Advice on guinea pigs (for an idiot) please

(6 Posts)
fleacircus Tue 24-Sep-13 17:39:12

Hello - DDs (5 and 4) are very keen to have a pet and we think guinea pigs are probably the most practical choice. Can anyone advise me...
1. What age should we get? I'd been assuming youngish, but want the girls to be able to handle them.
2. Will two together be happy?
3. Can they live outside, assuming a well-insulated hutch inside a partially sheltered run?
4. What kind of vet treatments do I need to be assuming? Vaccinations and stuff? And how much is that likely to add up to?
5. How much (roughly) are they going to cost us a month?

Looking back that's a lot of questions to expect anyone to answer. So a link to your favourite GP site where I can find this out myself would be a very welcome alternative!

asandwichshort Tue 24-Sep-13 19:16:40

We have 2 (brothers) who we've had since they were 8 weeks old. It is best to have 2 to keep each other company. Ours are ok together but we've heard that 2 boys sometimes fight. Prior to this over a period of time we've had two sets of Girls who have been fine as well.
They can stay outside all the time in a suitable hutch but we bring ours in to the conservatory in the really cold weather in an indoor hutch/ cage. We've never had ours to the vet so no costs incurred there. as for day to day costs we buy Tesco dried food (big bag 3.99) which lasts weeks and they get a big carrot between them daily with grass, dandelion leaves, apples and other veg as and when. we use newspaper as a hutch lining with hay and shredded paper for bedding (they also eat the hay) Hay is about £3 a bag but if you have good storage facilities you can sometimes buy a bale of hay from a farm which works out much cheaper. Our guinea pigs have always had long (well over the average) life spans so all I can say is we must be doing something right Good luck!

Hi fleas there are loads of guinea related threads for you to have a peruse of here grin

To answer your queries here though
(not in order, some area easier to answer)....

4: they don't need vaccines and they don't need neutered unless you want a non-breeding sow/boar pair.
You'd need to protect against mites , treat if they crop up (I use a spot treatment on their necks)

5 : cost: a bag of pellets £9 /4kg lasts my 2 boars about 4-6 weeks but they waste alot. (With boars it's better to have extra food so they don't fight)
Hay - check out local petstores and hay suppliers (I got some naice hay £20 for 16 kg)
Veg: in theory your pigs will eat pretty much all the veg you have (except potatoes, iceberg lettuce)
But if you are anything like me the rest of the guinea keepers here, you'll be buying parsley, leafy celery, corn-on-the-cob and thinking "Oh, they like romaine and spinach. I'll buy that"

3: You can keep them outside if they are very well insulated but they don't handle cold and damp well so you'll probably want them inside for winter (shed or garage that the car doesn't go in)

2: yes, you need more than one. Two girls or two bonded boys. Bigger groups can work but not more than 2 boars and not 2 boars with sows

1: age/size : baby pigs are cute as a button but very skittery grin
We had two adult boars (Rescue) then last July one died (the quieter one). The big boar brother was bereft alone, my daughter didn't want to neuter him (to sow match) so we got a little boar piglet. He's now about 4 months old, very nearly the size of his "Step Dad" and just settling down.
Though we don't know if he was handled much before he came to us.

Your DDs are young and though GPs are very friendly but they are big and though they rarely bite (there's always a reason if they do) they have a sharp set of teeth.
My DD is 11. If she gets a bite it's because either her hands smell of food and they've mistaken her hands for food or if they aren't lifted properly. But even then they'd rather shreik than bite.

Can you take your DDs to handle some guineas , make sure they're not allergic to fur or hay.

Good Luck smile

fleacircus Wed 25-Sep-13 11:42:08

Thank you - that's really useful. DDs are very young, so I'm not assuming that they'll actually be responsible for the pigs - although DD1 has drawn up a detailed contract promising to love them and look after them if we agree to have them! DD2's nursery have just had visiting guinea pigs and she fell in love with them, so has had some experience handling them (although they were adults).

asandwichshort Wed 25-Sep-13 17:23:46

My 2 year old grandson is an expert handler now (with supervision) so I think 4 and 5 would be fine. And they really are cute!!!

We just got guinea pigs this weekend. Rescue ones, that are 6 months old from pets at home. Two boys.

We have them in an indoor cage as was old we would need this over the winter. The plan was to have them in outdoor cage with run in a covered area of the patio only bringing them in minus temps. I have ordered an outdoor cage and a separate run ready for nice days.

We are feeding them in pellet form with hay and fresh fruit and veg (mainly veg). they are always kicking their food bowl over though and we've only had them 48 hours.

DD is 7 and is handling them well, dd2 is 4 and I a bit rougher and tries to squash them to the floor to stop them running away. I obviously put a stop to this.

The initial costs have been about £150 for the indoor cage (at pets at home this came with bedding and pellet food free) and we brought some tubes and run type things for them to naw and hide/play in. the outdoor cage we got with 20% off but need to get a cover for it as insulation even though they will be in a covered area when in the hutch.

Monthly costs will be low and the veggies need not cost a lot, e.g sunday I used the carrot tops, a few leaves off the cabbage and baby corns which we were having with sunday lunch.

I'd be tempted to get young rescue pigs for your age of dd. ones that are a bit more used to being handled, the baby ones we handled in store were very jumpy, but theses 6 month old ones are much calmer and very placid.

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