For months I have been researching cost, care and other information on guinea pigs. My son has wanted a pet for a long time, but since he is the one who will be mostly responsible for taking care of it, we couldn't consider a dog or cat, because my son wouldn't be able to afford everything it requires. Plus, with us vacationing or mini-vacationing as often as we do, overnight pet care at local facilities would be too expensive.
This week, the local Humane Society has an adoption special offering guinea pigs free. This made it an opportune time to get one. I didn't even know they were available at shelters. After visiting I actually fell in love with a guinea pig that was alone in a cage. I have always been told they have to be in cages with other guinea pigs since they are social pets, but this one was larger than the others and by itself. I'm thinking it was alone because of its size and the fact that although the others would look at me while I placed my hands near their cage, this one was ready to perform for us. It was probably too rough and active. It came to me, so I know it was meant to join our household!
During my research, I learned that guinea pigs should be housed with at least 8 square feet of space. They need room to stretch, opportunity to exercise, a place to hide, eat, poop and play. I also learned that they can stink. That's not a welcoming thought to me, being someone who likes a clean home and air fresheners. Especially considering the space I made for them will be in my home office since I will be there to keep it company during the day, and it has adequate room for it's habitat. Hopefully the air fresheners are strong enough to mask any odor that the guinea pig might bring, but I was also told if the cage is kept clean and poop is removed from the cage a few times daily I may not notice any lingering odors. THREE TIMES A DAY THOUGH? My son better be ready for that!
Here's a list of some of the items we purchased for our new family member. Hopefully this will help someone thinking about getting one!
Also visit www.petsathome.com. On there website is a ton of useful advice for new pet owners!
This cage was perfect for us, because it's 8 square feet which is the required space. It's leak proof, washable, durable, it comes with a cover and you can include a wall for a divider. It also has a ramp. In the smaller area, I intend on keeping the hay. I also purchased a potty, so hopefully the guinea pig will be interested in training. The assembly allows you to attach multiple cages.
I had no idea hay was so important to guinea pigs, but it keeps their teeth short and provides the with fiber and other nutrients. Guinea pig teeth grow constantly and hay is 80% of their diet and must be in their cage at all times. The hay helps wear their teeth down and keep it healthy. I was informed Timothy Hay is the best type for them ->
Also Vitamin C is important. The Guinea pigs still need food nuggets/pellets, even though they get a fill of hay daily. They also require FRESH dark veggies like kale and bell peppers, which are perfect because those are things we always have in the home. The best part will be sharing kale since we always tend to have leaves that go to waste. An occasional treat could be a piece of apple or other fruit, which is what I plan to use to help potty train.
Of the water bottles I checked, this one had the best ratings, but unfortunately quite a few people still had issues with it. I will continue to try it and hopefully everything would be fine, if not, I will look for something else and update this post with a better option.
<- My house is carpeted throughout, so I refuse to let the guinea pig roam free. But, they do need free play daily! So we purchased two of these playpens that can be attached so with a fleece sheet on the ground, the guinea pig can run around in the playpen. Lots of space to move around in. They also need a place to hide when they want to be left alone or have peace. So an igloo is ideal. I chose one with steps that can serve two purposes. A hideaway when it wants me to stay away and steps for exercise. Put a few pellets of food at the top to encourage it to climb.
For things I already had, the habitat will be lined by fleece and I will have folded fleece as its bed. Good thing I kept a fleece blanket I got from the bank, lol. I will be using small baby bowls that I was going to throw out. The size is the same as what I was going to buy for the guinea pig and it's not plastic and light, it has weight so the guinea pig won't be able to easily turn it over.
NOTE: The best guinea pig homes I've seen were created by Do-It-Yourselfers. I happen to be a Do-It-Yourselfer and could have spent half of what was spent on the habitat had I made it myself using wood and wire mesh from a home improvement store, but we chose to buy one since it would be easier to move it from the office into another room if necessary.