Their little squeaks are enough to melt even the toughest of hearts. Guinea pigs, also known as cavies, are native to South America and were first domesticated around 2000 BC in the Andes. It’s thanks to this domestication that we can now enjoy them as pets. However, they do require a certain amount of care so make sure you’re up to the challenge of Guinea Pig adoption by answering these questions:
Considerations Before Your Guinea Pig Adoption
Do I have the time?
Cavies can live up to seven years, which is a lot longer than other small pets such as gerbils and hamsters. You might be really excited to have a guinea pig right now, but will this feeling still be the same five years from now?
Ideally, your guinea pig should be taken out of their cage every day to give them a change of scenery. It could be exploring the room (as long as all hazards have been removed), laying in your lap, or stuffing themselves full of grass in the garden. Why not kill two birds with one stone and sit with them in the garden to bond?
Try not to stain your favorite clothes though. But don’t worry if they do get dirty – simply follow these tips to remove any grass stains.
If you have your heart set on a short-haired guinea pig such as an American or a Teddy then brushing them once a week should suffice. Long-haired breeds, on the other hand, such as a Peruvian or a Sheltie, will need daily grooming to ensure their coat doesn’t get matted.
When it comes to cleaning out the cage, this should be done on a weekly basis. They are known for leaving lots of little ‘gifts’ around, which is why a spot clean every few days on top of the main clean is not a bad idea to ensure their living quarters stay clean and dry.
Staying on top of the cleaning routine will also keep unpleasant odors at bay. The last thing you want is for your home to smell bad after your Guinea Pig adoption.
Do I have the space?
While other rodents such as gerbils, mice, and hamsters like to climb and can therefore live perfectly fine in a vertically stacked cage, guinea pigs aren’t climbers and consequently need horizontal cages. Do you have adequate floor space?
- Two guinea pigs require at least 7.5 square feet
- Three guinea pigs require at least 10.5 square feet
- Four guinea pigs require at least 13 square feet
The reason we haven’t mentioned the size for a single guinea pig is because they are herd animals and should therefore be housed with at least one other guinea pig otherwise they will get lonely. Do you know it’s illegal to own just one guinea pig in Switzerland for this reason?
Guinea pigs are also very intelligent little animals. Keep their mind active by hiding healthy food treats such as carrots and apples in various places around their cage. You can keep their teeth healthy by placing small pieces of wood (Appletree wood is guinea pig safe) in their cage for them to chew on.
Do I have the money?
The Guinea Pig adoption itself can be relatively cheap and you know you have enough money for that cool cage you recently saw – now what? Well, there are also the ongoing costs to think about. Fresh bedding and access to an unlimited supply of hay is imperative.
Guinea pigs also need fresh vegetables (and fruit now and then) to get their vitamin C. Fresh produce isn’t exactly cheap so the cost will add up over time. An option could be to grow your own veg or buy hay from a farmer, which is usually cheaper than buying from the pet store.
If your piggy gets sick, the vet bills can also set you back. Think this through carefully – just because they’re small animals it doesn’t mean that the costs are small.
They might only be small, but If you like to travel a lot, then you will also need to make sure to find a guinea pig sitter for the time being. This is an extra cost that you might have to factor in if you can’t find a friend or family member willing to do so. Also it might be time consuming to find someone suitable.
Will the whole family get along?
If you have very young kids, make sure they will be supervised at all times and won’t be screaming in their faces – guinea pigs aren’t fans of being poked and prodded or being subjected to loud noises. Another point to consider is that if you’re guinea pig adoption is for your kids to take care of, are you prepared to continue to look after them if your kids get bored?
Do you have any other fur babies? It’s crucial that any dogs and cats can’t get into the room where the guinea pigs are, no matter how docile and harmless you think the bigger pets are. That’s not to say the piggies can’t partake in family activities if you want to make Easter treats for your pets, just make sure you give the guineas their gifts separately.