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A Pig With A Difference
Member Name: MollyWH
Advantages: Lovely natured, their cute noises
Disadvantages: Needs more care than people think
All throughout my childhood, my brother and I kept guinea pigs. We had four in total and one year, we even bred them and kept one of the babies.
Many people think of guinea pigs as ideal pets. This is not surprising as they are endearing, affectionate animals that easily attract us with their charm and their cute little noises. But just like any other pet they are a big commitment. So, please take a moment to read my review and find out exactly what is involved in providing care for your guinea pig and how your hard work can be rewarded with a devoted and happy pet.
There are two ways which you can house your guinea pig, indoors and outdoors.
If you want a closer relationship with your guinea pig then why not keep him/her in a hutch indoors? To be honest, indoor hutches are much harder to come across and I consider some of the indoor hutches to be too small.
Two guinea pigs sharing a hutch will be very content if you lead a busy lifestyle with less time to devote to them.
Remember though, that if you plan of keeping your guinea pigs indoors, then they can occasionally smell. This smell should never really get bad as long as you clean then out regularly but this is something that you need to bare in mind. The other thing you need to bare in mind is that the guinea pigs can cause a bit of mess when they are running around in their hutches, they can knock their food out through the hutch doors and onto the floor.
Guinea pigs can also live in a hutch in the garden with suitable shelter, such as an enclosed bedded area, as well as a run to allow exercise
By choosing this option, you can enjoy watching your guinea pigs behave in a natural way in their run while at the same time, providing them with a safe and warm bedroom area.
My family compromised with our guinea pigs and during the cold winter, ours were kept indoors with a small hutch in our sunroom. Then, in the summer, they had their outdoor hutch where they could sleep in the bedded area at night-time and go out to their run during the day and nibble on some grass.
Hutches made of wood are the most common form of keeping your guinea pigs warm and dry. They should be weatherproof and at the same time, well ventilated. If the hutch is outside as opposed to indoors, extra weatherproofing is necessary, such as a cover for the front of the hutch after dark and during wet weather. Guinea pigs can withstand cold, but not the wet.
The hutch should be of a large enough size to enable your guinea pigs to move around freely. A aft or preferably aft hutch on legs is recommended so the hutch is raised from the ground where it may get damp. Ideally the hutch should have a separate bedding compartment where your guinea pigs can take shade from the sun and also shelter from the cold and wet. Both compartments of the hutch should have hinged or lift off doors, to enable you easy access to handle your pet, change their food and water and for cleaning purposes. Hutches can be very expensive. My Dad built all our hutches so we were every lucky in that respect. Second hand cages are always advertised in my local paper and I would advise anyone to consider buying a second hand run, as they are nearly always in good condition and more than half the price of a shop bought one.
We line the hutch with clean newspaper, laid flat. We then cover that with a layer of sawdust (not too fine as it can irritate their eyes) You can also use soft shredded paper for this. Straw, hay and soft shredded paper can be used as bedding in the sleeping compartment, providing comfort and warmth for your pet.
Cleaning out should be done on a regular basis, once a week should be sufficient, but more frequently in warm weather.
Buying A Guinea Pig
I have always liked the idea of getting guinea pigs from a rescue centre, Britain is flooded with a whole array of unwanted pets and you will find guinea pigs at lots of rescue centres.
On the other hand, many pet shops sell young guinea pigs but if you want a particular type or colour, locate a reputable breeder who will be able to give you advice about your guinea pig.
Choosing A Guinea Pig
Visit the breeder / pet shop and if possible, ask to see the guinea pigs parents, which is a good way of seeing how your guinea pig will look as it reaches maturity.
Always check the guinea pigs behaviour; you want one that is alert and not too nervous with nice bright eyes.
Cost Of Keeping A Guinea Pig
Guinea pigs are usually inexpensive to buy. Guinea Pigs in my local pet shop range from £10 - £25. The main cost of keeping a guinea pig is the equipment you will need for them. Building a safe, attractive outdoor enclosure can cost quite a lot, as do indoor cages. Then there is the extra bits you will needs such as food bowls, water bottles, food etc.
Your guinea pigs will need regular supplies of food, hay, and bedding throughout its life. You will also need to keep an eye on your Guinea pigs teeth and these can overgrow and cause problems, and may even have to be taken to the vet to have them clipped. One way of making sure their teeth do not grow too long is by giving them something hard to chew on - we always use the branch of a fruit tree such as an apple or plum tree and leave it in the hutch for them to chew on.
A heavy weight ceramic dish is the popular choice with guinea pigs as the lighter bowls can be easily knocked over by a guinea pig.
Water Drinking Bottle
You will need a water bottle, with a drip feed which can be easily attached to the wire mesh on the side of the cage.
You can buy various toys for your guinea pig (although there are hundreds more for rabbits). Just make sure you ask at the pet shop whether the toy is suitable for your guinea pig. Our guinea pigs had tubes which they used to love running though.
Guinea pigs are not particularly fast movers but they do still need plenty of exercise. They should be able to have an adequate amount of exercise from their run. We always make sure that the run is on grass as they love to graze. If you have a run that is separate from the hutch, always make sure that your guinea pig has somewhere to hide in case they are scared. We have a run and a hutch as one unit so the guinea pig can always hide in their bedroom section if they become too warm or something scares them.
There are many dried mixed foods available for guinea pigs such as Gertie Guinea Pig as well as shops own brand. My local Pet Shop does guinea pig food and a bad which lasts a month costs £7.00 which is very reasonable considering this lasts a month. Don't overfeed your pet.
Your guinea pig would appreciate an occasional carrot and a small amount of green food. Not too much green food through as it will give them a funny tummy.
You will need to check their food and water daily and replace as necessary.
Many treats are available for rabbits. Not only are they very tasty for your pet, they also help to keep teeth from overgrowing as I mentioned earlier.
There are many different types of guinea pigs including long haired ones. The long haired varieties will need regular grooming and any knots will need to be removed. You will also need to check their coat to ensure that no dropping have got tangled up in their fur.
Long haired guinea pigs will also need to occasional bath as their coats can get dirty and greasy. Bathing them is fairly easy as long as you ensure you use a product that is suitable to be used on a guinea pig.
The average life span of a rabbit is 3-4 years but some have been known to live up to 7-8 years and our Guinea Pig Daisy lived until she was 6.
Keeping Guinea Pigs Together
Guinea Pigs are social animals so I always think that it is nice to keep more than one so they actually have some company. You can keep two females together or one female with a male (although the male must be neutered if you don't want them to breed). Believe me, if you have a female and an un-neutered male then they WILL breed!
Keeping Rabbits and Guinea Pigs Together
You should not house rabbits and guinea pigs together as rabbits have very strong legs and may accidentally kick your guinea pig causing serious injuries. We used to let our guinea pigs out with out rabbit but we used to supervise them and make sure nothing bad happened to the guinea pig. They were actually good friends but we still decided not the house them together to stop any accidents happening.
I think Guinea Pigs make great pets. Guinea pigs tend to be quite shy by nature but as long as you dedicate some time to handling them, they will soon become familiar with this. They like to be handled to a certain degree but probably not as much as rabbits do. They are fairly clean animals and do not tend to smell as long as they are cleaned out regularly. They are interesting to watch and the little noise they make are just gorgeous.
Summary: A Pig With A Difference