Why Guinea Pigs Make Fantastic Pets
And Why People Should Consider Adopting Them
When planning to get a pet, many people only think about getting either a dog or a cat. These animals are great but have a large amount of baggage that comes with them. They require a large amount of space, which needs to be maintained by the owner. They need to be trained and can wreak havoc on the home if not trained properly. They also require more time spent on them, and can even be potentially dangerous depending on the animal’s early life and natural levels of aggression. People who aren’t prepared for this are likely not to keep the animal, leading to these animals being left in shelters to wait to hopefully be re-adopted, or potentially end up being euthanized by the shelter.
Obviously, this is a terrible situation for the animal. People who do this likely don’t mean to cause this potentially fatal situation for the animal, but they are so excited to get the animal that they do not do proper research.
For many of these people, rather than getting a dog or a cat, getting guinea pigs may be the solution. Guinea pigs provide the benefits and a large amount of the fun of having a dog or a cat, while, overall, requiring a lot less work.
Now, I’m not trying to say that guinea pigs require absolutely no work whatsoever. Guinea pigs do require their cages to be kept very clean to avoid infection, and they do need a constant supply of food in their enclosures. However, in comparison to many other animals, a lot less work needs to be done, less time needs to be spent, and there is much less of a threat of the animals causing the owners any physical harm. This can be incredibly important for people who work long hours or people with children.
According to the Humane Society, a pair of guinea pigs requires a minimum of seven and a half square feet, but ten and a half square feet is preferred. This may seem like a lot of space, but in comparison to the entire household, this is a much smaller amount of space to keep clean. Also, guinea pigs are able to be trained to only leave their droppings in one corner of the cage, making cleanup a lot simpler for the owner. Some will even do this without being trained in order to avoid laying in a dirty space. Guinea pigs themselves are also very clean animals. They bathe themselves, only allowing themselves to become dirty when they are sick and dying.
A guinea pig’s diet is supposed to mainly consist of hay, and need a constant supply of this in their cage. Alfalfa is a great choice for young guinea pigs, and timothy hay is best for adult and older guinea pigs. Guinea pigs are also supposed to have pellets in their cages, which are supposed to make up about 20 percent of their diet. Finally, guinea pigs love eating fresh vegetables and fruits, which can be given to them as small meals or as treats. These fruits and vegetables are important for the guinea pig to get enough vitamins and minerals, which are often not provided by the hay and pellets.
While there is a large variety of fruits and vegetables that guinea pigs can eat, it is important to do research before feeding a fruit or a vegetable to a guinea pig to be sure that it is healthy for it. Romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, red bell peppers, baby carrots, blueberries, and apples are great foods that many guinea pigs enjoy. However, it is important to note that, before feeding anything to a guinea pig, the seeds should be removed in order to avoid damaging the guinea pig’s digestive system.
One fear that many people have when considering getting a small animal is the fear of the animal escaping. Many other rodents possess the ability to climb and are known to figure out how to escape their enclosures. Many of these animals are then known to cause damage to the home by chewing wires and wood. This isn’t something that an owner needs to worry about too much when buying a guinea pig. This is because, unlike other rodents, guinea pigs are unable to climb, due to their robust hips and short back legs. They are overall very bottom heavy, and because of this, are unable to lift themselves off of the ground to climb out and escape. Even if a guinea pig did manage to escape, they are often easily swayed out of hiding using a treat, or by playing a recording of another guinea pig making noise.
It is also extremely important that the owner has at least two guinea pigs in order to ensure that the guinea pigs are not lonely. Since guinea pigs are a naturally herding animal, they need to have other guinea pigs around them in order to be fully happy. This also brings out their unique characteristics that would otherwise be hidden by their longing for other guinea pigs.
Now that I have discussed the care needed to have a guinea pig, it is important to talk about the personalities and intelligence of these friendly rodents.
For starters, guinea pigs are unlikely to harm the owner, and will likely give the owner multiple warnings before causing the owner any harm. This can be really important for children who may not know how to properly touch a guinea pig. The warnings guinea pigs give will likely be enough to scare a child away, without causing the child any physical harm.
Guinea pigs are also likely to form strong bonds with their owners. When they trust the people of the household, they will often look to these people for their meals, for comfort, and for attention. They are even more likely to show these owners affection by rubbing up against their hands, purring (although purring is not always a positive response from a guinea pig), and “popcorning” around the cage. Popcorning is something guinea pigs do where they run around and jump spasmodically into the air, often out of excitement. This may also be done by guinea pigs when they hear the sound of their hay bag rustle, indicating to them that they are about to be fed.
Finally, it is important to note that guinea pigs often have unique and distinct personalities that strongly differ from guinea pig to guinea pig. Some guinea pigs are calm and gentle, some are energetic and outgoing, and some are somewhere in between. These traits become more noticeable as the guinea pigs grow more comfortable around their owners. They also make owning guinea pigs a much more enjoyable experience.
When getting a guinea pig, it is important to know exactly where it is coming from. I myself had a bad experience after losing my past guinea pig, Pepsi (shown above), which caused his cage mate to become depressed. Rather than waiting to find a shelter that had them, I went to the pet store and bought a guinea pig instead. The guinea pig I got, who is named Scooter, is great, and I love him dearly, but getting him almost caused the death of Pepsi’s cagemate. This was because the store I had gotten him from did not properly care for the guinea pigs, causing Scooter to spread bordetella to the other. Scooter also came to us covered in bite marks from the animals he lived around, leading him to be much more hesitant to allow people to touch him. To avoid situations like this, it is important to adopt guinea pigs from shelters, rather than purchase them from the store.
Overall, guinea pigs make fantastic pets for working parents and for children. They are much simpler to care for and have a lot less trouble that comes with them. My guinea pigs mean the world to me, and I know that having them is an experience that I couldn’t have with another animal. These animals make great little companions and are sure to put a smile on your face every single day.
References (MLA Format)
“Guinea Pig Feeding.” Humane Society, The Humane Society of the United States, www.humanesociety.org/animals/guinea_pigs/tips/guinea_pig_housing.html.
“Guinea Pig Housing.” Humane Society, The Humane Society of the United States, www.humanesociety.org/animals/guinea_pigs/tips/guinea_pig_feeding.html.
Zarbock, Marylou. “American Guinea Pig Breed - Lafeber Co. - Small Mammals.” Lafeber, Lafeber, 9 Dec. 2017, lafeber.com/mammals/american-guinea-pig-breed/