We have nine pets. Nine. Two dogs, five cats, and two guinea pigs. That's almost double the number of people living here and, truth be told, I wouldn't doubt that they sometimes plot to manipulate us. After all, they've trained us when to give them treats, snuggles, and more! We're suckers for their cute faces, tail wags, and chirps!
How to Choose a Pet
Choosing a pet for your family can be a lot of fun but also requires careful thought and consideration. If you're considering a guinea pig, among the first questions you might ask is, “Are guinea pigs good pets?”
When considering a pet guinea pig, you’ll need to look at your family’s traits and personalities, what you’re all looking for in a pet, and how the care of a guinea pig pet will fit into your daily routine. Whether or not you choose a guinea pig, a good pet is one that is a comfortable fit in your home - and one that you can afford to care for!
What Makes a Guinea Pig a Good Pet?
The key to understanding what makes a guinea pig a good pet is understanding the traits of a guinea pig. These South American rodents have long been domesticated as pets. They’re typically active during the day and sleep at night.
Each has a unique personality, but in general, they are energetic and chatty. Most develop a strong bond with their caregivers and love to interact, play, and explore. They are relatively easy to care for, though they do require frequent cage cleaning, daily feedings, and occasional grooming. The type of guinea pig you get will also play a huge role in the amount of time you need to spend grooming it. Check out the types of guinea pigs to determine which will be best for your family's lifestyle.
Also, as you determine the answer to “Are guinea pigs good pets?” be sure to keep in mind that they are not really solitary animals. You should seriously consider whether you have the time and space to adopt a second pet guinea pig so they can keep each other company. Two guinea pigs do better than one, but be sure that you have two of the same gender or you'll end up with a lot of guinea pig babies!
Who Makes a Good Guinea Pig Pet Owner?
Determining if your family would be good guinea pig pet owners depends largely on the amount of commitment you have to your pets. Yes, guinea pigs are relatively simple to care for, but they do need quite a bit of attention from their owners.
Ensure that you have time for routine care and feeding, as well as the time and desire to take your piggies out to play.
Homes with larger pets and very young children may not be the best environment for a guinea pig. They are fairly delicate, so predatory animals like cats and dogs can be an issue, as can younger children who don’t understand how to handle them with care.
What Care Does a Pet Guinea Pig Require?
The most important step in determining if guinea pigs are good pets for you is understanding the care required and whether it is a commitment that your family can manage. Water, hay, pellets, and fresh fruit and veggies are what are needed to feed your piggies. Bedding should be changed frequently and spot cleaned every day to keep their cage from getting smelly and unsanitary. Be sure that you have time each day to let your guinea pig out to explore and play. You’ll also need to be sure that you have enough space in your schedule for brushing their fur and trimming their nails when needed.
Guinea pigs can live for years, so make sure that you are in it for the long haul and are willing and able to care for them throughout their lifetime.
What Does It Cost to Have a Guinea Pig as a Pet?
The cost to keep a guinea pig depends a lot upon the type of bedding and hay you use. If you use fleece bedding, you really only have to buy it once and wash it when you change the cage. It's a good idea to have at least two complete sets, so that you can put one set down while the other is in the wash. If you use pine bedding, expect to spend at least $20 a month on bedding alone.
Hay is also a considerable factor. Timothy Hay, the most commonly fed hay, can be purchased in larger quantities to keep the cost down, but you will need to buy quite a bit of it. You'll be surprised how much guinea pigs eat each month! Plan on about 5-7 pounds of hay per month for a pair of guinea pigs. Speciality hays (like the Bluegrass Hay we prefer) and Orchard Grasses can be a bit more expensive, but if you have allergies, they help cut down on them quite a bit.
Don't forget to add in the cost of weekly fresh vegetables and pellets!
In total, we spend about $40 per month on guinea pig care and food. Since we use the fleece bedding, the initial cost was slightly more to get the cage set up, but we find it's worth it and it fits our lifestyle. If you can't commit to doing a load of piggie laundry a day, you might want to think about using something other than fleece.
Though there is quite a bit to consider, keeping guinea pigs as pets can be a rewarding experience for many families. Just be sure to take the time to look at their needs versus your personal schedule and commitment to being a pet owner before making a final decision.