Ever Consider a Guinea Pig as a Pet?
March is “Adopt-A-Rescued-Guinea Pig Month,” so I am out to ask if this furry little rodent would make a good pet for you and your family. Guinea pigs are small in size but big in cuteness, and these social critters have much to offer for those whose life-styles may allow for dog or cat companionship.
Guinea pigs, also known as Cavies, make for good family pets and weigh in at about 2 pounds when fully grown. They are quiet durable for their small size and can be easy to look after. They enjoy interaction with their people and are most active during the daylight hours, unlike their hamster counterparts that tend to be night owls. Although each pig develops their unique personality, each is charming, affectionate, intelligent, and they very rarely bite.
Guinea pigs need interaction and company, as they are very social animals, and will be heart-broken and sad if left alone. You should be able to commit to at least one hour of interaction with them daily, and it is recommended that you have at least two; being herd animals, they need the company of another to be truly happy. A word of caution when building your bonded pair or colony: two males together will often fight and a group of females will get along splendidly. If you decide to, or accidentally get, one male and female, it is best to have at least one of them neutered (and ideally both for health reasons). When males are neutered, it makes them more “mellow” in personality and helps to eliminate their mild scent gland odor. If a female pig is neutered before she is 6 months of age, and prior to her first heat cycle, it will greatly reduce the chance of her developing cancer. Female pigs that are left intact following this time have a 90% chance of developing cancer during their 5-7 year life span.
The following is a video that shows what great pets these little guys can make![youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xjm0ZcBWtSE%5D
Tips when adopting or buying:
- Make sure the store caries a health guarantee, and ideally, ask who is the veterinarian who evaluates them
- Take a close look at your potential pet: Are their eyes and nose clear? Are they bright, active, and alert? Are they breathing quietly without any distress? The answer to all of these should be “yes”
- Cavies cannot make their own vitamin C and must eat it daily; this is accomplished by offering foods rich in vitamin C. It should be noted that many prepared foods contain vitamin C, but it only has a 4-6 month shelf life from the date it was made (not purchased!)
Other cool things about these pets:
- They are pretty clean creatures, and like rabbits, can be litter box trained.
- They make adorable noises (and you don’t have to worry about irritating the neighbors!)
- They are easily socialized and can be well handled by a child (ideally over 6 years of age)
- They can be taken outside in a suitable enclosure on nice days (what a great way to rid your yard of those dandelions!), or allowed to romp inside with close supervision in a pig-proofed room. You will be loved for this!
- Supplies for their daily care and their pre-made pelleted food are easily obtained and don’t require a great deal of expense
When does a guinea pig not make a good pet?
- Allergies to guinea pigs are uncommon, however, allergies to the hay they need daily can be a problem. You may need to have to reconsider a pig as a pet if you suffer from hay allergies.
- When you don’t have time to devote to them or if you cannot get two
Where to buy?
- There are many local rescue groups and qualified shelters that have small mammals such as guinea pigs, and they are good places to start your search, especially since it is Adopt-A-Rescue-Guinea-Pig Month!
- You can often find print and online ads (such as Craigslist.com) in your local area placed by panic pig parents with “whoopsie litters” when they thought they had two girl guineas.
Here are some local resources for Guinea Pig Rescue:
Please feel free to add any not listed to help spread the word!