Getting a guinea pig involves a thorough process, including getting food, bedding, a cage, and accessories for him or her, such as a guinea pig wooden bridge. You can adopt guinea pigs from public shelters, private owners that are looking to give them away, or from friends that have mothers with babies.
Guinea pigs make great pets and family companions, especially for young children that are just now learning what taking care of a pet means. As pets, guinea pigs come with a great advantage, that of staying put in a cage or enclosure and being fairly low maintenance compared to other household pets.
Their pleasant nature and friendly behavior is yet another reason these tiny creatures have become so popular among pet owners. Guinea pigs are known for being friendly around both children and adults, and they make the cutest noises to greet you when you come home, or to let you know the food you’ve offered is delicious.
Of course, owning guinea pigs comes with drawbacks, as well, and the most important one is their short lifespan of approximately 5 years. Also, they are quite sensitive when it comes to sudden changes in their diet, or if they are exposed to cold temperatures. Once a guinea pig gets sick, the odds stop looking good.
With that being said, owning a guinea pig is a wonderful experience that any child should benefit from. So let’s take a closer look at what the first steps to be taken are if you have decided it’s time to welcome your first guinea pig into the family. First of all, take into consideration that adopting is most of the times preferable to buying a pet.
Adopting vs buying
Any future guinea pig owner faces a choice before actually owning a guinea pig, and the choice is between buying or adopting a tiny friend. Each of the two options comes with both benefits and downsides. It is advisable to carefully weigh your options before making a choice. Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits and drawbacks each choice comes with.
If you are considering buying your first guinea pig ever, there are quite a few things to be considered. The first one would be whether to buy a pet guinea pig from a pet shop or a private breeder. Private breeders are usually much more qualified to offer details about the background and genetic heritage of the pet you are buying.
Also, private breeders will teach you exactly how to care for your new pet, what to feed him or her, and what the things to be completely avoided are when it comes to these cute animals. Also, they are qualified in telling you if the guinea pig of your choice is a male or a female. And this is very important information, as you will further see.
Pet shops, on the other hand, will offer you pets that they have no background on, will give you the basics of caring for them, and will make sure they sell you a healthy animal. The good thing about buying from pet shops is that you will get everything you need in one trip, as they will also sell guinea pig food, bedding, cages, accessories, and many more useful items.
The drawback of this purchasing choice is that they seldom are able to determine the gender of the guinea pigs correctly, and you are at risk of leaving the petshop unsure whether you are holding a boy or a girl in your arms. It is of utmost importance to know the sex of your pet, as they have different needs.
Where to adopt guinea pigs from?
In case you are looking to adopt a guinea pig, there are quite a few places where you can look for abandoned pets. The first thing that comes to mind is the public shelter, which is a great choice, considering they only put out for adoption healthy and friendly animals, and you would be doing a good deed for a poor soul that lost his or her family.
Another way to look for these tiny pets is out on the internet. People that can no longer care for their pets, or that have mother guinea pigs with lots of babies will sometimes post online adoption ads. However, you need to be aware that there is no guarantee you will be getting a young or healthy pet. It’s best to have a veterinarian check out the guinea pig first.
A safer way to go about this is by adopting a pet guinea pig from a friend or family member. At least, you will be sure that you get a healthy pet, and that you can call someone you know and trust in case you are unsure if you are doing everything right. This adoption option is one of the best for first-time guinea pig owners, that need some guidance at first.
Either way you choose to go about this, keep in mind that the first thing you should do after taking the pet in your arms is to take him or her to a veterinarian for an overall check-up. Only after this step has been completed, it’s advisable to take the pet home and make it a part of your family.
Also, make sure you research about what necessities and requirements guinea pigs have before actually getting one, just to make sure this pet is the right choice for you and your family. Although they are usually low maintenance pets, they are not suited for families with very young children, other aggressive animals, such as cats or dogs, or very noisy places.
How many guinea pigs should I have?
This is actually a frequently asked question, and the answer to it depends on many factors. Although guinea pigs are not very territorial animals, it is never advisable to keep two males in the same enclosure. Fights and accidents may burst, and the last thing you want to do is to have to treat your guinea pigs, as they are highly sensitive animals.
Therefore, if you are planning on keeping more than one guinea pig per enclosure, make sure you get females. They usually get along just fine and enjoy each other’s company, as long as they are provided enough space to have some privacy as well. Also, they should be provided with plenty of food, so any food-related issues are avoided.
Studies show it is best to keep guinea pigs in same-sex pairs, or small groups, as they are social animals that thrive when they have company and a chance to have a social life, too. This does not mean that a solitary guinea pig suffers, as long as you make time to interact and play with him or her every day, ideally in the same part of the day every time.
By establishing a schedule for your pet, he or she will get accustomed to this and actually expect the playtime with great excitement. They can get very attached to their owners, and will make fun whistling noises to greet the owners when they come home. Moreover, by handling your pet daily, you can also notice any health issues ahead of time.
Another benefit of keeping same-sex pairs or groups of guinea pigs in the same enclosure is avoiding any unwanted pregnancies. It is a known fact that female guinea pigs do not handle pregnancy very well, and, unless you plan on breeding a certain female and properly prepare her for the process, it’s best to avoid pregnancies in guinea pigs.
What to prepare for the arrival of your pet?
Before you go ahead and bring you new furry family member home, there are certain things you need to get, to be prepared to meet the needs and requirements of your new guinea pig. First and foremost, you need to have a cage, or an enclosure in which your tiny friend can safely spend his/her time when you are away.
It is not advisable to let them roam around the house freely when they are unsupervised, as they are rodents and might chew on the wrong items, such as your power cables, causing serious damage around the house and potentially hurting themselves. So by securing them in an enclosure, you keep them safe while protecting your belongings, as well.
Secondly, you need to have proper guinea pig bedding inside their cage, that will be kept clean and dry, and where they can comfortably rest and relax. Ideally, you should be using specially designed guinea pig bedding. Also, food and water bowls should be prepared, and appropriate food, because they constantly eat and drink, as rodents usually do.