pets as long as proper supervision is given when the piggy is let out of the cage. Dogs, cats and other predatory animals can seriously hurt or even kill a guinea pig, so they should never be left alone with them. Sometimes people wonder if guinea pigs can be kept in the same cage with rabbits. The answer is no. Rabbits are much stronger than guinea pigs; they can easily hurt or even kill a guinea pig unintentionally, simply by kicking out with their back legs. Also, rabbits usually tend to bully guinea pigs. Moreover, rabbits carry bordatella, a disease which is fatal to guinea pigs.
Make sure you are not allergic to guinea pigs
Unfortunately, some people are allergic to guinea pigs. To be more precise, they are allergic to the proteins contained in the animal’s saliva and urine. Hair and dander often transmit these allergens when you handle the animal or have other close contact with it. If you’ve never owned a guinea pig, visit a place where you can spend some time with one. For example, your local humane society. Who knows, maybe you’ll even meet your new best friend during this “test”.
People are waiting to help.