Guinea pigs have been popular pets for quite some time but do guinea pigs actually make good pets? Yes, for the right person a guinea pig can be a good pet. If you are willing to follow the proper care requirements they can make excellent friendly pets that bring you a lot of joy.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about guinea pigs before bringing one home!
Why Guinea Pigs Make Good Pets
Guinea Pigs Only Need a Small Space
Guinea pigs need little living space compared to other animals. The Humane Society of the United States says that a single guinea pig needs a living space of at least 7.5 square feet.
The correct size cage will give the pig enough space to eat, play, and use the bathroom without being cramped.
If you are looking at getting more than one guinea pig, they suggest getting a large cage that is at least 10.5 square feet for two pigs.
Larger size cages give both guinea pigs enough space without taking up your entire room. These space requirements are still small compared with the space needed for a cat or dog.
Can I Have a Guinea Pig in an Apartment?
Because guinea pigs don’t cause destruction or need lots of space, many apartment complexes will allow them. Even a studio apartment can easily fit a cage for a guinea pig.
Apartment complexes also normally don’t charge a pet fee for small animals like guinea pigs, which can save renters money.
Guinea Pig Care and Feeding
Guinea pigs are easy to care for if you follow the right guidelines.
Guinea Pig Cage
In addition to having enough space for the pig (or pigs), you need to pick a cage that has good ventilation and does not have a wire bottom.
Yes, there are specially made guinea pig cages but most generic rodent cages will work as long as they have big enough dimensions.
Guinea Pig Cage Bedding
It is important to have the right type of bedding for your guinea pig. Most suggest that a professionally prepared paper-based bedding is the best choice to keep your pig healthy and happy.
You can excellent bedding at your local pet stores and it is fairly inexpensive.
Some people like using wood shavings for bedding but it is important to realize that only Aspen wood shavings should be used if you choose this route.
Guinea Pig Diet
Food is an easy factor in guinea pig care. Guinea pigs mostly eat hay, store-bought pellets, and some fresh vegetables.
Grass hay is especially important as it wears down the pig’s teeth over time, as their teeth never stop growing.
Many experts say timothy hay, orchard hay, and oat hay are the best types for a guinea pig.
Guinea pigs need fresh water to drink from either a dish or water bottle. They must also take vitamin C supplements to make sure they have enough vitamins in their diet.
Food for your pet guinea pig is actually relatively inexpensive compared to other pet costs.
Guinea Pig Grooming Requirments
Regular grooming is easy for guinea pigs. Plus, guinea pigs only need a bath every one to two months.
They also only need brushing one to two times per week on average, depending on the length of your guinea pig’s hair.
Guinea Pig Personality
Guinea pigs can be excellent cuddlers if taught proper handling from an early age. Owners who practice gently holding their furry friend and rewarding him for it will find they will soon love cuddling.
Some guinea pigs are more likely to make better cuddlers than others. Since guinea pigs are prey animals, they tend to be nervous at the start of handling.
Are Guinea Pigs Good With Children?
You always supervise the handling of your guinea pig by young children. Guinea pigs can nip at them if they are feeling nervous or overwhelmed.
Is a Male Guinea Pigs Personality Different From a Female?
Male guinea pigs tend to be bolder in personality than females, which may make them more likely to take to cuddling than females.
Spending time with your guinea pig by petting or cuddling is good for both of you. It makes your small pet happy and reduces stress for both of you.
It can also help you bond with your pet and get to know their personality better.
Guinea Pigs are Very Sociable
Guinea pigs are social animals and want to interact with their owner and other guinea pigs. When buying or adopting a guinea pig, it is important to make time to take them out of their cage and play with them.
Spending more time with your guinea pig reduces stress and brings great joy (for both of you!).
Are Two Guinea Pigs Better Than One?
Guinea pigs also enjoy being social with friends in their own species. In fact, the Humane Society of the United States recommends that new guinea pig owners adopt in multiples so they have a friend to talk to and play with.
Having a second guinea pig will also keep them from being bored or lonely when you are away from home.
When adopting or buying more than one guinea pig, it is important to note that some combinations are better than others.
Two males will often fight, so it is better to have only one in a group. Two females or one female and one neutered male make better pairs and are less likely to fight.
Are Guinea Pigs Clean Animals?
Like many other rodents, guinea pigs are actually very clean animals. They take great care in cleaning their paws and fur after eating or playing.
Fun Note! If guinea pigs are in a group, they will also groom each other to keep each other clean.
Guinea Pigs Can Use a Litter Box
Guinea pigs are also excellent at litter training. Training guinea pigs to use litter makes cleaning their cage much easier, as they will only eliminate in one spot instead of many.
By giving treats when your pig uses their box, they will pick up training easily.
You will still need to spot clean your guinea pig’s cage every 1-2 days and deep clean it once a week. Guinea pigs will become anxious and stressed in a dirty habitat.
Making sure you clean your furry companion’s cage regularly is one of a few small steps toward having a happy guinea pig.
Do Guinea Pigs Talk?
Guinea pigs communicate using many types of sounds and gestures. The most common sound you will hear is soft squeaking.
Squeaking is usually a sign of happiness and they may do it more often when they are playing with you or another pig.
Guinea pigs can also clearly tell you when they are unhappy or uncomfortable. Guinea pigs that are anxious may toss their head, bare their teeth, or grumble.
By giving them space and proper care, this behavior can usually be avoided.
Guinea Pigs Live Longer Than Other Pet Rodents
Compared to other small pets, guinea pigs typically have long lifespans as pets. The average lifespan for a guinea pig is between five to eight years.
Guinea pigs that are well cared for can even live more than 10 years in some cases.
This is much longer than other similar pets, such as rats or hedgehogs. Rats typically do not live past three years old, and hedgehogs live between two to five years.
If given proper care, you will likely have many years to enjoy alongside your guinea pig friend.
Varieties of Guinea Pigs
If you’re looking for a pet as unique as you, you won’t have to look further than guinea pig breeds.
Common Guinea Pig Breeds
There are 13 different breeds of guinea pigs according to the American Cavy Breeders Association. These breeds all show a variety of appearances and personalities.
Guinea Pig Catagories
One category of guinea pigs is shorthair guinea pigs. These guinea pigs are the most common in the pet trade.
You will usually see these guinea pigs at your local pet store, but many are also found in adoption centers.
Another category of guinea pigs is long-haired guinea pigs. These pigs have long, thick fur that needs more frequent brushing compared to shorthair guinea pigs.
They are often a favorite for how “majestic” they look.
The final category of guinea pigs is hairless guinea pigs. These pigs have the nickname “skinny pigs” as they have no hair. This type will need more attention in skincare, but will not require any brushing.
How Much Do Guinea Pigs Cost?
Guinea pigs are relatively inexpensive and only cost between $20 and $40 at most pet stores.
Guinea Pig Issues to Consider
If the previous paragraphs have convinced you to get yourself a guinea pig, don’t run to an adoption center just yet! Take a look at these below potential issues to consider before getting a guinea pig.
While guinea pigs can make great pets, there are some factors to responsibly consider before taking the plunge.
Guinea Pig Health Issues
Like all animals, guinea pigs can be more prone to some medical conditions than other animals. Though some of these conditions can be avoided, others can still occur even with proper care.
Please note that we are not medical experts. We will provide this information simply to help you get the best possible information about your potential pet.
Guinea Pig Diseases
Guinea pigs can be prone to getting pneumonia when housed improperly with other guinea pigs. This disease can spread quickly through the air and through touch.
It is most frequently found in guinea pigs that are in housing that is too small or not cleaned often enough.
Scurvy is also a common condition found in rodent pets such as guinea pigs. Scurvy is caused by a deficiency in vitamin C and can lead to several health issues including skin wounds, diarrhea, and lethargy.
Since guinea pigs can’t make their own vitamin C, it is up to you to provide them with a vitamin C supplement in their diet.
Urinary Tract Issues
Guinea pigs and other rodents are also susceptible to urinary stones. Urinary stones are caused by a buildup of calcium in the kidneys and bladder.
Without immediate treatment, stones could cause a blockage resulting in an emergency trip to the vet.
Tumors and growths can affect guinea pigs just as much as any other pet. In particular, guinea pigs are susceptible to tumors on breast tissue.
Removal surgery is an option in many cases but will cost several hundred dollars.
Finally, guinea pigs are susceptible to mite infestations. Since guinea pigs have fur (some longer than others), they can get infected with mites, fleas, and other parasites that burrow into the fur and skin.
Guinea pigs with suspected mites should be taken to a vet for topical treatment as soon as possible to prevent further infestation.
All of these conditions are on top of the cost of normal veterinary care for your guinea pig. Like all pets, guinea pigs will need annual visits and regular vet care.
Make sure you live near a vet experienced in guinea pigs before giving one a new home.
Guinea Pig Behavioral Issues
The other factor to consider before getting a guinea pig (besides proper home and vet care) is potential behavioral issues with guinea pigs.
While guinea pigs are normally sweet, some older pigs may be more likely to become aggressive or bite.
Female guinea pigs are also spooked by loud noises easily, making them more likely to bite than males if nervous.
Young guinea pigs are less likely to become aggressive as they age if taught proper handling. Adopting or purchasing guinea pigs as babies rather than adults is preferred for this reason.
However, many adults do not have these issues and are perfectly fine to be adopted to a new home.
Spending time with a guinea pig before taking it home to assess any aggression or behavioral issues is important for new guinea pig parents.
This also gives you a chance to find a guinea pig whose personality suits you best.
Related Guinea Pig Questions
Are Guinea Pigs Rats?
Guinea pigs are often thought of as rats by some people and they are actually related to rodents from South America.
One thing for sure is that guinea pigs are not pigs! They are from the rodent family of species.
Are Multi-level Cages Good for Guinea Pigs?
Most people who would know say that guinea pigs don’t like heights so a cage with two levels is probably not a good idea.
How Many Guinea Pigs Should I Have at One Time?
Many people recommend that having two guinea pigs is double the fun of having just one! And they actually enjoy each other’s company thus creating a healthier environment for them.
Can a Guinea Pig be Litter Box Trained?
Yes, you can train your guinea pig to use a litter box. It just takes a little effort and planning.
How do I Litter Box Train My Guinea Pig?
Steps to Litter Box Train a Guinea Pig
- Determine where your guinea pig likes to go to the bathroom
- Place the litter box in that area
- Use positive reinforcement when your pig uses the litter box. You can give them a treat.
- If you think your guinea pig needs to go to the bathroom put them in the litter box
Why Does My Guinea Pig Making a High Pitched Sound?
Guinea pigs will make high-pitched sounds when they are excited about something such as at mealtime.
Are Hamsters the Same as Guinea Pigs?
Guinea pigs and hamsters are both in the rodent family but they are different animals. Guinea pigs are usually much bigger than hamsters.
Hamsters tend to be a little more difficult to have as a pet and they also nip at you a little more than a guinea pig would.
Are Guinea pigs good pets Guinea Pigs Mammals?
Yes, guinea pigs are small mammals that originate in South America and are called a cavy.
Guinea pigs make great family pets when given the right conditions to live in
Guinea pigs need proper housing to thrive, which includes a cage that is at least 7.5 square feet per pig
Guinea pigs eat simple foods including hay, pellets, leafy greens, romaine lettuce, and fresh vegetables
Guinea pigs are clean and will spend time cleaning themselves and their friends
There are many different types of guinea pigs that may be a good fit for you, including shorthairs, longhairs, and “skinny pigs”
Important factors including potential health problems or behavioral issues should be considered before taking a cute guinea pig home.