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Owners of guinea pigs - your help please!

(14 Posts)
completelyabsolutely Fri 26-Jun-09 16:45:15

Hello, we are thinking of getting some guinea pigs next spring and I just want opinions as to whether it is actually a viable idea given the space we have for them.

First of all - we would prefer to get them from the SSPCA but would they immediately say no because we have dogs? The garden is split into two levels with a fence between the two, the dogs never get up onto the grass which is where the guinea pigs would be, they would never be able to get within 10 feet of the end of the proposed run and to be honest don't think they would be that interested anyway.

Secondly, we were thinking of building a run that will generally sit against the shed but that can be moved around the grass if it is a nice day and we are in so they don't get wet. Then we are going to section off the back half of the shed and put a hutch in there so they still have somewhere to run around if it is raining.

Now for the random question - would a guinea pig be able to use a cat flap to get in from the hutch to the shed? The reason I was thinking of this is that we live in Scotland and it is not a country famed for it's clement weather so I thought rather than just having a hole cut in the side of the shed a cat flap would keep out rain and wind.

Am I insane? I really would like to get some - I always wanted them as a child and now I am a grown up and am in charge of what pets we have (whiny voice) I want guinea pigs. But I am totally prepared to be told it is a no go.

Phew that was long! TIA and apologies if I don't get back today - must go and wake dd up and then we have a babysitter - for the first time since she was born - 17 months ago! grin

completelyabsolutely Fri 26-Jun-09 16:46:41

Also - how cold does it have to be before they need to come inside? They could live for a while in the kitchen but if they would need to be in all winter it will probably not work sad

moshie Fri 26-Jun-09 18:24:57

It all sounds well planned out to me. Why don't you give the SSPCA a ring and find out if they rehome to dog owners. Not sure about the cat flap, some of them are a bit stiff, a little porch type entrance might work. Have a look at some guinea pig info sites for ideas.

As for bringing them in for the winter, they should be fine in the shed.

completelyabsolutely Sat 27-Jun-09 21:40:31

Thanks for your thoughts - I love the idea of a little guinea pig porch - possibly with a mirror and shoe rack grin

CarGirl Sat 27-Jun-09 21:44:09

We had a porch for ours. Main bit off hutch (with removable perspex front on top of the wire mesh), door at the front into porch, door at back to run. Cut out the drafts. Free access to run apart from very very cold winter days/nights. Several layers of carpet of hutch during winter months nights. Hutch was completely covered in roofing felt.

ChristieF Tue 28-Jul-09 16:04:16

We have two dogs and two guinea pigs. They get along fine but are never together without a cage between them. One dog is a Jack Russell so built to kill rodents. She has constantly been told off when near them. The dogs like to sniff nose to nose with the gps through bars but that's as close as they get. They would kill them even if not intentionally. GPs have weak hearts. I think you'll find that rescue centres are far fussier about where they re-home than if you bought at a pet shop. I suppose they need to be. You have to think about them being killed by cats or foxes if you don't have them completely enclosed including over the top. Have you a greenhouse (only for winter) or a shed? They aren't very bright and I don't think could cope with a flap. You only need a small hole for them to get through. Screw a little wooden flap over hole that you could close fully for bad weather.

WriggleJiggle Tue 28-Jul-09 16:17:32

They really are quite small and can squeeze through very small gaps, so I would be tempted to go for the small hole rather than the cat flap idea. A hole the size of a brick end wouldn't let much weather in.
If you were particularly worried you could put a few bricks either side of the hole to stop the weather getting a direct hit (iyswim), or you could nail strips of rubber (car foot mats?) to make a pushable opening.

So long as there is always a fence between the species that should be fine. Ours enjoyed sniffing nose to nose.

They should be fine in the shed during the winter, a nice thick layer of sawdust would help insulate it, and staw to rustle in would be piggy heaven.

Pets At Home adoption centres don't seem to ask any questions shock.

musicposy Tue 28-Jul-09 17:32:51

Hi there, we have a dog and have had guinea pigs for years. Guinea pigs are lovely pets and I would recommend them to anyone. Here are my thoughts (for what they're worth)!

Our dog is great with the guinea pigs, mostly disinterested but would never hurt them. However, he is a sheepdog breed. My mum had a terrier who was intent on killing them every time he came round. So I think it depends on your dog, really.

We have always brought ours in in the winter. I did read that they shouldn't be out in temperatures of under 5 degrees C, they're not very hardy. But some people keep them in a shed with no problem during the winter. We tried that but hated going out to the shed to feed them - they were much tamer and happier indoors. So we have an indoor cage - quite a large one and it does take up room. But in the winter if the weather is not too cold or wet we put them out in the run in the day. So it's only really dead of winter that the cage is under our feet day and night.

I'm not convinced they would work out a cat flap - I've never thought ours were that intelligent! You can put 4 apple quarters in a cage and they will all fight over the same one - they don't show much sense! Ours also seem to have no fear of anything - they wil go right up to the edge of the run to say hello to the cat even when he has his claws out, so not the brightest! But that does make them placid and easy to tame and handle.

One last thing to be prepared for - they poo a LOT. I've never had animals that need so much cleaning out. You can put them in a spotless cage and within 10 minutes they have pooed all over it. So you need to be prepared for this - I've seen some guinea pigs kept in awful conditions and they will quickly get ill if kept in dirty surroundings.

Having said all this, I wouldn't be without them. We've had guinea pigs as pets for 12 years now, even bred them successfully and they are lovely animals to keep.

snigger Tue 28-Jul-09 17:41:46

Big no to terriers - we had a Rhodesian Ridgeback who happily groomed ours till they were sodden, but the terrier actually got in and killed two once.

I think your set up sounds like piggy heaven - an insulated or well-filled-with-hay hutch in a shed should be ample protection from the elements (we're in Scotland too) with perhaps an old blanket to fling over the front of the cage on particularly bitter nights.

I think a hole in the shed with perhaps a square of rubber matting cut into a fringe would be negotiable by the average guinea - ours have fathomed that since the ladder broke they need to jump the 8 inches into their hayloft when out in their run, so their not above working it out if their comfort's involved.

Are you getting long-haired? Get long-haired, get long-haired grin

They look like gallopping toupees.

SausageRocket Tue 28-Jul-09 17:43:41

lol @ galloping toupees

If you do get long haired ones they will need to be groomed daily as their fur gets in a mess if ungroomed.

Merle Tue 28-Jul-09 22:58:17

We have 3. They are nice but they are the stupidest animals to ever walk the earth. The short-haired one is the cleverest of the 3.

They would never get the hang of the cat flap. Ours live in the hutch in the garage but go out in the run in the garden almost everyday. For 3 years the routine has been that I put a plastic container into their hutch, they go in (after a lot of encouragement) and then it's out to the garden for a day of grass-eating and pooing. They start eating as soon as I put them in, so they obviously like it, but they make an almighty fuss about getting into the container. Any other animal would have made the connection between it and getting to eat the grass, and would have learnt the routine, but not g.pigs, every day it is as if we have never done it before.

SausageRocket Wed 29-Jul-09 11:54:07

Mine are indoor pigs (they live in DD's bedroom in a hugemongous cage) they go out in the garden when the weather is dry and not too windy, in inclement weather they come into the living room in an indoor pen for a play and a bit of company. The squeak like mad when you go into DD's bedroom because they think you've got something to feed them. V cute. They also love a cuddle on the sofa and will happily sit on your lap for hours on end (on a towel ideally as when they wee, they really go for it !).

Mine are happy to be picked up. Ours are female short haired (one black, one ginger/white/black), about 10 months old. We have had them since the end of Dec '08. It took them a while to settle but now they are happy as larry.

We also have 2 cats, one isn't bothered by the pigs but the other is a total menace and likes to try to get at them (the pigs aren't bothered but I know if cat2 got a chance, he'd pull them to bits!). The cats aren't allowed in DD's room.

completelyabsolutely Wed 29-Jul-09 23:11:51

Thanks for all your replies - I had forgotten I had started this thread blush

We have two Jack Russells - possibly not the best combination for anything small and furry, plus cats on either side so I may have to put my plans on hold until we move somewhere with a bigger garden - although it is separated I think the dogs would be driven insane by the close proximity of small squeaky creatures.

Lol at the galloping toupees! The short haired ones always remind me of furry salami sausages which I think is part of their appeal - not to eat obviously they just look so adorably ridiculous.

SlartyBartFast Wed 29-Jul-09 23:20:51

i didnt get gpigs until our jack russell was old and deaf, otherise she woudl have yapped and yapped

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