Are guinea pigs good pets? Everything indicates ‘Yes!’ However, before getting into this ‘little pet’ there are some things you should know about these adorable guinea pigs. Knowing the social behavior, breeds, facts, life expectancy and pros and cons of owning guinea pigs is a very important part of being a good pet owner.
Several thousand years ago, guinea pigs were discovered and domesticated. These animals are commonly known as cavies. Since cavies were tamed, they have gradually become very popular pets among people around the world. These cavies were adored by their gentle characters and affection.
These animals have fun personalities and this varies from animal to animal. Guinea pigs have very docile personalities and love to be handled and loved. This makes them the perfect pet, especially for children who can respect their kind nature. However, you will want to know some things before choosing a guinea pig as your pet.
Life Expectancy Of A Guinea Pig
The average life expectancy of a pet guinea pig is between 5 and 7 years, although some are known to live up to 8 years or more. If you are thinking of buying or adopting, you should be prepared for a long-term commitment.
One thing that is very important to keep in mind is that you should never have a single pet. These animals are extremely sociable, and if you want your pets to have a rich and rewarding life, you must have at least two.
The best time to keep guinea pigs is when they are babies. If you plan to keep a pair (as you should), know that same-sex couples work better. That is, two females or two males will generally bond more easily. Introducing animals as babies provide the best chance of the two forming a lasting friendship.
In some cases, however, a pair of baby guinea pigs cannot be attached immediately, but that is rare. Adult pigs can also form a quick friendship if they are presented in the right circumstances. The time it takes for a couple to join also depends on the breed.
Before having a guinea pig pet, it is very important to take some time to investigate. It is very important to learn about the species of animals you are looking for since you need to know about essential elements such as food, behavior and medical care.
Pros And Cons Of Owning Guinea Pigs As Pets
There are some basic elements that you should pay close attention to if you decide to purchase a guinea pig as a pet. The basic essential elements that these animals require, some of them mentioned above.
Pros Of Owning Guinea Pigs
1. They are so fun to watch when they play
This is my favorite and will probably be yours too. You can’t imagine how fun it is to see and interact with them during their playtime. Place some toys on the floor in a restricted area. They will play, run around and do silly things.
Guinea pigs should not be confined all the time. If you give them time on the floor and interact with them, their personalities will really flourish. They will interact with you in several fun ways.
2. Make great companions
For older adults who live alone, Guinea pigs are your sweet companions. They are not only for children but they are excellent pets for any age. Older adults find it easy to take care of them because they are small and inexpensive animals. Properly treated, they bond well with people. You would be surprised how such a small animal can lift the spirits of an older adult.
3. Guinea pigs do not require much Space
Although a cage for a single guinea pig must be at least 7.5 square feet, there is not much room to give up all the benefits of the property. It is not difficult, even in an apartment, to find a suitable place for this pet. Most apartments do not allow cats or dogs, but a guinea pig is not a problem.
They spend a good part of their time in their own space, except when you give them time on the floor time which must be supervised, Therefore, the small amount of space required does not present difficulties under any condition.
4. Low cost of ownership
To keep guinea pigs, a small expense is required to buy a cage, accessories, food, and bedding, but that won’t ruin the bank. After that, food and bedding will be the primary cost of care, which is not very expensive.
They are small and do not eat so much. Bedding is cheap if you buy in bulk and it is not spoiled to have it on hand. If you give your guinea pig proper care, the veterinarian’s accounts will not exist compared to a dog or cat that requires regular vaccinations and other things.
5. Teach young children a sense of responsibility
I would not recommend a guinea pig for children under six. The age of six is a good age to start teaching a child a sense of responsibility in caring for a pet. Little pigs are easy to handle. They are quite docile and not aggressive.
Young children should still be supervised while caring for their pets and during playtime. The benefits of teaching responsibility at this young age cannot be priced. The experience will take place with them into their adult life. You will be thankful for the lessons they learn.
Cons Of Having Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs are really sociable and need a steady flow of attention. In today’s busy world, you might find it difficult to give your pet Guinea Pig everything it needs to stay healthy in terms of attention.
Children can not handle their pet guinea pig enough if they have busy little lives. A better solution for that is to get a pair of guinea pigs that can keep each other company. However, be extra sure that both guinea pigs are the same sex or you might have a whole litter of these cutie little animals.
Guinea pigs make different noises. Most breeds are generally calm, but they have the ability to make a loud, high pitched sound called ‘wheek’.
This is heard most often when they are hungry or try to get your attention. A wheek is not as loud as a dog’s bark, but it is irritable at night when you try to get some sleep. Keeping the cage away from the areas where you sleep is maybe a good idea.
Most Popular Guinea Pig Breeds
Guinea pigs are one of the most beloved domestic pets. They are native to South America. The first Spanish explorers exported them in the 16th century to Europe, where they became very popular as pets. A predominant part of his charm is his face.
Those round eyes, small ears, and a triangular snout, complemented by their cute purrs and whistles, make these pets an instant favorite. They are mammals, which means they are hairy and deliver live young and take care of them.
They generally have a life expectancy of around 5-6 years and are low in maintenance costs. However, taking care of them is a task that requires a little time. There are many categories of guinea pigs, depending on their fur, size and other characteristics. As of today, 13 different breeds of guinea pigs have been identified.
The most common among them include Peruvian, teddy, and Abyssinian, among others, with their characteristic features as follows:
Peruvian guinea pig
Peruvian guinea pigs have long-haired fur and are believed to be the common ancestor of all current long-haired guinea pig breeds. Their hairs grow continuously and uniformly throughout the body. Its length can easily be up to 50 centimeters. Their hair grows forward near the head. Their silky, soft and impressive fur makes them the most common pets.
They need a good amount of training before learning to sit still during inspections. They come in many different colors and patterns, but the one with a combination of three colors is the most desirable.
They are show animals, all beautiful and cute. Therefore, you can take them to a variety of competitions. You’ll love to petting them with their long, soft coat. Since they are of show quality, breeders have made efforts to encourage quieter animals that can sit for longer periods of time. Because of selective breeding and good training, Peruvian guinea pigs tend to be more docile and disciplined pets.
Their long hair call requires significant maintenance. It includes bathing them almost every two days and fixing their coat regularly. Peruvians tend to chew the hair that falls on the front of their face.
Therefore, they should be cut short. Otherwise, taking care of the animal’s hygiene and showing quality can become a problem, since its appearance depends more on the condition of its coat than on its color. Due to the high maintenance factor, they may not be a good option for younger children.
Teddy Guinea Pig
This breed gets its name due to its appearance. Teddy Guinea pigs are cute, comfortable, playful and entertaining. Stuffed guinea pigs are characterized by their dense and spring-like fur, also described by some as ‘wiry’. It does not essentially mean that they have a rough coat, but only that they have short, straight, thick hair that covers their bodies.
The hairs are uniform throughout the body with straight hair on the belly and only a little longer in the head. The Rex breed of guinea pigs is often confused with Teddy guinea pigs due to the similarity in the appearance of their fur. However, the difference lies in the texture of the fur and its whiskers.
A stuffed animal has softer fur and straight mustaches, while Rex’s fur is thicker to the touch and its whiskers look curly.
They have an endearing appearance. They are enthusiastic and seek attention, attributes that make them great artists. Therefore, they are perfect for children.
As they look short hair, they require very little maintenance. Even one brush per week is enough to keep the Teddy guinea pig clean and healthy.
Due to its short hair, although maintenance is greatly reduced, regular cleaning of the coat becomes a necessity. Dust particles in the air can get caught in the fur and cause skin irritation.
Himalayan Guinea Pig
This is one of the most beautiful breeds of guinea pigs. It is an albino that develops a pigmentation of the same color only in the nose, ears, and feet, lending It is the characteristic appearance.
Essentially it means that it has a pure white body and a dark shade of brown or black in those three areas, as well as whiskers and between the eyes. This characteristic pattern does not exist at birth and begins to take shape only a few months later.
His appearance has also earned him the title of ‘Siamese cat of guinea pigs. Due to their visual appeal, they are the favorites of a breeder and an exhibition animal.
It is a fairly common breed. Therefore, it is easy to find your supplies and tips to keep them. They are beautiful to look at and docile animals. They are popular to exhibit in competitions and a great companion for children.
They require their fair share of attention. They are very sensitive to general weather conditions. They should stay in a shaded and cool area. Direct sunlight and heat are not good, especially for your pigmented area.
The pigmentation begins to fade under sunlight and grows again during cold weather. Pigmentation is also affected by their age and their general state of health.
Abyssinian guinea pig
This is a comparatively larger breed among guinea pigs. Abyssinian guinea pigs are also known as “Aby” or “rosette”.
They have a particular pattern of hair that looks like rosettes: four on the torso, two on the lower back, two on the hips and even on the shoulders. Hence the name. The rosette pattern may differ for crossed guinea pigs. In the rosette, the hair is arranged around a bald spot. Its fur looks pointed and may feel a bit rough compared to other breeds. They also have curly hair on long fingers, another characteristic feature of Abyssinian guinea pigs.
They are furry pets and very enthusiastic. They are very affectionate, playful and are perfect companions. Their distinctive appearance makes them excellent display animals. In addition, they do not require as much preparation as other races do.
They are available in a wide variety of colors and sizes and have been successfully crossed with almost all other guinea pig breeds.
They have a rough coat, which some people may find undesirable. An important concern with Abyssinian guinea pigs is that they are vulnerable to disease and often get sick. They are also known that they suffer from cataracts quite frequently.
However, it has been determined that despite blurred vision, they lead a normal life. Guinea pigs are small, playful and friendly animals, which makes them perfect pets. All of these breeds have similar nutritional requirements, especially vitamin C.
You should make sure to provide your pet with quality granules, as well as freshwater and hay. You must ensure that they have enough space to run and, at the same time, a small enclosure to feel safe. Your bedding should be cleaned regularly and should have some toys and/or wood to chew.
It is also recommended that guinea pigs be purchased in pairs so that the animal has a healthy life. Finally, it is an animal that has to be conditioned to your presence. It is important to pat them and play with them regularly, so they feel comfortable with people, in general.