Looking for a place you can grab a much-needed boost of caffeine, from a place that has a walk-up window or a drive-thru? We’ve scoured the Upstate for the places that you can do just that! And, possibly grab a treat for your four-legged coffee companion too! There’s definitely no shortage of locally-owned shops in the Upstate.
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!
While it’s not the same as having a real dragon to call your own, a Bearded Dragon can provide you with companionship and entertainment. They require a little bit more care than some pets, so we sat down with local “Mother of Dragons,” Jessie.
You can learn more about Bearded Dragons, and other fun pet options with the “Ask Me Anything | Pet Ownership ” series on Wagging Around. Inspired by a cute little local pig named Evie, that I just had to get to know! We figured our readers had pet options they were curious about too, and we were right! You can read all about Evie on last week’s installment in the series.
Have you ever seen a person and their pet and thought, “I WANT ONE!!”? I felt that the minute I saw the Instagram post from Gather GVL of a little piggie name Evie. She was so cute! But what is involved with owning a pig? I had so many questions! And thus was born the “Ask Me Anything | Pet Ownership ” series on Wagging Around.
All those burning questions you have running through your head when you see an animal that you would like to consider adding to your family but just don’t know enough about it. Evie’s Mom Abby was kind enough to tell us what it’s like to care for a pig.
Did you miss last weekend’s pet ownership piece on chickens? Local mom Maggie shared her knowledge about owning backyard chickens with us last week. Check it out HERE.
WAG knows that the people of the Upstate love brunch. What if you could have a pet that would help provide you with an awesome brunch at home? Chickens not only provide food for your table, they are quirky and charactered pets!
In our new Pet Owner AMA Series, we ask pet owners about their unique pets. They answer the questions you might have if you’re trying to decide if chickens would make the perfect addition to your family.
Are you planning a trip to Charleston soon? Traveling with your pet is excellent, especially when you have a beautiful place that you can enjoy together! We know our readers love the Charleston area, and you’ll be glad to know that your dog can have a great time there too! We found several dog-friendly spots around Charleston, and there’s even a great beach to visit!
Finding nice places to take your dog for an adventure while on vacation can be hard sometimes. Luckily the Charleston area is full of beautiful places to enjoy with your pets.
It was hard to believe that a beach that landed on the top 10 list in the nation was so accommodating to dogs! Not only are they welcomed, but they have amenities, just like humans. The shower area at the top of the boardwalk has a spot where you can wash the sand off of your dog, and they can grab a fresh drink of water. There are seasonal leash requirements, and even when leashes aren’t required, they must be on hand at all times. Beachwalker Park is a popular sea turtle nesting area, so please exercise caution around marked off squares
James Island County Park offers four-legged guests multiple ways to stay cool in the summer! A lake that is safe for splashing around in, and the waterpark that offers a pet day every year. There are hiking trails, disc golf, and plenty of space to explore with your dog. The park also has an off-leash dog park.
This county park in North Charleston offers over 1,000 acres of space to enjoy. This includes seven acres of meadows for dogs and humans to enjoy. The park has a water-park that offers dog days for guests to bring their dogs to go swimming.
We’re sure there are more places we’ve yet to discover! Do you have a favorite place to go with your dog when you are in the Charleston area?
Do fireworks scare your pet? In the state of South Carolina, fireworks are legal most places on any day that ends in a “Y,” and that can be problematic for pet owners. Most large holiday firework displays have been canceled for this fourth of July, due to health concerns involving large crowds.
Firework retailers have seen a considerable increase in sales. That means that now the show will be brought to your front door, to the dismay of your pets. The good news is that there are things you can do to help your pet stay safe, while the humans are enjoying the pyrotechnics.
Are you looking to add a new family member to your home during quarantine? If you have space in your heart and home for a special new member of the family, animal rescues are a great place to find a new pet and they don’t just help dogs and cats!
The best dog I’ve ever known was the first pet I got after leaving my parents home. I went with my best friend to an animal shelter thinking I wanted a Boston Terrier just like Roxie, my friend’s dog. At the rescue facility, all the dogs were barking for our attention. Except for one.
I’ve joked that he knew he was coming home with me that day and figured the extra effort was not needed. A little blonde rat terrier named Phillip stole my heart that day and spent the next 14 years by my side. He was with me through five moves through three states, heartbreak, the birth of my two children, and more. Sadly he passed away recently and that little rescue dog will always have a special place in my heart.
Aside from local animal shelters, there are local non-profit groups that rescue animals, rehabilitate them if needed, and adopt them out. Some are even breed-specific if you have a certain breed in mind.
Rescues aren’t subsidized by taxpayers, so adoption fees might be a little higher than at the local animal shelters. These non-profits are also a great opportunity for your family to give back, by fostering a pet while a “fur-ever” home is found for them.
WAG is your resource for all your pet-related needs! Did you see this peek behind the scenes at a local animal shelter?
If you are looking for a pet that is probably not going to deliver you candy in the spring, Bunny Brigade rescues, rehabs, and rehomes domestic rabbits. They work closely with Izzie’s Pond to find fur-ever homes for floppy-eared friends.
GSCE specializes in almost any pet appropriate animal that is not a dog or a cat. If you are in the market for a snake, ferret, parrot, lizard, tarantula, or another exotic animal, they are the rescue to contact!
Day Before The Rainbow rescues animals from high-kill shelters and fosters them out while they are found a home. The rescue also works with animal control to help when animal hoarding events happen and animals need to be helped.