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Small pets

Guinea Pig care - please tell me all I will need & weekly expense

44 replies

FrogStomp · 26/07/2014 09:13

Possibility we will be acquiring a couple of guinea pigs when we return from our holiday in a few weeks time.

We've been thinking about getting another pet for some time, since our dog was pts last year Sad Can't have another dog atm (yearning for one) due to work commitments.

As we were mulling over what we would possibly like in our lives right now, a friend announced that she is giving her young GP away, lack of interest from the dc. She will be giving them away with the cage, run, indoor cage etc.

I will be giving her a firm answer when we return from holiday but until then a few questions (never kept GP).

What do we need each week for them. Hay, bedding, food, toys etc. What kind of costs does this amount to? How often do you clean them out? How long can they be left for (talking 8 hours) do they love cuddles (I need something to cuddle).

In other words, tell me about your GP and what we can expect from them.

I'm secretly excited but still unsure.

OP posts:
IonaMumsnet · 26/07/2014 19:55

Evening all!
We're going to move this thread to Super Furry Animals in just a moment.

PancakesAndMapleSyrup · 27/07/2014 09:19

Ahhhh you will love them! I agree with the above poster re allergies. My.daughter is allergic as we later found out, she.can pet them but.not cuddle and as soon as she has done so needs to immediatly wash her hands/arms. If you.give them a pet daily that should be a start. I would suggest that for the first couple of days get them leave them alone and pop a towel or something over the cage so it os dark. Piggies do not cope with stress and this will allow them some time to adjust. If they are particularly stressed they wont eat very much to begin with either, buy they will soon settle!

70isaLimitNotaTarget · 27/07/2014 10:09

See if you can visit them in their own environment a couple of times ( if you tell the owner that you definately want them then she'll hold onto them for you) they'll be more relaxed and you can gauge their personalities and funny little traits.

Our new girls have settled loads but when we first met them, I couldn't catch the toads (I've had many pigs but none like these girls Grin ) though we've been spoiled by lardy boars I think.

They will take a while to settle, everything will be new to them except each other and that's what they'll cling to.

Mine have never found the stress of moving and chatting to my boar has affected their appetite though I'm still gobsmacked at how much these mammals can put away

FrogStomp · 27/07/2014 10:38

Grin at 'lardy boars'.

I do worry about the settling in process. I wouldn't want them to be too stressed by the move.

Would it be best keeping them indoors for a few weeks, them they can get used to us as we'll be in and out of the kitchen far more than outside?

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70isaLimitNotaTarget · 27/07/2014 16:57

Are the pigs used to living inside or outside?
If they are outdoor piggies and the hutch is big enough, sturdy enough and you have a safe sheltered space then they could go out (in the hutch and the run)
There's plenty of Autumn / Winter for them to be indoors Grin

If they do go outside, you need to protect them (rain, draughts, foxes ) so you might need a cover - or short term a tarpaulin (DIY Shops ) and something to peg them down (I put tent pegs through the rings) or large stones?

They'll get used to your voices and the fact you feed them Grin
We got GP1/GP2 in the October a few years back (both now deceased)
GP3 in the July last year
GP4/GP5 a couple of weeks ago.
The only one that stayed inside when we got them was GP3 because he was a piglet. (One night, then they went out)
We have a wooden Pighouse (my DC old playhouse) which is approx 6'x6' (on the outside , I CBA undoing the door Blush ) . At the moment my sows are in a 4'x2' cage which seems a decent size but they will appreciate the space when they share with GP3 (and he'll get back the floorspace that their cage is taking).
They have the big outdoor run to compensate, GP3 sulks in the smaller run Grin

So they are protected against the elements but wooden structures DO get warm and stuffy, so DH made 2 windows removeable and lined inside with bars, wire meshwork and flymesh.

Whatever space you give them, they will use. More space means you can give more tunnels, boxes and toys to play with,

FrogStomp · 27/07/2014 21:19

I believe they stay outside currently but she did say she has an indoor cage too. Not sure how much (if any) time they've spent indoors. This will be on my question list.

Our back garden is secure but we do have neighbours cats who pop over occasionally (trying to catch the birds we feed) so I will have to make sure the cage is secure.

I've seen slugs mentioned. We get quite a few slugs. What's the best way of protecting the cage?

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70isaLimitNotaTarget · 27/07/2014 21:39

You can use that copper strip stuff for plant pots (round the legs of the hutch would work, and maybe a strip at the edge of the door)
but I go round at night and scoop them up to fling into the bottom of the garden - and put salt on them if I'm in a mood.

Put some extra bolts on the doors too.
Make sure your run is securely pegged down (guineas don't dig but foxes do)
I've never seen foxes by day but I've seen their evidence and they do wander about at night when the pigs are tucked up.

With cats, they are nosy but yes, they'll chance their arm. Make sure your pigs have a secure and protective shelter in their run.
Our little GP2 was plagued by magpies, but he would sleep in the run while GP1 stood and watched him Grin

FrogStomp · 27/07/2014 23:28

I'd only probably put them in the run when I was at home. I'd be too worried about them.

It will feel strange having a pet live outside. I've always had dogs who've lived happy lives inside with us. It will take some adjusting.

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FrogStomp · 27/07/2014 23:35

And thank you for the information.

I love how you describe your Guinea Pigs. Just shows how much character they have and each one unique Grin

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PancakesAndMapleSyrup · 28/07/2014 16:01

You will be amazed at the constant eating. They put away so much!! But the really do become fat dumplings. The sizes of my girls rear ends is astounding!

FernieB · 28/07/2014 18:12

Hope your GP's come home with you Frogstomp. Sounds like you have a good set up for them.

Just have to query those on here who have said they are cheap to feed! They are initially and then they get you trained and you end up spending a fortune on veg/herbs specially for the pigs because they develop expensive tastes for fresh basil (I'm looking at you Smoothpig) and you can't resist their little wheeks.

FrogStomp · 30/07/2014 13:04

Just a another question with regards to vets fees.

I'm only used to owning dogs and have always insured them.

Can you insure GP? sorry if that's a daft question. I don't know what kind of costs each ailment would incur, what kind of ailments are common to GP's?

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70isaLimitNotaTarget · 30/07/2014 13:19

You can insure them , you need to search out a company that will cover them (most are cats/dogs/rabbits) but IIRC if you put in Exotic Pets that would give you some options. (The boars liked being exotic Wink )
Cover / month for my 2 hogs was a ludicrous amount (can't remember exactly but £15+ )
Best thing is find a GP savvy vet (many vets aren't fans of the piggie) and ask about their prices.
I paid £56 to have GP3 neutered ( under a general anaesthetic ) .
GPs don't need vaccines or to be neutered (unless you want boar:sow) unlike rabbits.

The main expenses are : good nail clippers (if you want to do your own) otherwise factor in that cost.
Routine mite treatment (I use an all in one dropper Xeno 450 -mites and worms)
Some shampoo (look on Gorgeous Guineas website)
Holiday costs

Unfortunately, GPs tend to do the "Well--> Dead" thing, fine one minute, then Sad.
They are lovely animals, have specific needs , and leave a huge GP shaped hole in your heart when they go. But they are worth every minute.

Which reminds me, my sows haven't peed on us yet. Must check they are real, not little fur covered robots, like some Sci -Fi horror Grin

FernieB · 30/07/2014 13:55

My 2 pigs and only bun are not insured. The rabbit has only ever been to the vet for neutering and vaccinations and I just pay up - it's cheaper than insurance.

The pigs have been a few times Hmm and I've paid for X-rays etc for Smoothpig - about £50 which I thought was okay. I take them for annual health checks (when Current Bun goes for his booster) but it doesn't cost too much. It's not like paying for dogs or cats - they are very expensive.

You could always put aside some money each month into a separate account instead of paying insurance premiums and then you would build up a lump sum to cover any vets bills in future.

FernieB · 30/07/2014 13:57

Do think about who will look after them when you're away. Mine go to small animal boarding and that can put a small fortune onto the price of a holiday.

FrogStomp · 30/07/2014 14:43

Thank you both so much for the info, so glad I've discovered this section of MN Grin

I can't believe how much insurance companies want to charge per month Hmm I'm sure your boars love being know as 'exotic',70 Grin

Yes, Fernie, we'll probably just put some money aside each money for any unexpected fees.

Up to now my Mum said she would look after them for us if we go away next year. Out of interest how much does the small boarding charge you?

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FrogStomp · 30/07/2014 15:01

Oh and another question.

We have Elderberry, Hawthorne and Oak trees (neighbour owns this one but the leaves, acorns, general debris fall into our garden)

Would we need to be careful with the berries from the Elder, also the flowers, leaves, acorns?

I will clear an area if we use the run for them but always good to know if there is anything they most definitely CANNOT eat. Or is there a useful site I could look at?

Thanks in advance.

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FernieB · 30/07/2014 21:05

I think I'm paying about £8 per day for the 2 pigs (don't get me started on the rabbit). It's a lovely place they go to - they would probably prefer to move in permanently. Prices can range from £5 - £12 per day. If you are thinking of using one, go and visit first to see how the pets are kept. Ours is run by some small animal lovers who have several pigs and rabbits of their own and they are very well cared for.

Not sure about elderberries/flowers, but my pigs love a good dead leaf. If there's one on the lawn where their run is, it's the first thing they eat. They have been doing this for 3 years with no ill effects and it's quite a variety of leaves - oak, eucalyptus, lilac etc.

FrogStomp · 31/07/2014 13:22

Thanks Fernie.

Have to say I'm looking forward to welcoming them into our home but I'm equally nervous, having never owned a GP. It worries me slightly that they can seem well one minute and quickly deteriorate the next, we don't want anymore upset in this house for a while yet.

Once we come back off holiday we will pay a visit and see just what we're letting ourselves in for. I'm looking forward to meeting them and hearing their lovely chatter Grin

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