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Talk to me about Guinea Pigs

(14 Posts)
OohMrDarcy Mon 12-Jan-15 21:10:43

Hi all

last time I posted here was early summer when I had to get my gorgeous hammy PTS after a nasty infection. Once the DC and I had got over that I talked to them and gave them the choice, we could get another hamster when ready - or we could wait until we moved to a bigger house and get guinea pigs - they both chose the guineas!

Well not long after I ended up kicking out DH which started off a series of events which included us moving house to a bigger place (and a promotion which paid for it) so we now have a nice sized little house and our own garden smile

I wanted to get winter out of the way as the guineas will live outside most of the year, with the potential to bring them in in the winter, or possibly do something with the garden shed - yet to be decided!

I have found a reasonably local rescue - not 100% if we will get rescues or not, will depend on age I think as DD very sensitive and only just getting over Cookie dying.

Can anyone recommend good quality hutches / runs / a cheap place to buy them?

Also talk to me about combinations ... which is better (particularly for first timers with guineas - had many a hamster mind) :

male / male
male / female
male / female / female
something else?!

Anything else I need to know ?

TIA grin

marmaladegranny Mon 12-Jan-15 21:25:39

We started out with a pair of females - well they were supposed to be but GPs are noxiously difficult to sex when little and we soon had 4 babies! Females do live together better than males who have a tendency to fight / bully.
They are super pets for children - big enough to pick up and cuddle and they do communicate with you in time. If you decide to have a separately kept mixed pair do bite the bullet and have a litter at some point - the babies are fascinating, born all ready to go, eating, fully furred and nibbling food as well as feeding from mum.
At one point we had 8 GPs so painted the boys with blue food colouring across their shoulders to avoid further accidents, otherwise it was very easy to put a male in the female hutch or vice versa.
Good luck - you and the children will love them. Make sure they have a area where they can run around on the grass - if anyone goes missing just put a box upside down and they will soon all congregate underneath it.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Mon 12-Jan-15 21:54:55

Can I tell you about guinea-pigs? I could write books about them and my guinea-pigs would turn round a disprove every word grin

Consider what they Need and if you you can provide this , then start planning.

They need company. Other guinea-pigs. Most places (Rescues , breeders, repuatable petshops) won't let you take one pig unless it's to match up.

They need enough space (especially boars) and it needs to be secure . Bad weather, rain,damp,wind, extremes of temperature. High temperatures, sun.

They need you to be aware of their health, they will hide things. They are prey animals so if they're ill, they keep it to themselves. I knew my pig was ill by the way he was sitting, he died two days later, even after seeing the vet. If he'd been left in the hutch and not looked at, it would've been missed.

You need to check they're eating, drinking (though mine don't) poohing, getting along. They have a Pecking Order, but one can be a bully.

Foxes,cats,dogs,birds of prey, all predators.
They don't dig, don't kick like a rabbit, don't bite and have quite stocky bodies so not really designed to defend themselves.

Ours have a wooden playhouse that my DH altered . We have windows (two fixed plastic ones and two we can take out for summer. Inside is re-inforced with metal bars, wire fencing and flymesh.
A fan, a light, a heater. Snugglepad.

Ours do come in at night for winter (from Guy Fawkes till Feb/March depending ).

Hay gets everywhere grin our small bedroom (the Guinea Room) and all down the hall/stairs has hay scraps .

We bought a big rabbit run from eBay (I'll find the site, I think Bunny Business) it pegs down with tent pegs. A small run when our boy was neutered.
Indoor cage is 4'x2' ( too small for 3 hogs really but it's just for night time sleeping. We fill with hay, they're happy). I got this from The Range, Jolleys have nice ones too. It's a plastic base, wire top.
Most cages in Well Known Pet Shops are very small, or the hutches can be flimsy. I wouldn't trust them unless they were in a secure shed.
Minimum 4'x2' for 2 pigs, 5'x3' for 3.
Boars need as much as you can give.
They like a run-around area ( run indoors or outside when it's dry and warm enough)

The Pighouse is just under 6'x6' (I measured it when I got my new pigs), has a wooden haybox that they sleep in.

I kept pigs from 9-22yo.
My DD wanted pigs when she was 9yo, she wanted boars.
We got our 1yo Rescue brothers. Lovely pigs, bit narky if they didn't have enough room (and fighty with a coriander overdose)

When GP2 died, we got a tiny 6 week boar to match. Rescues have all ages and personalities. We needed a very young boy (not bothered about colour) our adult boar chose.

When the piglet was 1yo, the older boar died. We decided to get females (same Rescue) , we got two bolshy sows who had been seperated from their piglets.
Boar was neutered (obviously not without risk and cost about £58 , we kept them in 'chat' distance till he was sterile, they bonded.
My little sow (always the little ones) is the stroppy one of the group, but they are all lovely.

They are hard work. My DD and I share (she cleans the night cage, I do the Pighouse, feed them , put them out, bring them in)
We clean both houses daily (in the Pighouse, just the haybox daily, main house weekly at present). They don't smell, (hay does more than pigs), but they don't thrive in dirty or damp bedding. And 3 adults pee, oh yes grin

We love our pigs. If you buy some, go to a Rescue. They can match you up and you get a back-up. Any reason you can't keep them, they will re-adopt them.

Check your DD isn't allergic to their fur or hay, my DD (now 12.6) was fine with her first two boars, allergic to the 3rd boy. He's a Rex (coarse coat) if she kisses him she'll get a reddish rash.

Good Luck grin

fridayfreedom Mon 12-Jan-15 21:56:48

Gps need to be in pairs as they are social animals. Sows generally are easier to pair than boars. You should never try to keep more than two boars together, they will fight.
Please, please do not breed gps. This is why the rescues are full , with gps where people have breed them then can't home them, also where children have lost interest.
They are more difficult to look after than hamsters, need a careful diet to make sure they have enough vitamin C.
They need to be indoors in the winter as they can get cold outdoors and are prone to respiratory disease. The cages and hutches sd by the pet shops are generally too small and wood ones are poor quality. They need solid , large housing.
Please research them very carefully before you go ahead. They can live 5-6 years. You will need to be their main carer. They are fab pets and I love my rescue boars to bits but they can be a lot of work. Also consider vets bills.
Don't want to be negative but I see and hear about many rescue gps

70isaLimitNotaTarget Mon 12-Jan-15 21:58:17

You can match:

male+male if bonded (don't need to be sibling, but this works best. )

any number of females but the laydeez are strong personalities

neutered boar + as many girls as you can house.

don't chance 3 boars together or 2 boars with girls unless you are really confident .

70isaLimitNotaTarget Mon 12-Jan-15 22:02:44

Don't look at Gumtree (that way heartache and high blood pressure lies)
angry sad

OohMrDarcy Mon 12-Jan-15 22:08:21

ooh replies smile

I won't be breeding them, though I get why some people would, I'd feel too guilty with all the ones in rescues!

70 - that is a serious load of info, thankyou!
I've read about those hutch dimensions... I'm struggling to find something I think would be good enough quality at the moment though!

Quite like this one www.cagesworld.co.uk/p/Hutch_n_Fun_Single_Rabbit_Hutch_%281.52m_x_0.61m_x_0.91m%29.htm

Which I think would be ok size for two? Its hard to tell about quality online though, and wouldn't buy from PAH or similar - always been crap for anything I want!

Am thinking of going down to the rescue at the weekend to talk to the lady, I've already emailed her but it was so waffly she's probably given up reading it!

I'm fully expecting DD will regularly help with cleaning / feeding/ general looking after / cuddling, and DS will like the idea but not bother really... she is a mini vet in the making (though she currently wants to be a penguin keeper at the zoo! He would like to be a paleontologist - unless I can give him unlimited facts, he won't be that bothered grin )

I don't think I have any issues in sorting what they need - when the rescue homechecks I will ask their advice on best siting for the hutch in the garden - its nicely enclosed, and I have one area at the back where the garage backs onto it which I think will be the most sheltered place, but we'll see

Not too worried about the DC being allergic, they aren't particularly allergic kids, though DD had a little hayfever as a toddler. I'm the allergic one and probably will be mildly to the hay - but not bothered, always have antihistamines in the house anyway as get hayfever for at least 6 months of the year anyway! smile

How much should I expect the rescue to ask / check ? Bit nervous about the idea of a home check haha!

OohMrDarcy Mon 12-Jan-15 22:13:17

oh cross posts - sorry!

Don't worry, no intention of breeding here!

Also - whilst I mention DD a lot, I completely accept / expect that I will be the main carer, and am personally looking forward to the new challenge. I work mainly from home so in warmer months can easily let them out in a run etc.

Have no worries about the feeding after a bit of reading on it.

My main concern is getting a decent, quality outside hutch I thnk - that seems to be the hardest to get right - have been googling all night!

OohMrDarcy Wed 14-Jan-15 09:54:41

Can we talk breeds ? Are there any positive / negative with different breeds other than cuteness and length of hair? Anything I need to consider here when choosing?

Any particular tips on teaching a 5 year old boy to handle them ? He has held them in baseball hats at a farm once and enjoyed stroking them gently but thats it

nearly 8 year old DD I don't think will have any issues, she is brilliant with animals in general and was fab handling the hamster

70isaLimitNotaTarget Wed 14-Jan-15 10:22:26

Go smooth or Abbysinian (sp) grin

I've had smooths, Abbys, a Rex, peruvian.

Abbys have the firm rossettes, little short muzzles, more prone to cataracts, bit smaller
Rex are huge , rough fur, like little fuzzy hedgehogs, big claws (and he's the one that gives my DD an allergic red rash)

Peruvians (and all the new fangled breeds that have long hair) need daily combing

Have a look on Rodents with Attitude- Breeds (and check any sites you're on because USA have different names)

You will see an assortment of pigs - my DD originally saw 'her' pig as a tricolour black/white/ginger boar. Of course , he looked nothing like it grin
Now she has a tricolour sow , I've always steered away from white guineas, now I have a Himmy (like a Simanese cat marking, white fur, pink eyes).
We love them.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Wed 14-Jan-15 10:27:51

WRT cages/hutches - the Rescue might have some to sell (people sometimes rehome their hogs with everything). They might be able to recommend someone who makes them. And importantly how to weatherproof and vermin proof them (Most hutches I see have woeful bolts and securings sad )
They need a good sized sleeping area with their hay bedding.
Pigs don't tend to like ramps but some will climb up/down (mine are too idle) but they need to feel secure.

Go for the biggest you can, it makes a huge difference to them.
Our three get on fine, but yesterday one of the girls was in a hidey house (she hadn't been there long, no droppings in it) I think she got hmm at the Red Eyed Devil.

OohMrDarcy Wed 14-Jan-15 20:09:22

Thanks 70 - have found a few hutches I think might be good, I will go down to the rescue on saturday and talk to them - if they sell some, great - if not I'll ask their advice on the ones I've found

Fingers crossed I am getting closer to G-day grin

70isaLimitNotaTarget Wed 14-Jan-15 20:35:29

You'll need to decide what you'll do with them in winter before you go looking.
Depending on what part of the world you are and how cold/wet .

Do you have a garage (without car fumes) or shed that you can put them in when you need to (you can put the entire hutch in) and you'll need somewhere to store hay, bedding, newspaper etc.

In summer they'll need to be in shade .
In winter they are best indoors (you might decide when you meet them that you want them inside all the time grin )
If you get piglets you'll need to acclimatise them to outdoors when it's warm enough, and build up their grazing time when it's dry enough.

Have a look at C&C cages , lots of photos and ideas. C&C panels are about 12" square, you fasten with ties and line with a plastic liner . You can adjust the shape . (I build a lovely huge one this winter but my hogs stayed in the basket of hay and still managed to get hay and droppings on the outside. So I gave them back their 4'x2' Judgey Cage. I know it's small for 3 but they just sleep in it. Should be 5'x3' really )
Or a solid based plastic and bars cage .

And if you find the Holy Grail of bedding, let us all know wink

OohMrDarcy Wed 14-Jan-15 21:29:02

Winter options are

1 ) Garage, not used for car - plenty of space, nice and dry (not leaky)
2 ) There is a shed in the garden I may be able to rearrange to fit something in
3 ) indoors - at least at night, depending on temps I guess

All of those options are find with me, would have a think and talk it over with rescue person when they home check

Hutch location, I think would be back of the garden - there is a corner with two walls (garage at the end) and a tree overhanging which I think will provide plenty of shade if its sunny (not lived here in summer yet) ... if it doesn't, then I can move them alongside the start of the garden next to the lounge window which is always in the shade I think

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