Thinking of having a guinea pig in your house? Getting any pet always comes with great responsibility. The first thing that you should consider while getting any pet in your home is that you will have to make time for them. They are also living beings and they hate to be alone. Guinea pigs are small creatures and mostly harmless. They are considered a good option especially when you have kids in your house. But, since they are sometimes brittle animals, you could face some difficulties when they are in the house.
Are guinea pigs hard to take care of? No, guinea pigs are not hard to take care of but they do require daily care and parent supervision if you are getting it for a child. Guinea pigs are easy-going animals and perfect companions since they are quiet and yet very affectionate at the same time. They don’t bite, they are friendly and they like to be around humans when handled correctly. They are a good pet for teaching children responsibility without being very hard to look after. Guinea pigs are lovely pets, extremely easy to keep and relatively cheap to look after.
Still, there are some difficulties that you could face with having a guinea pig as a pet. All of that we have discussed in the following sections below, so keep on reading!
21 Problems That Can Arise When Taking Care of Your Guinea Pig
The Issue of Long-Term Commitment
Guinea pigs have a lifespan of around eight years on average. So, if you think that this you want a pet to fulfill your short-term desire, you might want to reconsider your decision. Eight years is a long period to commit, and you will have to stick to it no matter what. It is not any plastic toy that you can get rid of when you don’t want to play anymore.
As guinea pigs need companions, we tend to keep them in pairs or groups. But, guinea pigs are quite fertile and can start reproducing when they are just six months old or even younger. So, if you are planning to keep pigs of two opposite sex in the same cage, it is important that the male is neutered to avoid filling your house with unwanted guinea pig babies because it will become a lot of work to handle them eventually.
There have been instances where the house owners had to call the animal cruelty protection agencies to get rid of the guinea pigs. We definitely don’t want that to happen.
When you bring a newborn guinea pig in your house, you will have to keep feeding them a variety of food and also keeping in mind that they might be allergic to some foods. If you stick to one food, for instance, you feed them only carrots; your guinea pig will only eat carrots rest of their life. So it is essential that you feed them a variety of food. Otherwise, once adapted to one food, they would prefer not eating at all and die if you feed them anything other than carrots. And since they are animals, there is not much you can do to make them eat anything against their will.
Your kid might be allergic to the fluffy soft hair on guinea pigs that you adore so much. So you need to ensure that your kid is not allergic to them before you bring them into your house. They can cause serious allergic reactions.
They Can Be Very Noisy
Guinea pigs are considered quiet animals, but they can be quite noisy especially if they are going through some problem. This is their way to tell that something is not okay. But, it can become a headache if you can’t seem to figure out what’s wrong with them.
You will need to take care and teach your kids to hold them properly. Guinea pigs are really small and have brittle bones. If not handled carefully, you might break their bones. Also, you will need to keep them under your supervision because they might hurt themselves falling from the cage if it is kept at height or if they are running around on a table or shelves.
Since guinea pigs need to chew a lot to keep their growth of teeth in check, pet owners tend to feed them a lot which again leads to obesity. This, in turn, can lead to other problems like diabetes and heart-related problems. So, sometimes it becomes a tedious task to keep them fit, especially if you have kids who tend to feed them a lot.
They Can Be Little Non-Friendly
Guinea pigs are usually bought from a pet store, and when they come to the new house, they tend to become wary of their new owners. Sometimes, pet owners do complain about their guinea pigs not being friendly and non –responsive to their affection. That’s because guinea pigs become used to one place and companion very early and it is hard to undo it. Also, all guinea pigs have different personalities, and it is hard to tell if you are going to be the unlucky pet owner who gets a grumpy guinea pig or lucky to get a cheerful one.
They Poop a Lot
Guinea pigs eat a lot and hence pooping becomes another problem. They poop so much that you have to clean their cage every other day otherwise it will get smelly. Also, guinea pigs are coprophagous, i.e., they eat their own shit which is not a very good sight. If kept open they tend to litter almost everywhere, so litter training becomes important. But, they are animals and might or might not respond to your wishes so much.
This problem is usually related to boredom. Guinea pigs barber their hair by chewing. Sometimes, the problem becomes serious when the guinea pig starts cutting the hair of other fellow guinea pigs. When it happens, it is time to separate it from others, but again, separation might also lead to more boredom and depression.
Guinea pigs have a higher body temperature than us humans, and thus they are more susceptible to heat strokes. As a pet owner, it is always tempting to let your piggies play outside in the grass, but guinea pigs do not respond well to direct sunlight, they get warm quickly and suffer from heat strokes, especially in summers. In fact, carrying them around in your car can be dangerous for them if you do not have an AC in the car.
Are Guinea Pigs Better Than Other Animals as Pets?
We will compare the animals which are more or less similar to guinea pigs.
Guinea Pigs and Hamsters
Guinea pigs and hamsters are quite popular as pets, but hamsters are nocturnal and are most active during the night, whereas guinea pigs sleep in short naps and hence can be great to play with as pets. Also, hamsters being up at night can become a disturbance and affect your sleep. When hamsters are disturbed in their sleep during the day, they become grumpy and might as well bite. Guinea pigs also bite but only when you mishandle them or squeeze them too tightly.
Ferrets are another kind that is often compared with guinea pigs as a pet choice. Guinea pigs are rodents while ferrets are carnivores. Guinea pigs might not like to be handled, but ferrets are more engaging and like to get attention. Both of these animals smell, so ferrets are a better option than guinea pigs. Ferrets are usually more smart and fun as compared to guinea pigs. Having ferret is more like having a kitten that never grows up.
Guinea Pigs and Rats
If you are planning to choose between a guinea pig and rat, remember that rat has a very short life span of a maximum of 3-4 years while guinea pigs may live up to eight years or even more in some cases. Guinea pigs are crepuscular while rats are nocturnal. Guinea pigs are more costly than rats when it comes to their grooming and care since they are more susceptible to diseases. Also, guinea pigs will eat more due to their bigger size as compared to rats. While you will have to keep guinea pigs in pairs or groups, rats can live alone. If you have a busy life and can’t give much time to your pet, then the rat is the best option but if you have enough grass, space and time, then go ahead with the guinea pig.
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