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Guinea pigs - how much of a commitment?

(37 Posts)
WellErrr Mon 27-Jun-16 08:07:41

DD is 2 soon and is obsessed with Guinea pigs (childminder has them). Obsessed. I'm pro pet and thinking of getting some for her birthday. Here's my idea of Guinea pig care -

Hutch at night, run in the day. Feed and water once a day, clean out once a week. Is that all?

Can they live in pairs? I wouldn't want to keep one on its own. Do they like living with rabbits? Are they a massive tie or if we go away can someone else just chuck food at them for a few days?

Will I forever be trying to stop dogs from eating them? Do they need any regular vet care?

Thank you!

WellErrr Mon 27-Jun-16 13:11:17


itsbetterthanabox Mon 27-Jun-16 13:13:14

You have to get them in pairs. They don't like to be alone.
Best not to keep them with rabbits as the rabbit hurts them.
Where will you keep them?

Trumpette Mon 27-Jun-16 13:23:14

We have two guide pigs who are non neutered brothers. My first thought is your son is too young to look after and handle them alone, however if he would like them are you prepared to look after them.

We have a large hutch that they live in over night and every day we put them out in to a run with a covered house they can rest in. They have access to food and water.

Every day we give them five types of veg (not lettuce- except romaine) as they are unable to make vitamin c.

We also have their nails clipped (you can do this yourself) and wormed every three month by a local rescue charity.

They are lovely animals and very friendly and are a great 'introduction' to caring for pets. Your son would enjoy watching them but you would need to be prepared to care for them! Also be careful with the dogs as the Guineas may take fright around them as they are quite nervous (understandably) as they are prey animals and pretty defenceless!

Trumpette Mon 27-Jun-16 13:24:14

Should read Guinea pigs not guide pigs! X

misspym Mon 27-Jun-16 13:28:52

We have a pair of sisters. Got them at a few months old and they are nearly 3 now. Ours are indoor pets. They live in a big run in our spare room. We take them outside sometimes for fresh grass and exercise but they don't like it much.

They were supposed to live outside when we got them but we live in quite a windy exposed area and we decided against in.

They have fresh hay and muesli every day and a selection of fresh veg.

They are funny, friendly, noisy creatures and my dcs love them.

Ours are quite nervous and never took to being handled much but they will happily roam around near us and chat away when we are in their room.

We send ours on holiday to family members when we are away ourselves and it has worked well.

WellErrr Mon 27-Jun-16 13:46:04

Thank you!

I know DD wouldn't be able to look after them herself and it'll be all down to me. How long do they live?

They'd be in a hutch outside at night then a run on the lawn in the day. I could move the hutch under cover in winter, we live on a farm so plenty of indoor space. Do they mind the cold?

Also I can't find any rescues nearby as we are quite remote, however a local farm breeds them - is it bad to get one from a breeder?

Trumpette Mon 27-Jun-16 13:54:34

Try RSPCA for rescue as lots need rehoming! Apologies I referred to your DC as a son!

I was told about seven years for longevity.


WellErrr Mon 27-Jun-16 13:55:42

I will forgive you Trumpette grin

I do not support the rspca, but they're looking like my only option for a rescue. Conflicted...!

boobyooby Mon 27-Jun-16 13:59:45

def from a breeder if you can. Eldest son had GP's for his 8th birthday and were used to being handled by the breeder so very friendly from day 1. Ours lived for 4 1/2 yrs and we had 2 boys together and I must say I quite enjoyed them (although I did 99% of the looking after part).

We used small pet boarder for holidays which wasn't very expensive smile

Freya84 Mon 27-Jun-16 14:00:04

Guinea pigs can be a great first pet for a child. Most love a cuddle and provide excellent entertainment when they're happy as they jump about, we call it "pop corning".
Where ever you get them from, make sure you check out the conditions that they live in and sex them as you get them. We bought three last year and ended up with fourteen of the buggers! Down to eleven now. I can safely say two piggies are a lot easier to deal with than fourteen.
They can live by themselves but would need more attention. Although, one of ours is in a cage on his own and is the happiest and healthiest he's ever been.
If they're kept in a hutch outdoors, they will need more shelter in bad weather. If they could be kept in a shed of sorts that would be good. They cope okay with the cold just make sure that they have plenty of hay especially when it's really cold.
As for leaving them for a few days, they would be fine with being fed just once a day. I always give them a bit more of the dried food and lots of fresh stuff and hay and plenty of water.
We've not had to take one to the vet yet.
Hope that helps!

bluecoat08 Mon 27-Jun-16 14:02:38

easiest pets ever! they need feeding, and cleaning out, which takes maybe less than half an hour per week. really rewarding

Willow2016 Mon 27-Jun-16 14:03:38

You really need to get 2, (not a GP and a rabbit) they need the company. Our local place doesnt sell them singularly at all.

Yes you need to put the hutch inside in the winter, ours have a wooden 'house' inside the sleeping part of the hutch too for when its really cold and lots of extra hay.

Hutch outside in full summer with the run attatched to it so they can come and go as they please. Inside if really wet or cold weather (wood gets wet after constant soaking, dont cover all the hutch in plastic will cause air circulation problems and humidity.)

They get fed twice a day (gp's are eating machines) a.m. - grass, clover, dandelions etc and good qualilty dried food (not the one with all the coloured cereals etc, they dont eat them so waste of money and its not great nutritionaly) Then at night have lots of fresh veg and some fruit (mix it up a bit every day) and pile of hay.

They have a hollowed out log with holes to put hay, food in so they have to work to get it out, a staw ball to push around and they get fruit/veg sticks which hang on the cage grill. N.B. they love a good gnaw on wood.

You really need to look at either a book or online as to what they can actually eat and whats not good for them, and how often.

They also go out in a run but supervised as its not got a cover yet. We have buzzards and cats around here. My son sits in with them at times and they hide under him for some shade! They have a concertina style tunnel to run around in.

They get mucked out twice a week as they p & poo a lot! You will be surprised how quickly the hutch gets stinky and dirty if you leave it a week.

Ours go to kennels as we dont have anyone to look after them properly while we are away.

They have mites on their skin which are normally no problem, but if they are stressed they can multipy and cause havoc with their skin which you will need to take them to the vets to have tested and get drops to put onto their skin.

It is a big commitment, just be sure that YOU are prepared to take it on if your son is too young yet. I help my son a lot with his as we discovered that he is allergic to them after a while (the dander) and he sneezes his face off but we arent getting rid of them smile

Willowfrost Mon 27-Jun-16 19:41:15

Look for local Guinea Pig rescues. There are so many looking for loving homes. Please don't go to a breeder.

SkyLucy Mon 27-Jun-16 20:29:39

TBH any pet is a commitment, and your DC is very little! Is this not a passing phase? I have two pigs and my nieces/nephews were thrilled by the "gimme pigs" for a few months....then completely disinterested! Also, pigs have very sensitive hearing and can be stressed if there's too much noise/light/activity/draughts....they're little animals that need to be in the warm and quiet with a reliable routine.

I had a pig who lived til 8 yrs old - their lifespan can be surprisingly long! As other posters have said - never keep them singly, and you need to make sure they have adequate vitamin c, and mountains of hay! Lastly - I truly wouldn't recommend keeping them outdoors for the reasons listed above and the threat of predators. I had a couple of pigs outside quite happily for 2 years - I then moved a mile up the road and a wily fox took them on the second night. I will never forgive myself!!

Out of interest - can you say why don't you support the RSPCA?

70isaLimitNotaTarget Mon 27-Jun-16 20:29:57

OK, I'm going to give you the Downsides to guineas.
I love piggies. I kept them from when I was 9-22 and now I'm reliving Guinea-Pig Love after my DD wanted pets when she was 9yo, I convinced her to Go Guinea and now 5 years later we're the proud owner of 5 piggies (We;ve had GP1/GP2/GP3 who have all died, we have GP4/GP5 -sows, GP6 -neutered boar and GP7 /GP8 our new sows)

My DD does a fair wedge of the work, but when we got the first 2 boars , I said the cleaning /buying food and hay was MY responsibility, I'm the adult.

They are messy - mine are indoors in Winter nights, hay gets everywhere and then some.
They have a wooden pighouse , DH had to repair the roof after the flooding recently .
They pooh a lot
Mine are given fresh bedding daily, I honestly could not leave them 48 hours , they'd have to swim (but my boars were tidier/less wee)

They can get very ill, very quickly. When my GP2 was ill, he sat in that "I'm ill" way one morning and even after intensive hand feeding and a vet visit , he was gone within two days.

My DD is fine with smooth or Abby pigs, allergic to Rex, very allergic to Teddy. (rashes on her face)
Hay is a huge allergenic.

You need to make sure they have space, especially boars.
You need to protect from heat,cold,damp,draughts,predators.

You can't just put them in a run on damp grass. Not like rabbits, piggies aren't hardy. Their little bellies are low slung.

99% of piggies are lovely. Some (like my GP5) are a bit bitey. Mine are all Rescues so all have a tale to tell.
Some will be rehomed pets (like our new girls)
Some ex breeder (like my older girls)
Some fight their cagemates (like our boar)
Our piglet GP3 was from a breeder who didn't like guinea pigs (except the ££)

They are the loveliest, chattiest,messiest,greediest little animals.
You will get rewarded by their funny little ways.

Mine are out in their runs at the moment (I have two set ups of run+attatched hutch/house) enjoying some evening grazing.
We put them safely in their Pighouse at night.

I buy packs of hay, gather newspapers, they have equine cardboard bedding (saddlery) and loads of veg , plus pellets.

There are lots of guinea threads on here to read through.

But - the main cause of guineas changing homes is "Kids got bored" or "Child allergic"

You will have your pigs for years and then you have The Ongoing Spiral of adding a pig (or 5 grin )

70isaLimitNotaTarget Mon 27-Jun-16 20:38:42

I think a lot of people are disenchanted with the RSPCA
The huge new head quaters they built
The amount of healthy (physically but might have behaviour issues) they PTS
The hoops you have to go through to get them out to an animal in peril
And the things they do when there's a TV camera don't happen when there isn;t.

A Rescue will be a better bet, preferably small animal.
Ours came from Rescues about 10 miles away, so you need to travel a bit and keep looking.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Mon 27-Jun-16 20:44:10

I worry more about the pigs I think than I did about my DC blush

In winter when it's really wild outside, I wake and think "I'm glad they're in" (they sleep in the small bedroom.
WE have a little heater just ticking over in their Pighouse. I put it on 30 minutes before they go out in winter, fresh bedding and I know they're happy.

Summer IME is tougher to keep them happy. They don't like extreme heat , but they need to be kept safe from foxes etc. WE can remove the windows to ventilate leaving bars+mesh+wire inside to protect them.

Did I mention they're spoiled? grin

SkyLucy Mon 27-Jun-16 22:03:46

Ah 70, my pigs are spoiled too! They live in our spare bedroom. I'm actually pg for the first time so we're going to have to move house...there's no way my boys are being turfed out for a baby!!

Interesting info re RSPCA. I've (fortunately) never had cause to use their services but I've always been impressed by their comms and expenditure transparency, especially around fundraising costs.

PurpleDaisies Mon 27-Jun-16 22:10:14

Our guinea pigs are wonderful. They're so full of character and in the main very easy to look after.

Unfortunately one of ours has a dodgy jaw and has recently started growing spurs on one of his teeth. The location means it's a nightmare to take out so we're currently in a very expensive period of taking him to the vet every month for filing under anaesthetic. He has a great quality of life and apart from a day or so of feeling a bit miserable he's really spoilt. The cost has been a bit unexpected and we think he's worth it, but be aware veg bills can mount up.

PurpleDaisies Mon 27-Jun-16 22:10:51

That should say vet bills! Veg bills were expected to rise when we got the piggies.

Woodhill Mon 27-Jun-16 22:13:33

I've never had to worm my piggies over the years. Am I missing something.

WellErrr Mon 27-Jun-16 22:25:33

So many lucky spoiled piggies on here! smile

They would absolutely have to live outside - I don't do indoor pets! But would this be ok if I put the hutch in a barn in winter? We'd also make sure everything was very secure - as we have 6 dogs here....!

I'm well aware it will be a passing phase with the children. I also have a 3 year old son who is very keen for a guinea pig, but I know they won't be doing the work, or interested in winter or after 2 weeks. I think it will be good for them to do the 'easy' stuff though, like feeding and thinking of nice things for them to eat/putting them out on sunny days etc. It's good to teach them to be considerate, and our other animals don't need much care. The farm animals obviously they can't deal with and the dogs live free range outside and just get their food topped up.

I've always thought guinea pigs were quite dull (sorry!) but after meeting some I've totally changed my mind! And the no biting and no kicky back feet bits are appealing.

I'm going to think very carefully. Thanks very much for all the info smile

70isaLimitNotaTarget Mon 27-Jun-16 22:29:25

I use a combination wormer/mite treatment in drop form (Xeno 450) .
I have no control what wanders about in our garden, soiling the grass.

Guess you pokes about in the long grass checking ....oh, that;ll be me.
Guess who got the plastic bag out to scoop up animal pooh (not fox or dog but looked to much to be cat so I have no idea) and the remains that some random animal had thrown up......oh, yes, me again [sigh]

We spoil our hogs I think because they are all Rescue.
They have their Before70 life and their After70 life grin

70isaLimitNotaTarget Mon 27-Jun-16 22:32:42

well a couple of my guineas kick (our GP3 did and our GP8 does) but they don't have a lot of strength unlike rabbits.

And truth be known, though they're not boring, my DH does say "What do they actually DO " - cheeky git.

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