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The modern guinea pig

(5 Posts)
EarSlaps Tue 16-Aug-16 21:14:03

We are borrowing some GPs this weekend with a view to getting some of our own for me the children, but it seems things have moved on in guinea pig care in the 20 years since I last had them. Children are 4 and 7, so I would do most of the care and they can help with feeding, changing water etc. There is a local breeder that comes highly recommended (and also do holiday boarding if we can't persuade a local friend to help out).

Our GPs were kept outside in all weathers (in a sheltered spot to be fair, plus plenty of time in the run), kept with a rabbit (horrible little thing it was too, but I think the GPs bullied it and we never got him snipped), fed endless carrots, muesli mix and a bit of hay and I think we used newspapers and sawdust for bedding (DDad used to clean them out more than me blush). Despite that both lots of GPs lived a good long life (second ones from a pet shop shock were never as healthy as the ones from a breeder in the village).

Now it seems to be indoor piggies with special diets and fleece bedding. I'm hoping I can get a bit of advice please as to what to do for the best.

My current thoughts are to have two indoors, in a 120cm cage in the playroom with fleece bedding. Plus then get a nice sturdy outdoor run with a cosy place to hide that they can stay in for most of the day when it is not too cold and wet, and less of it when it is. I'm guessing that if they are indoors they are less likely to get forgotten by the children than stuck in a sheltered corner and might be better socialised? Plus I'd need to have an indoor cage anyway for winter so it saves buying a cage and hutch.

I was thinking fleece as it seems a bit cleaner, neater and cheaper in the long run. Is it as good as the internet says? What's the best way to secure it all? Towels underneath to absorb and then bulldog clip the fleece to edge of cage bottom, or make a large fleece pillowcase type thing to fit the cage and then stuff with towels? I know you need to sweep at least daily, but how often do you need to wash the bedding? I used washable nappies so I'm quite used to washing wee soaked things.

I know we need GP pellets, plenty of hay and then lots of veggies for vitamin C (plus they can munch on the plentiful dandelions that grow in my garden). Plus wood for gnawing and grass in the garden.

Unfortunately we have a fair bit of bindweed in our garden, which I know is poisonous to GPs, would it be enough to pull it up before we move a run on there, or should I completely avoid any bits of grass that ever get bindweed (doesn't leave much)? Can I put a run on a slope or would that annoy the pigs?

We also live in a city with some pretty bold foxes (have seen them nonchalantly strolling through the garden at midday). Any ways to repel them? Would a good sturdy run keep them out- maybe pegged into the ground?

What toys are must haves? Was thinking some tunnels, maybe a brick, little bridges to climb and things to hide in. Fleece pouch to help with the children cuddling them and maybe a bigger one for transferring from cage to run?

Thank you in advance for your piggy wisdom.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Tue 16-Aug-16 21:59:46

Modern guineas seem far more exotic than the hogs I had in the 1970s/1980s . Not just the fancy breeds that have arrived over the years (there were smooths/abbys and if you were a Piggie Fancier the Peruvian) now there are dozens.
(I like the Californians, gorgeous, but I'm on a No More Piggies Rule)

Ours lived in an outdoor hutch (big solid made from an old sideboard) and free ranged in the garden.

Now mine have a Pighouse (spoiled) with fresh bedding daily (manky) and a secure run (foxes)

I've tried all types of bedding, mine like newspaper and hay to sleep on.
In winter they're indoors and I used wooden litter (rodent safe) newspaper and fleece with solid hay cubes/cookies.
I don't reuse fleece (I love my washing machine too much) one fleece gave me 5-6 pieces (Primark in the sales, I bought loads)

We carry ours in plastic boxes with locking lids (airholes drilled in the lid) and give them paper bags, boxes (no handles,tape,staples) tunnels, rubber trugs with a door cut.

We have buttercups on the lawn, ours avoid them , I was looking at the rectangles of scalped lawn where their runs had been, except the buttercups, they were still there !

Indoor piggies are untidy though, the hay gets everywhere and you need to make sure your DC aren't allergic to hay or fur.
Ours are very much centre of things grin DD and I feed and clean them (breakfast,supper,evening clean) then a complete clean every 1-2 weeks. The floor of the Pighouse stays clean all their mess in in the sleeping

DD has 3 pigs I have 2 so we do share the work but of course as the adult I do more of it ( I do breakfast and open the windows and she puts them in the run while she's not at school) I also remember to buy the hay and pellets and veg smile

Whenever people say "Oh they'll be fine in cold/rain they're from Peru" I say "They're ancestors are from Peru, mine haven't been further than Kent"

EarSlaps Tue 16-Aug-16 22:49:07

Yes, my DMum always argued that they came from the Andes when I tried to bring the piggies in over winter grin. I think our GPs were pretty sturdy though.

I do worry about keeping them outside with the foxes, they are pretty ruthless around here and it's shocking how well they jump! My friend said they also tried to dig underneath her GP run but couldn't quite manage it. Unfortunately we don't have the space to put in an extra little shed for GPs and we don't have enough flat space on the grass for a permanent run there either. We always moved our run around which seemed to work well, and means you can pop them on concrete sometimes for wearing down claws.

I suppose the only way to find if the children are allergic to hay/fur is when we borrow some GPs. DH gets cat allergies and hay fever (though tree pollen so hay should be ok) so we do have family history. I'll keep a close eye on the boys for potential issues when we borrow. They didn't struggle when we went to my sister's house with GPs.

My children are much more indoor people than outdoors, difficult to know if outdoor pigs would get forgotten by them or tempt them out more! Plus we are in the rainy south west so not always nice to get outside!

EarSlaps Sat 20-Aug-16 21:15:49

We are really loving having the piggies to stay, they are so cute. The boys seem to be enjoying it nearly as much as me grin. DS2 spends ages watching them and running to tell me what they are up to and they both love stroking them and having them on a cushion on their lap. Ds2 got peed on and didn't even mind.

So I think we'll probably get some of our own.

EarSlaps Wed 24-Aug-16 17:20:04

Yippee, pigs are reserved! We are getting a pair of two year old boars, they are very cute teddy bear pigs. They were bought for a little boy who lost interested and the mother looked after them but wasn't keen so she gave them to the rescue rather than have them living a sad life there.

I have ordered the cage and plenty of toys, so that should be here in a few days, and I have enquired with a run builder about getting a nice big run and run hut made. My friend will lend me her fold up run until that one arrives.

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