Are Guinea Pigs Right For Your Home?


By Whitney Potsus

Thinking about bringing guinea pigs into your home? Here’s a starter list of questions to ask yourself, and some websites to help you sort through some of the details.

Are you willing to adopt a pair of pigs?

Guinea pigs are communal animals who are happiest with their own kind (http://www.guinealynx.com/companionship.html). No matter how much you interact with them, you cannot replace the companionship of another guinea pig — especially when you’re gone for several hours a day for work, school, etc.

Can your family make the lifetime commitment?

Guinea pigs can live up to 8 years, with the average lifespan falling between 5 and 7 years (http://www.guinealynx.com/commitment.html). Surrendering an animal is always stressful on them, but can be especially hard on a guinea pig that’s been with you for 3, 4, or more years.

Do you have time for the daily and weekly routines?

Food dishes and hay racks need to be checked daily, water changed daily, fresh fruits and veggies provided daily (http://www.guinealynx.com/diet.html), bedding spot-cleaned daily in the wettest areas. Food dishes and water bottles need thorough cleaning every other day. Cages need to be cleaned twice a week (at least). Nails need to be trimmed every couple of weeks. Some guinea pigs need to be brushed daily, others less frequently and all need to be brushed when they’re shedding their winter coats. Some guinea pigs need to have their fur trimmed every few weeks so that it doesn’t drag in their bedding and get messy.

Do you have the space?

Guinea pigs need a sizable cage to have room to live and play (http://www.guineapigcages.com), and need a safe, enclosed play area for some out-of-cage playtime. Do you have that space to give?

Can you provide a safe environment?

Guinea pigs need an escape-proof living environment that’s draft-free, not too cold in the winter, not too warm in the summer (http://www.guinealynx.com/housing.html). They need to be protected from dogs of all sizes; aggressive/territorial/cranky cats; small hands that are enthusiastic, grabby, and unsupervised; heights; and electrical wires.

Are you willing to interact with them daily?

Even when they have each other, your guinea pigs still want time with you. Do you have time to snuggle with them each day? Do you have time to let them out in their play area for playtime with each other and with you (http://www.guinealynx.com/exercise.html)?

Can you afford the costs of care?

Food, hay, bedding, and fruits and veggies are weekly expenses (see www.squidoo.com/guineapigs and www.squidoo.com/guineapigconnection for the supplies you’ll need to buy and sample pricing for those supplies.) Health problems sometimes arise, which means vet bills that can start at $50 and go higher, depending on the treatment that’s needed. Do you have the room in your household budget for the expenses?

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