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DC want guinea pigs - would this arrangement work?

21 replies

chicaguapa · 13/01/2013 10:04

DC 11 & 8 have asked for a guinea pig each, but they want to keep them indoors so they can play with them more.

Would it work if we had an indoor cage (how big?) in the bedroom, with DC handling them every (read most) days? Then in the summer putting them outside during the day in one of those triangular runs? Can they stay outside in one of those if the DC forgot to bring them in at night?

I want to make sure the piggies have enough exercise and aren't stuck in a small space for days on end. It's when they're out at school I'm most concerned with. And I don't think they'll get the piggies out every. single. day.


OP posts:
LadyMargolotta · 13/01/2013 10:10

They can only stay out in one of those runs if they have adequate shade - if there is a little 'house' part at the end of the run. They do need to be kept warm enough at night time, with plenty of hay, as even in the summer, the nights can still be cold.

I wouldn't keep them in a bedroom.

You can ask the pet shop for advice on the size of the cage, but it's a good idea for them to have an indoor run as well - or just an enclosed area for them to run around in.

Also an indoor cage should really be cleaned out everyday.

chicaguapa · 13/01/2013 10:27

Thanks. The triangular run I'm thinking of does have a 'house' at the end. But seems a lot more basic than a hutch and was wondering if it would be just as suitable.

Why not in a bedroom? Is it because of the smell? A friend has hers in the garage over winter, but it seems a bit gloomy and dark in there for pets.

I was going to get them from a breeder as I read you can trust the sexing better. Plus I don't agree with getting pets from a pet shop.

Would they cope with being indoors some days and outdoors overnight others, or is it better for them to be one or the other so they can adapt?

OP posts:
LadyMargolotta · 13/01/2013 10:42

If they are used to being indoors, then I wouldn't leave them out overnight.

My guinea pigs are mainly outdoor guinea pigs, they have an old hen house and about a quarter of the garden to run around in. They are indoors now because temperatures at night are predicted to go down to -8.

They can get smelly, if you don't clean them out every day.

I didn't get them from a pet shop either, they were given to us from a friend. I sexed them myself, it was very easy, and fairly obvious.

They are lovely animals, and great pets for children.

fortifiedwithtea · 13/01/2013 11:18

I wouldn't have them in the bedroom if I could help it because they talk to each other and some bite the bars. Mine live in the lounge where my Mum sleeps when she stays over and sometimes she doesn't have a restful night.

A triangle run is not suitable to sleep in overnight for piggies. They become ill through being kept in cold, damp and draught conditions. Best place for an outside hutch imo is a heated shed or brick built gargage (provided gargage is not used for a car, fumes kill).

Do you have an area down stairs somewhere? Piggies like to people watch and find us very entertaining especially when they see us enter the kitchen Grin.

LadyMargolotta · 13/01/2013 11:24

Forgot to say, our guinea pig house is under a an open roof, so there is additional protection.

They do make a lot of noise. Also they make a lot of mess, they push hay, wood chippings etc outside of their cage. Now my pigs are indoors, their cage is on a tiled floor, which I can easily brush and wash.

If they are on a carpetted floor in a bedroom, then the carpet will get very dirty very quickly.

Oh, and I am not advising that you sex them yourself!

70isaLimitNotaTarget · 13/01/2013 11:57

Hi chica-
WRT pigs in the bedroom- they do smell (it's mainly the hay not the pigs but I cannot deny my 2 adult boars do produce alot and their cage can get 'fragrant' )

They are messy
They need a quiet time (GPs are crepuscular- active at dawn and dusk) they do alot of their pooh eating in the evening. So if they are in a bedroom, your DC will be disturbed and the GPs won't get peace.
We put the hogs in my DD room for Guy Fawkes and they were nightmares.

One of the USA re-homing sites stated they don't re-home if the pigs will be kept in a bedroom. Maybe USA aircon is too strong for them. But they say they tend to get ignored in a bedroom.
Mine have our small bedroom for night, with a duvet over their cage to keep them dark and insulated.

Temp wise- they can''t go cold-hot or hot-cold. They don't acclimatise easily. And damp can give them respiratory problems.

Get the biggest cage you can.(Cavy Cages website will give you sizes)
Alot of pig owners use C&C - you can adapt them to suit.
Guineas pigs don't really use ramps (too steep in most cages)

My boys have a 4'x2' indoor winter cage. They think this is too small.Hmm. Their outside Pighouse is 5'5" by 5'7" - so plenty room for hayboxes and little houses .

<br />
I don't want to sound <img loading="lazy" class="inline-flex mumsnet-emoji" alt="Angry" src=""> or mean here.<br />
But when you say the DC will handle them 'nearly' every day and might 'forget' to bring them in.<br />
<br />
They are the ADULTS responsibility. You will have to make sure they are handled daily and checked. They can go downhill quickly (my little boy had hay in his eye one morning. I whisked it out with sterile gauze and warm water.Imagine if my DC didn't handle him daily. How long would he have sat with a poorly eye?)<br />
<br />
Same as them being left out by accident. They would be cold at night.Hungry. Fox fodder.<br />
<br />
And they need routine- regular feed/cuddle/clean. They thrive on it.<br />
Have you got storage for bags of hay, bedding? I keep cardboard, paper, hay and barley straw in my (car free) garage.<br />
<br />
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~<br />
<br />
My DD adores her boar. We let my DS have the other pig for fairness (you can't give one DC a pet but not the other). But TBH he doesn't do anything for the pig. So the GP2 is mine IRL. When we got the pigs. I said I would clean the cages. DD helps with feeding and cuddle/check ups.<br />
<br />
You'll need to make sure your DC are well on board for the <span class="italic">never ending</span> work that they are <img loading="lazy" class="inline-flex mumsnet-emoji" alt="Grin" src=""><br />
And bear in mind they can live up to 5-8 years. Some longer.<br />
<br />
Good Luck.
GPlover · 13/01/2013 12:24

I have two boys and I keep them in a C&C cage in the living room. It's on a table about waist - chest height and is about 6 x 2.5 feet which seems to be fine. They have a layer of towels and then a layer of fleece on top. The towels wick away the moisture from the fleece so that the fleece stays dry and gets less smelly. I do a complete cage change every three days, and inbetween I just poo pick and change the hay etc. They do still smell though - to me it's not bad but I'm sure visitors can smell it more strongly (I always change the cage just before visitors come round!).

I think it's so much nicer to have them indoors, and in a room where you regularly spend time as they seem to be a lot more social then. Letting them graze in a run outside in the summer is fine, but I wouldn't leave them in direct sunlight or in a damp spot, and certainly not overnight.

guineapiglet · 13/01/2013 15:25

Hi - good luck with getting guineas, would advise that you contact local guinea rescue for advice, rather than breeders, who can often be 'unscrupulous' and not treat them very well. Some slightly older guineas, 4 - 7 months or so, may suit the ages of your children, ones which have been used to being handled.

Agree with everything that has been posted, great advice from guinea owners, hope you find it helpful. They are wonderful little creatures, very sociable and interactive. They are however, highly allergenic, so do think about bringing them indoors if you have any asthmatic children - we ended up housing ours in both garage and shed because of this, and they made their way in in the winter months ( 4 of them took over the basement!) as it was way too arctic where they lived in the shed. Would not leave them in a run of anykind unless you are around to supervise and keep an eye on them, they are not fox proof and will get too cold and damp for guineas overnight, they need to be snuggly and safe.

They will need adult input, they need regular cleaning out and 'inspections' clean water daily etc, so you will need to be willing to oversee everything and not leave it to the children. My daughter took charge of them when she was in year 6 at school, but I still lurked around to check them..... They are very time consuming in a way, but very rewarding as well, very cuddly and sociable, you will enjoy them.
(Also good lawn trimmers, recyclers of bits of food etc - and producers of high quality manure!!!)
Good luck:)

GPlover · 13/01/2013 15:37

Oh yes, also meant to mention that you should try contacting a rescue. I got mine from the RSPCA, one was a baby and one was older. Don't worry that they will have hidden "behavioural problems" or something - generally I have found that what you see is what you get. Some are more outgoing than others, but the scared ones will mellow at least a bit with regular handling and a stable environment. Any pigs will of course be scared when you move them into a new environment, but after a couple of days should settle in well.

mercibucket · 13/01/2013 15:49

we keep ours in bedrooms in winter and outside from spring to autumn but they are my responsibility not the kids. bedrooms are ok if you don't have the downstairs room but downstairs is better.

guineapiglet · 13/01/2013 15:58

Yes, they are not like some dogs at rescue centres, rehomed for bad behaviour, but there usually because owners get fed up of them or simply cant afford to keep them anymore:( - the costs are another consideration really, regular vet check ups, weekly hay/pellets and veg, costs of hutch/runs ( can get these on Freecycle or Gumtree) - they are like every other pet in that they are a commitment financially and emotionally. And they are VERY cute.......!

chicaguapa · 13/01/2013 16:19

Hi. Thanks for all the advice. I've told DC to research how to look after them and try to convince me and DH to let them have some. I've said the pigs will be completely their responsibility but of course we'll be lurking to make sure it gets done. DH doesn't want them as he says we have enough to do/ think about already.

We absolutely don't have anywhere downstairs for them and DC want them in the bedroom. I'll tell them that if they can't get on with them in the bedroom, they'll have to go outside and if they would be prepared to do that. Though they have the top floor of a town house so maybe the pigs could on the landing.

DD has gerbils so they are used to having noises in the room and caring for pets. But they seem like they need less daily care than guinea pigs. We'll see what they come back with after their research.

OP posts:
ByTheWay1 · 13/01/2013 16:30

Guinea pigs do need a bit of daily care, but I disagree about needing lots of vet visits - we had 2 from 4 months to 12 years (yes I know - we were lucky they did get very old!) and they never visited the vet once.... They need their nails clipping every 4-8 weeks depending on how fast they grow, but you can do that yourself....

You also need to make sure you can have them cared for if you are away on holiday.. something many people do not think about in advance..

We could not have ours indoors, my eldest is allergic to cats and after 4 to 5 weeks became highly allergic to the guinea pigs too... they were outside in a hutch against the wall all year round, but seemed to thrive on it...

ClaimedByMe · 13/01/2013 16:36

First find somewhere that will your dds handle guinea pigs as I discovered through bitter experience my dd is actually allergic to them, she would love to handle them and look after them but in reality even if she sits next to the cage for a few minutes, shes snottering, sneezing and her eyes start to swell!

We keep our pigs in the livingroom, they are very sociable.

70isaLimitNotaTarget · 13/01/2013 17:33

Vet wise- some GPs do have health problems (like any animal) others sail through life. Prevention of problems is the key.
Get your DC to check on what they can't eat. What they shouldn't be given as bedding. Their accomodation needs. There's loads of threads on Super Furry Animals.

Mine had a check-up ,simply because they are Rescued pigs and IIRC they have a clause in their adoption that they need to.
Otherwise we keep a check on claws, fur/skin. They wear their teeth down (one of my pigs I had years back had to have hers clipped peridically)

They don't need innoculations or neutering (rabbits do) unless you want to prevent pig babies.

And I agree with guineapiglet most GPs in rehome are there because the owners don't have the time/children got bored/occasionaly 2 GPs ,especially boars. don't get along. (If you do pick boars, from experience of my boar pair, they need loads of space)
GPs are fairly placid easy going. I've never had a nasty one. Though one of our sows wasn't cuddly, she was friendly enough.
They are shy until they get to know you (food helps Grin )

fortifiedwithtea · 14/01/2013 18:16

With regard to claw clipping try not to fall in love with piggie with black claws because the quick is really hard to see. I had a chocolate dutch that had one black claw and I was always nervous of going too short. I vowed never again but have ended up with black American crested, all 4 claws black Confused.

BonkeyMollocks · 14/01/2013 18:38

I have nothing to add, everything has been said that I would say inc what 70 picked up on. 'they might forget' 'not get them out everyday' .

70isaLimitNotaTarget · 14/01/2013 18:39

If you'd shared this information 14 months ago fortified DD would still have fallen in love with our boars Grin

GP2 little black boar with a full house of black claws (nightmare to cut)
GP1 golden agouti with black paws (very striking) and one freaky honey nail, the rest black.

I cut their nails last night- Boy were they judgey Smile

fortifiedwithtea · 14/01/2013 19:21

Well 70 I did say try Grin. I didn't practice what I preach must post picture of Naughty Girl.

Read back what I said about OB's brother. He had a black back paw with matching nails not just one claw. Still to balance that out he had a pink ear Smile. Used to have to take extra care of him in the sun. Wonders whether that was the reason he got cancer Sad.

ByTheWay1 · 15/01/2013 09:15

Mine had a mix of black and white claws, just make sure you have a little pot of ordinary cornflour nearby (we used the little dose cups you get with a medicine bottle) when you cut the nails..... then if any do bleed, you dip the whole paw in the pot and it magically stops bleeding .... breeder gave us that tip.....

FernieB · 15/01/2013 10:17

Thanks ByTheWay for the cornflour tip - did not know that. Smoothpig is a white pig with pink claws and Scruffypig is black/ginger with jet black claws. Typically Smooth is the one who stays still for claw clipping whilst Scruffy is a nightmare wriggler. I always need a stiff drink after tackling Scruffy.

Luckily I've not made them bleed yet but maybe I'm too cautious. I tend to clip little and often. Current bun is much more difficult than any pig - he also has black claws and hates being picked up/held/stroked on knees and won't be bribed. I manage one paw at a time and that takes ages. Previous bun was lovely - sat very still on my knee whilst I whipped round all her claws in seconds - I think she was the exception.

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