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.
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.
The parent can then decide if they think their family is ready.
- Sewing for a Cause
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!
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.
EDIT: Here is my son at 3 and how he treated our pigs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhsbDAJtaiM But you can also look over YouTube and see teens having their pigs swim in a pool.
- Wheekness for Pigs
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.
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.
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!
My order of importance is:
#2. School (I would like to keep my straight A's :))
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.
- I GAVE, dammit!
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.
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.