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Guinea Pigs.....

(13 Posts)
BaconAndAvocado Sun 02-Mar-14 22:12:07

....DD age 5 has requested a guinea pig.

I know NOTHING about them, apart from the fact that they are bigger than gerbils and live in a cage.

Are they high maintenance?

RandomMess Sun 02-Mar-14 22:13:44

Nooooooooooooo they are delicious and sociable and love cuddles. You need a pair and they need a draft free home in the winter months.

BaconAndAvocado Sun 02-Mar-14 22:26:49

2?! What size cage do they need?

Personal they smell?

RandomMess Sun 02-Mar-14 22:29:48

Only if you don't clean them out!!!

Velvetbee Sun 02-Mar-14 22:31:24

They are fab, don't smell as much as rats, hamsters or rabbits, have the sweetest little faces and squeak in greeting.

Littlefish Sun 02-Mar-14 22:33:09

We are recent guinea pig owners. They are lovely! Random is right - they have to live in pairs. We bought ours in November and it was too cold to put them outside, so they have been living in their huge hutch in our office. I am sooooooo looking forward to moving them outside when it gets warmer, just to get rid of the endless hay and sawdust which gets traipsed around the house!

We've also been quite unlucky, and ended up with about £150 in vets bills due to them both getting skin infections (separately) which needed lots of treatment.

No, they don't smell at all.

Dd sits with hers on her lap most days after school, just stroking and grooming them (as they have long hair).

guineapiglet Mon 03-Mar-14 08:23:37

they are fab creatures... would recommend reading threads on here to get a feel for what is needed...yes they are not happy on their own, need as much space as possible and ideally access to grass/place to exercise. they also need adult input re handling and cleaning out and a five year old may be a tad young to handle and care without you helping her. good luck!

littlefish sorry to hear about your guineas sad would try to stop using sawdust if possible, guineas can be very allergic to it. try different kinds of pellets (exel is the best) and maybe different hay to see if they don't react.. they are quite sensitive little souls re skin, so anything which makes them itchy won't help. smile

dietcokeandwine Mon 03-Mar-14 14:49:47

Guineas are fabulous - I had them all through my childhood and now have them for my own children (except they're mine really grin) - but the one thing I'd say above anything else is that you have to want them, and you have to be prepared to take on the looking after, the cleaning out etc. I read somewhere that statistically most children lose interest in a new pet after an average of 8 weeks. Even if your DD continues to love and adore and be hugely interested in her guineas, she's too young to be responsible for cleaning them out etc. So if you get some (and yes you need a pair, never one alone unless taking on an older guinea who cannot be homed with others) then you need to be the one to do it.

High maintenance? Well it depends what you call high maintenance. We have four (two neutered boar/sow pairs who live in side-by-side indoor cages) and I would say I spend an average of 20 minutes a day on their general care. Feeding them morning and night (fresh food in the morning, more fresh food, pellets and hay in the evening), plus I change their water and change bedding hay in the middle of the day too. Their cages (we have plastic indoor cages rather than wooden ones) get a full 'deep clean' and are disinfected twice a week, which takes about 30 minutes per cage. They don't smell, other than the smell of hay! And then there is the guinea handling (two of ours are long-haired so need regular grooming) and their general care (claw clipping, bathing, indoor floor time, time out in a run on the grass in the summer etc) so whilst it's not like the demands of having a dog or a cat, I wouldn't say guinea pigs are a totally easy option either.

Cage size - for two pigs you'd need minimum of 2ftx4ft, but bigger is better. Ours are in Savic Nero 4 cages which are good as have deep plastic bases so hay, bedding etc doesn't really spill out. Have a look online at guinea cages but bear in mind many of the ones sold by Pets at Home et al are generally far too small.

But guineas are lovely lovely pets. Perfect for younger children (though you need to supervise when handling) and have lovely demeanours and very very sociable and sweet. If you have them living indoors they will become much tamer - my childhood guineas lived in the shed, and our current ones are so much cheekier and more sociable/confident.

Littlefish try Finacard for bedding for your guineas. Brilliant (and much cheaper and healthier) alternative to shavings or sawdust and far less dusty in the house in general too.

dietcokeandwine Mon 03-Mar-14 15:03:31

Cages to consider (ignore the fact they're listed as rabbit cages, they are fine for guineas but I'd never put a rabbit in them!)

Savic Nero 4 this is what we have

Ferplast 140 - this one is slightly bigger and is recommended as a good indoor cage option by one of our local rescues

Also google C&C cage options as you can basically build these as big as you want

and for bedding try Finacard

Littlefish Mon 03-Mar-14 19:30:47

Thank you everyone for the information. We will try the finacard. GP1 had a fungal infection at the base of her ear, and then several weeks after that had cleared up, GP2 got a fungal infection just undo her eye which she unfortunately scratched raw several times sad. Do you think the sawdust could have been to blame? We rinse their cage out with anti fungal spray every week so it was horrible when they each came down with an infection, especially the eye one. She was obviously really uncomfortable. Thank goodness she's better now, and starting to regain her looks after having some of her luxurious hair shaved off to help us treat her more easily.

guineapiglet Mon 03-Mar-14 19:44:12

a aw bless them they have had it bad, poor you trying to sort it out sad, sounds like they are on the mend and hope they both make full recovery. I would be tempted to do a trial run without sawdust which can be an irritant, many of us guinea folk won't use it for that reason,... I used newspaper and lots of hay, nothing else. and a good disinfect...but it is so much easier in the summer when hutches can be left outside to dry in the sun

<remember the sun? heat?>....

ShadowOfTheDay Mon 03-Mar-14 19:46:10

Guineas do NOT have to be kept indoors - ours are nearly 6 now and have lived in a hutch outdoors all their life - except one snowy winter where we moved their hutch into our unused garage for a week..

Our girlies have newspaper (which they do not eat) and dust-removed woodshavings with hay stuffed half way up the hutch - and filling their sleeping quarters when it is cold..

As for care, ours get fed and cuddled/checked over twice a day - we clip their nails every month, and their tummies get dried after being out on wet grass, they are smooth haired so minimal grooming, never had a bath as smooth haired really don't need it. They get a partial clean out and extra hay at feeding time and a full hutch strip and clean once a week... Ours have never needed to see a vet or had any other problems...

they are easy and sociable pets - but as others have said they do need adult involvement in the cleaning out and care side - the kids get bored and a bit slapdash....

MrsFlorrick Mon 03-Mar-14 19:46:30

Recently acquired piggies here too. We have a sibling boar pair.
They were for DD 4.5 and DS 2.5.
Obv that means I look after them.

They are not hard work and very sweet. Easy to clean out and feed.

Grooming is easy too as long as you get short hair ones. The fluffy ones look cute but involves brushing a lot I think.

I've had many pets as a child. Rabbits, cats, dogs, horse/pony.

Piggies are by far the easiest. Other than a cat actually. I suppose a very easy pet would be a cat.

The piggies take time to get to know you so you need to prepare your DD for the fact that they won't come running to her for cuddles on day 1.

I have a plastic (think its a ferplast one) which is 180 x 60cm. It's essentially rabbit sized but I saw the recommendation to get a large a cage as poss.

I would def recommend piggies as a pet for a child your DDs age. Rabbits can be hard to hold and need lots and lots of attention and cuddles or they end up very sad actually. One of the rabbits I had was a biter with a temper. Quite hard work and I struggled a lot with it (I was 7).

Good luck with choosing your piggies.

Oh and someone mentioned sawdust.
I was recommended something called Megazorb. It's a special absorbent wood pulp which has been heated and vacuumed to extract any dust from it.
It's used for small animals such as piggies and bigger ones like horses (horses don't tolerate dust that well).

The Megazorb stuff is amazing. So much softer than wood shavings and it works out cheaper. £8 for 85l and its extremely absorbent so you don't need wast amounts and you can easily clear bits out every day. All the guinea pig rescues recommended it.

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