Guinea Pig Fun
You want a guinea pig but is it really the best pet for you? With so many people giving up their pets and surrendering them at shelters or placing ads on Craigslist for them or dumping them outdoors to fend for themselves it is best for both you and the guinea pig to determine if you are a match before you get one or two. Below is some food for thought ...
1. Can you have one in your home? If you own a home that should be no problem unless you are a child who wants one "now" but you have not gotten permission to have a family pet added to your home. If a child "needs" a guinea pig it needs to be a family pet with the parents providing the actual care. If you rent, you will need to get an okay so that you don't end up having to find a new home for your beloved pet.
2. Do you or anyone in your family have allergies? If the answer is yes, are the allergies manageable? Are you allergic to hay? If so and timothy grass hay bothers you does orchard grass create the same symptoms? Is dust a problem? One can live with a guinea pig if one has allergies but one may need to take make some lifestyle changes so that it is doable.
3. Do you have the time to care for guinea pigs? They are not low-maintenance pets nor are they self-sufficient pets. Their life literally depends on your interaction and care of them. That means that no how busy or tired you may be you will need to feed them, check their habitat, and interact with them on a daily basis. The cage needs to be spot-cleaned daily with complete cleanings 1 - 2 times a week. Bowls and water bottles need to be cleaned and filled. If the guinea pig appears to be sick he/she will need to be seen by a vet. Does your schedule allow for that possibility? And most important, guinea pigs are social critters who thrive on interaction. Are you willing and able to provide that interaction?
4. Can you afford a guinea pig or two? Unlike a stuffed toy, guinea pigs are living creatures who depend on their caretaker for their care and that care involves money. A cage is usually a one-time expense but the bedding is not. Even if you use fleece you are faced with the time and the cost for doing the laundry. Quality guinea-pig pellets, such as those made by Oxbow Hay Company and Kleenmama's Hay Loft, are not cheap. Hay can be expensive if purchased from a pet store. Better prices are available if you have a feed store near you where you can purchase a flake or bale of hay. if your guinea pig gets sick, will you be able to afford the vet fees?
5. What are your expectations of a guinea pig? Are you expecting it to entertain you like a hamster running on a wheel? Do you want the guinea pig to run on the beach with you like a dog? Do you really want a dog but can't have one for whatever reason?
6. Do you love noise and music? Guinea pigs have sensitive ears so being placed in a room where there is a lot of loud activity such as kids playing/roughhousing or music/TV would not be the best environment for your pet.
7. Do you hate to clean? Again, guinea pigs depend on your care so that means you are in charge of the cage clean-up. Not just occasionally or when you feel like it or when you have time but all of the time. Are you okay with that?
8. Do you see a guinea pig as a starter pet or a disposable pet? Ideally, all pets should be considered a life-long pet. Not to be dumped because you want a cat, a dog, a bike, a car, or whatever the whim-of-the-moment may be.
9. Do you plan on moving? If so, do you plan on taking your pets with you? If not, why do you not plan on taking them with you? What will you do with them?
10. Who will care for them if you go away for a week end or vacation? Is your resource dependable and trustworthy?
11. Are you in it for the long haul? Are you ready for a life-long commitment to your guinea pig or is there a chance that you might easily become disenchanted with caring for one and dump it when your interest and enthusiasm diminishes?
12. Have you had guinea pigs before and/or do you know how to care for them properly? Anyone can learn how to care for pet guinea pigs if they are willing to learn. A good starting point for basic care is Cavy Madness.
Lots to think about when considering adding a guinea pig or two your home. However, it is a good reality check to see whether or not guinea pigs might be the best pet for you. If so, enjoy! If not, that is okay. There are many pets of different species that might be the right choice for you and who are looking for a loving home. Enjoy whatever pet you choose!
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