Guinea Pigs are not as delicate as rabbits and in general, are less timid than smaller pets like hamsters and gerbils. In all, Guinea Pigs are excellent pets for kids 6-years and older.
Important Considerations Prior to Purchase
Your guinea pig should be considered as your family’s pet. That may sound obvious, but these little guys (and gals) are very social little animals. And with them being part of the family, it’s important that you consider the importance of diligent adult supervision.
You need to set the bar, and more specifically the “rule”, that no one is to get the Guinea Pig out of their enclosure without an adult present. This ensures your guinea pig’s health and well-being, especially when it comes to young hands and handling. In reality, a younger child may not completely grasp the concept of being gentle with your new family pet.
Though your Guinea Pig is more resilient than other smaller pets (gerbils and hamsters), they still require devoted care and supervision.
Okay, enough of that for now.
Why is a Guinea Pig a great addition as your family pet? I’m glad you asked! Here are a few good reasons:
Live longer than Gerbils and Hamsters
When I think about furry little pets having short lives, I always think about gerbils (2-4 years), hamsters (2-3 years), and rats (2-3 years). When it comes to Guinea Pigs, they normally live from 4-8 years. Not a lot longer, but in Guinea Pig Years, it a long time!
This gives you and your children a longer opportunity to bond with your pet and to teach your children ongoing care for and responsibility for your Guinea Pig.
Guinea Pigs are Relatively Easy to Care For
When I say easy, I mean that they require less in-depth cleaning that other pets.
Guinea Pig cages should be “spot-cleaned” daily and a little more “deep-cleaned” once a week. This helps with any smell that may try to creep out of the cage and also has the effect of providing a healthy living environment for your little guy.
The typical Guinea Pig needs the following items in their cage to keep them at their tip-top healthiest:
- Fresh Water
- Fresh Vegetables
- Pelleted Food (specifically made for Guinea Pigs)
- Vitamin C Supplement
It’s a good idea to get as big a cage as you can afford. This doesn’t mean an entire room dedicated to them unless you truly want to treat them like royalty. But giving them a comfortable area to roam and exercise is both a mental and physical bonus for them.
Though they can be skittish at first, Guinea Pigs really warm up when you spend consistent time with them. One important fact with your children is that Guinea Pigs are very unlikely to bite, even when under stressful situations.
Guinea Pigs are Normally Very Healthy
On average, Guinea Pigs are pleasantly healthy. Though this is not a guarantee, taking the time to follow through with keeping their cage clean and providing the right types of foods (and vitamin-C; see below) will tip the scale toward a more healthy pet.
When you hold your guinea pig, you can examine them to see how healthy they are and to see if anything just doesn’t appear right. To do this, you should:
- Examine them in your hands from head to toe.
- Check the inside of their ears for any redness.
- Check their eyes and nose for signs of leakage.
- Check their teeth for any problems.
- Check their coat/skin for any lumps and bumps.
It’s also a good idea to watch them on occasion when they’re in their cage too. Signs you will want to look for that may suggest they are having some health-related issues include: drinking excessively, excessive noise (more than usual), and if they seem to be breaking things in their cage.
If you see any of these signs or issues, it’s important to take them to your local vet; the same as if your dog or cat were showing signs of illness.
Great Pets for Children
Guinea Pigs are a pretty resilient pet. Though this doesn’t mean they can’t be injured, it does mean that with proper supervision your child can actually have a great relationship with your pet.
Teaching your children to care for and treat their pet Guinea Pig with love and respect can go a long way beyond simply having a little family pet.
When treated well, Guinea Pigs have the little personalities that will put a smile on your child’s face and will encourage them to be consistent and concerned about the wellbeing of their Guinea Pig. And when your child hears them squeak and purr, they will be encouraged even further to invest their time into bonding with your family pet.
Guinea Pigs Have Great Personalities!
Guinea pigs are very social and are considered “herd animals”. They prefer to be with others of their own kind but also thrive from the affection of their owners.
Tip: If you are concerned about your Guinea Pig herd growing too much, make sure and separate the males and females. In fact, you need to separate them by the time they hit one month or else you will quickly become a Guinea Pig grandparent. They generally have 3-4 babies at a time but can have as many as 13 babies at a time! Congratulations!
Guinea Pigs are considered crepuscular. This means they are most active during dusk and dawn. When you do catch them awake, it’s not uncommon to find them spending their time eating, grooming, or investigating their cage.
When your Guinea Pig needs a hug or a treat, you may hear them making wheeking or whistling sounds. This is their way of saying, “Hey, I need some attention over here!”
Bonus: Guinea Pig “Popcorning”
One way to tell if your guinea pig is happy is if he breaks out the guinea pig’s signature happy dance, known as “popcorning.” This involves running and then making a sudden jump into the air and landing on all fours — like a popcorn kernel bursting open.
Did you know?
Guinea pigs are one of the few animals (humans too) that cannot manufacture their own vitamin C. They need to get it from their diet or a supplement.
Providing a good quality diet and selecting a variety of fresh foods is important. However, most owners choose to also give their Guinea Pigs a vitamin-C supplement. This way you are guaranteeing your little guy is receiving the needed amount of vitamin-C in their system.