A Topic Inspired by Wishes
- Guinea Pigs are NOT good "Starter Pets"
Contrary to popular opinion, guinea pigs do NOT make good pets for small children. While they are small, fluffy, soft, and are generally good-natured and rarely bite, they are also fragile and delicate. They cannot take the roughhousing a puppy can; they can't be trained to do tricks, and small children don't always understand this. They don't typically play or interact with people in the manner of a cat or a dog. They are confined to a cage and are not able to let you know when they don't feel well, unlike a dog or kitten will [usually all over the kitchen floor ;-) ].
- Research Guinea Pigs BEFORE You Bring Them Home!
Involve the entire family in researching the needs of any animal before bringing one into the home. The best way to do this is to collect information from several different sources. Why? There's a lot of misinformation on the Internet. Many pet care books that are sold in stores are outdated (and many are written by and for breeders, not pet owners). Most pet stores will sell you food, cages, toys and accessories that are inappropriate or even outright dangerous for the animal. Their purpose is to make a profit, not to do well by either the pet or by you. Some Internet information, like that found at www.guinealynx.info , is far superior to that you'll find in a pet store or library book. Learn what the animal needs, what their personality is, and how to properly treat and handle the prospective pet BEFORE bringing one or more into your home.
- An Adult MUST Be In Charge
If you do choose a guinea pig (or two) as your family's new companion, it is equally vital that a responsible adult take ultimate responsibility for seeing that the animals' cage is kept clean and that the new pet is kept well fed, with appropriate foods and clean water, and is properly treated. It is unfair to both the animal and the child(ren) to expect any child to take full responsibility for the animals' care. This responsible party needs to observe the guinea pig carefully each and every day. This doesn't have to take a long time -- just look in and make sure everything's okay and the pig is behaving properly, with plenty of food and hay, a clean cage, and clean water.
- Line Up a Knowledgeable Vet BEFORE You Need One
Guinea pigs, also contrary to some opinions, DO require appropriate veterinary care. This care must be given by a veterinarian who knows something about the species! Most regular dog/cat vets may not have up-to-date medical training for exotic pets (guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, macaws, chinchillas, etc.). "Exotic" in this case does not mean "unusual". It means "anything other than a dog or cat" and it's important to find such a vet BEFORE you need one. Guinea pigs are prey animals in the wild and do not always show signs of illness before they're very ill, and may even be close to death. Again, a responsible adult needs to look in on the animal daily and be ready to take the pet to a vet if necessary.
Exotics veterinarians can sometimes be more expensive than regular dog/cat vets. Be ready for this. Have a vet fund set aside for their care. Most illnesses are often treated with simple medications, but you need to be ready if it's more than that. Many vets offer CareCredit, a low- to no-interest rate credit plan for unexpectedly large veterinary expenses. Costs vary widely by location. What may seem very expensive in a small midwest US city may be considered cheap on the East or West Coast, Australia or Great Britain. In locating a cavy-knowledgeable vet before you need one, you can ask for a price schedule so that you know what to expect in your area.
Please don't let them down.