Before You Become a Pet Parent
Any pet is a vast responsibility and should not be stepped into lightly. It is a common misconception that cavies make ideal pets for children or are easy to maintain and manage. Contrary to this belief cavies need to be cared for exactly the same as any other pet. They require specific dietary requirements that if not met may cause health issues. See our guide below for more information.
Children especially at a young age will often promise to take considerable care of their guinea pig. However many children become bored easily and parents should be aware that it may very well become their responsibility. Unless your child is older, has a mature attitude and understands the concepts of responsible pet ownership then a guinea pig is not an ideal pet.
However you can still adopt a cavy if you as the adult are willing to take responsibility for this animal and can teach and educate your child in regards to pet ownership and guinea pig care. Although you must supervise your child, have the cage in an area that can be supervised (a child's bedroom is not ideal), and will make a commitment to caring for this animal throughout its entire life. Essentially provide a forever home.
Things To Consider Before Adopting
Do I have room for a guinea pig and its cage requirements?
Cavies need at least 70 square centimeters of cage space or 7.5 square feet. This is the minimum requirement that is needed for a cavy. 76cm x 91cm of cage space is required to ensure your cavy remains healthy and happy. Male guinea pigs need at least 1 square metre of cage space, to prevent fights over territory.
Indoor housing is also recommended so you must ensure you have enough space to house your cavy effectively . If outdoor housing is the only option you also must provide your cavy with adequate shelter in the form of an out building that has sufficient lighting, protection from pests, weather and is temperature controlled.
There must be room for the cage and it must meet housing guidelines.
Do I have the time to care for this animal for possibly 7-10 years?
Like all pets guinea pigs are a commitment. You must be committed to caring for this animal throughout its entire life. If circumstances change you must ensure that you are able to care for this animal regardless of these changes; or provide an ideal housing arrangement with a responsible person who is knowledgeable in the care of guinea pigs, will provide housing, food, veterinary care and will not harm, injure or cause any stress to the welfare of this animal. You must do what is in the best interests of your guinea pig.
You must maintain and give this animal a forever home. Your guinea pig depends on you solely for its survival. You should never abandon or leave your cavy unless there are extenuating circumstances that will permanently prevent you from doing what is best for the animal and will significantly decrease the level of care you provide.
Can I afford any vet bills if an illness arises?
Vet bills for cavies can cost hundreds of dollars. You must provide these funds or have a vet who you know will have a good payment plan with you. It is always recommended that you look and locate a good exotics veterinarian before adopting a guinea pig.
You can also have a vet fund. This is where you put aside money weekly or monthly and this is used solely for your pets medical bills.
Do I understand and have researched its health and care requirements?n
You must understand that cavies are not like dogs or cats. They require a specific diet, care and need to be housed with another cavy. They cannot be housed alone. Be aware of its housing, health, grooming, feeding, and social attributes. You must be prepared to provide all these requirements throughout its lifetime and maintain this level of care to the best of your ability.
Do I know someone who can care for this animal responsibly if I am sick or go on holiday?
You must plan and have a list of persons or know a responsible adult who can care for your cavy. They must be educated in how to care, house and look after your cavy even if it is only for a few days. Provide them with veterinary contact numbers, lists of do's and don'ts in regards to cavy care, list of food requirements, what they need, if they are on medication show them the correct dosage and how to administer the medication. Overall provide them with a comprehensive list on your guinea pigs care and their daily routine. Make sure you leave funds for food/care costs and a number in which to contact you.
They also must be responsible at all times and will not harm, injure or cause any stress to your guinea pig whilst they are in their care.
Alternatively pet boarding services are also available. You may ask questions such as:
How many cavies do you look after?
Do you know their dietary requirements?
Do you know their housing requirements?
Where do you house the guinea pigs?
What bedding do you use?
Are they in a temperature controlled environment, free from drafts, pests and direct sunlight?
Always have a list of important questions to ask. Provide them with a list and information about your guinea pigs care and what they require. For example provide them with a list of what you feed daily and ask that they feed this diet as you have written it. Some veterinary facilities may offer pet boarding for free. Make sure that the cavies are housed away from dogs and cats; That they are in a quiet individually housed environment.
Cavies can become easily stressed if their daily routine is altered. Always advise and provide your carer with information on your cavies daily requirements and activities to ensure they have access to a familiar regime.
Can I afford their food, bedding and general care bills?
Vegetables can cost $20 + depending on how many cavies your own. You must also provide hay and pellets which are an additional cost. Prices can vary depending on the amount, type and quality. Bedding, accessories, water bowls/bottles and carry cages for vet visits must also be purchased. You must be able to financially provide for your guinea pigs.
Can I have a pet permitted where I live?
Many rental properties have restrictions on pet ownership. Always check with your real estate agent/owner before adopting a guinea pig. If cavies are not allowed you can plead your case. Some things you can provide are:
A vets recommendations that cavies will not cause any damage to the household
Check with your local council
Speak to the manager of the real estate agency/company
Offer to pay for any damages that are a direct result of your guinea pig
Present pictures of the enclosure deeming it fit for use in the household
If you are moving provide documentation stating that your previous residence received no damages as a direct result of having cavies. A signed document by a past real estate agent or rent inspector is recommended.
Am I able to be a responsible owner and give my cavy the care it requires?
If you have other pets your must ensure that your cavies are safe and secure. Know that they are prey animals and react differently compared to dogs and cats; that they also require a certain level of care. You must be committed to loving, providing and caring for this animal throughout its entire life, and provide the best life possible and always do what is in the best interests of your guinea pig.
These questions are all important in determining whether you are ready for the responsibly of owning a pet and caring for it throughout its entire life. Please be aware that cavies are also social animals, and should always be housed in pairs.
If you are able to answer ''yes'' to all the above questions you will be rewarded with wonderful companions that have the ability to bring joy and love into any owners life. They are indeed unique and each is an individual in their own right, and have an amazing personality that will shine through only if they are treated with respect, love and the care that each cavy deserves and requires.