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Do we want guinea pigs?

(30 Posts)
yellowDahlia Tue 12-Jun-18 15:44:05

Tell me how great they are (or not!) .

Am now seriously considering them as an alternative to a dog (we don't have the time/resources just now) or a cat (DH says no).

But the DDs want an indoor pet (we have 3 chickens in the back garden) and truth be told, so do I. So - is a guinea pig the next best thing to a cat, which would be my preferred option? ie something which is fairly easy to look after, reasonably cuddly and child-friendly. We've done some piggy-sitting for friends before and they seem happy to be handled and receive some attention but equally aren't overly demanding.

DDs are 8 and almost 12 so I will expect them to do their share of pet care - part of the reason I want us to have an indoor pet is so they can grow up with animals and enjoy owning a pet and learn about the responsibilities associated with this. I think G pigs will tick these boxes?
Also I firmly believe cats/dogs are great for wellbeing and mental health, but I'm not sure if you get the same benefit from small furries - am I wrong?

Any advice or encouragement gratefully received - I need to be fully prepared before I attempt to persuade DH of the merits of this idea...

wormery Tue 12-Jun-18 15:46:49

Piggies are happier in pairs, they purr like cats and can be very loving pets. Where abouts in the country are you, a lot of rescue centre have piggies.

smudgedlipstick Tue 12-Jun-18 15:51:53

What about a house rabbit?

KaliforniaDreamz Tue 12-Jun-18 15:53:05

Cats are way easier

IthinkIsawahairbrushbackthere Tue 12-Jun-18 15:56:02

I had GP's as a child/teen and my daughter (16) has five. She had cared for the family rabbit and when the rabbit died she was thinking of getting another rabbit but after doing some research she decided to go for GP's instead. We both love them.

The youngest two are quite high maintenance. They are alpacas with
fuzzy hair and require regular grooming. The three girls are all happy being handled, the boys are more active.

But the boys are noisier and very cheeky/funny. If you open the door to the girls room the boys start shouting because they want attention too. They are all individuals and have definite personalities.

I would definitely choose them over rabbits - much calmer, easier to handle.

My daughter spends hours with a GP on her knee and her school work or a novel.

catinasplashofsunshine Tue 12-Jun-18 15:59:13

Guinea pigs are definitely easier than rabbits.

Beaverhausen Tue 12-Jun-18 16:00:40

If you do not have the time or resources do not get a pet at all. All pets need time and affection and being taken care of correctly

Fortheloveofscience Tue 12-Jun-18 16:02:47

I’ve had pigs forever and wouldn’t be without them (they’re far better than rabbits grin). A few things to consider:

Do you have space in the house? For 2 pigs the minimum recommended size is 120cmx60cm with regular time in a run for exercise.

They are prey animals, and not all take kindly to cuddles. They can take a long time to tame, and some will remain skittish their whole lives. Babies move very fast! Boys are generally more docile than girls, but also smell more, need more space as a minimum requirement and are more prone to falling out with their cage mate in the teenage years meaning you then need to have 2 separate cages and decide whether to get them each friends. Whatever you do, DO NOT get 3 boys because the chances of them making it through puberty without having to be separated is low.

Flicketyflack Tue 12-Jun-18 16:05:57

I have two GP 's. They were for my kids aged 13 & 10! I do most of the day to day care & the children (older one) sometimes helps out.

I love the gp's but personally find dogs and cats more rewarding & the children only interact with them generally when prompted wink

Flicketyflack Tue 12-Jun-18 16:06:52

We have two un-neutered boys who are brothers now aged six and they are lovely 😊

chickywoo Tue 12-Jun-18 16:12:17

We’ve got 3 boys they are about a year old, they have become quite friendly although werent at first. They live in the garage (no car in there!) and have a big run to put out in the grass most days (weather permitting!)
They are lovely, quite easy to look after but very messy and smelly and incontinent! I would never have them in the house!!

0h Tue 12-Jun-18 16:24:24

I got two boy piggies in February and while technically they're my 10 year olds I love them so much they're my babies now. blush

The need more room than you think. I wouldn't even get a pets at home type cage (wasted my money!), go for a c&c type set up as it's lots better.

My boys are the best. Took time to win the trust of one of them and now he's the biggest softy ever and give me puppy dog eyes, snuggles right up next to my head and licks my face. 😍 The other one is just as adorable but his love was bought easily with food!

If you're good about regular cleaning they don't smell - it's the hay that's smelliest and it's not a bad smell. I clean mine out fully every 2 or 3 days and hoover them out in between cleans. I use fleece for the floor - it's nice for their feet, cheap, and reusable!

If you put in the time with them they are lovely pets for children. Big enough for a proper snuggle (unlike hamster etc) and easily handled.

They are just fab. You get back what you put in to them, so if you interact a lot with them they'll pay you back in affection and entertainment (popcorning!) tenfold.

yellowDahlia Tue 12-Jun-18 16:29:51

Thanks for all the comments and advice so far!

Kalifornia I know this - I grew up with cats and am very comfortable with them, however DH is refusing to budge on this option (my struggle with this is a whole other thread...!)

Smudged I've read about house rabbits - they seem to nibble everything in sight, also need more space than GPs I think? We have room I think - we have a pretty big living area downstairs and a big garden which would accommodate an outside run on the grass.

Beaverhausen as I've said we already have chickens and I grew up with cats. I'm aware of the demands of pet ownership, hence why we have ruled out eg a dog and why I am considering this very carefully and asking for advice from MN.

IthinkIsaw I like that they provide company for your DD! In the absence of a cat, something which they can pet and perhaps even provide a bit of unconditional love is what I'm after... DD1 is particularly keen on animals and loves the chickens. I think she'd really enjoy looking after GPs and honestly believe she'd interact with them a lot.

Do others agree with chickywoo they are messy/smelly? As I say, we've hosted our friends' GPs previously when they're on holiday - yes the sawdust and hay did rather go all over the place (!) but I don't remember them being particularly smelly...

yellowDahlia Tue 12-Jun-18 16:32:09

Yes the popcorning! Our friends GPs did this occasionally and it was quite funny! I also liked their wee squeaks and wheeps, lots of cute noises smile although they normally timed it so that they kicked off every evening as we sat down to watch TV!

theconstantinoplegardener Tue 12-Jun-18 16:37:29

Guinea pigs are generally lovely, kind and gentle pets. I think they are probably the most child-friendly in that they are very unlikely to bite or scratch; small children would definitely need to be supervised with them (so the guinea pig isn't injured by overenthusiastic cuddles!) but at 8 & 12, your children should be fine to handle them safely.

I think you get the best out of them if you keep them in the main part of the house, such as the kitchen or sitting room. In this way, they will usually become very tame because they get so used to household activity. Get them out for lap time every day if you can and they will soon become easy to handle. They tend to be nervous at first but parsley will soon win them over!

Downsides to consider are that they poo and wee loads so will need freshening up of their cage or hutch (especially if you keep them indoors, to avoid the smell), as well as regular cleaning out. They also need quite a bit of space to run around, so as well as a large cage you'll need either an indoor run (like a child's paddling pool) or else supervised time to run around a guinea-pig proof (ie no electrical cables etc) hard-floored area of your house, every day. When the weather is warm, they benefit from time in the garden so you will need a secure outside run too. And they live 5-7 years or more, so they are quite a long-term commitment. But they are lovely!

BertieBotts Tue 12-Jun-18 16:38:12

Guinea pigs are lovely!

Low maintenance - they need cleaning out weekly plus obviously food/water topping up and to be let out for a cuddle and a run preferably every day. You need to clip their nails, and you don't want them getting stressed as they get flare ups of skin mites.

But - they talk and sing to you! They are very clean and even their poos are cute. They will encourage you to eat loads of fresh veg so you can give them the peels and clippings, as they can't make vitamin C and need fresh food for this. They are much more cuddly than rabbits too and to exercise them you just stick them in a run in the garden or on a bit of old carpet if it's too wet.

BertieBotts Tue 12-Jun-18 16:45:49

They don't smell nearly as much as a cat or dog. If sawdust bothers you you can make layers of old towels plus fleece blanket cut up for the top. Keeps them dry. Brush the poos and food off outside, put bedding in washing machine without fabric softener or highly perfumed soaps (like cloth nappies) and straw in enclosed bedding area for warmth.

chickywoo Tue 12-Jun-18 16:53:56

They don’t actually smell themselves but their constant poo and wee does! Even if you cleaned them out twice a day there will always be a mountain of poo and wee - which does smell! If you walked into a room where they are kept you would be able to smell it.

yellowDahlia Tue 12-Jun-18 17:28:34

wormery I've just realised you're on the other thread I'm on about cat cuddling! We have similar animal interests smile
btw I would definitely consider rescue - we're in Scotland so if we decide to go for it I will be checking out SSPCA . Don't know of too many other Scottish rescues for GPs tho ?

lynmilne65 Tue 12-Jun-18 19:01:20

I would absolutely love guinea pigs! The cat, not so much !!

OddBoots Tue 12-Jun-18 19:45:06

There are often local recuses for piggies on Facebook, we have a few to choose from down here just north of London so hopefully there would be at least one a short drive from you.

I absolutely love guinea pigs, we have a couple of girls at the moment, both short haired so need minimal bathing and brushing (one silky, one rex). I like getting ones with light coloured fur, at least on their paws as it makes their claws easier to clip as you can see the blood vessel in them.

Ours have been an absolute therapy to my teenage daughter, they don't mind sitting on her lap and being stroked, they get all excitable by silly things like the fridge door and she has been able to get one of them to clamber up from her lap to her shoulder when she taps her shoulder. She usually has one or other of them on her lap when she is doing homework.

BertieBotts Tue 12-Jun-18 20:28:26

We had cats and guinea pigs. The cat used to snaffle the guinea pig food every chance she got grin That one used to hunt baby rabbits as well, yet left the guinea pigs alone so I don't think that chasing the pigs would be a problem.

I honestly don't think their wee and poo smells very much at all but I have grown up with cats so that might be clouding my judgement. We had one guinea pig who would pee on everyone.

If you google small animal rescue or guinea pig/rabbit rescue sometimes you'll find local ones. We had some rejected show pigs from a rescue once.

Willow2017 Tue 12-Jun-18 20:56:49

Our pigs (only one now as we lost the other suddenly) have been indoors all winter as we didnt have room in garage for thier hutch this year. They are cleaned out every 2-3 days and there has never been any smell. If you cuddle them you will smell something as they are animals but its not noticable otherwise.

Looking to get a friend for our remaining pig but as we are moving soon we have to wait till then to get another cage while we introduce them in the big outdoor run.

They are funny and noisy and bloody stubborn sometimes. Ours pretends he still thinks you are going to eat him when you try to pick him up and makes it hard to catch him then sits on your knee like lord muck expecting to be hand fed broccoli florets or kale and has a wander up to your shoulders to survey his territory.

Just expect your kids to find the novelty of mucking out wears off after time😉

bastardkitty Tue 12-Jun-18 20:58:44

Guinea pigs are adorable - coming from a non pet-lover. They are so much fun and easy peasy to look after.

BertieBotts Tue 12-Jun-18 21:18:42

They are really hilarious and their personalities are so big especially considering they are basically furry blobs with tiny stumpy legs. Such funny little creatures. We might have to get some guinea pigs in the future. Hmmm I wonder if we could just to bridge the gap until we are ready for a dog! They live a nice 4-6 years, IIRC?

They are perfect as indoor pets as UK winters are too cold for them really.

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