If you are thinking of guinea pig as a pet, you should analyze the different pros and cons to be sure this pet will fit both what you are looking for in a pet as well as your lifestyle. It is better to find out before you get a guinea pig that they aren’t what you are looking for than after.
This article will break down the pros and cons of owning guinea pigs as a pet to help you decide whether you should add one to your family.
Pros Of Having A Guinea Pig As A Pet
Guinea Pigs Are Low Maintenance
Guinea pigs do require some level of exercise but when you compare this to the needs of something like a dog, the difference is significant.
A guinea pig will need up to four hours of free-roaming time either in a large enclosure or around the home. The benefit is that this activity doesn’t always need to be supervised, provided that you have a guinea pig-proofed area.
Conversely, a large dog will need two or three 30-60 minute walks every day; come rain or shine and this can be a huge commitment for owners. This is not to mention all the other training needs dogs have as well.
Guinea Pigs Don’t Need Much Space
Guinea pigs don’t get very big, so they don’t require a lot of space. A guinea pig does need a good-sized cage but they don’t need a cage so large that it would take up an entire room.
Typically speaking, these animals require a cage that measures 30” x 36” so the enclosure would fit neatly into a corner of your chosen room.
Furthermore, guinea pigs are very small animals so even if you have a smaller home, they aren’t going to take up a lot of space when they are exercising.
In small homes or apartments, although it is possible, it can be rather uncomfortable to keep a large dog such as a Saint Bernard or a Tibetian Mastiff.
Guinea Pigs Live Longer Than Other Rodents
Some rodents like hamsters may only live around two years, and that’s being generous. Guinea pigs, on the other hand, have much longer lifespans.
If you are buying a pet for your child and want something that won’t perish within a few months, a guinea pig is a great option.
Conversly, with a life expectancy of between five to eight years, you aren’t tied down to a lengthy commitment, if you don’t want one.
This is especially important if your children are older and may be leaving the home before the end of the guinea pig’s life.
Guinea Pigs Are Affordable
The initial cost of setting up a guinea pig enclosure with everything your new pet needs, as well as the cost of the animal itself can be done for less than a couple hundred dollars. This is great news for people who are looking for an affordable pet.
But even better is that guinea pigs don’t require huge investments throughout their lives and are very easy to take care of.
For example, their diet is made up mainly of hay which is incredibly cheap. Guinea pigs can usually be fed for as little as $5 a week.
Of course, you can also feed your guinea pig certain fruits and vegetables as snacks. However, you are likely to already purchase foods like carrots, green beans, and oranges for yourself so there won’t really be much of an additional cost for these items.
Guinea pig bedding is also not expensive and can usually be purchased in bulk where it will last you for many weeks.
Guinea Pigs Do Not Destroy Things
Another pro to owning a guinea pig is that they aren’t destructive. Although we all love dogs and cats, they can definitely cause more damage to items in your home.
Dogs are prone to chew on things and cats are prone to scratch things, but guinea pigs do neither. Accordingly, guinea pigs are a good pet for people who don’t want to worry about their pet damaging some expensive items in their home.
Cons Of Having A Guinea Pig As A Pet
Guinea Pigs Can Be Shy And Skittish
If you are looking for a pet that will heavily interact with you and rely on you, then a guinea pig might not be for you.
These are independent animals and while they will form a bond with owners who are patient enough to allow it to form, this will happen on the guinea pig’s terms and that can take some time.
Even when your pet gets to know and trust you, guinea pigs can still be naturally skittish and will evade you if they don’t want your attention.
You Have To Regularly Clean Their Cage
One of the biggest downsides to owning a guinea pig is that you have to regularly clean their cage to prevent any unpleasant smells and health issues for your pet.
You should plan on cleaning your guinea pig’s cage a minimum of twice a week. You will need a spot to clean the cage as you will need to remove the soiled bedding, wash the cage down, then put in fresh bedding.
Accordingly, you need to make sure you have the time each week to devote to cage cleaning. This is also important because failing to clean your guinea’s cage or properly store their food and bedding can attract mice in extreme instances.
Guinea Pigs Are Delicate
Guinea pigs are delicate little animals that can be easily harmed if they are not handled correctly.
For this reason, while guinea pigs can be good pets for children, it is really important to always supervise your child when they are holding or petting the guinea pig.
Guinea Pigs Need A Strict Diet
Not only are guinea pigs physically delicate, they are also internally delicate. As such they need to be fed a certain diet for the best health.
Guinea pigs are unable to produce vitamin C by themselves, thus you need to sure they are fed a diet high enough in vitamin C to prevent any adverse health issues.
This can usually be accomplished through feeding pellets and offering certain fruits as snacks that are high in vitamin c like oranges, kiwi, and pineapple.
Guinea Pigs Don’t Live As Long As Cats And Dogs
Now, we did mention that the slightly longer-than-average rodent lifespan of the guinea pia was a pro when compared to other rodent pets. However, if you want a long-term pet that could last for 15 – 20 years, then we would advise you to consider something like a dog or a cat.
Guinea pigs make good short-term pets but you should prepare for the difficulty of them passing away. This can be especially hard for children who may have gotten a guinea pig as a youngster and then has to go through the pain of losing their pet in their early teen years.
Who Should Consider Owning A Guinea Pig As A Pet?
When you are looking for the right pet, one of the first things you should think about is what time you have to dedicate to the animal.
All pets need some degree of attention and while a guinea pig may need vastly less time than a dog each day, guinea pigs do still need your attention and interaction.
While guineas do not need constant human interaction, guinea pigs will appreciate playtime and affection from their owners.
Once they are comfortable with you guinea pigs can like to be held and petted. If you have an hour or two to spare each day to give your pet some easy attention, then a guinea pig might be right for you.
They are also a great choice for people with limited space as they do not require masses of it, although you will need a relatively large enclosure to ensure your pet is comfortable.
If you can fit a 30” x 36” cage in your home and are willing to let them roam free each day, you may be a suitable guinea pig owner.
Guinea pigs are also excellent starter pets for children over the age of five. They require a degree of care, much of which can be the responsibility of the child.
This teaches children to take care of animals and will allow them to form a good bond with the guinea pig. Moreover, guinea pigs are relatively gentle animals that pose very little risk to children.
Guinea pigs are a wonderful small pet that can easily fit into many lifestyles. However, while they are super cute, affordable, and don’t need much space there are some downsides to owning a guinea pig.
You have to make sure to regularly clean their cage, as well as take time to develop a bond with them because guinea pigs take more time than a dog to warm up and trust humans.
If the cons don’t scare you off, then welcoming a guinea pig into your home may be the perfect fit!