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Guinea pig owners - where did you get them? Pet shop/breeder/pet rescue place?

(20 Posts)
Snowbell Tue 05-Aug-08 21:30:46

We want to get a couple of guinea pigs for our DD, aged 6. I keep reading conflicting things about them. Apparently pet shops are the worst bet and rescue the best option. Please tell me where you got yours. I've read that male guinea pigs can't be kept together unless you have an adult male and a baby male. But someone told me today that brothers will live happily together into adulthood. I've read that wood shavings shouldn't be used, and also that they should. It's starting to become a minefield. Can anyone help!

christywhisty Tue 05-Aug-08 21:58:50

We bought 2 brothers from a pet shop. They were 10 weeks old at the time and they lived together quite happily . Unfortunately one of them died a couple of months ago. Worried about the other one being lonely so went back to the pet shop. They said we needed to get another male between 6 and 8 weeks old. They didn't have any young enough. Went to another pet shops again the gps were too old.

Thankfully we knew a breeder, we rang her for advice and it turned out she had a 6 week old male peruvian. The older guinea pig took to him straight away and has looked after him really well. It's really sweet to see them together.

christywhisty Tue 05-Aug-08 22:10:09

Forgot to say we were advised to make sure the little one had a place to hide, where the bigger one couldn't get at him. We bought a cardboard tube from pet shop, which we thought the big one couldn't get into, only to find the were both squeezed in it together.

DontlookatmeImshy Tue 05-Aug-08 22:11:06

We got our first gp from a pet shop, but we went on to have 6 more, all from rescues. Agree pet shops are the worst places. They often mis-sex babies resulting in owners waking up to find they now have 6 instead of 2!! Our petshop pig came home with a nice dose of mites which then had to be treated. They are also liable to try and sell you/convince you that you need lots of unnecessary crap that actually you don't need.

Depending on the circumstances, rescue pigs can also be tamer as they're already used to being handled and you may be able to pick up an already bonded pair, male or female.

Male gp's can live together, best results usually occur as you've described, although it can depend on the personality of the pig, we had females who wouldn't live together.

You will enjoy them whereever you get them from.

wohmum Tue 05-Aug-08 23:16:42

we use wood shavings for ours with no probs. I did hear a story about someone who used sawdust which had a splinter in it that their guinea got stuck in its mouth - ouch!!

although we got ours form a pet shop , i would have liked to get a rescue pair - seems better to 'recycle' IYKWIM

SlothyMcFrothy Tue 05-Aug-08 23:22:28

We got our girl guineas(sisters) from a petshop,on the whole they get on but there is usually at least one power struggle per day.Peppa usually tries to mount Pippa at some pointgrinis def 2 girls btw but is a sign of dominance.We use wood shavings without a problem.They like somewhere to go such as a tube or wood tunnel/igloo too.Our girlies live in the lounge on top of the toy cupboardsgrin

thumbwitch Tue 05-Aug-08 23:32:15

wohmum - that g'pig was mine and it died from septicaemia as a result. I was told by Vedra, who runs the Cambridge cavy trust, not to use wood shavings and so I used shredded newspaper, straw and hay instead.
(can't use shredded office paper - too sharp).

I got my first g'pig from a garden centre pet shop - wrongly sexed; second one from a different garden centre pet shop; 3rd and 4th from cambridge cavy trust as rescue pigs; 5th and 6th were sisters from another garden centre pet shop and 7th was from our local pet shop. All healthy, no problems - except the rescue pigs were much more nervy than the others and didn't like being handled much. All mine were girls and unrelated apart from the 2 sisters but lived together in pairs without problem (I had 5 at one time!)

All mine were indoor pigs in plastic trays with wire cages that clipped on top like this

Enjoy them - they are fab pets!

BananaSkin Wed 06-Aug-08 21:37:42

We have just got them, so are novices too. We got ours from a breeder in the local paper. A rescue centre I talked to the other day had baby g-pigs in, as well as adults.

You have to think carefully in advance whether you want boars or sows as it all seems a bit of a minefield. Boys are apparently OK together if they start off as babies, as are girls, but if a boar is allowed to mount a sow, or sometimes if they even see sows, the boars can start to fight each other. So, I don't think you can even keep neutered sows and boars together.

Sows should start with their first litter before they are one, or their bodies will be too inflexible to give birth (know the feeling!). They become sexually mature at something like 3-4 weeks, and will mount sisters/mother (ick!).

If you later try to mix them with rabbits, a male will often try to mate with them (whether they are boys or girls) and a female could kill them as they are very territorial.

There you go ... all I know about g-pigs! This is what the breeder has told me anyhow, though I get the impression she may have been over-cautious about some things (e.g. I am sure some people must keep boars and sows in separate cages without the boars fighting).

Evenstar Wed 06-Aug-08 23:31:17

I got three lovely boy guineas pigs from a rescue some years ago, sadly I only had them a year before a fox got them. If you get some make sure your run and hutch are really secure, but I would always get rescue pigs if possible.

Snowbell Thu 07-Aug-08 20:20:19

thanks for your replies, everyone. I've more or less decided on an indoor cage - the tray and wire cover. I've found a good pet shop where the owner breeds the guinea pigs herself at home. Also been in contact with people with babies for sale. I phoned one woman who has 30 rescue guinea pigs, but she was so off with me I don't think she wanted me to have any of them. Weird!

DD seems to have got her heart set on getting an all-over ginger coloured one (think that's called a Self). If that means it's a pedigree I'm not sure I want a pedigree. I imagine they might be highly strung and not very robust health-wise. You can tell me if I'm wrong there.

Evenstar, we have foxes in our garden. We certainly don't encourage them but I think they live in the garden at the back of us, in the big old sheds there. The GPs will live inside, but if I buy an outdoor run that is supposed to be fox-proof, is there really such a thing as fox-proof?

wohmum Thu 07-Aug-08 22:21:31

The indoor cages are great - we had one but hav ejust 'upgraded' to an indoor run which we made with these mesh storage cubes for £25 ! see www.cavycages.com for some ideas - they are brill if you have a bit more space and really they do need to be able to run around so if you just have an indoor cage get the biggest you can and make sure that they get a good run around regularly.

I dont know if you can get pedigree guineas - a far as i know the ones that are just one colour are the same as the mixed colour ones - it just seems to be luck of the draw on how friendly/robust they are.

you won't be disappointed - we love our 4 gps!

thumbwitch Thu 07-Aug-08 22:44:32

I believe there are some sort of pedigree pigs but they are more the longhair "sheltie" types.

this is a link to the books of Peter Gurney, a fab man who was a veritable guru on piggies - I have the Proper Care of Guinea Pigs in hardback, 1993, excellent book (I see there is a paperback update). I would STRONGLY recommend you do get a book because there are a few things about them that are a bit different - such as their requirement for vitamin C and their congenital anaphylactic response to penicillin - and the book has some lovely photos of different breeds of guineapig.

thumbwitch Thu 07-Aug-08 22:46:59

Snowbell - if you told the rescue woman you had never had g'pigs before, that might be why - some people are very protective of the rescued animals (rightly so) and would prefer them to go to someone who KNOWS what having them is all about, rather than a novice who might not cope and want to hand them back or abandon them again - NOT that I'm suggesting you would, of course not, just that she might be a bit eccentric about it.

Evenstar Thu 07-Aug-08 23:24:42

If they live indoors and only go in the run during the day time I would have thought they would be OK. We were out when the fox got ours, it was our DS's birthday and we got back just after it had got dark and we only found one which was dead. Can't be sure they were taken from the run as the bottom of the garden is very uneven, we think they may have squeezed out and been loose in the garden. Hope you find the right piggies for your little girl, they are gorgeous pets definitely get a book though because although they are easy to look after there are some special requirements.

Piglet111 Fri 08-Aug-08 10:43:11

Look at these in need of rescue

Snowbell Sat 09-Aug-08 11:51:25

We have just been to see two baby sister GPs. One is black with ginger bits. That means that most of its claws are black. People have said not to get one with black claws because you can't cut them yourself and have to take them to the vet every time. Can we not buy a scratching pole for them? Or, we have a concrete patio which we could put the run on sometimes? Any black guinea pig owners out there with some advice for me?

biglips Sat 09-Aug-08 11:54:00

we had 2 black G pigs and their claws were black but you can able to cut them as i used to trim a couple of mm off every couple of months and no they are no like cats where they can sharpens their claws on the pole - be easy though! but get a piece of solid bark off a tree and they can walk over it to keep their claws trimmed.

Piglet111 Sat 09-Aug-08 13:17:04

Your local vets might have a free clinic where the veternary nurse will do them for you

Zebraa Sat 09-Aug-08 13:34:46

You'll need to cut their claws cut properly, or they'll grow long and cut into them.

You're right to get two females from the same family as being with another guniea pig is all they know and so won't fight.

You will need to show DD how to handle them and to ensure you do this slowly over a period of time, starting with petting them etc. You don't want them to become scared as this could lead to them biting DD.

If you're getting an indoor hutch/cage - make sure it's plenty big enough so they each have room to run around and also to keep their distance from each other if they're pissed off.

Happy guinea pigging!

Snowbell Sun 10-Aug-08 09:45:57

We've bought two baby sisters - one is all-over toffee brown and the other is black with a toffee stripe over her nose onto her neck. DD held them and they were so calm with her - the toffee one sounded like she was purring. We will be collecting them next weekend, so frantically buying everything now.

I've looked into the black claws thing, and I'm sure we'll be able to manage by clipping them little and often, with the aid of a torch! I can't wait till next weekend! Thanks for all your help, everyone.

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