Have you decided to adopt a pet and you think a Guinea pig is the right option for you? Before thinking about toys and finding the best Guinea pig cage for your rodent, you need to know for a fact you’ll be able to look after it. So, here are some of the things we would like you to consider before welcoming a new pet into your house or getting your first one.
Are Guinea pigs “the starter kit” of pets?
Many people consider that looking after rodents is easy as most of them are low-maintenance. Although true to some extent, you should never adopt or buy a pet just to teach your child to become more responsible.
Keep in mind that these creatures require love and a welcoming home, as well as a safe space to live in, and small children may not be the best companion for them in the long-term.
Animals, regardless of their size or breed, will get sick and injured and will pass away at a certain point. However, it is up to you to make their lives full of love and joy, no matter how short they are.
In other words, Guinea pigs are quite easy to look after and don’t require as much attention as a dog or a cat would. They are affectionate and love cuddling with their human companions. And, since they are bigger than other rodents like mice or rats, they also represent better pet options for children.
One Guinea pig will suffice, right?
One common mistake most people make when it comes to these rodents is to adopt or purchase just one. Guinea pigs are social creatures that enjoy being pet and cuddle with their owners, but they shouldn’t live alone, either.
No matter how much time you spend with your furry piggy, chances are it will get lonely and depressed at a certain point. Similarly to other rodents, Guinea pigs love the company and they will need at least one friend to share their adventures with.
Just think about it vice versa – would you be OK with spending your entire life alone, without friends, family or other people to communicate with? Thus, we strongly suggest you adopt at least one pair of Guinea pigs.
However, if you don’t want to think about baby names anytime soon, you can always opt for same-sex individuals that will be happy to share a cage, as long as it is big enough for both of them.
How bad do they smell?
All creatures have a specific scent, including humans. Some animals like ferrets or skunks do tend to leave stronger odors behind but, at the end of the day, all pets do. Guinea pigs are no exception, so make sure you are up for the challenge of cleaning after them and bathing them regularly before considering bringing one home with you.
If you want to get rid of most of the specific odors, the first step is to change the bedding regularly.
Opt for natural bedding that is biodegradable and that doesn’t contain any toxic substances that might harm your pet, and this includes scented bedding. These may seem like a good choice to have your house smelling fresh again but can do more harm than good to your rodent, especially in the long term.
Luckily, there are plenty of natural options that smell good and handle the odors without jeopardizing your pet’s health.
Another reason why your pet may have a slightly stronger scent is the lack of proper hygiene. Guinea pigs need to be bathed regularly to remove all dirt from their furs, and you can do this with the help of specifically-formulated grooming products, including special shampoos.
Used regularly, these products will not only keep your pet fresh and clean but will also neutralize most of the pet-specific odors.
Twice the fun, twice the smell?
Some people might be concerned about the fact that more than one Guinea pig will turn the house into a smelly place. However, if you look after your pet’s hygiene properly and replace the bedding regularly, you shouldn’t have to worry. Moreover, putting two individuals in the same cage won’t affect the odor.
It is all about perspectives and keeping your rodents clean. Washing them regularly and replacing the bedding every other day (when there are two piggies living in the same cage) will eliminate most of the smells, and won’t affect your living space.
Where should they live?
If you decided to adopt these rodents, you should know that they are very social creatures and shouldn’t be left alone for too long, even when they have companions. They enjoy being the center of attention or, at least, observe the world from their cages.
Needless to say, they prefer living indoors as they don’t do well with high humidity or cold temperatures. As for the exact location of the cage, consider an open space like the living room, a lounge or a hallway. Unlike other rodents, Guinea pigs are diurnal so they can handle light and bright spaces pretty well.
Don’t forget to also care for them and pet them frequently, so they feel loved.
What’s on the menu?
Remember to always feed your pet proper Guinea pig food and not the food of other animals, be they rodents, cats or dogs. About 80% of your pet’s daily diet should consist of Timothy hay, around 15% should come from fresh herbs and veggies, while the rest of 5% should be in the form of Guinea pig pellets.
The percentages serve as a rough guide, meaning that if your piggy is a baby, you may have to double its ratio of pellets as they contain more proteins, crucial for healthy development. Also, the type of hay is different – opt for alfalfa.
Keep in mind that most rodents, Guinea pigs included, have a tendency of overeating, which can easily lead to obesity. Therefore, you should closely watch your friend’s (or friends’) diet and make sure they exercise plenty to get rid of the extra calories.