guinea pigs(8 Posts)
I am about to embark on the joys of guinea pig ownership as we're moving to a house with a garden.
We plan to get 2 males and have them in a hutch outside. Would a 3ft double decker hutch (with ladders separating upstairs and downstairs) be ok? We'd also get a run for the garden.
We've seen 2 lovely GPs at the local cats and dogs home, but they said the pigs were very nervous and that they wanted them to go to older children (mine are 10.5 and nearly 7), though we all know who'll end up looking after them!
Any tips on how to acclimatise nervous pigs much appreciated (though we may not get the ones we've set our heart on :-(). thanks, in advance.
They need the biggest hutch you can get - 3ft sounds quite small. Boys especially need a lot of room as they like time apart from each other. And a lot of pigs don't cope with ladders very well. You also need to think about how you'll keep them warm in winter. Most pigs are brought in, at least at night. Please bear in mind that most pet shop cages/hutches are not big enough.
Pigs think with their tummies. If you approach them quietly at first and with a handful of parsley/basil/cucumber etc, they'll soon learn that you're the wondrous bearer of goodies and love you for it. Then they'll shout at you whenever you go past.
Pop over to Small Pets topic - lots of pig mad people there!
The problem with two storey hutches - quite apart from the ramp issue(some piggies don't like them) - is that the opening for the ramp takes up a fair bit of floor space, so they don't actually have a lot of space left to run.
Also, they are almost impossible to keep clean. GPs are incontinent wee things - they pee and poo constantly - and I found that any kind of ramp was just another awkward place to scrub.
I have 3 sows in a 6 foot outdoor hutch during the day - it's only 6 inches off the ground, very robust and waterproof but it still gets cold and damp if the weather's bad (we're in Scotland). I keep a couple of plastic igloo-type shelters inside the hutch so they can cosy up to each other, and they also have a heated pad in one; this is very popular and I normally find them snuggled up to each other in that one.
I think males (I assume they're neutered?) need more separate space, so you'd need to make sure they could hide away from each other. I have the hutch on a concrete run - easy to clean and helps keep their claws down - but they have other little shelters and tunnels to hide in. I made my own low ramp (only a 6-inch "drop") from one piece of decking, with a rubber door mat on top - the grippy type, so they feel safe. This means I can sluice the dirt and wee off the mat under the outside tap. The ramp isn't fixed - it just rests nicely on the hutch opening.
If you do have an outside run, you need a house of some sort next to it too, so they can hide. Mine have a little house with a tiny wooden ramp which leads directly into the outdoor run. I use another bit of cut-up rubber matting on that as well.
Hand feed them frequently at first and spend as much time as you can with them indoors. That's the best way to get them to come round. Enjoy!
Thanks for the advice. We'll def go for a single story hutch then...
We went back to see the two guineas again today, and they spent the whole of the visit hiding in the igloo things. Ds's (10) then said, loudly, 'Oh, they're such boring pets. They don't do anything. I'd much rather have a mouse!'
It then took me and 6 year old Ds to explain how they were just shy, and that they'd soon start making noises and being friendly, just needed some time & patience.
My husband said, helpfully, 'Oh, didn't realise they were so big.' Thanks for that...
Oh I do miss having piggies! You've been given some good advice about space. The only thing I would add is to ask whether you can keep them as house pets? If they are nervous, having them indoors will get them so much more used to you being around than outdoors where they will only see humans occasionally. Especially this time of year it is worth bearing in mind that they are very sensitive to changes in temperature (it can even be fatal if you bring them in from really cold to a centrally heated home) so bringing them regularly indoors for cuddles could be a bad idea.
Pigs are far from boring pets (although my teen DDs don't have so much interest in them now). I love them though and I'm really a rabbit person. My rescue boys were shy when I got them and I barely saw them for the first week - they hid when we approached. Now, i have to sneak past them or its sets off the wheeking! They live in the utility in good hearing range of the fridge door and shout like mad if it's opened just to remind me they've not been fed for at least an hour and are starving .
Mine have an indoor run in the conservatory in the winter but go in their outdoor run in summer. Whenever we pick them up, they chat away and they love snuggling in laps. If you try the lap pig thing, use an old towel to soak up the inevitable accident.
I have 3 guinea pigs they take a lot of looking after I have to clean them out every 2-3 days they produce so much poo! Honestly I've never seen anything like it! Mine have a 2 storey hutch in the garage it's just easier to keep them there as it's too hot in summer outside and too cold in winter, we warm them up on a night with a heat pad that keeps em warm through the night. One of them won't use the ramp but the other 2 will, I put them in a large run in the garage just so they don't get bored with some hay veggies etc, I'll be glad when they can get out on the grass all day they love it and never ever stop eating! Just have to keep moving around from all the poo!
They are lovely pets but require more care than you might think my son who is 11 helps with them but he does moan sometimes. Tbh tho all pets are a bind really. In fact I'd better give them some carrots in when I go out
Actually, I probably didn't say this - I also have a large indoor cage for the winter (if it's a milder day they go out into the outdoor hutch for a change of scene, and back in before it's dark).
I have another hutch in the garage if we have torrential rain. And they have several runs, inside and out. Oh, and heat pads inside outdoor hutches unless it's very hot...a rare event in Scotland.
One of the advantages of all this housing is that I have to move them around a lot, so they do get used to being handled - and it means there is less mess in each hutch/cage. They do need to be cleaned out a lot. Two of mine are long-haired and need baths too...
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