There are many, many animals that a child would love to have. Some ask dogs, cats, gerbils, and so on. Today, we’ll be taking a look at guinea pigs and if they are safe to be around kids, and just how good of a pet can they be to them.
Are guinea pigs child-friendly? The short answer is, yes. guinea pigs won’t cause any harm to children and are quite entertaining as they move around. Not only are they safe to children, they are also entertaining as well. They also have several other great factors about them that make them fantastic pets for children.
These animals truly are amazing pets and seem almost custom fit for kids. With that said, let’s check out some of the benefits below.
Benefits of Having as a Pet
The guinea pig is unique is many aspects. As I mentioned earlier, they seem as though they were made specifically for kids, as they have countless benefits that parents will love. With their safety factor and the other benefits mentioned below, its really hard to pass up on surprising your child or children with these great pets.
One of the many appealing aspects on having a guinea pig is that compared to other pets such as cats and dogs, they require less time and energy. Pets should always of course be supervised by the parents but having an animal that does not require as much as a “standard” pet, they are much more appealing to offer to children.
Really all that guinea pigs will need is fresh water (chlorine free), vegetables. Some hay, vitamin C (30-50mg per day), cleaned cage, and some TLC. It may seem like a rather long list, but it won’t take much time, and are simple tasks that you can help your child or children understand.
Personal to Children
I think one of the best benefits for children to have a guinea pig is that the animal has the ability to stay in the child’s room the entire time. With a dog or cat, the animal may not spend much time with the child and will most likely will be taken care of by the parents.
With a guinea pig though, it can stay in the child’s room at all times and be nurtured and watched after by them. This will give the child an ultimate sense of responsibility and really help them to develop a strong bond with an animal at an early age.
Overall, the sense of ownership a child will feel with a guinea pig is much higher than many other traditional pets, such as a cat or dog.
Guinea pigs are rather sweet animals. They love to be held and typically are not squeamish, allowing them to easily be picked up and petted. They are small as well, which makes them much more likely to be loved and held by a child, as they certainly are not intimidating.
It is important though that they be held in a safe area, where there is no risk of injury to it. Make sure your child is holding it while either on the ground, in a bed, on a couch, or what have you to prevent any harm to the guinea pig.
Although at first glance they may not seem as interactive as other standard pets, guinea pigs and children will form a strong bond. The idea of ownership and giving a child some responsibility truly makes the kid feel like that the guinea pig is truly his/hers.
From making sure they have fresh veggies and water, to loving them at night before bed, the experience will show any child companionship. Also, these animals are not stale, either.
Guinea pigs believe it or not, usually have a unique personality. Some may be sassy, while some are full of energy, and others just love to cuddle. This even becomes more fun when you have more than one in a cage at a time.
However, just know that it will be just a bit more responsibility to look after two guinea pigs than just one, as they’ll both need the same amount of attention.
Also, guinea pigs will also develop feelings for their owners as well, which you can certainly feel after you hold one you’ve had for a while. These animals really grow on you, as you do on them.
Although not as long as compared to other domestic animals such as a dog, the lifespan of a guinea pig is around 5-8 years, give or take. This is longer compared to other animals in their category, such as a hamster, which only lives for a few years or so.
Their lifespans should be long enough to where losing it as a pet will not come as hard as a young child losing a hamster, which is always the toughest thing about having a pet, no matter what you get.
Also, if you are getting a guinea pig for a child that is in their early teens or above, make sure you plan to either have the animal move away with them, or be prepared to take full responsibility for care of it.
Another great aspect about owning a guinea pig is that they are no pricey. Sure, certain breeds will be more expensive with others, but generally they are relatively cheap to have.
Also, maintenance will not cost you much either in terms of food or care that they need, which we’ll take a look at soon.
If you are wanting a pet that won’t take up much space, this is the perfect animal for you. Although large when compared to other rodents such as a hamster, a guinea pig is still a small pet that can live virtually anywhere in the house.
However, make sure they have ample room to play and exercise, as they love to be active. According to the Humane Society, a good size hutch for a guinea pig is around 30 x 36 inches.
Also, don’t be afraid to let them roam about as well in a room. They are fun to play with and let be free, as they are quite curious about everything and are full of happiness and energy.
Little to no Odor
Guinea pigs need a clean environment in order to be as healthy as possible, which means regular cleaning. We’ll get into that here shortly, but if you are worried about them smelling horribly, then no need!
Guinea pigs have hardly any odor, if any, when living in a clean area, and can even be potty trained if need be.
How to Care
As mentioned previously, Guinea pigs don’t need a lot, but it is important that the parent/guardian and child understand how to care for them, as it is crucial to their health.
Guinea pigs are vegetarians and need 30-50mg of vitamin C daily. Their food should mainly consist of hay, vegetables, fruit, and guinea pig specific food, which can be found at most pet stores.
Their water needs to be changed daily as well and needs to be filtered and have no traces of chlorine.
Do NOT give a guinea pig the following, as it can seriously harm them, or even result in death.
There are more that can be harmful to guinea pigs, and you can find a complete list here:
Their little home should be cleaned around twice a week with 3% bleach solution, then rinsed and dried for safety. Also, their bedding should be changed a few times a week as well, and possibly even more.
The area itself needs to be around at least 36”L x 30”W x 18”H. Remember, this is a minimum size, and the bigger the area you can provide, the better. They love the exercise, and whenever they have as much room to play as possible, the better.
The bedding needs to be about 2” and can be made up of a variety of items:
- Bedding paper
- Hardwood shavings
It is important to groom their nails around once a month as well as regularly brush their fur. Also, guinea pigs need an aloe-based lotion that will work to keep their skin soft.
They may be cleaned with either a wet cloth and/or wipes. Full baths aren’t necessary all the time but can be done if they begin to pick up odor.
Is my Child Ready For Care?
After you’ve decided that a guinea pig is a great pet for kids, you should reflect on if it is a smart pet for your child to have.
Before looking into this a bit more, it should be noted that the parents or adult in the child’s life should be the main one caring for the animal, as it requires a lot of attention to make sure they live a long, fruitful life.
With that said, let’s look at some factors that you should consider when deciding if your child is ready or not.
Although the main portion of responsibility is on the adults in the family, a child should be given some amount of responsibility to them. Whether that is keeping the guinea pig in their room, or having them put the food in the cage, it will require some level of responsibility.
Making sure you and your child will have enough free time to take care of the animal is crucial. If you do not have enough time out of the day to make sure the guinea pig is well looked after, it is best to not get one.
Here are some factors that may arise issues in caring for a guinea pig, or any animal for that matter:
- Long work hours
- Child is in sports
- Child has extracurricular activities
- Not able to watch and make sure the child is caring properly for the animal
There are many, many factors that could play into an adult or child not having enough time to care for a guinea pig, so make sure schedules are looked at thoroughly before deciding on one as a pet.
A pet should not be forced upon a child and should only be given to a child if they truly want one. For companionship to work between a pet and an owner/child, the feeling of want should be mutual.
So, before deciding to purchase a pet, make sure that a discussion is had with the child to see what they think about having a pet to help look after.