We’re continuing our “Ask Me Anything – Pet Ownership” Series this week with Guinea Pigs! Luckily I didn’t have to go far to find a local expert. I just had to go to the other side of my home. This week’s “expert” is my son, and he was excited to share everything we’ve learned from owning our two piggies, Lilly & Ashe.
If you missed last week’s installment, we were talking about owning Bearded Dragons!
Owning Guinea Pigs And What You Need To Know
WAG: How did you decide to have guinea pigs as a pet?
Well, I used to have a pet dog but now she lives somewhere else, so we got guinea pigs.
I wanted something easy to take care of, but not a goldfish because they just swim in circles all day. I also wanted something that could be played with and hand-fed. That narrowed it down to guinea pigs. We have two guinea pigs, and they are sisters.
*My son doesn’t remember it this way, but after my kids saw the “G-Force” movie, they were obsessed. We started watching cute videos on you-tube and then I was on board. I had previously owned one and was already aware of what they required in the way of care.
WAG: Where did you get them from?
*We adopted them from a guinea pig rescue that is no longer operating, but there are plenty of ways to adopt one.
WAG: What do they eat? Is Their food hard to find?
Their food isn’t too hard to find. We get it on Amazon and mix it with timothy hay. We give them hay blocks to chew on instead of hay dispensers because that tends to get messy. We also provide them with fruit or veggies every once in a while, and you know how we get the water. They get their vitamins and minerals from their hay blocks, fruits, veggies, and their guinea pig food. We used to get their food at Walmart, but now we order it from Amazon.
*At first I was buying the timothy hay blocks from the guinea pig section of the pet store until I realized I could buy them for a much better price in bulk from the equine section of Tractor Supply.
WAG: What is the hardest part about caring for them?
The hardest part of caring for the guinea pigs for me is replacing their bedding. Mom sends me to the backyard, and if it’s summer or spring, then it’s challenging to do it. I’m kind of afraid of bugs, especially ones that fly. There’s always flies and insects that look like wasps flying around me, and then I get freaked out because it seems like it could sting me. I’m supposed to dump the old bedding in the back of the yard, and then scoop out the extra bedding with a plastic bag then throw out what’s in the plastic bag on the ground, and obviously not the bag itself. After that, I can clean everything else, replace their bedding, then put the cage back together and put the guinea pigs back in their cage.
*Honestly, this is everyone’s least favorite part! Plus, it needs to be done no less than every 2-3 days, or the cage will be horrible. Guinea pigs poop a lot, just like rabbits.
WAG: What special accommodations need to be made when you travel?
I have no idea what accommodations meant, but mom explained it. What I do is give them extra food and water even if they still have some left, and then give them extra hay blocks, and that’s pretty much it since we usually only go away for a few days. But if we left all week, then we would leave them with our neighbors, or bring them with us.
*We should also mention, you should make sure to change their bedding right before you leave. We have an extra water bottle that we fill and use when we are gone, so they are sure to have enough water.
WAG: What advice do you have for someone who wants guinea pigs?
I would tell them to get multiple guinea pigs because they are social creatures. Make sure you play gently because guinea pigs are timid animals. Also, don’t chase them and pick them up, because that is much like being picked up by a bird. Instead lure them with a treat, scratch them behind the ears and CAREFULLY pick them up. If your guinea pigs don’t want to play, then try later. Guinea pigs really like to be fed things like fruits and veggies. Guinea pigs have sensitive ears, so don’t put them near a TV and use your inside voice near them. Most of all, take your time to earn your guinea pigs trust and be very aware of their behavior. Don’t get upset if your guinea pigs refuse to play with you, because they’re very shy. In the wild guinea pigs are pray animals, so don’t scare them.
*Do NOT use vitamin-c drops in their water. Guinea pigs will suffer from scurvy if not fed properly. Pet food companies try to capitalize on this and manufacture vitamin-c drops to be added to their water. I should also note that veterinarians that are versed in guinea pig care are rare locally. I had a misinformed vet tell me to give the guinea pig I owned previously these drops. She died in my arms of dehydration. It was horrible. It wasn’t until we got these guinea pigs, that I read about the vitamin drops and that the horrible taste will make the piggies not drink their water. As long as you feed them properly, they don’t need the drops.
WAG: What has surprised you the most about owning Lilly & Ashe?
I’m not sure if they have been doing anything too unexpected, but guinea pig expectations can be often different from when you buy them.
*I think realizing what my son included about knowing when to leave the guinea pigs alone, might be one of the most surprising things. It might also be one of the harder things for a child to understand.
WAG: What do you love and dislike about the guinea pigs?
What I really love is how they share with each other sometimes which makes them seem even cuter. But, I don’t like how they don’t wanna play as often as I expected. But that doesn’t surprise me.
*So, fun fact – guinea pigs will back their cute little butts up to the edge of a cage and pee and poop out of it, if given the opportunity. I saw this awesome triple decker cage online and ignored the comments warning of this. I thought, “NO! not our guinea pigs!”. Long story short, if anyone wants a really expensive triple decker cage, it’s on the curb waiting to go to the landfill.
WAG: What do they do for fun?
Recently, I’ve been showing them videos on YouTube of other guinea pigs. Also, if I give them a paper ball, they’ll toss it and roll it around.
WAG: Where do they sleep?
Guinea pigs don’t sleep as long or as often as people do. When they rest or sleep, they do it in their hiding spot so they feel safe. As their bodies shut down for sleep, they can’t be aware of any possible threats, so they hide under roofs just as people do. Having roofed hiding spots in your guinea pigs’ living space is essential to to taking care of your guinea pigs.
WAG: Are they housetrained?
No, not that I’m aware of, but an interesting behavior I have noticed is that they poop mostly in the corners of their cage. They’ve picked up this behavior by themselves, so it’s not training.
*Amazon sells little “potty” corner things so that the guinea pigs will keep the rest of the bedding clean.
WAG: Do they have any sibling pets and do they get along?
Yes, but they’re siblings to each other. Sometimes they share their hay blocks, other times, they’re fighting over the hiding spot.
*We don’t have any other pets at the moment.
We hope this helps you make the decision of whether guinea pigs are the right fit for your family. They have really helped my son through some hard times, and for that I will be forever in debt of these little piggies.
If you have any questions about guinea pigs, or you have an idea for what animal you’d like to learn about next, tell us in the comments!