10 reasons why guinea pigs make great pets – by James Alston writing for ExoticDirect
ExoticDirect offer pet insurance for guinea pigs, rabbits, ferrets, hamsters, mice and other small pets. They also insure parrots, reptiles, tortoise and even pygmy hedgehogs! Learn more about them and what they do.
Guinea pigs are pretty easy to look after
Guinea pigs are a perfect pet for someone who wants an animal that is affectionate and playful but can’t offer the level of care required for a higher-maintenance animal like a dog. But it’s not only that. All pets are prone to diseases, but guinea pigs can be relatively healthy when compared to other species of animal. As long as they’re given the right TLC. The most common health problems are often dental disease and digestive problems – so the correct diet, regular exercise and regular medical check ups are really important. With all these requirements ticked, guinea pigs can be quite hardy, giving you lots of love over the years.
Guinea pigs live longer than other small pets
Most guinea pigs live four or five years, but they can live longer, with some having been known to last right into their teens. Of course, this means it’s no small commitment to purchase a guinea pig, but of course, it’s nothing on a tortoise!
Guinea pigs live off a diet of hay (hay is mega important), vegetables, and special guinea pig pellets. Their bodies also can’t produce vitamin C, so they’ll need special supplements to remain healthy. But don’t give them a Barocca!
Check out what you can feed Guinea Pigs in ExoticDirect’s diet advice article.
Children love them
Guinea pigs are a common pet for children, seeing as they’re relatively easy to look after and have reasonable lifespans. They’re also very docile around humans, so they aren’t usually a danger to children’s fingers, and they’re generally not as delicate as rabbits and not as skittish as hamsters and gerbils.
Owning a pet as a child can also help children to learn empathy, responsibility and, when the pet comes to the end of its life, deal with grief in a healthy way. But aside from the serious stuff, owning a guinea pig can just be really good fun!
They’re fun to watch and play with
Guinea pigs are sociable around humans, and when excited in their homes they do a thing called popcorning. This is when they run, jump, and backflip around like crazy! Once frequently used in lab experiments, the slang ‘human guinea pig’ is used when people feel they’re the subject of tests or trials. Guinea pigs are actually quite smart, too and can navigate paths to food and some have even been litterbox trained.
Check out what setup Guinea Pigs need in ExoticDirect’s best setup article.
They’re social animals – which means more guinea pigs!
Guinea pigs live in social groups of up to 10, and guinea pigs – especially female ones – thrive in groups of two or more. Guinea pigs will groom and play together, and they learn to recognise each other and bond. In fact, in Switzerland you’re not allowed to own a lone guinea pig, as it’s seen as detrimental to their health!
Be careful if you have other rodents—it’s generally advisable not to house gerbils or hamsters with guinea pigs, as they can carry infections and get each other sick. As long as you house them separately, though, you should be fine. If you want to, you could turn your house into a veritable zoo!
You can rescue guinea pigs from the RSPCA just like you do rescue dogs
Some people prefer to go to a breeder to get their pet. However, many pets are abandoned every year, and sometimes, people simply cannot afford or are unable to look after their pets any longer.
Guinea pigs need love and attention just like any other pet, and one of the best things you can do is to adopt one and give it a loving home! The RSPCA offers a service to find a pet near you that needs a home, and this includes guinea pigs. Head to https://www.rspca.org.uk/findapet to find out more.
They’re very active, so there’s always time to play
Aside from popcorning, guinea pigs don’t have much of a regular circadian rhythm. This means they sleep for short periods and are awake a lot of the time, sometimes for up to twenty hours a day.
Guinea pigs can be ‘active’ in other ways too, so make sure you only house guinea pigs of the same sex together, especially after they’re a month old. (Yes, that early!) Bear in mind too that boars will have to be neutered if they are housed together, otherwise they may not get along. Sows and neutered pigs are generally fine, though.
It’s easy to go on holiday, as long as you have someone to look after them
Like all animals, guinea pigs need to be looked after if you go away on holiday or if you’re just out of town for a few days. Their cages will need daily spot cleaning and to be cleaned completely at least once a week, and of course, they need fresh food and water regularly, as well as social interaction – remember, they’re very sociable! Your guinea pig won’t mind not going to Magaluf with you, but it still needs food and water!
Guinea pigs love humans
They might not seem it at first glance, but guinea pigs are often very affectionate with humans. Some may squeal or climb up their cages to meet you, and of course, they love being held and petted. It’s not only other guinea pigs they love!
There are even clubs dedicated to the showing and breeds of guinea pigs. The British Cavy Council governs clubs in the United Kingdom. You never know, you may just own a prize winning pig!
Most important, they’re cute!
Guinea pigs come in a wide range of breeds, each with their own specific traits and colours. Some may have simpler coats whereas others can be very brightly coloured. Guinea pigs come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from 700g to two and a half kilos and usually measuring between 20 and 25 centimetres long.
Whatever shape, size or colour your guinea pig is, one thing’s for certain: they’re very cute, and they make brilliant pets.