which are better as a first family pet guinea pigs or rabbits?

(36 Posts)
chocoholic05 Sat 20-Apr-13 21:17:16

That's it basically. We have never had a pet since our dc aged 5 and 7 were born. Ww used to have two rabbits ages ago and we have never had guinea pigs. What do we need to consider?

guineapiglet Tue 23-Apr-13 19:37:51

Hi all - and hi to you Fernie haven't seen you this week!

Lots of great advice about guineas and rabbits, it is hard to chose pets sometimes, they all have their advantages and disadvantages! Guineas are great lawnmowers and green recycling bins! ( As are rabbits - ) but you need more than one, they are happiest in pairs or more. I would never have new guineas in with an established cat <bitter experience, our neighbours' cats tormented our guinea girls> they are prey animals and have no armoury against cats other than the ability to run like greased lightning! They might be happy in a yard if it was enclosed and had a roof, so kind of fox proofed, may be with chicken wire or the like, but they cannot be left outside freeranging unsupervised, - 70 is right, they often can't manage ramps or heights, so the lower down the cage the better for them - they are very chatty and interactive if you can get them young enough and train them to your ways, great family pets. smile

FernieB Tue 23-Apr-13 14:55:46

chocoholic do your DC have friends who have GP's? If so, you may be able to do a 'pig swap' and look after each others when you go away. We have done that before, but mainly our lads (GP's and Bun) go to a pet hotel in the country! I would say that as first pets, GP's are easier as they are happier to be handled and very easy to please. Rabbits can be more stroppy and do not like being picked up. Having said that, I would find it hard to be without a rabbit - their general grumpy-ness is very appealing to me. All our animals live indoors and the rabbit is cleaner by miles. The pigs need cleaning out every day but I only clean the rabbit's litter tray every day or two and his cage is cleaned out every 10-14 days, but then he is roaming around the house 24/7.

Rockinhippy - I love the sound of your rabbit - they are fantastic. I would be dubious about having free-ranging GP's outside. They lack the physical presence of a rabbit and I don't think they could chase off any prey/cats, although my Scruffypig would certainly have a go grin. They aren't really climbers and ramps aren't the best idea as they could fall off. I would just be worried that they'd just end up as a meal for your cats.

70 - a few years ago I took the DC away for a week leaving DH in charge of our previous bun. I left him instructions - 5 lines of things to do in the house and 3 pages of instructions on the rabbit.

Rockinhippy Tue 23-Apr-13 09:51:18

Excuse thread hijack, but I'm very curious about GPs now too - I miss our old Bunny very much, we just couldn't face replacing him after he died as he was just too much a part of our family, but now a couple of years later, we really do miss having a pet living free in our yard, but still not keen to get another rabbit as it means putting up fencing around built in large planters again & we would have to lose a lot of our potted plants that he could reach & destroy & we do like having so much more green & colour out there too, hence why we've decided against another rabbit, but you lot are winning my over with your tales of your GPs, so I'm now wondering...

How are they with cats -can they stand up for themselves & chase a cat off as our rabbit would - (he ended up as great friends with our cat & they would lie & sun themselves together smile )

Can they climb -
I always presumed they can't, but even having kept Rabbits before, I was quite shocked at how high up or buck could get if it meant something to nibble on.

Would they be okay with a small hen loft type cage, you know, a few feet square & up a little ramp for shelter, but no proper cage just free run of a large yard.

Do they like veg left overs as treats ?
The time I miss our rabbit most is when cooking & peeling veg, as I always used to pile up the best scraps for our rabbit & he used to get very excited to see me through the window with them - he would climb up & sit on the windowsill watching & waiting at tea time smile

We did consider hens, but our friend keeps them & I realised I had forgotten how much mess they can make - GPs sound like a possible solution, keeping our 2 cats firmly in mind

Thanks

catsdogsandbabies Mon 22-Apr-13 09:15:51

From a veterinary point of view guineas every time. Rabbits are lovely but take more work with diet etc to avoid issues. GPS more resilient and suffer less illness (particularly dental disease). As a first pet a couple of female baby GPS are perfect IMO.

chocoholic05 Mon 22-Apr-13 09:05:28

when we had rabbits predc our neighbours used to pop round if it was just for the weekend and they used to stay in a cattery that took small animals for longer holidays. However we have different neighbours now who aren't as keen on animals and if I remember rightly the cattery was quite expensive. I may have to do more research i think! smile

oohaveabanana Sun 21-Apr-13 23:14:24

Holidays: we have done the following-

- UK holidays - taken them with us! You can get collapsable runs/C&C cages (google them!) are easy to collapse and wok indoors and out
- guinea swops - we now have mates with guineas and/or who would like them. Its easy to take the cage round to someone else's house, or give them keys.
- for weekends away - yes you can get away with occasional dropping in - if we go away on Fri night & get back on Sunday, we reckon they can manage without us as long as we fuss them at both ends of the trip <possibly a bad GP mummmy>
- guinea boarding - google, or local vets, are your friend. Lots of places, including rescues will do this - it is (imo) often surprisingly expensive. Look out for people who will pop into your house and feed there - they tend to be cheaper - but obv limits your piggies outdoor time. We've done boarding for big holidays before, where we knew they'd be out in a run every (reasonable weather) day.

My hogs are going to Small Animal Boarding in August. I wouldn't want them stuck in their Pighouse for a week and if someone came round to feed them they probably wouldn't be able to catch them in their run (I send DD in) grin

In May I'm leaving DH in charge while I take the DC away for a couple of days.

I'll leave him a "To Do List" (and DD will phone every day to check up on them)

Floralnomad Sun 21-Apr-13 19:48:41

There's loads of places that do small animal boarding ,your local vets will probably know someone or have some adverts for some.

chocoholic05 Sun 21-Apr-13 19:18:54

my 5 year old said we could take them with us! Well it is my inlaws caravan so I suppose we could grin

chocoholic05 Sun 21-Apr-13 19:01:26

so basically if we went away on the Friday I could feed them etc before we went away ask my parents to pop in on the Sunday and they'd be fine for the Monday when we get back? We'd have to find a better solution for our main August holiday though

We have GP's (dd's are 3.10 and 14 months). They live indoors. They are great, not bitey as long as handled regularly and treated well, very sociable. Used to have rabbits, I would say they would be better for slightly older children.

You need to have someone who can come in and feed them if away for a longer period (you could pay someone, local animal shelter might know of people). They need to be fed regularly as they eat continuously. You can get those dried cat food dispensers that will allow a good stash of dried complete food to be left, but you would need to make sure they had enough water to last them too. If you left loads of hay and complete food plus water you could go away for a few days,just pamper them.with lovely fresh treats when you get back.

chocoholic05 Sun 21-Apr-13 17:48:04

however going on holiday is an important consideration. We are going away for both may Bank holidays and also in August. What do others do with their pets when they go away?

chocoholic05 Sun 21-Apr-13 17:27:11

a cat! I didn't mention a cat! lol! !!grin smile

deep hay not straw (oops) (I do use soft barley hay at the back of their sleeping box to insulate but they sleep in hay)

Maryz Sun 21-Apr-13 01:03:18

Neither.

Get a cat. You don't have to clean out their cages. You don't have to worry about holidays (anyone can feed them every couple of days). They clean themselves, look after themselves and are much more satisfactory in every way.

JumpingJackSprat Sun 21-Apr-13 01:02:13

Guineas need added vitamin c to their food, plenty of handling early or they will be timid. two girls better, or two boys are ok from babies, our last two were brothers. keep inside or in a shed/garage in winter if possible. Need to be let out to run about regularly. id def recommend guineas as better pets overall. make sure small dcs are well supervised when handling to make sure theyre not rough. claws will need clipping fairly often but easy enough to do it at home but get someone to show you. Get from a rescue if possible not a pet shop. and good luck smile

countingto3 my DD says they aren't the sharpest tools in the shed and she's right. But that's part of their charm grin

I love opening the haybox lid and seeing two little noses poking out (they bury themselves in deep straw, opposite corners)

I've had mice and guineas (I'm currantly on number 13&14) two rescued brothers. I'd had sows and 1 little male who didn't last very long-bullied by his mate sad. These are my first male pair.
Never had rabbits or rats.

The thought of rats really appeals (nice size to handle) but much more agile and intelligent than guineas. And the thought of something that can climb and outsmart my hogs.....No. (And the weird wormy tails)

My DD and I share the guinea-pig care. They are messy little tykes. noisy, totally lead by their stomachs but give 200% back.
Every shopping trip involves "something for the boys".
Every evening they come in for a cuddle, GP2 will cuddle DH or I. DD cuddles her GP1 (He adores her- he's her boy)

They are The Best grin
Though sows are easier-not better- just easier.

SucksToBeMe Sat 20-Apr-13 23:26:40

grin @ myliferocks!!!

So true!!

Myliferocks Sat 20-Apr-13 22:14:37

If they are indoor gps you will never be able to open the fridge door again without a chorus of squeaking!

chocoholic05 Sat 20-Apr-13 22:11:44

so if we choose gps what do I need to know?

Marmotte3 Sat 20-Apr-13 22:11:07

We had rabbits and GPs when I was young, loved the rabbits but they were prone to theet problems and attacks from cats. Our GP had a really funny 'personality', I loved his squeak when he wanted food or attention. We used to bring him fresh grass and dandelions from the garden and also some of our Wheatabix in the morning. He knew the sound of the back door opening and the spoon in the cereal bowl and would squeak up a riot with his nose in the air looking to get food. He was cuddly and friendly too, really loved that little fella.

Iamcountingto3 Sat 20-Apr-13 21:55:47

I've had GPs and rabbits, and I'd say GPs - easier for kids (better size, happier to be picked up and sat on knees - bunnies don't like being picked up in general), lower health needs (ime - our rabbits cost us a fortune, the GPs have never been to the vets), and they are the easiest, cutest things ever - our two will sit on our knees and chirrup away to us for hours. And they tolerate being played with enthusiastically by our two (we got them when they were 5 & 7)

Whilst I think rabbits CAN be fab, I think they are more tempramental, especially if not handled very regularly. They also need more room.

Bunnies are much brighter - much as I love our GPs they aren't the brightest tools in the box grin

SucksToBeMe Sat 20-Apr-13 21:51:19

I've also had GPs and rabbits. GPs are fantastic first pets.

Floralnomad Sat 20-Apr-13 21:50:26

What's wrong with rats ?

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