Guinea pigs can be wonderful pets and have loads of love and affection that they can share with their owners. Young children especially enjoy spending time with guinea pigs because they are quiet, obedient, and affectionate. My daughters (ages 3 and 5) love to play “babies” with their guinea pigs “Raven” and “Amy” – the guinea pigs even seem to like being pushed around the house in a doll pram!
Some of the characteristics of guinea pigs that make them suitable pets include:
- they are social animals and can easily bond with their owners and even with other pets
- they do not require a lot of space
- they are very funny little creatures because of their interesting nature
- they are clean and odorless, unless they are not properly cared for
- they are relatively easy and inexpensive to feed
- they can (usually) be trained to use the litter box
- unlike dogs, they do not need to be taken for long daily walks or outside for “bath breaks”
- they are quiet and will not annoy your family or neighbors with constant noise!
- are obedient and only bite on rare occasions, such as when they are sick, feel threatened or trapped
However, to know if guinea pigs will be suitable pets for your family, there are several lifestyle factors to consider
be taken into account.
Guinea pig dandruff is a fairly common allergen, so if someone in your family is prone to allergies, it would be wise to take the whole family to a breeder or pet store so that everyone can spend some time with guinea pigs and make sure there are no allergic reactions. Hay and straw allergies are also common, but can be more easily managed by choosing alternative types of hay litter and / or pellets rather than loose, potentially dusty hay.
2. Do you have time?
To really enjoy your pet, you need to have enough time to care for and socialize it. To really get used to it, you have to handle it every day until it gets to know you and trusts you. You will need to spend more time with your piggy bank if you only have one. Two pigs are better if you have limited time (and who isn’t these days) because they keep each other company when you’re busy.
3. Do you travel a lot?
Remember that if you are away from home a lot, you will have to ask someone else to feed, clean and care for your piggy bank. This can be expensive, unless there are piggie-loving teens in your area, too, and who are trustworthy enough that you can rest assured that your piggy will be well looked after while you are away.
4. Room to move
Do you have enough space to comfortably hold your guinea pig? The minimum cage size is 2 square feet per guinea pig. However, it’s much better to have a bigger cage so your piggy can run and exercise whenever he wants to. You will find that 7 square feet per guinea pig is a much happier, more energetic pig. In most parts of the world, you will have to keep your pig indoors for at least winter, if not all year round.
If you plan on letting your pigs roam the house for part of the day, make sure to keep them in a part of the house where you don’t mind chewing on wooden furniture! Keeping guinea pigs may not be a good idea if you love antique furniture!
6. Other animals
If you currently keep cats or dogs, be aware that cats and dogs are predators by nature and guinea pigs are predatory animals. Most cats and dogs can be trained not to tire the pig, but this should always be remembered and never left alone together because instinct is a powerful force.
7. Spatial development
Before you get your guinea pig, make sure it is allowed in your area. In some areas, local government ordinances do not allow the presence of pet rodents in housing estates.
If your guinea pig is going to be a pet for your baby, remember that you are ultimately responsible for caring for him. Children, even with the best of intentions, cannot be fully responsible for every aspect of caring for their pet. Depending on the age and maturity level of each child, some responsibility can be assigned which is a fantastic learning opportunity for them.
To know even more about guinea pigs subscribe to my free email newsletter below?