Children - Appropriate age for a Guinea Pig?

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Post   » Wed Aug 12, 2009 12:56 am

I was just wondering what your opinions are on what age a child a guinea pig can be most appropriate for? Perhaps not under 10 at all? I am wanting to discuss this because I am starting school soon and if I meet a classmate who has a child that wants a guinea pig I want to be able to give some advice for the good of that family AS WELL as the good of the Guinea Pig that may go there. Thanks!


Post   » Wed Aug 12, 2009 1:24 am

My daughter is 5 and I know a lot of people buy guinea pigs for their children that age or a little older. The only thing my daughter does to help out with their care is helping to hand out veggies and hands me towels to line their cage with.

But, I got my boys with the intention of me fully caring for them. I'm thinking 10 and older is a more appropriate age to care for a pet like guinea pigs who need so much special care and attention.

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Post   » Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:16 am

I think it depends more on the child themself, than the age of a child. Definitely not under 3. I know a few kids who I could trust to help me with pig care at 3+, then there are kids who I wouldn't even trust to feed the pig at age 16+.

That said, I agree with FourBoys that it's a good idea to have a young child help with a pet, as long as they know mom and/or dad are in charge.


Post   » Wed Aug 12, 2009 5:41 am

I think the more important thing is that the parent realize they will be the primary care-giver. At the very least, they will be the care provider from a financial standpoint, which can be very expensive over the life of a guinea pig. Also, perhaps mention that guinea pigs do not particularily good pets for children, as they are very delicate.
The parent can then decide if they think their family is ready.

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Post   » Wed Aug 12, 2009 5:44 am

11 to 12? But then the guinea pig(s) may still be with them throughout high school and when they go off to college.

Any younger and even at that age, the parent or adult needs to be the primary caretaker or at least willing to take over when needed.

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Sewing for a Cause

Post   » Wed Aug 12, 2009 7:31 am

I would stress what Carrie86 said, parents being the primary care giver, stressing more the financial aspects they would be taking on.
I think if the vet care and overall financial was stressed more, it would become a bigger debate for the parent to think on and seeing this is not really the 'easy child pet' they have been made out to be. As well as cage size needed, both has been the two biggest turn offs to people I've spoke with considering cavies.

I also agree with GuineaPiggin about the age, some children are better mindset to (help) care for animals while others, even adults, can not or not willing to do.

If opportunity arises when a child or parents asks that is seriously considering getting a cavy, tell them about seeking out a rescue to foster for. That way they get a better idea, yet not having to commit 100% just yet, and you get the benefit of knowing the rescue okay's them as a good home!


Post   » Wed Aug 12, 2009 9:47 am

I think there really isn't an age. That pet is the parents responsibility(even legally) in most places until the child is 18. People that talk about wanting one are usually invited over. They usually nearly crap themselves when they see my 2 by 11(4 boars seperated). And veggie time. . I also mention that one of my pigs was intended as a friend for the first, but would rather rip his face off(not usually in those words). I also usually direct them to this website. As long as they understand they are the primary caregiver, and whatheir child's role is in their care, it could be any age. My 3 year old nephew is extremely helpful, gentle, and knows the rules. He did ask, 'Raymond eats his poop, I can eat my poop?'

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Post   » Wed Aug 12, 2009 10:07 am

I've been the main caretaker, with my father's help financially & as the car driver to the vet, since I was 12. Never once got 'bored', but then again my 11 year old sister got bored of her two rats and gave them to me a while back. She couldn't handle it at 11, I could have. Depends on the child.


Post   » Wed Aug 12, 2009 10:52 am

(eeny, your avatar piggy is so on my pignap list...if i could only figure out where in NJ)

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Post   » Wed Aug 12, 2009 11:00 am

Hehe, he's precious isn't he? He had stones surgery yesterday & sadly isn't doing too well quite yet.

To stay on topic, I'm 15 and am perfectly capable of handfeeding every five hours & waking up at 3 in the morning to medicate, hydrate, & handfeed Buzz (the avatar pig), which is our schedule right now.


Post   » Wed Aug 12, 2009 11:41 am

I agree with theamazingbox. There is no right answer, since its really the adult in the situation who will be caring for the guinea pig. Its also up to the adult, no matter what the age, to teach the child how to treat the pet. The child can be 2 and capable of helping and proper supervised handling or 17 and completely irresponsible and horrible to it.

EDIT: Here is my son at 3 and how he treated our pigs. But you can also look over YouTube and see teens having their pigs swim in a pool.
Last edited by HazelNut on Wed Aug 12, 2009 11:42 am, edited 1 time in total.


Post   » Wed Aug 12, 2009 11:41 am

He's quite the handsome guy, and very lucky to have such a responsible owner.
I know I probably wouldn't have been able to handle piggies when I was 15.

Wheekness for Pigs

Post   » Wed Aug 12, 2009 11:47 am

I think whether or not a pig is an appropriate choice really depends on the child themselves. Some kids will be super conscientious and capable and others will not. Parents need to evaluate as much as they can about pigs and their care and make an informed decision on two fronts:

1. Can my child do what it takes to reliably care for this/these pig(s) and safeguard them?
2. If the answer to # 1 turns out to be "No," am I committed to the high quality of care necessary for the pig(s) well being?

If the answer to either is "No," then a guinea pig is a poor choice as a pet at this time for you.


Post   » Wed Aug 12, 2009 1:42 pm

I think 8 or 9 is a good age because the guinea pig will stay with the family until about when the child is ready to enter college. At that point they're also more emotionally developed and better able to empathize with guinea pigs and understand that they are living beings and not stuffed animals.

It's a lot to think about though. I mean, a kid may be interested in a guinea pig at age 8, but will they still be interested in taking care of a senior citizen guinea pig when they are in college, learning how to drive, going out with friends, going out on dates, studying for the SATs, applying to college, etc?

The parent needs to make the call depending on the child (How mature and responsible and empathetic is their child? Does the child lose interest quickly?) and how willing they are to pick up ANY slack when it comes to the care of the guinea pig, since there are times when they will undoubtedly have to.

If their family can do that, then I'm sure they'd be great caretakers. But if they think there is a chance the guinea pig will be surrendered or given up in the future, then they should just get their kid a stuffed animal.

And stress to the people you know that pet store and breeder pigs are a really, really bad idea.

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Post   » Wed Aug 12, 2009 4:36 pm

I don't think a guinea pig should be a childs pet, but the family's pet. I think that parents can get a pig for their child, but they should be just as involved if not more than the child in the care of the pet. I wouldn't expect any young kid to be able identify and monitor health problems or know how much or what kind of vegetables to feed.

Also, it is a good idea to bring up the life span of a guinea pig to let them know that it may be up to the parents to provide all care when they child moves out or goes to college. If they are worried about this, let them know how equally great if not better an adult guinea pig can be.

And through the whole conversation mention adoption, adoption, adoption!

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Post   » Wed Aug 12, 2009 4:42 pm

I am on the younger side on this website. I got Buddy when he was just a wee little thing. He was my baby and my life. And still is. I'm not one of those tweens who spends there money on toys and stupid stuff you forget about and only use for a week. Babysitting is my job. All my money goes to the bank, Buddy, or things I NEED.

My order of importance is:

#1. Family
#2. School (I would like to keep my straight A's :))
#3. Buddy

I can't imagine what would happen to me when he's gone. He's a part of me. We can talk to each other without moving our lips.

Yes, I got Buddy from a pet store. I know better now. I bought him thinking he was a girl. (that's what the label said) First time he went to the vet, that all changed.

I am Buddy's main caregiver. I buy all of his food, treats, fleece, and pine shavings. (or anything else he needs) My parents are technically the owners of him. But they just think he's a pet. That's what everybody I know thinks he is just a pet. But he's more than that to me, he's a member of our family, and my baby!

The appropriate age for children dosn't matter about the age it just matters about the kid themself.

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Post   » Wed Aug 12, 2009 5:38 pm

Buddymommy, same here about being the younger group. Im in my Junior year of high school, but I don't buy my pigs supplies. My parents are also technically the owners of my two pigs, but they don't come in my room and see the pigs everyday or anything. So they are my babies! :)

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I GAVE, dammit!

Post   » Wed Aug 12, 2009 8:11 pm

Ditto on the idea of pigs being the family pet. No matter what, the parents have to be willing and able to care for the pig. Stuff comes up, vet bills can be huge and so forth. So unless the parent is 100% dedicated to adopting a new member of the family, I 'd say no way no matter what the age.


Post   » Wed Aug 12, 2009 8:22 pm

I wanted to chime in again with a note on responsibility.

A lot of people say "A guinea pig will teach my child responsibility."

Which sounds like it makes sense, until you realize that guinea pigs are animals that eat and poop and are completely dependent on human care, and not in a position to teach anything. They are, however, in a position to suffer from neglect.

The best way for a parent to teach responsibility is to model it. If they get a pet, they must commit to modeling the responsibility of taking care of a family pet to their child. If that is not possible, another way to model responsibility to the child is to teach them that, if it is not possible to provide a pet with a good home, the responsible thing to do is to not get a pet.

When I was young I never understood why my parents would not let me have a dog or even a guinea pig. "I'll learn how to be responsible!" I would protest. Now that I'm older I understand that there was not really a way for parents to responsibly handle a dog or even a small pet, and that it would have been irresponsible for my parents to let me try by myself.


Post   » Thu Aug 13, 2009 12:13 pm

I personally compare the responsibility of owning a pet to the responsibility of having a child. I know that pets do not equal children, legally, financially, etc., but the responsibility is the same.

I like the comparison because when asked, I'm sure many parents would say that their child wouldn't be able to handle one of their own. It would open up their eyes to how much responsibility they'd have to take on themselves.

Then again I haven't had any (human) children of my own yet, so my perspective might change on that.

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