Your kids want guinea pigs as pets. They say they’re easy to look after. They don’t need walks. They are tiny. They eat small bits. They are easy to take care of, right?
Before you get swayed by the pleading eyes and the promises of your kids taking responsibility, here are some things you need to know about having guinea pigs as pets. Preparation is definitely key.
It is expensive
The guinea pigs might be cheap but the whole party that comes with it will add up (cage, feeding tray, hay, food, water bottle, toys etc). Sites like Gumtree have guinea pigs for sale. You can go through the pet store if you want as well. But with cages and other things, it is better to go check the cheap sites first. There are plenty of cages that aren’t that expensive and much bigger than regular ones at shops. Also, if you have a power saw and some wood and quite handy in the DIY section, it is worth Googling ideas online on pet enclosures.
Tip: Guinea pigs need floor time (time out of their cage and into a bigger play area) every day (or almost every day) especially if the cage is small. But if you DIY something that’s already quite roomy then you won’t need floor time. Good idea if you have the space.
It is more work than you think
I made the mistake of not researching about guinea pig care beforehand because I thought the other people in our house who really wanted them would do it. In the end I ended up doing all the grunt work anyway, even with the promises of them caring for it. So I did my research.
Having hay (we use oaten hay) as bedding isn’t advisable because they stink up really easily. Since these little critters eat all the time, they pee and poo all the time too. It was a struggle cleaning the cage every single day. So I did some research and found a better solution.
I sewed up some fleece bedding with the help of the Cali Cavy Collective site. It took an entire afternoon to sew them all up but it became easier to maintain after that. Instead of a daily 15 minute clean up, I only need to do spot poo cleaning every day.
Other things they do a lot
They eat. A lot. Hay, nibbles, fresh veggies – these little pigs are eating machines. That’s why they poop a lot too. Read up on what veggies are not safe to feed your guinea pigs and stock up on their favourite ones. Not all guinea pigs are created equal. For instance, ours only seem to like cos lettuce and carrots and pretty much nothing else.
They party at night. If you have the cage in your kid’s room, then better buy your child some ear plugs. The guinea pigs love a good rave at night. Cover their cage and give them something to nibble on to keep them quiet.
They need to be desexed. Unless you want a gazillion baby guinea pigs, it’s worth visiting your local vet to get them desexed, because they are more active in that department than hormonal teenagers.
Good luck and have fun!