If you have kids interested in getting a guinea pig, this is some info you may want to read first (trust me.)
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I have to admit—when my daughter was 11 and asked if she could have a guinea pig, I was less than enthused. I actually said, “Ewww.” I did give in, and we got, not only one, but two guinea pigs, Molly and Vanessa. (If you do decide to get two, get them at the same time, from the same cage/litter. We didn’t, and Molly and Vanessa never did adjust to each other. They had to have two separate cages.) They did both turn out to be adorable, sociable, wonderful pets. They were so cute. This post will give you tips for how to care for you guinea pig, should you decide to get one (or two.)
Molly wore hats well.
Not only was it a good experience for my daughter to take responsibility for Molly and Vanessa, it was really educational. She made a guinea pig website, at age 11 (or was it 12?) That was an educational experience too. (She’s 23 now, and it’s still up! Guinea Pig Palace ) Other than some minor editing, and the fact that we had to change the template because the old one became obsolete, this is the same site she created way back then.
Guinea pigs are sweet, cuddly, and don’t really have an odor, which was a big relief. (No odor that is, as long as the cage is clean!) They are great pets. In the spirit of full disclosure, though, I have the following bits of information you should know before you take the leap:
- Guinea pigs are high maintenance pets that need frequent cage cleaning, and nail clipping. They become more social as you play with them. They don’t like to be ignored.
- With good care, they can be very long lived. Both of ours lived until they were 7 years old. So you’ll be investing part of your future. If that doesn’t appeal to you, consider a hamster instead. (Hamsters only live a year or two.)
- Don’t worry, they don’t bite (or at least most of them don’t, as long as they’re socialized.) Hamsters do. (Another thing I know from experience…)
- They “eek” at you when they’re hungry. They often “eek” at you even when you just walk by, in hopes that you’ll feed them. (Remember, part of their name is “pig.”) When people are sleeping, the eeking can be…inconvenient.
- You’ll need a bigger cage than you think! Guinea pigs should not be cramped. They need plenty of room to move around. We made a huge one at first, but it was difficult to clean. So we went and bought the biggest one we could find at the pet store.
- You should clean the cage at least once a week. We used Carefresh bedding. It was absorbent and soft on Molly and Vanessa’s feet. (We tried several other options before settling on the Carefresh. Fleece works well for some, but it was a nightmare for us. Aspen shavings were ok, but got smellier than the Carefresh.)
Vanessa loved carrots.
If you enter into your guinea pig relationship with eyes wide open, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. Molly and Vanessa won me over. After all, who can resist a face as cute as this one?