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should we keep guinea pigs?

(39 Posts)
looseleaf Mon 05-Nov-12 19:49:39

A lady locally had 2 guinea pigs (sisters ) and her children no longer interested. Dd (6) and I love animals and I've only had rabbits but suggested we'd be happy to give them a go for a week or two then see...
They are very lovely guinea pigs, very friendly and we've definitely taken to them but I need to decide whether we're a good enough home.

We have a garden
We have bought them a tunnel and ordered an xl fleece cosy as worried they'll get cold (owners kept them outside) but I don't think we can do more than this as our flat tiny
Dd gives them lots of time and is gentle and great with them
We say hello to them several times a day and take them out for exercise and cuddles once or twice
Different Veg twice a day

We have a 1 year old so any involvement I have with them is limited and exhausting as either uses up the little time I have (much needed for house-keeping, cooking etc as our children have allergies and it's hard to take shortcuts!) or I'm constantly trying to control DS's enthusiastic attempts to be with them . He's stroking them softly but over enthusiastic so I basically watch him constantly and can't do anything else
No grass in our garden

Do any of you have advice? We've only had them 3 days but I sort of need to work out my thoughts before dd gets even more attached (she knows they're temporary to see if we have time to really look after them)

Thanks for your thoughts!!

daisydee43 Mon 05-Nov-12 20:04:54

Personally I don't think guinea pigs are the best animal for small kids as they can be vicious and do get forgotten about in a hutch. An inside animal is prop better ie hamster

Mintyy Mon 05-Nov-12 20:09:55

I think you should keep them, they are soooooooooo lovely grin. If you don't have grass in your garden then you can give them plenty of hay, which is cheap as anything and should form 80% of their diet anyway. So long as you supervise over-enthusiastic stroking by the one year old then it should be fine. I love and adore my guinea pig but don't handle her everyday and I don't think that amounts to neglect.

Mintyy Mon 05-Nov-12 20:10:31

And disagree that they are viscious. Hamsters are a pita because they are nocturnal.

fridayfreedom Mon 05-Nov-12 20:14:13

guinea pigs are much better than hamsters for children as they are less likely to bite and will actually sit still!!
However animals shouldn't be bought just for children , there needs to be a serious amount of adult committment to looking after them as children quickly get bored and won't do the boring or yucky bits.
Our local rescue won't re-home GPs for children as most of the ones they have in come from homes where the children have got fed up with them.

Mintyy Mon 05-Nov-12 20:16:45

My children haven't lost interest in our guinea pig. They care for her every day and don't need reminding (much). But they are older (11 and 9) so perhaps younger dc do lose interest more quickly.

looseleaf Mon 05-Nov-12 20:24:42

I could be wrong but i don't think dd will lose interest easily as she is passionate about animals and constant in her interests generally. But it's more the effort from me which I agree needs to be there and it's just not relaxing or fun with DS in tow so I already get a feeling of guilt I could do more.
I am guinea-pig mad now though and do think if I could put more time in it would be a lot of fun.
Aargh I feel very undecided! But think on the whole we should approach this properly when children are bigger

70isaLimitNotaTarget Mon 05-Nov-12 20:56:56

I've had guineas from about 9-22 yo and now my DD has followed in my guinea-loving-shoes grin

The main queries I'd have is:
What about your DC allergies? Hay,grass, animal fur?
Are you going to be able to keep them happy outside? They aren't hardy like rabbits, they need more protection from damp,draughts and extremes of temperature.

Your DC may well get bored with the guineas and it will all fall to you.My DD and her boar are joined at the hip. My DS is a bit meh but his little hog is more mine so he gets cleaned, fed ,cuddled when his brother does so he doesn't miss out.

Hay is getting more expensive- I've seen the price of it rise from £3.39 to £3.89 in less than a year.My boys use at least a bag per week (4kg) in their bedding.

And they are the sweetest creatures ever to walk on the earth. I had one sow years back who wasn't cuddly, but would shadow us. One bit my mum (to draw blood) literally half an hour before the GP died (didn't have the strength to ungrip)
My boars are lovely characters but I've had them indoors for 2 nights (Fri/Sat) and they were evil little toads (in my DD room as it was cooler). They bickered amongst themselves. Our indoor cage is 4'x2' and last year we had to divide it to two 2'x2' cages and put them out during the day in their Pighouse.

Winter is the most difficult time for GPs. If you decide to keep them, you've got that to look forward to !

Learning70 Mon 05-Nov-12 22:36:02

Hi we have two guineas and I am amazed at how much work it is to look after them. Tbh I think I would have found it really stressful when my youngest was a baby but my kids are school age now so I have time and I also have lots of space which defo helps! They are quite expensive to keep too. I think they are lovely but harder work than a cat!

fortifiedwithtea Tue 06-Nov-12 01:11:00

Grass isn't a problem. I know people who grow it in seed trays on their window shelves.

Like 70 I am more concerned about your DC allergies. Will they cope with these furries? Personally I would never got an animal with the idea that a child would be responsible for it. They would have to be the family pets and you must be prepared to do everything for them.

Guinea pigs do not do well in cold weather. My girls are literally freeranging the kitchen at the moment. No hutch, just their pet carrier with the door open the whole time. I've been surprisingly mess free. Has meant constantly remembering to close the door as OB (elderly boar) free ranges the lounge. Trying to decide whether I have got room the the girls huge hutch in the lounge or to brave the possilibilty of mice and clear out the garage hmm.

tabulahrasa Tue 06-Nov-12 01:17:44

I didn't find guinea pigs that much effort to look after at all, but I kept them inside...I always found holiday sitting rabbits much harder - because you were having to go outside to do everything.

Feeding, cleaning and playing with something that's in your living room takes nowhere near as much time as having to go out to do it.

guineapiglet Tue 06-Nov-12 10:18:24

Hi - will agree with what others have written, guineas are lovely, but they are extremely allergenic, and with the hay as well, they can make life miserable for children with allergies. Because of this, ours had to be out in a shed most of the time, and in in a room my son didnt go it because of the combination of hay and fur, - they are animals best suited to slightly older children - have never had a vicious one, but they do need careful handling and can get very stressed at the erraticness (!?) of small children, they definitely need adult input esp re cage cleaning etc.
Fortified would love to come to your house and see all these guineas in different rooms, it sounds like bliss to me!!!

looseleaf Tue 06-Nov-12 16:35:21

Thank you all kind people, I really appreciate and need your input as finding this such a hard one! I know it's now going to feel empty without them but keen to think this out!
Allergies so far have 'only' been to wheat, dairy, citrus and tomatoes so no hay fever/ cat hair type of environmental allergies but DD is off school with impetigo at the moment (I hope not guinea pig allergy!!) and been spending most of the day with them .
I do understand keeping indoors better and am so aware temperatures are dropping but this doesn't seen to be considered by the guinea pigs owners so they'd be outside with them when/ if we give them back...

I think they should probably find them another home than us on the whole but maybe we can offer to be their extended family when they need us if they stay local.

fortifiedwithtea Tue 06-Nov-12 23:26:36

Guineapiglet An update on the Fortified Pigs. Thanks to Bonfire Night Shy Girl has discovered the gap behind the swing bin that leads behind the units, oven/hob etc. She has chewed throught the tumble dryer cable angry.

Shy Girl is being re-named Naughty Girl. Girlies are now locked in the pet carrier and giving me why(?) looks. Will now have to seriously find room for their hutch indoors hmm.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Wed 07-Nov-12 00:19:46

Oooh shock at the cable. Little swine.

Is the garage (with/without mice) looking like a viable venue for the girls?

Dealing with mice has to be a bit easier than trying to keep chewy rodents away from things.

Luckily, my boars (touch wood and hopes not to jinx) aren't really chewers. GP2 took a shine to some duck tape and he likes to re-do the door of a cardboard box into an arch (just how 1980s are you GP2?)

I've noticed the past couple of nights (with the oil-filled radiator) that the boys are a bit more animated. Instead if huddlling into their haybox, they were out and about in the Pighouse waiting for supper.
Last year GP2 got really stiff legs from just sitting in his haybox. Just for a day but I was worried about the little chap.
They seem more inclined to pootle around now .

guineapiglet Wed 07-Nov-12 09:36:30

Oh Fortified - the little devil, I can't believe she has done that - we never really had 'chewers', but it is amazing how they can squeeze into small orifices (!) and I guess the chewing was a result of her panic, aah, bless her. My sister's house rabbit chewed through the freezer cable once, and as I picked up the two ends, lying in a small pool of water, I got a massive electric shock <like an episode from Casualty, could see it coming and couldnt stop> - the rabbit just satand looked innocently at me, so you were lucky she didnt get a nasty shock as well!

Ours used to free range all the time, but in the end, things like sockets and cables were either taped up or hidden behind things they couldnt move. Maybe bringing the run in from outside/putting it in garage would mean they could roam within boundaries? < really must go on Dragon's Den with an idea for a guinea pig exerciser>
70 sounds like the boys like being where they are and it has got slightly warmer I guess. I often wonder whether they naturally hibernate in Peru, and therefore that they do have hibernating instincts...... sorry, Im tired, stayed up watching US elections - thank Goodness for sanity in the US today......

lljkk Wed 07-Nov-12 09:48:30

Hamsters are vicious, not Cavies.

Have you already had a trial 1-2 week go with them, OP?

I would have thought you sound ideal for them.

Those of you with free-range GPigs: don't they leave stinky wee in unhelpful (awkward to reach) places? Mine sure did. And poo is still poo.

guineapiglet Wed 07-Nov-12 10:35:03

They sure can get in awkward to reach places! They can be trained to use wee/poo boxes, but yes, they are messy when it comes to wee and poo, so best to have them free ranging on a surface which can be cleaned/washed or newspaper where possible.

Guineas can bite, especially if they are stressed, their teeth are their only weapon, and their eyesight is pretty ropey, so often they bit fingers expecting them to be carrots.....! - And when they fight with each other they can draw blood, so they are not always the innocents you think.

I guess some of us flagged up about pets and allergies, if a child is very allergic to dander/hay etc, inside pets present problems.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Wed 07-Nov-12 12:19:47

I wouldn't have thought GPs hibernate guineapiglet because they are such greedy little buggers who don't want to miss food their guts would go into stasis (is it seven hours without food will give them liver failure, I'm sure I read that.Not made up, honest grin

Maybe the original wild guineas just hide somewhere or die off? But 'wild' guineas would be much rangier and streamlined than the fancy little guineas we have as pets. Kind of like a wild rabbit v a domestic.

My DD was doing her project on the Amazon river so GP1 was 'helping' her (with him knowing everything about Peru).
Well, he was no flipping help, just chewed the zip of my dressing gown.

Next time, I'm buying a capybara- they look really smug wink

70isaLimitNotaTarget Wed 07-Nov-12 12:24:39

Ours can be a bit toothy but it's never more than a gnaw. I don't like GP1 at my neck if he's in a funny mood- he runs up with a glint in his eyes and I'm very aware of those rodenty teeth.
Though he never does anything worse than nibble DD on the nose. Which is quite sweet until you remember they eat their pooh envy vom

guineapiglet Wed 07-Nov-12 13:52:43

Hi - uum because I have been sitting waiting to collect my ill daughter from college I have been looking into 'wild guineas' and you are right*70*, they certainly do not hibernate, Wiki states that if the temp drops to much below zero, their bodies just pack up, and they die < I know how they feel, my body packs up too!> Mine were much more lethargic in the winter, much happier lazing, snuggling and putting on weight, despite being encouraged to 'go out and get some fresh air'..

I also looked at pictures of wild guineas and you are right 70, their south american cousins are much more like squirrels, minus the tails, more pointy than round and cuddly, obviously evolution in the domestic setting has made them more rounded looking.

<Also a horrible picture of a battered guinea, or rather guinea in batter served with potatoes. I really need to get a life...>

looseleaf Wed 07-Nov-12 14:10:57

Lljjk we're only on day 4 or so but they've added a new dimension to life at home. One is very shy/ not that keen on being picked up but the other delightfully up for anything DD or I want and they go exploring cheerfully round our sitting room making lovely noises and I like the pitter patter
Of feet on our wooden floor (even if i then go round mopping little cloudy puddles)
They also set a great example to DD who will hardly eat vegetables

lljkk Wed 07-Nov-12 14:44:13

Awwww, lovely. Remember they are fragile about being dropped, some tougher than others, but just don't drop.

looseleaf Wed 07-Nov-12 15:29:37

Ok thanks. That's useful especially as garden paved so we'll be extra careful! We bought a fleece blanket with a cosy corner to make holding easier too and I make DD sit down.
We need a guinea pig toilet as their outings leave lots of reminders of where they have been ! I think I read a paper bag with abut of towel in worth a try

guineapiglet Wed 07-Nov-12 16:05:35

Hi - do be careful putting them out in this weather - it is very cold and damp and they will get chilled if put on paving - we used to put our run over ours with newspaper and a kind of raised, sheltered area within the run, so they had somewhere to roost. You can make little 'toilets' for them by getting shoe boxes and stuffing them with hay and newspaper, sometimes they can be trained to use these as loos, or at least provide a 'llo stop' area for them - there is no guarantee this will work!!!! Igloos are also useful to stop drafts for them when they are outside. Have fun!

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