Guinea Pig Care Tips for the Beginner
Guinea pigs have always been popular as pets for families and especially children for various reasons. They are cute, fun, and cuddly, and very seldom ever bite, even during stressful situations. However, anyone who has ever owned a guinea pig will be the first to tell you that they aren’t as easy to care for as the myths say they are. If you are thinking of getting a pet, and truly don’t have time for a dog or cat, then a guinea pig is a great option, especially if you are looking for a first pet for a child.
It’s important to remember, however, that a guinea pig, just like any other pet is a huge responsibility that you must help your child to learn. That is why in this blog, we will discuss a variety of things about your new guinea pig and its care. Our blog will include the reasons guinea pigs make great pets, the pros and cons of owning a guinea pig as a pet, some beginning basics of its care, and even some of the myths that need to be dispelled concerning the furry, cute creatures. With that in mind, grab your mug of coffee, pull up a chair and follow us into our blog on guinea pig care tips for the beginner.
Top Reasons Guinea Pigs Make Awesome Pets
There are quite a few reasons that guinea pigs are the way to go when you are looking for a family pet or a first pet for your child. We will go into a few of the reasons they make awesome pets below.
They Are Hardy
While that may seem to be a weird term to place on a pet, guinea pigs are hardy. If you care for your guinea pig the right way, then they are usually very healthy animals. Just like any other living thing out there, however, they can get sick. The biggest health issues with these pets seem to be that they are prone to getting bladder stones and dental diseases. These diseases are preventable by feeding your pet the right way and taking him to the vet for regular checkups. It’s also a good idea to keep your guinea pig inside, as they are used to being cool and don’t do well outdoors in humid, hot climates.
They Make Great Pets for Children
Since guinea pigs are less fragile than rabbits and certainly less skittish than hamsters and gerbils, they make great beginner pets for children, especially elementary age children and up. However, it is important to remember that young children need to be supervised around these animals, just as they need to be supervised around any pets you allow them to have.
They Like People
Believe it or not, these two to three-pound creatures actually like people. They are said to be as friendly and outgoing as dogs and cats are. They are also said to respond to and recognize their owners and many of them make little squealing noises when their owners come into the room and have even been known to climb the sides of their cage to greet them. How’s that for an interactive pet?
They Come in Various Breeds
Just like dogs and cats, guinea pigs come in various breeds to choose from. There are long haired and short haired guinea pigs, and even hairless ones. They come in different colors and patterns as well. There are 13 breeds and even 10 basic colors to choose from when it comes to adopting a guinea pig for your child or even your family.
These are just a few of the reasons that owning a guinea pig as a pet is perfect for many children and their families. Now, let’s move onto the pros and cons of owning a guinea pig as well to help you make the best and most informed decision.
Pros and Cons of Owning a Guinea Pig as a Pet
Pro: They Are Fun and Lovable
Guinea pigs are fun, lovable, furry, and adorable. If you give them enough hay on the bottom of their cage, they will make tunnels and nests and are fun to watch burrowing through. They also engage in what is known of as “popcorning,” a trait that is unique to guinea pigs. They pop up and down into the air over and over again when they are excited and happy, making them fun to watch and be around as well.
Con: They Need Attention and Exercise
Many beginning guinea pig owners make the mistake of thinking that you can simply place them in their cage, clean it on a regular basis and that’s all there is to taking care of the little creatures. This simply isn’t true. Just like owning a dog or cat, guinea pigs need attention and need to be let out of their cages for exercise. It is recommended that you let your guinea pig out to exercise on a daily basis inside or in an outdoor enclosure. It is important to keep a close eye on your pal during this time because they do tend to chew on anything they can find.
Pro: Inexpensive in the Beginning
You can adopt a guinea pig for around $30 from your local pet store, maybe less if you go to an animal shelter that has these pets. That makes it easy to adopt two of these lovable creatures, as they are extremely social and having a companion is a great thing for them, especially if you can’t spend time with them daily.
Con: The Costs do Add Up
One of the things to note about guinea pigs is that you can’t put them in an aquarium for a home. They need a cage that has adequate ventilation and is at least three feet long, six feet for two pigs so that they can get plenty of exercise and have room to move around. Their bedding needs to be changed daily and since they love to chew everything, their toys don’t last them for very long at all. Feeding them can also be costly as well because they need special food and plenty of certain types of fruits and veggies as well.
These are just a few of the pros and cons that you need to know before adopting a guinea pig, maybe two. Now that you know the pros and cons, let’s delve into the basics of caring for your guinea pig should you choose to adopt one.
Basic Care Tips for Your New Guinea Pig
While guinea pigs are great pets to have, and relatively simple to care for, there are a few things you should know before you bring your new pet home. Those are listed below.
The bedding for your new pet needs to be absorbent, but not dangerous to the guinea pig. These animals go to the bathroom wherever they are at, so the bedding needs to be changed daily. Popular choices for bedding include fleece, which can be washed and reused, and small animal bedding that is paper-based and can be thrown away and replaced on a daily basis.
Food for Your Pet
Vitamin C is one of the most important things to your guinea pigs health, so make sure to include foods that have plenty of it. There is a list of the food you can feed your new pal below.
- Guinea pig pellets (2 tablespoons daily is recommended)
- Dark leafy greens, such as kale, spinach, and chard
- Bell peppers
Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pet
There are also quite a few foods that you need to avoid feeding your pet as well. Those are listed below.
- Iceberg lettuce
- Frozen foods that are thawed
- Wild weeds from the yard or garden
- Seeds, cores or pits from any type of fruit
- Meat and dairy products
Some of these foods give a guinea pig digestive problems, and there are a few on the list that can be toxic to your pet and even fatal. It’s best to avoid them altogether and stick to the other food items on the list instead.
Make Sure to have a Secure Lid
You need to make sure that you have a secure lid, preferably one that locks for your guinea pig, as they have been known to escape their homes. They don’t climb out of their cages, but they have been known to end up jumping out of the cage in their excitement. This is also the best way to keep other household animals from getting to your pet, as cats and dogs will be curious about the guinea pig you have brought into your home and could end up hurting him.
Grooming Your Pet
The type of grooming your pet will need will depend on whether he is a short haired or long haired guinea pig. Short hairs need to be brushed about once a week to remove any loose hairs that are clinging to them. Long hairs, however, need to be brushed daily and will benefit from the occasional trimming of all that long hair as well. All guinea pigs need to have their nails trimmed every couple of months, just to take off the sharp tips. It’s also important to bathe your guinea pig occasionally to rinse off the buildup of urine and other things that build upon their fur. Long hairs, of course, need bathing more often than short hairs do.
Accessories for Your Pet
Of course, any guinea pig is going to have to have accessories. Below you will find a few that will make you and your new pet’s lives a little easier.
A Water Bottle
A regular water dish is not going to work for your guinea pig. You need a water bottle that hangs from the side of the cage and has a gravity fed drinking tube for your pet to get water out of. This is essential so that your pet won’t soil his drinking water with urine and feces, as these pets go wherever they are standing. Make sure to mount the bottle on the outside of the cage or the guinea pig will chew a hole in it.
A Food Dish that Attaches
Make sure that you get a food dish that attaches to the cage, because your pet will knock it over, spilling food everywhere in his excitement and running around.
A Hay Rack
A hay rack hangs from the bars of the cage to keep the hay from getting soiled. This allows your pet to pull the hay out when they want too. In this way, you will be saving money on hay as well, which can get quite expensive.
Myths Surrounding Guinea Pigs
As with anything else in the world, there are a few myths surrounding guinea pigs that need to be dispelled as well.
Myth: Guinea Pigs Require Little Commitment
One of the biggest myths out there is that guinea pigs don’t require much commitment because they don’t live but a couple of years. This is untrue, and these pets have been known to live for five to 10 years if they are taken care of properly.
Myth: Guinea Pigs are Simple and Cheap to Care For
In reality, caring for a guinea pig is not that simple, because they require attention and exercise outside of their cages. Since, they chew everything and use the bathroom wherever they stand, caring for them isn’t cheap either. Their bedding needs to be changed daily and they need to have roomy cages as well.
This concludes our blog on guinea pig care tips for the beginner and a few other things you need to know as well. Now, the decision is up to you. Will a guinea pig make a good pet for you and your family?
- The Spruce Pets: All You Need to Know About Guinea Pigs
- Pets: The Pros and Cons of Guinea Pigs as Pets
- Vetstreet: 10 Reasons why Guinea Pigs Make Great Pets