Random Observation/Comment #702: Having a pet during lockdown has been an awesome way to mix it up a bit.
Why this list?
After I found out my parents tested positive for covid, I went into active tactical planning (Thankfully, they’re better now). To destress, I really needed an emotional support animal. I didn’t really do any research, but I’m glad I had such an impulse purchase. Now that they’ve joined the family, I’ve learned quite a bit more. Highly recommended pet in my opinion, but I’m totally bias.
Besides the regular stuff at a pet store, we’ve gone a bit crazy on Amazon. Made a public shopping list if you’re curious what we got our little guys – https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/35TNLTSYCGEIT?ref_=wl_share
(I write lists as a learning process and way of life. This is not meant to be a comprehensive guide for pet ownership, but just a bunch of stuff I found useful and interesting.)
- Guinea Pigs are social creatures – Get 2. Two isn’t more difficult to take care of anyway. They’re super cuddly so your wife can hold one while you do (or she can hold two).
- Make sure they’re gender paired appropriately – A male/female will just give you lots of babies.
- There’s a lot of different breeds of Guinea Pigs and they’re all so adorable. I love their fluffy rosettes hair patterns.
- Pet store cages are often too small – You’ll want to upgrade from your first pet store purchase. We wound up buying the cage walls and building a section of our house for them. Unsure of they’ll likely just sneak their little bodies through the grating though.
- Give them space to run – Buy a fleece blanket liner and make a flexible 15-inch tall enclosure. We have the hexagon mesh for the living room while extending their cage space upstairs.
- Guinea Pigs don’t really bite. They may do a love nibble. Just try not to scare them with loud noises and fast movements.
- They make the cutest little noises. I’ve come to love them like cat purrs. They’re like mini sausages with feet.
- Guinea Pigs can live 4-8 years (which was super surprising). This was a factor when getting one.
- How much do they cost?
- Initial Pet Store purchase (food pellets, upgraded cage, cage bedding, and hay) – $200 + $50/pig
- Going overboard buying stuff and accessories – $300 or so of accessories.
- Additional Food / Veggies – I buy a lot more veggies in general (they just need one adult portion for the week), but this is relatively low cost.
- Total Recurring – I approximate $80/month for food and bedding. The recycled paper is pretty expensive, so we’re looking at other options with just cleaning washable pads or poop areas.
- For food, they have standard pellets as a base with high in fiber hay to help them keep their poop consistent. Fresh water changes daily.
- Guinea Pigs love fresh veggies as snacks. Green Bell peppers have a good amount of vitamin C without being too sweet. It’s actually awesome our personal diet also has more ruffage. Fruit treats like apples, strawberries, and oranges once or twice a week. Veges three times a day. Lean towards mustard greens instead of iceberg lettuce to make sure they have a good amount of vitamin c.
- Avoid dairy, avocados, onions, nuts, and mushrooms. Absolutely no chocolate as it is poisonous to them.
- They graze quite a bit because of their small size and stomachs. They’ll eat when they’re hungry. You can just fill up their bowl and then feed them some veges when you eat.
- Don’t get them a play ball (where they walk inside of it around the house) like for hamsters – They’re not hamsters. It’s bad for their back.
- They poop a lot of little pellets – On average a 100 or so a day. Make sure you hold them with a little towel or else they’ll poop on you.
- Surprisingly not a smelly pet – Cage cleaning once a week. Scoop up and partial replace bottom 1-2 inch layer of recycled paper bedding normally. Full wash and replace once a week. You can make a “kitchen” space for them and train them within a few weeks as long as their environment is consistent. When they first explore, they’ll just poop everywhere, but it gets more predictable.
- They love cozy covered corners – Get them a little house where they can feel safe. They’ll run everywhere.
- Super cuddly especially if you get them young and they’re used to being held. You can watch TV and pet them.
- Don’t be offended if they run away – They are naturally prey creatures so it’s normal that they’re scared.
- They love being in little pouches – You can probably take them around on short trips to the store. We’re considering buying them a little pet harness. Vinessa bought a hoodie with a guinea pig pouch that pops out for washing. Super cute.
- Pick them up around the waist without scrunching their legs – Hold their bottoms to make them feel safe.
- Make sure they’re in comfortable room temperature between 50F-80F.
- Trim their toenails consistently – They grow fast and will be easy to notice as they’re the clear part.
- If you do take them out and let them run around, make sure you can reach under your couch. It literally took an hour the first time.
- Set a routine – Clean and play at set times. We clean the cage in the mornings and feed them veggies during our meal times. Before we had a bigger cage, we would put them into the playpen or Vinessa would hold them during her work calls. At 4-5PM we bring them downstairs so Evie can see them when she gets home.
- Guinea Pigs are primarily nocturnal and active at night – They take little naps throughout the day.
- Try to play with the Guinea pig 1-4 hrs per day – Give them space in a playpen and cuddle during the early evenings.
- Greet them by calling their name consistently – They will come out and greet you if you follow the routine.
- We’ve found our Guinea Pigs to be super kid friendly – Evie loves hanging out with them and we have incorporated playing with them as an extra Non-TV Toddler activity.
- Now that I’m a #guineadad, I’ve embraced the joys of searching for more toys and treats. We’re getting towards that #guineapigcastle. Love the #guineapigsofinstagram community.
~See Lemons Love Guinea Pigs