13 things you must know before getting Guinea pig as a pet
When it comes to being small, cute, cuddly, and squeaky, Guinea pigs tops the list. These small and incredible animals are gradually climbing up the ladder of becoming America’s most popular pet. These social and cuddly animals would make you fall in love with them in just a go. But, is having a Guinea pig actually that easy?
Guinea pigs are friendly and inquisitive pets. They need commitment and attention from their owners to stay healthy and happy. With the right amount of knowledge, Guinea pigs are really easy to take care of. These pocket pets would not create a mess everywhere they step, and would actually make you happy in their presence.
According to Laura Moss, an author at Treehugger, Guinea pigs are America’s 12th most popular pet. Here are a few things you must know before getting Guinea pig as a pet.
1. Guinea Pigs are a long term commitment
No matter how easy it is to take care of a pet, they do require your constant love and commitment. Every pet comes with the responsibility of taking care of them for a long time. Guinea pigs might not live as long as cats or dogs, but they still need your time. The average life span of a healthy Guinea pig is around five to seven years.
Guinea pig as a pet also requires continued investment. You would have to pay for the initial supplies including their cage, hay, and food. They might not be a huge investment but are surely a continued one. For your Guinea pigs to stay healthy and happy, you need to provide them fresh vegetables, fruits, hay, supplements, freshwater, and proper medical care from a trained veterinarian.
2. Guinea Pigs need a lot of Vitamin C
These cute, and cuddly pocket pets, are one of those few species who cannot manufacture their own Vitamin C. Vitamin C is required by your pet Guinea pig to make collagen. Collagen is important for healing of wounds, the formation of bone structure, and for maintaining blood vessel integrity.
Guinea pigs need to be fed Vitamin C either through their diet or through supplements. Adding plenty of fresh fruits and roughage as a part of your pet’s diet is one of the best and more natural ways to supplement them with Vitamin C. However, some pet parents prefer to feed Vitamin C supplements to their Guinea pigs. The supplements can either be mixed with their water or can be given in a tablet form.
3. Guinea pigs are herd animals
Guinea pigs are very social animals. These little creatures prefer to live in pairs or small groups of five to ten. Adopting a single guinea pig is not a good idea. They need partners to bond and socialize with at all times. Keeping your Guinea pig alone might lead to its death just out of loneliness.
Most Guinea pigs get along quite naturally. But, at times there can be a little personality difference. While adopting Guinea pig as a pet, it’s best to adopt two from the same shelter. Keeping a same-sex pair is a preferred option for most of the pet owners. Both male as well as female pairs bond quite nicely with each other.
Getting a pair of Guinea pigs is so essential for them to be happy that Switzerland has made it illegal to own a single Guinea pig as a part of ‘social rights’ for your pet.
4. Guinea Pigs are not an ideal pet for young children
These cuddly pets are actually very fragile and sensitive. If not picked up the right way, there is a high chance that you or your kids might end up hurting your little guy. Guinea pig as a pet is not at all good for young children and are definitely not good starter pets.
Guinea pigs have really small bones and extra care has to be taken while you are trying to pet them or cuddle with them. When you newly adopt your Guinea pig, they will try and run from you each time you get close to them. In such situations, there is a high chase that young children might unintentionally end up hurting them. Guinea pig as a pet is also very emotional and sensitive pets and can feel lonely if you do not give them proper attention. So having a young kid take care of them is not a very good option.
5. Guinea Pigs need a large and spacious cage
These small pocket pets actually need a pretty big place to live. They are very active pets, so they need a cage big enough for them to run and play freely. These slightly larger rodents are a bit more complex than hamsters. Guinea Pig as a pet needs space for nesting, feeding, drinking, and roaming in order to lead a happy and a healthy life.
The vague should be big enough to fit in small platforms and ramps to keep them busy and entertained. It is important for your Guinea Pig to exercise so they don’t overweight themselves. According to HutchandCage, a cage that is 10.5 square feet with 30 by 50 inches would be perfect for a pair of Guinea Pigs.
6. Guinea Pigs need comfortable and clean bedding
Hay is one of the most comfortable bedding for Guinea Pigs. It is not only soft on their paws but also gives them a tasty snack to chew upon. However, if not cleaned regularly the hay bedding might act as a breeding place for ticks and fleas. Guinea pig as a pet is very prone to infections and might cause anemia or loss of appetite.
It is important to scrape off the old bedding and lay a new one on a daily basis. It is also important to clean their entire cage at least once a week to prevent molding. You can use a solution of alcohol and water which would act as an antibacterial solution and would keep your pet safe from bacterial and fungal infections.
7. Guinea Pigs express themselves in the most adorable way
These cute creatures express their love and excitement in one of the cutest ways. When Guinea Pigs are happy they hop repeatedly. These quick, little jumps are called popcorning. When you see your pet, hopping around you just enjoy their moment and happiness with them.
Many people think Guinea pigs are boring rodents. They are actually very talkative pets who make different kinds of noises to express their feelings. Most Guinea Pigs squeak in happiness while they do their little jumps. Mostly squeaking is due to happiness and excitement, but at times can also be due to fear. So, do make sure what your pet is trying to convey. They also make purring and chattering noises when cuddled or played with.
8. Guinea Pigs are not compatible with other pets
Guinea Pigs are very friendly and compassionate pets. They do get along with their owners and other Guinea Pigs. But having other pets around them is generally not recommended. In the wild, Guinea Pigs are a prey to most of the animals. They not only get shocked around other pets but get too scared that it might get fatal for them.
Although Guinea Pigs are not a prey for cats or dogs, but they just simply don’t get along with each other. They get very nervous around larger species. Guinea Pigs are very fragile animals, and a simple paw placed on them to stop them from running might harm your pet.
9. Guinea Pigs eat their own poop
No matter how gross it might sound, Guinea Pigs do eat their own poop, and it is quite a necessary nutritional supplement in their diet. It is perfectly normal for your Guinea Pig to eat it’s own poop.
Guinea Pigs are herbivores, and they depend entirely on plant materials for all of their nutrients. It is very difficult for Guinea Pigs to fully digest and absorb all the nutrients in one go. So they do digest their food two times. Guinea Pigs eat their soft, squishy poop in order to absorb the nutrients that they couldn’t in the first go.
10. Guinea Pig’s teeth never stop growing
Guinea Pig’s teeth are unique and they never stop growing. They grow all through their lifetime. When in the wild, Guinea Pigs eat lots of grass and hay while searching for food which keeps their length of teeth at check. It is very important for Guinea Pig as a pet to keep their teeth at a reasonable length. If they are not kept at a check, their teeth and jaws might get misaligned, or they may have a problem while eating their food.
These open-rooted teeth can be kept at a reasonable length with the help of chew toys and hay. Wooden blocks are another good option to keep them occupied and to keep their teeth healthy. Chewing, biting, and grinding helps to wear down your pet’s teeth and keep them healthy.
11. Guinea Pigs can be easily tamed
Guinea Pig as a pet is a very curious and intelligent creature. Before taming them and teaching them new skills, it is important that your pet Guinea Pig is comfortable around you. Give them some space when you first adopt them. As their nervousness subsided sown they would start to trust and love you. With lots of love and patience, you can make your pet trust you. Once that is done you can teach them new skills quite easily.
It is important for your pet to get used to your voice and smell. Talking to them on a regular basis would help them bond with you. You can also keep your hand on their cage while talking so they can get used to your smell. In just a few weeks your Guinea Pig would trust you enough to let you pick them and cuddle with them. These incredible smart pets can be taught simple tricks. They are always open to new learning.
12. Guinea Pigs are a bit loud and noisy
Guinea Pigs are surprisingly loud for their size. They make a distinctive squeaking, or a whistling type of sound whenever they are happy, excited, or in need of some attention. While hopping around you, you will notice them squeaking in anticipation of a treat. While this noise is not very disturbing to most people, it might get a little irritating to people who are sensitive to high pitched noises.
13. Guinea Pig allergies are quite common
Before falling in love with the idea of getting Guinea pig as a pet for yourself, you should first make sure you are not allergic to them. Almost two-thirds of the American population is allergic to Guinea pigs and their hay. Guinea pig allergies are a reaction to proteins present in their saliva and urine.
Before adopting your pet, you should get yourself tested for Guinea pig allergies or hay allergy. Most of the time people are allergic to hay that Guineas feed on, and not the pet. You can also go down to the shelter and play with Guinea pigs for a while to know whether you are allergic or not.
By now you might have made up your mind whether a Guinea Pig is the right choice for you or not. While thinking to make them a part of your family, it would be nice if you adopt them from shelters rather than buying one from a breeder.
Guinea Pigs are one of the most abandoned pets in the USA. These tiny creatures are used for all types of experiments and are then left alone to wander. In 2002, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals declared the month of March to be “National Adopt a Rescued Guinea Pig” month, to raise awareness about Guinea Pigs in animal shelters.
Each Guinea Pig has its own personality. When you adopt one from a shelter, you can understand their personality and take home one that fits with yours perfectly. Before buying a turtle do check our in-depth guide to turtle care, to make sure your turtle as a pet stays healthy and happy.
Thinking to adopt a pet that is easy to handle and care for? Check out 7 best low maintenance pets you can own in 2020.