Friday, April 8, 2011

10 Things You Should Know Before Buying or Adopting a Guinea Pig

Hello humans. Buffy and I have put together a list of things to consider before making a decision to get a guinea pig. All to often, humans think, "I want a pet, but I don't want to commit to getting a dog or cat, since those require so much work and care. So instead, I'll just get a guinea pig." We have become known as so-called "pocket pets", which we think is totally divorced from the reality of what it means to own a guinea pig. So if you are on the fence over whether or not to get a guinea pig, consider the following:

1. We eat timothy hay. A LOT of timothy hay.
Every week, our human spend around $10 for a bag of Oxbow timothy hay. By the end of the week, it's all gone. Amazing, I know. How can such small animals eat so much food? The answer is that our digestive tracts pretty much have to be constantly moving, and we need an unlimited supply of hay throughout the day to meet this need. In addition, we need about a cup of fresh vegetables and a small handful of Oxbow pellets to supplement our hay addiction. This can add up. In contrast, a cat or dog eats much, much less and doesn't need to be fed as frequently as we do.

2. All that eating leads to a lot of waste.
Our cages need to be lined with a fresh layer of Carefresh or other paper-based bedding every week. A week's supply of Carefresh costs $20 per bag. You can use newspaper, but we don't like how the ink irritates our feet and it's more work on your part to have to clean it up. Using Carefresh is easy to clean and it takes our human only 5 minutes once a week to scoop it up into the trash with a dust pan. Count on spending $30 per week on hay and bedding alone.

3. We need a constant supply of fresh hay. If you fail to give us more hay when our food bowl goes empty, we will scream. Oh yes, we're good it.
Wheek wheek wheek wheek WHEEK WHEEK! Oh, you don't like that? Well, we don't like that we ran out of hay and you haven't refilled our bowl. No, we don't care that it's two in the morning and you're trying to sleep. Get out of bed and feed us or we'll make your life a living nightmare!

4. Adopt, don't buy us from a pet store
There are so many humans out there who didn't read this guide before getting a guinea pig and subsequently realized they bit off more than they could chew. Now we're the ones who suffer as we wait in an animal shelter for a kind human like yourself to adopt us. Adoption is the most ethical way to acquire a guinea pig. Or try Craigslist! There's a lot of guinea pigs available there, too.

5. We're not always cuddly.
Yes, we are always cute (even Skinny Pigs) but not all of us want to be held. The vast majority of us will run away if you approach us, and we may make angry sounds if you manage to capture us and force us to be pet. Buffy absolutely hates it. I'm more open to the idea, but even I get antsy after a few minutes.

6. We make good pets for older kids, but don't leave us in the care of anyone under eight years old.
The older humans are, the more likely to be responsible they are. Please supervise your children and teach them good habits when handling their pets.

7. We need to be in pairs.
Guinea pigs living in pairs lead happier lives. We like having a playmate and we are social animals by nature. In the wild, we live in herds. In captivity, we'd really like another guinea pig of the same sex to live with. (Learn how to tell our sex us here)

8. We need to be taken to the vet when we're sick, just like other pets.
What, are we not real living animals to you? I hate it when humans say they wouldn't consider taking a guinea pig to the vet if we get sick. We depend on you and you alone to give us the necessary medical attention if we get sick. I'd hate to be owned by a human who wouldn't take me to the vet if I got an infection. To think that some humans wouldn't spend a few dollars for some cheap antibiotics that would save my life if I needed them makes me so thankful that I have the owners I do. If you can't afford the vet, you can't afford the pet.

9. We don't get along with other animals, other than fellow guinea pigs.
Usually. Very rarely, we can be housed with a rabbit. Very rarely. So be sure you're okay with just having us in one cage if you decide to get us.

10. We live 5-8 years on average.
Hamsters, in contrast, live around 2-4 years. Are you ready to commit the next eight years of your life to us? Please be sure before adopting us.


  1. nice blog entry.... keep it up... :)

    a wheek from malaysia

  2. Our guinea pigs don't constantly wheek for food. Only at meal times i.e. the morning and in the afternoon when we get home so we don't get woken up or anything :S. They like hay that's for sure but they don't seem to wheek about it. For them its all about the kale and carrots! We change our bedding 2 or 3 times a week too because it gets smelly. Agree with many of your points, especially on how long they live for. Going on holiday will be a nightmare for you so you'd better be sure you love your piggies and find them a nice foster parent for the time you're away (not just any old person as some people think!).

  3. It must have taken hard work and dedication to train your piggies to only wheek at meal time for hay. We are impressed!

  4. Haha! Thank you. We've just moved them into a bigger C&C cage which they are loving. I love seeing your pampered piggies!

  5. I get hay from a farm in my state, and it's MUCH cheaper and higher quality this way. Highly recommend it if your location enables you to.I got 5 pounds of Timothy for 7 bucks, and I don't have to deal with those annoying dust particles. I swear, the last store brand timothy hay I got had at least 3 good handfuls of small particles at the bottom of the bag!

  6. Hi Melissa! Thanks for visiting our blog. We are actually considering switching to hay from Kleenmama ( because it's fresher and cheaper in bulk. Once we receive our first order, we will post a review :)

  7. We already have one male guinea pig is it easy to introduce another playmate? Do they get along right away or will they fight? I want to get another piggy but am worried they will not get along. Also our piggy isn't very vocal? He is 100% healthy and seems happy he is just quiet.

  8. i have a question and would really appreciate if someone gives me an honest correct answer...i was looking after my neighbors guinea pigs for 1 week and despite all the hard work and the wheek sounds when question is my 2 year old baby drank from guinea's water bottle will she get sick or is there any kind of diseases guinea pigs have? its new to me so i'm really concerned and clueless at the same time so i found u guys on the internet...reply to u

    1. In general, you don't have to worry about viruses passing from species to species, although bacterial infections are certainly possible. One possible (although unlikely) exception is the lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV), which "can be transmitted to humans by rodents, including... on occasion, guinea pigs." LCMV infections are very rare from what we've read, so try not to worry too much unless you start seeing symptoms.

  9. $30 a WEEK??? Holy crap, that's a lot!! Is there a way to save money?

    1. Yes. You can use fleece bedding instead of disposal bedding like Carefresh. Also, you can buy large amounts of hay in bulk (for example, through Small Pet Select), which is more cost-efficient than buying small bags at the pet store.

    2. You can also shop around we buy in bulk for food an shavings and pay about 4.50$ a month for shavings and 28 or so for food that lasts around 5 months