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Guinea pigs - advice for complete beginner

(31 Posts)
scrappydappydoo Wed 21-Dec-16 18:23:32

We are thinking about getting our DC a pet(s). For various reasons dh and I never had pets when we were kids so this is completely new for us. DC want something furry so we're thinking guinea pigs. DC are 10 & 8.
We want to get all the info first before making a final decision.. what do I need to know?
I am mostly confused about where they live. We don't have much room indoors except for a conservatory which gets boiling in the summer so I'm thinking that's not good. We have a garden that could take a hutch but I've read conflicting advice about them being kept outside all year ( we are SE England).
Also can you recommend a good book/website to read about guinea pig care?
Just to add we haven't made up our mind completely yet - just doing the research!
Thanks in advance.

KittyCatty20 Wed 21-Dec-16 18:31:35


We are in SE too and have guinea pigs. I really wouldn't get them if I could go back in time! We bought really expensive Omlet hutch which was utter rubbish and then brought them inside in cage which took up loads of room, where they kicked poo and sawdust all over the hall CONSTANTLY. They are now outside under a log store in yet another hutch with a cover on it. Dc hardly see them and get no enjoyment out of them and dh has to tend to them. We put them out in a run during the day when weather permits but dc are usually at school. This is easier in summer of course. I would have got a hamster or gerbils if I'd known what a pain they are to clean out etc Picture cleaning out a shitty hutch with wee soaked sawdust flying everywhere - WHEN IT'S RAINING. That's just my opinion - sure there will be plenty of people who love them though.

Littlelegs19 Wed 21-Dec-16 18:39:25

Sorry PP, but I couldn't disagree more!
Guinepigs are wonderful animals and are so friendly and full of personality. I grew up with them and I have come from a house where it was more zoo than home! We have always kept them outside and have never had any problems with foxes or the weather (SE London)
My husbands aunt has two and they are kept inside so it's personal preference in that sense.

As long as they are kept clean (once a week if outside, 2 if inside) on sawdust and have straw in there bed compartment in the winter, they are very clean- better than rabbits! They eat normal dry food but love veg. Don't give them lettuce or spinach as it can make them poorly. They also like to play, so some small toys in their house. Minimum of 2 together as they like company. A pet shop will tell you 2 guys not two girls but we used to keep all guys in one cage and all girls together in another and never had any fighting.

If you have any other questions, feel free to PM. have over 20 years experience x

scrappydappydoo Wed 21-Dec-16 18:41:39

LOL - thanks for the honesty kittycatty! That's actually exactly the type of reality check we need as it's difficult to get past the 'aw so cute'-ness. Anyone got a counter argument?

Sleepingbunnies Wed 21-Dec-16 18:42:14

We adore our pigs. Our girls gets lots out of them. Even though I can't open a packet of crisps in the house without high pitched squeals reminding me they haven't eaten for at least half an hour hmm

Sleepingbunnies Wed 21-Dec-16 18:43:11

We have indoor piggies after a horrible fox incident 5 years ago sad

HowardMoonsJazzTrumpet Wed 21-Dec-16 18:43:15

We have an indoor boar pair in an enormous cage (fortunately we have the space). They have been fantastic pets. Friendly, cuddly, easy to tame, easy to keep clean (no kick outs here as cage base is deep). I love their little enthusiastic wheekings when we come into the room, they squeak and rush to the front of the cage to say hello. They regularly come out to play but because they live in a regularly used room, they are used to people. DD (and DH and I, tbf) will chat to them when we're in the room. Utterly gorgeous.

They live in DD's bedroom which really helps with the taming and relationship building. It's hard to bond with an animal that lives in a wooden box outside, especially when the weather turns and you are literally ducking in the rain to fill water/food. They make fantastic, funny, cute pets but like most things, you get out what you put in. They need regular interaction/attention (forever, not just until the kids get bored) if they are going to be good pets.

HowardMoonsJazzTrumpet Wed 21-Dec-16 18:46:17

Make sure they get extra vitamin c too as they can't make their own.

scrappydappydoo Wed 21-Dec-16 18:47:51

When you say enormous cage - how big are we talking? There seem to be so many on the market.

KittyCatty20 Wed 21-Dec-16 18:54:47

No problem grin I'm not saying they don't have their cute moments (they do interact when they think you are going to feed them) but I do feel as though the effort of keeping them somewhat outweighs what you get back. You definitely need a large space that you don't need to keep really clean if you keep them indoors. Even with strict once a week deep cleans, we still found they smelt. This was main reason for putting outside again. I also hate cleaning up the patch of grass they have been on outside. Poo pellets galore. Not great if you have cartwheeling dc! I would consider a cat (we have one too). They are really the only pet you can keep with a clear moral conscience too - they choose to come back to you. Clean, sorts out it's business in garden and buries it, sociable, interactive and you can put down lots of food and water and go away overnight without having to pay for pet care. Good luck with your decision! Do think pets are great for children.

glentherednosedbattleostrich Wed 21-Dec-16 18:55:08

We have indoor board, they are amazing. They completely rule the roost and are just lovely funny little guys.

This morning I got up early and made a cup of tea. Sat down to enjoy it, which was clearly A VERY BAD THING as I'd not fed the boys first. Spike sat as close to me as he could and squeed until I gave in and for his breakfast (just in case anyone is worried, they had lots of hay and muesli, just no veggies left over from supper).

They do need lots of care, they are very social, you need to make sure their cage is clean and they have fresh hay and food each day but there is nothing quite like ending the day with a little furball sniggled under your chin cooing like a mogwi.

HowardMoonsJazzTrumpet Wed 21-Dec-16 18:56:39

Not sure exactly, they've had it for 5 years but it's about 1.7m long x 80cm deep. It's on a stand (just legs really) to protect them from floor vibrations/doors slamming, Hoover noise, draughts, etc.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Wed 21-Dec-16 19:32:13

OK- Disclaimer . I am Mad Guinea Pig Woman. I kept piigies as a child/teen/20s.
My DD got piggies when she was 9yo , we've had a spiral of guineas for the last 5 years (currantly have 5)

Outdoors they have a wooden Playhouse cleverly transformed by DH (removeable windows reinforced with bars/mesh/flymesh) for summer.
Insulated for winter.
Powerpoints for fan/light/heater
We have two groups (they don't get on, little toads) two hutch/houses and floor space to run about.

Indoors we have a 24" x 48"' cage for the GP7/GP8 group, a C&C 56" x 28" for the trio (just for night sleeping).

The hay gets EVERYWHERE, I kid you not.
They are messy. They pooh where they like (not trainable like rabbits to use a littertray) but they do little PoohNests in bedding.

Allergies are a big consideration, my DD is fine with smooth,abby,long haired but allergic to Rex and very allergic to Teddy (our GP6 is Teddy)

I love piggies because they are not climbers or jumpers, and are truth be known a bit dim.
They chew their cardboard boxes at 4am.
They will entertain you popcorning in the garden.

They need protected against everything - cats, foxes, damp, cold, heat, draughts.
They cannot tolerate heat-cold or cold-heat.
I have the radiator off in their bedroom so they don't overheat.

They cannot defend themselves. Can't kick (well GP3 did grin ) can't scratch, run very fast, can't spin their heads round quickly.
But surprisingly they don't use their one weapon - their rodenty teeth- unless severely provoked . Unless its my GP5 who if theirs a "Y" in the day, Good Enough. (Not a childs pet my GP5)

They are not everyones choice.
There's good and bad about them. We love them , even though they are hard work with cleaning, feeding, need to buy their food,hay,pellets,
What will you do for holidays ?
Have you got a good local small animal vet?

Lots of online advice - Rodents With Attitude, Guinea Lynx, ........and "Small Pets" of course.

Chopchopbusybusy Wed 21-Dec-16 20:25:04

We loved our two female guinea pigs. They are very friendly little things and will happily sit and be cuddled for ages. Recommend they sit on an old towel though as they pee frequently. One of ours used to warn us when she needed a wee and we could put her back in the cage in time.
They are very messy. We tried lots of things in their cage. Wood shavings, hay, newspaper, shredded paper, very expensive stuff from the pet shop. We eventually found megazorb which is horse bedding and comes in enormous sacks. The smell and mess was a bit less once we found that.
Ours hated being outside. We had a wooden enclosed run for them but they mainly huddled together in a corner when we put them in there. I wouldn't keep them outside all year round. I don't think it's fair to them and your children won't really enjoy them if they are outside.
They love vegetables and small portions of some fruits. Ours loved cucumber and peppers best. Their hutch was at the other end of the house from the kitchen but they could still hear the fridge opening and wheeked loudly every time.

flumpybear Wed 21-Dec-16 20:32:40

We have 5 (meant to be two but one female decided to 'change gender' and we had babies - four litters later we eventually got the female to male ratio right (I.e it's difficult for pet shop owners and vets to tell!!) but kept some of the babies - lollipop had his pockets picked and we're at equilibrium!!
They've lived outside for four years .... no casualties yet!! They're under shelter in a hutch with blankets over in the snow!
They're great pets!!

dietcokeandwine Wed 21-Dec-16 21:16:20

Like 70 I had guinea pigs right through my childhood and we got two boars for me the DC five years ago.

They subsequently fought, badly - we had to separate them, so decided to go the whole hog - additional cage bought, both boys neutered and two additional females acquired from a local rescue to be their companions.

Ours have always lived indoors and I have to say I have never had issues with hay or bedding (we use shredded cardboard) being kicked out of the hutches - they have deep plastic bases which I think helps. They don't really smell either (you can smell the hay but not the pigs) with a twice weekly clean out, but occasionally the sows get a bit whiffier when they are in season.

I love them. They live in our big kitchen and are confident and happy and sociable, very cuddly, our two younger DC are bloody noisy and have lots of friends over to play, we entertain quite a lot as well and the pigs are bothered by none of it and assume any visitor is bound to find them cute and offer food. They are so much more sociable than my childhood guineas who lived in a shed outside, really and properly part of the family. Classic example : my DC had friends back after school the other day, they were sitting round the kitchen table and I walked in and asked 'Right, who wants a snack?', at which point five kids shouted 'Me!' and four guinea pigs hurtled squeaking towards the cage bars grin

Inevitably you get more out of pets who live in the house so I'd say if you can, keep them indoors.

Absolute key thing is though -YOU have got to want them. Your DC will almost inevitably lose interest to a certain extent and you'll be the one doing the majority of the care, and if you're not really into guineas it would very, very quickly feel like a thankless chore.

Couple of stats for you (though typically I can't find the research page to link):

- of the thousands of guinea pigs in rescue at any one time, 90% of these are in rescue because they were acquired for children who lost interest

- statistically, the average time it takes a child to lose interest in a new pet -no matter how earnest their commitment appears at the beginning - is about eight weeks.

So do your research, and if you decide to get them then go for it. They're fab. But only - only - if you want them.

scrappydappydoo Wed 21-Dec-16 21:34:10

Thanks all. What about the conservatory? We can keep the door to the lounge open which takes the temp down and maybe put a shade over to keep out sun or will that still be not right?
We are thinking about getting two from a shelter and will have to pass a visit but they don't give much info on what they expect...
I'm quite keen - dh less so but like I said neither of us have any experience of pet ownership.

notagiraffe Wed 21-Dec-16 21:41:11

I LOVED having guinea pigs, but they definitely ended up being my pets, not DCs. They never cleaned them out - not once in seven years. But I didn't care. I loved the piggies whistling and chirping at us. I loved how they'd squeak with excitement when they smelled or heard me chopping up veg. They were all warm and plump and cute. In summer they had a run in the garden and a hutch outside. In winter, the hutch came inside and stayed in all year round as they got older. They are gentle, chatty creatures that don't mind being handled. Ideal pets.

notagiraffe Wed 21-Dec-16 21:42:40

You could get a big hutch that can go outdoors in summer and be brought into the conservatory in winter.

Isadora2007 Wed 21-Dec-16 21:47:38

Isadora2007 Wed 21-Dec-16 21:50:46

That's the cage we have for two indoor girl GPs. Over the years we have had several wee pets and the GPS are probably the nicest and most responsive compared to gerbil/hamster things. Rats apparently are lovely too.
Our GPs are in our dining room and they don't smell admit long as they're cleaned out pretty much every 5/6 days. In he summer they have a run outdoors and their cage needs cleaned less than once a week then. We use newspaper then cage granules then wood shavings and hay in their beds and for eating as well as dry pellets and assorted veg or fruit.
I think having pet is lovely for kids. Oh and ours love baths.

ballsdeep Wed 21-Dec-16 21:51:33

They stink so I couldn't imagine them being indoors. This was when they were cleaned twice a week. We had to get rid of ours because they attracted nice outside

catchingzzzeds Wed 21-Dec-16 21:57:19

My DS begged for over a year for guinea pigs, I eventually caved in but have regretted it. DS lost interest and I'm the one left to do the caring. Ours are outside and cope fine whatever the weather, during hot spells I put ice packs in the hutch and when it's cold they have a fluffy cocoon bed and extra bedding. I also covered the hutch in tarpaulin to protect them from the rain.
We also have 3 cats and they are so easy to care for, we've had them since they were a couple of months old and they've been nothing but a pleasure. The kids love them and the cats give a lot of love back.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Wed 21-Dec-16 22:14:01

If I cleaned my pigs out twice a week they would literally swim in their own waste.

we do alternate full clean/top up newspaper bedding/full clean every day (in their sleeping houses) .
Even after the 2nd day, their bedding is soaked.

Indoors the hay smells more so I switched to hay cookies (tidier too and keeps them occupied at night) .
Fleeces are good but I cannot risk my washing machine so I dispose of them.

SixtiesChildOfWildBlueSkies Wed 21-Dec-16 22:14:39

They like sprouts!

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