Sons first pet help!

(8 Posts)
PaperStars Fri 09-Sep-16 21:24:11

I've never owned pets before sadly but my son is almost 4 and at nursery they have 2 Guinea pigs so he now has asked for his first pet.

I've been reading up on Guinea pigs and I know at nursery they live outside in a hitch but also have read some live inside? What would I need to buy to set up home for Guinea pigs and any general advice is much appreciated. I'm not going to rush into it I'm going to really research it and see if I can realistically look after an animal. I was planning on getting 2 as they are apparently quite sociable? Tia

FernieB Sat 10-Sep-16 13:44:36

Firstly, never get a pet for a child unless you want one too. Once the initial excitement wears off, lots of children become bored and too many pets end up neglected, abandoned or in rescues because of bored children. Make sure you're really interested and prepared to do all the work because you will be doing all of it. If not, let your son enjoy the piggies elsewhere.

Guinea pigs are great pets for kids as they're chatty and happy to be stroked. You're right, they do need to be in pairs for company. I'd go to a rescue and get a bonded pair who are already content together, rather than getting two babies from a pet shop as they may not always get on. Babies are also very fast and difficult to catch. Adults are lardy and more chilled out and more likely to be bribed with food. I know the babies look cute, but really they're tiny for such a short time, that by getting adults you don't miss out on much. Also a good rescue will be on hand to advise you as well.

My boys are indoor pigs and have the largest cage I could find on the Internet. Most cages in pet shops aren't big enough. My lads spend a lot of time in their outdoor run, weather permitting, where they mow the lawn happily. They need almost daily cleaning out as they pee rivers, so factor this in. I use newspaper to line the cage and then roll it up each day, bin it and refresh the cage. Once a week, I do a thorough clean by wiping the cage out with a vinegar solution.

Food Is probably the biggest expense for pigs. They will eat as much veg as you're prepared to provide, plus pellets, plus hay. They are eating machines.

Before you take the plunge, make sure no one in your house is allergic to either the pigs or the hay. So have some contact with pigs prior to getting some. A rescue may help with this too. And think about what you will do when you go away.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Sat 10-Sep-16 13:53:12

Guinea-Pigs are lovely , my DD and I have 5 at the moment smile

First of all, your DS is 4, which means you will do 99.9% of the work. Your 4yo can feed and help to clean but it falls on your shoulders.

They need :
Company (other pigs)
Space (for 2 piggies at least 4'x2' but bigger is better) Those hutches you see with the open area/sleeping area? See how small the enclosed bit is. The wire meshed bit is open to the elements, guineas like to snuggle
They need protected: against wind,cold,DAMP especially, predators (cats,foxes,wild rats) stress , themselves (they are phenomenally dense. I say this with love, I have kept pigs for years and this to me is their main attratction).
They don't tend to climb or jump (mine don't cope with ramps except to hop up into their hutch/run) and 99% don't bite. I have a biter but mine are all Rescues, she's allowed to.

I wouldn't leave mine outside all year TBH, they would just huddle in the haybox and that is a miserable existance.

I have a wooden playhouse for mine they have hayboxes (cleaned every day) and floorspace.
We have big outdoor runs for nice weather.

They can get very ill very quickly ( Well-To-Dead) so you need to be aware of ailments, what they can or cannot eat and have a Guinea Savvy vets details . You might never need a vet but its good to know where they are.

Once you have two, you're in the Spiral of never ending piggies. DD started with two boars GP1 and GP2, now a few years on we have GP4 GP5 GP6 (our neutered boy) GP7 and GP8 (our newest girls)

Boars are lovely and snuggly but like all male rodents they have their (not unpleasant) boar smell. They need a load of space.

Can you ask at the nursery about your DS maybe helping with the piggies at a weekend? Do they have someone taking them home at all?

My DD used to help with the School rabbits in Yr6 but she much preferred her guineas. grin

And you need to make sure your DS isn't allergic to the hay or the fur.
My DD is fine with smooth coats but very allergic to the coarse ones (when she cuddles the boar GP6 she gets a rash within minutes) I offer to take him (I'd never rehome my hogs) but she puts up with the rashes. Maybe because she doesn't want my bitey pig.

Their mess gets everywhere, mine come in for winter nights and I find their debris all over <<sigh>>.

Much as I love my piggies ,maybe think about a friendly hamster from a reutable source, one that is handled and tame. Downside is the nocturnal traits.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Sat 10-Sep-16 13:58:56

think about what you'll do when you're away
Oh yes,
Our piggies holiday will be something like £150. (But when you work it out in days per hog for 5, then its not too scary)
So you need to factor that in.

Sameoldiggi Sun 11-Sep-16 23:56:47

Fernie do you just use newspaper on its own? I've been using newspaper plus a layer of that care fresh papery stuff, but the paper is wet long before the carefresh, which costs too much to replace every day! Tried fleece too but seemed dirtier and was ruining my washing machine.

FernieB Mon 12-Sep-16 07:46:29

Yes, just newspaper. It's soggy at the end of a day but so easy to roll up and throw away. Takes about 5 minutes in total to clean them out. I have a plentiful supply of broadsheets from neighbours and friends and very well informed piggiesgrin

Sameoldiggi Mon 12-Sep-16 22:32:21

Thanks! I would need to up the paper collection certainly!

Floralnomad Mon 12-Sep-16 22:37:39

Have you considered rats OP , they are great pets for all ages as they are very sociable .

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