Considering a piggy for a pet


Post   » Tue Feb 03, 2009 2:45 pm

I'm going to chime in with a few notes, too.

Ditto on adopting! Not only do you get to save a life, you also get to avoid the health problems that often come with guinea pigs from pet stores--those guinea pigs are often missexed, pregnant, or ill. Look for a local rescue (and by local, I mean in state, or even neighboring state--you'd be surprised how large rescue networks can be.) Rescues are great because oftentimes the pigs have already been living in a foster home. They are used to people and living in households, and they have been checked over by vets.

You absolutely should adopt at least two guinea pigs (and you'll have to factor this in with your parents and the need for a large cage, etc.) They do better with two and handle stress a lot easier when they are together. They also keep each other company. Depending on logistics (such as how frequently you travel) I would also consider asking a neighbor to take care of them while you're gone?

Be aware that although guinea pigs are small, their vet costs are nothing to sneeze at and you should look for a vet in the area who specializes in exotics. (In fact, getting in touch with an exotics vet now might be a good idea--he or she might know where you can adopt!)

Thank you for doing research! So many parents don't. I hope you can find a way to make it work. If not, you can also consider smaller pets, such as a hamster or a rat.

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Post   » Tue Feb 03, 2009 11:36 pm

Also a lot of shelters and rescues socialize the guinea pigs before adopting them out, and it's so much more fun to get them when they are already used to people.


Post   » Wed Feb 04, 2009 2:48 pm

I do have some additional questions. As I said in the fleece thread, I went to the store to price things today.

Can you give me an idea of how much of the piggy food I can expect to use each week for two? A woman at the pet store told me a pig can eat a pile of timothy hay its own size each day. That looked like about $10 per week for two pigs. Is there a brand of food and hay you prefer?

What types and brands of toys do you all recommend?

Do I need a large water bottle or just a medium size one?

Are their any other items you highly recommend?

I definitely see what you all mean about the cages. I looked at the ones at the pet store and was horrified at how small they are. And the price is nuts! I will certainly be building a C&C cage.

Oh, I did quite a bit of searching yesterday and there doesn't seem to be any rescues locally and only one or two I found in any local shelters. I did find a rescue facility in Texas, though, and my husband and I will be going to Houston in April. It's just north of Dallas so we will be going right through there. Now that I've read the posts about travelling with piggies, I'm thinking we might go through them to adopt. Still just an idea, but certainly an option.


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Pinny Gig

Post   » Wed Feb 04, 2009 2:52 pm

About water bottles, the Lixit brand is supposed to be non-leak...but I have a new one and it isn't leak-proof yet. Still working with it.

I have the FlatBac brand with the little duck inside and the bracket that mounts to the side of the cage. There are people who don't like these but I love mine. It doesn't leak and is easy to get in and out of the cage.

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New Guinea Mom
There is No Cure

Post   » Wed Feb 04, 2009 3:20 pm

Try pushing on the washer on the inside of the lid. I have to do that our mine leaks!

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Post   » Wed Feb 04, 2009 3:28 pm

I bet you're so excited to adopt your piggies. I might be speaking the obvious, so forgive me, but definitely check You will certainly have luck looking there under "small and furry" with the keyword guinea pig. If there is a significant distance between you and the rescue, I'm sure there is a guinea lynx user that would be willing to do a "piggy train" - pick up the piggie for you and meet halfway. We are all over the country!

Food: I have three piggies, and I give them 2 large heaps a day. They INHALE the stuff! They go through a 5 lb bag of pellets roughly every 3 weeks. I would highly recommend ordering both hay and pellets from Kleenmama's Hayloft ( Although the shipping is pricey due to weight, the products are much less expensive than pet stores, so it ends up being the same or even slightly cheaper. I order 9 lbs of Third Cut timothy hay and 10 bls of pellets at a time. You also get the added benefit of not supporting those nasty Petsmart/Petcos! If you choose to go with store-bought food, be certain to get Timothy Hay pellets, with no snacks/nuts/fruits/treats inside. They are high in fat and make your piggie a chubbo (aren't the chubby enough as it is? :) )

Toys: Each piggy should have a hiding place. I would recommend a half log because it doubles as a chew toy - they are fantastic for wearing down those incisors. My boys' log used to be very thick and now is getting thinner and thinner because the pigs chomp on it all day long. They don't ingest it - the shavings end up on the fleece. My piggies also like running through a tube, it simply lays inside the cage. This serves as an additional hiding place, and is handy if they won't let you pick them up (they run into the tube, then you pick up the tube and put it on the couch. when they come out, they are like "HEY! You tricked me!" Lastly, beds are great for them too. That could be items specifically made by Weaver ( such as sleeping bags, or items from around the house you don't need. I had a few winter hats that are VERY outdated that are now permanent piggy beds!

Water Bottles: I would recommend a large one because it lasts longer. If you change the water out daily, it wouldn't make a difference. Personally I don't do that, because I don't require new water myself...If i leave a glass on my nightstand for a couple of days, I'll drink it. It might sound gross but it hasn't hurt me yet! :)

Are their any other items you highly recommend?
I recently purchased fleece "bedspreads" to fit my C&C cage. I love them because they have batting inside for absorption and a waterproof layer so the chloroplast doesn't get dirty. Martha is very sweet to work with and will even allow you to order special fleece and have it mailed to her. They are a bit pricey, $100/2 (I have a 4x2), but I spent more than that on CareFresh in a few months before fleece! They also fit over the chloroplast sides which is really nice.

Good luck, and be sure to post pictures when you get your piggies! If you tell me where you are located (roughly) I will search for adoptables for you. I could look at guinea pigs all day...don't tell my boss :)

EDIT: I saw your location on your profile and did some diggin! Looks like you need to open a shelter in topeka :) Here are some ideas to get you started:

1 Hour away:

Oh my GOSH! Look who I found I found in Kansas City:

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Post   » Wed Feb 04, 2009 4:28 pm

Here are some more. This guy is on craig's list for free and I'm worried he's going to end up as Snake dinner if he doesn't get adopted soon.

Lots in Kansas City

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Supporter in '11

Post   » Wed Feb 04, 2009 6:09 pm

This may be obvious but don't forget to check the Pet Classifieds on Petfinder in addition to the rescues' posts.

And there is always a piggie transport!

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Post   » Wed Feb 04, 2009 6:18 pm

I wouldn't say it costs anywhere near $10 a week in hay for a single pig. Pet store hay is extremely over priced for what you get but even that small package lasts longer than you might think because it's highly compressed. "Eating their body size" actually is a fairly accurate recommendation, but it doesn't refer to fully compressed hay. The vast majority of us order hay online in large quantities since it doesn't spoil. It costs more up front but the per-pound price is significantly less (even when you include shipping!) and the quality is head and shoulders above the rest. I recommend myself. Lovely, lovely hay and you're supporting a small business that is rescue friendly.

Pellets end up being pennies a day so that isn't really much of an expense at all. I have 2 boars and buy 10 pounds of food at a time. This costs me roughly $15 locally (closer to $20-25 online) and lasts me 4-5 months. I don't buy more so the vitamin c is always fresh.

Veggies are probably where the real expense lies. I do think I spend $5-10 a week in fresh produce for them although I do also eat the same lettuce so some of that goes to me. If you're a good shopper you might can bring this down a bit but good produce costs money and is very important to lifelong good health if your piggie.

As to water bottles, I like 1 large per pig but the medium approx 16oz size is just fine. Surprisingly most of us don't recommend any toys at all. Pretty much anything "edible" that's a treat or toy in a pet shop is trash and even dangerous. I recommend you have 1 hide out per pig, a package of brown paper bags (to stuff with hay and veggies), and a box to put your empty toliet paper tubes (also for stuffing). As far as I can tell, these are the best pig toys.


Post   » Wed Feb 04, 2009 9:29 pm

Oh, gosh, you're not that far from me.

We currently have four pigs but have had a total of seven. All of ours were adopted through various shelters and rescue programs. Our rescuer friend in Wichita no longer takes new animals, but he has connections to various foster families and may know of a pair. I'll pass this on to him and see if he knows of any bonded pairs.

KMshayloft ships well to our area. I buy two 45-pound boxes every four months or so for our four pigs, which runs just over $100. (We're generous with the hay.) I also get her pellets.

I actually drive to your city to pick up sheets of coroplast at Fast Signs, which is in that strip mall with Best Buy. If you call ahead, you can tell them what color you want and they can order it in for you if they don't have it on hand.

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Post   » Wed Feb 04, 2009 10:52 pm

You know, the only thing I didn't mention was that in all honesty the real cost of loving guinea pigs isn't food and it isn't bedding and it isn't toys. It's proper veterinary care. A simple checkup at a very inexpensive vet begins at $45 with no medication, treatments, or xrays. We recommend owners have at least a few hundred dollars in an emergency vet account for each piggie.

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Post   » Thu Feb 05, 2009 12:18 am

I don't go through $10 a week in hay (I buy KM's.) But they sure go through wayyy more than a pile their own size per day. Weight, maybe, but not size. I just filled the bin for the night, that's easily their size, and it'll be gone in the morning. They have to have an all-you-can-eat hay buffet in the cage constantly, for health!

Fresh veggies do run a bit - all the lettuces and the green/red peppers we go through. The rest - cucumbers, cilantro, fruit treats, carrot bits, cherry tomatoes - we just share what we're having.

Welcome to the world of pigs!

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Post   » Thu Feb 05, 2009 8:53 am

Yep, what rshevin said. Vet costs can run up your expenses. Before you get your pigs, make sure you have located a cavy savvy vet, one that specializes in exotics and is experienced with guinea pigs. It does make a difference.

I can't remember, but I think someone mentioned having at least $300 - $400 set aside for vet emergencies. I spent over a thousand in one year for a UTI and subsequent stone surgery. Just make sure you're prepared for anything that may come up.

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Two Time Supporter

Post   » Thu Feb 05, 2009 9:24 am

Don't buy petstore brands! Often their pellets are junk and fat and have little to no nutritional content.

Everyone does things differently and depending on where you live and the cost of living prices will be different.

Probably the main reason most of us use fleece is cost, one time and just doing the added laundry is cheaper then disposable bedding.

I spend probably on average about $5 a week on veggies and because I can't get Km's Hay (curse you 49th parallel!) I spend about $12 a week on hay because my two go through about 2lbs of hay a week.

Pellets I only go through a 5lb bag every few months because I only give a few tbsp. a day to them as their main diet should be hay and veggies, I look at pellets as a supplement personally.

You can do toys for free! Keep old toilet paper rolls (cleaned from bits of left over paper) or use brown paper bags and stuff them with hay! They will enjoy pushing those around and playing in them. I don't have any store toys in my cage.

The cost to build a C&C cage varies but it will be cheaper then buying a petstore cage, you're probably looking at $20 for the full sheet of coroplast and $20 for the grids or so.

I second and third what rshevin said and Lovemypig. Start putting away a vet fund now. Matilda had a UTI a month ago and it took two vet trips and close to $350 to finally kick it. So if you save a little bit per month then you have a reserve and you are way ahead of the game.

I would use a large water bottle. Some use plastic some glass, I don't think it really matters as there are pros and cons to each.


Post   » Thu Feb 05, 2009 5:02 pm

I really appreciate everyone's input. I'm pretty sure I'm more excited than my son is :)

TwoWhitePiggies, thanks for the info on Fast Signs. I also appreciate you putting feelers out for foster families. I had come across your friend's information on but saw that they aren't accepting new rescues. Your friend was the only rescuer I found close by.

I also appreciate the info on ordering supplies online and on the piggy bedspreads. Those are sooo cool!

One of my friends suggested that I get one piggie and then wait a week or two for the other, as this would allow the first one to bond better with us before the other comes on the scene. She thought if I got two at the same time they would tend to bond more with each other and less with us. Have any of you experienced this?

Also, how often do you take your piggies to the vet for checkups?


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Post   » Thu Feb 05, 2009 5:18 pm

It's best to get an already bonded pair esp. if you are new to pigs. It can be more stressful to do the dating game and introduce them.

There isn't a guarantee the new pig will get along with your existing one . How they interact with you is much different than how they interact with another guinea pig.

They respond to whoever is kind to them and feeds them.

You need to take them in for a yearly check up and whenevre they are sick.
Last edited by sus4rabbitsnpigs on Thu Feb 05, 2009 5:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Supporter in '11

Post   » Thu Feb 05, 2009 5:18 pm

TwoWhitePiggies, thanks for the info on Fast Signs. I also appreciate you putting feelers out for foster families. I had come across your friend's information on but saw that they aren't accepting new rescues. Your friend was the only rescuer I found close by.
This means that they are not taking any more animals into their rescue, but does not mean that they are not adopting out. Do they not have any guinea pigs at all for adoption right now?

Regular vet care for guinea pigs consist of a yearly exam. Guinea pigs do not need vaccines or anything like that. If there is a medical problem then you can expect to pay anywhere from 200-300 on up to 500+ depending on the situation.


Post   » Thu Feb 05, 2009 7:04 pm

Also, how often do you take your piggies to the vet for checkups?

After adopting our pigs, we took them to the vet once to introduce them to the vet and get a quick check up. After that, we only took them on an as-needed basis. Some of my pigs have been to the vet several times. Linus and Frost have never needed to see a vet since I've brought them home. *knock on wood*

This means that they are not taking any more animals into their rescue, but does not mean that they are not adopting out. Do they not have any guinea pigs at all for adoption right now?

Last I checked, he didn't have any at his own home - he decided to make his last two rescue pigs part of his own herd. But he had been finding foster homes for a few others, so there might be others out there who still need forever families.

The Lawrence Humane Society frequently takes in guinea pigs, too.


Post   » Fri Feb 06, 2009 11:52 am

I'm going to definitely agree that a vet fund is a must have.

You can check my recent vet activity in the, "My Boys Have Lice," medical forum post.

I am, at least, $400 in for the last couple weeks of treatment.

I am not recommending anyone treat their pigs at home, as a wrong choice can be deadly, but even the medical treatments I have given them, in the past, like the recurrent sebaceous cyst, are not cheap.

They become like your kids. You make sure they are treated because you love them. Just remember that, unlike your kid, they are not covered by health insurace, LOL.

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Post   » Fri Feb 06, 2009 12:20 pm

Pellets I only go through a 5lb bag every few months because I only give a few tbsp. a day to them as their main diet should be hay and veggies, I look at pellets as a supplement personally.
I agree. When we took Saku in for a checkup a few months ago, the vet said that he was looking a little too plump. She said we should limit the pellets, since the piggies tend to fill up on pellets at the expense of their hay and veggies.

I fill up the pellet dishes with few tablespoons every morning. By the next morning the pellets are mostly gone. I feel that if the piggies are hungry during the night and there are no more pellets, they can always nosh on hay until morning.

My boars are looking nice and fit on the limited pellet plan.

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