We often hear that a guinea pig can be a great ‘starter’ animal for a child. Moreover, the chances are high that you used to have a cavy when you were a kid and you remember how much fun it used to be.
There certainly are quite a few reasons why guinea pig is the best pet for a kid. Mainly, because these little fluffy fellows are relatively easy to take care of. They are gentle and friendly and can live a long life if they are taken care of properly. However, you should bear in mind that the responsibility for the well-being of the animal has to always lie on the adult. Yes, children can help take care of guinea pigs, but they have to be supervised by their parents at all times.
What Is the Appropriate Child’s Age to Introduce Guinea Pig as a Pet?
Certainly, there is an appropriate age to introduce a guinea pig to the child. Even though it really does depend on the child and his character. It is usually recommended not to ask the child to care of the guinea pig at all until the age of 7.
Unfortunately, a lot of parents think of a cavy as a toy for their beloved kids. And though a guinea pig can become a source of entertainment, it is still a living creature that needs to be treated well and that needs its boundaries to be respected. Adults should also bear in mind that the child can lose interest in the animal over the course of time. So, do not adopt a guinea pig, if you are not ready to take care of it all on your own.
It is extremely important to explain to your child that this fluffy ball of happiness will become a part of your family from now on. A pet is not something disposable that you can throw away if you stop liking it. Moreover, the chances are high that the little fellow would spend its whole life with you. It might be a great idea to read about guinea pigs with your child before actually adopting one. The kid has to have at least some information about the new pet. You would want to focus on explaining the main don’ts (what you can’t do with the guinea pig, what products you can’t feed to it, etc.).
A guinea pig should never become only a child’s responsibility, even if the kid is already in his teens. The child might simply lose interest at one point.
With younger children, an adult has to always be around whenever the kid wants to play with the guinea pig or look after it. Young children (around 7-9 years) can be asked to fill the bowl with food, for example, or do other minor tasks (under supervision). Teens may be given daily duties (feeding the cavy, changing its bedding, etc.). However, you, as an adult, have to make sure to daily check if the child is completing his tasks.
Another important thing that you would have to do is to teach your child to handle the guinea pig properly. Moreover, explain that the animal certainly can be handled from time to time, but the pet isn’t always in the mood for handling and your child has to respect that and leave the cavy alone.
With that said, a guinea pig would surely make a wonderful pet not only for an adult but also for kids.
6 Reasons Why Guinea Pigs Are the Best Pets for Kids
1. Guinea Pigs Are Easy to Look After
The main reason why so many people assume that a guinea pig is an amazing pet for a child – the cavy is easy to look after. But that does not mean that you can simply leave the little one in the cage and do nothing for it. You have to change the guinea pig’s water supply every day, feed it, change its bedding, clean the cage, etc. However, a cavy does not need as much commitment as a dog or a cat, for example. And the main advantage is that the fluffy ball usually lives in one place and you have to simply ensure that its home is clean, safe and has the necessary supplies.
Your child can certainly help you with changing the water or he can give food and hay to the guinea pig. The cage has to be cleaned once or twice a week and a teenager can totally manage to do that. When it comes to grooming, we would certainly recommend an adult to take care of the process. Fortunately, guinea pigs have to be bathed only a few times per year.
Moreover, you can take your cavy to a professional to get its nails trimmed. And in case your cavy does not have long hair, you wouldn’t need to brush it every day. However, your child can certainly help you with the grooming process. Simply remember to handle the guinea pig gently and to make sure that it feels safe.
2. Guinea Pigs Are Generally Healthy Animals and Have a Long Lifespan
If the diet of your cavy is healthy and you take proper care of it, then the little fellow will not have any health problems. Guinea pigs are generally hardy animals and a possibility of a sudden death is as low as it can be.
However, there are a few health issues in guinea pigs that you have to be aware of to ensure that they live a happy and long life. As the teeth of the cavy will grow throughout its whole life, it is vitally important to provide enough hay and other things that the guinea pig can chew on, so that it can wear its teeth off.
Guinea pigs cannot produce vitamin C on their own (just like humans), so they have to be getting enough of this element with their food. Bladder stones can become a problem in guinea pigs, but it’s something that you can easily avoid if you ensure that the little fellow follows a healthy diet.
By the way, don’t forget about regular check-ups at the vet. And in case there is anything wrong with your beloved pet – do take it to the doctor. It is incredibly important to explain all these things to your child so that he is familiar with the facts from day one. Unlike other rodents, guinea pigs can live a pretty long life 5-7 years. That means that the fluffy ball of happiness can be the friend of your child throughout most of his school years.
3. Guinea Pigs Are Gentle and Entertaining Animals
Cavies have strong and fun personalities. Some guinea pigs might be shy, while others are more outgoing and curious. You would want to spend some time with a cavy before adopting it to figure out if you like the character of the little guy. Taking into consideration the fact that your kid would be playing with the cavy as well, look for a gentle and friendly guinea pig.
By the way, your child will have so much fun listening to the funny noises that the cavy makes. Guinea pigs may start greeting you with a squeal whenever it’s feeding time. Did you know that cavies can purr? Yes, these fluffy balls can make a quiet vibration when they are petted and happy. Your child will love that. Moreover, when guinea pigs are extremely excited they can popcorn. This is a unique behavior that only these animals show. It is so much fun to watch! Some cavies jump up and down extremely fast, others run around the cage.
Take great care of the pet, treat it with something delicious from time to time and enjoy the little fellow’s reaction.
4. Guinea Pigs Get Attached to People
Many people don’t want to get a cavy because they assume that the fluffy ball can’t get attached to its owner. But that’s a popular myth. Guinea pigs can form a strong bond with their new family. Moreover, they become familiar with the voice of a human. So, if your child spends a few minutes per day chatting with the little guy, the cavy will remember his voice and get excited every time the kid greets the guinea pig.
5. Guinea Pigs Will Teach Your Child to Be Responsible
A cavy is certainly not a ‘training toy’, but the little one can teach your child to respect boundaries, to be responsible and gentle. These are extremely important traits that your child would need in his future life (and this applies to every single sphere, not only pet adoption).
Your kid will learn to make decisions; he will understand what is forbidden and what is ok. The child will understand when he can play with the pet and when the fluffy ball has to be left alone. Moreover, gentle handling is also an important skill that your kid will develop. Guinea pigs are great first animals because they’re not as fragile as some other small pets.
6. Children Can Have Fun Creating Toys for Guinea Pigs and Decorating Their Cage
Another great part of becoming a guinea pig owner is the fact that you can totally get creative with a lot of different supplies. For example, guinea pigs love toys. But the little ones can get bored using the same entertainment, so you would have to change things up a little every month. And that’s an amazing opportunity to come up with your own toy – and your child can help you with that. You can create tunnels, various hay toys, and so many other things together with your kid and then enjoy the guinea pig’s reaction.
You can also have fun decorating the cage of the little guy. Fortunately, you can find beautiful and safe dishes, treats and beddings online and in pet shops nowadays. Your child can participate in the whole process and turn the cage of the pet into a real fortress, where the guinea pig will surely live happily ever after.
Now you know the main reasons why guinea pigs are the best pet for kids. Of course, an adult would have to hold the whole responsibility for the little guinea pig but your kid can surely help you take care of the fluffy ball. This will help create a beautiful bond not only between your pet and your child but also between you and him.