Newest Review: ... had them as a pair rather than a single animal. Living Quarters ~ The beauty of these small pets is that they can be housed both indo... more
Furry Bundles of Squeaky Fun
Member Name: hanmillie
Date: 09/11/11, updated on 18/04/12 (179 review reads)
Advantages: Cuddly, Affectionate Squeaks, Low Maintenance
People seem to be in two minds about Guinea Pigs. They either love them, as I do or they simply don't like them for reasons I have yet to understand. Whilst I do not currently have any guinea pigs, I did during all my childhood and early adult life have at least two at all times, until I moved out of my parents home and the complications of daily life and work commitments took over.
Guinea Pigs in General ~
The guinea pig is a small species of rodent which originated in South America. These animals are typically between 20cm - 25cm long in adulthood and enjoy a vegetarian diet, the staples of which are grass and dry mix generally found in a pet shop. These animals display a wide variety of coat colours, which include browns, blacks, whites, creams, gingers and a tortoiseshell mix. These coats can be long haired, short or smooth haired and the most interesting of all being the rosette guinea who proudly displays a coat with a number of tufts. These animals typically live between 4 and 8 years in captivity, however in all my time of having guinea pigs I have never had one that has survived less than 5 years.
Unlike other small rodents like rabbits and hamsters, guinea pigs will 'talk' to you and this is generally in a range of high pitched squeaks. When separated they will also omit these noises to each other to locate their missing friend. In my experience, guinea pigs are individual both in their likes and dislikes and in their individual 'personalities'. I have had some who have been incredibly quiet and not at all interested in human contact whilst others will squeak loudly the minute you open the door and are happy being held.
These pets are not limited to a certain age group. Indeed I loved having mine as a child and still love them now. They do not bite as other rodents do and are usually quite sedentary when sitting in your lap although they do have a tendency to occasionally wee. They love being amongst other guinea pigs and so I have always had them as a pair rather than a single animal.
Living Quarters ~
The beauty of these small pets is that they can be housed both indoors and outside. Inside it is possible to buy a large cage rather like a large hamster cage which should be positioned away form direct sunlight and direct heat sources. Outside, it is possible to house these creatures in a large hutch which is fine directly outside during the summer months but should really be positioned under shelter such as a garage during the winter months.
Both the indoor or outdoor cage should be supplied laid with a thick layer of newspaper covered with an ample sprinkling of sawdust. This floor will prevent the bottom of the cage being damaged and will give sufficient absorbency for all the guinea pigs toilet needs. For bedding it is best to use a mix of hay and straw. I generally find that a mix of both works best as they enjoy eating the hay overnight whilst the straw provides a sound bedding that will not be eaten. In the hutch should be placed a solid feeding bowl usually ceramic works best and a large drinking bottle which can be clipped to the cage wire.
The cage or hutch does not require daily cleaning and I always did a thorough clean stripping out all the old newspaper and bedding before disinfecting about once a week. Although it is advised to top up bedding and sawdust and clean up large areas of droppings several times throughout the week.
During the summer it is well worth investing in a large outdoor run which is strongly wired to prevent a fox getting in. The guinea pig will happily run around this outdoor space all day enjoying feasting on the grass beneath. However it is worth moving this run around at intervals otherwise the grass will become highly grazed and littered in droppings.
Eating Habits ~
The guinea pig is quite happy if left with a large bowl of dry food which can be purchased in any pet shop or supermarket, and this should be topped up daily. However, they also enjoy a very varied diet and this should be encouraged using such items as carrots, cabbage, dandelions, grass, apples and believe it or not bananas. They also love any off cuts or peelings of vegetables and we used to love giving ours all the vegetables trimmings from our Christmas lunch as a special treat.
Guinea pigs are highly robust and stocky animals and therefore do not suffer with many ailments. Indeed the only problems that some of my guinea pigs had during their adult life were mites, which are a horrible parasite causing the guinea pig to scratch and lose their fur in the process. There are a number of medications including shampoos that can be bought to relieve this problem and a trip to the vets can also resolve the problem with a highly toxic smelling powder to sprinkle over the guinea pigs coat.
Additionally they have nails on their toes which grow and can get quite long without trimming. Their nails can painlessly be trimmed with a standard set of nail trimmers whilst putting the run on a hard surface during part of the day will ensure that the nails are worn down and prevent such frequent trimming.
My Experience ~
My first pair of female guinea pigs namely 'Pinky' and 'Purky' were bought for me when I was a child and I enjoyed looking after them and handling them until they died at the ripe old age of 8 years old. Following them I bought a pair or male guinea pigs which got on for most of the time until one died. I then housed the remaining male with a rabbit which he hated as the rabbit continually sat on him and ate his food so I decided to buy some more to keep him company.
At the age of 15 feeling quite experienced in the world of guinea pigs I decided to breed my new pair of females with the existing male. Initially I built two large hutches to house the two females when they gave birth and extended my outdoor run to create a large guinea pig environment. I introduced the females one by one to my male guinea pig called Chuckie. Chuckie was quite overwhelmed with his new cohort and immediately resorted to a soft purring noise and a variety of prancing movements on his hind legs. However, when the females were not in the mood for affection they simply stopped mid flight and did a stream of wee into the face of the male leaving him coughing and spluttering but still resilient. I left both females one at a time in his hutch and removed them after two days to see whether they had indeed got pregnant.
Both females to my joy were pregnant. You cannot tell if a guinea pig is pregnant initially, however after a month they do grow a slightly pronounced and hard tummy which only continues to grow. As the gestation continues, which is in the region of 59 - 72 days you begin to see the flickering of the tiny babies in the mothers tummy and can feel their tiny movements through her skin.
Both females gave birth within a week of one another after an average of 68 days. Unlike other rodents, guinea pig babies are born with a full coat of fur and with their eyes open. They can be picked up therefore almost immediately without stressing the mother of course. Within a couple of days these mini pigs are happily eating a small amount of dried food whilst the majority of their food is milk from mum. To my relief all the babies were born healthy, the first mother produced 8 offspring whilst the second gave birth to 4 so I had my hands full feeding and looking after such a large brood. The babies can be weaned after 6-8 weeks and I was fortunate, all of my babies were bought and taken to homes where I knew they would be loved.
Overall these are a wonderful pet which do not require a lot of maintenance and so are much easier to keep than larger pets such as cats and dogs. They are very attentive with their squeaks and will suit both children and adults alike. I have therefore scored these amazing creatures 5 stars out of 5 for all the joy they have bought me over the years.
Thank-you for reading my review.
This review is also posted on Ciao under the same user name.
Summary: A Great Family Pet for All Ages
More reviews in the field of Pet / Animal
- Goldfish: Not as daft as you think
- my newest member to the zoo
- Bees are the Bees knees
- sooooo many choices
- Chick-chick-chick-chick - Chicken!!
- Man's (or woman's) best friend.
- Ants... I love to watch them, but not in my kitchen.
- Ants in general, ants as pets and ants as pests
- The very best of breeds
- Loving the poodle!