Owning a Guinea Pig | The Pet Series
Guinea pigs are cuddly, friendly and full of personality, making them the perfect pet for Brisbane Kids.
Read on to find out where to purchase guinea pigs in Brisbane, how to best care for your furry friends and tips to ensure your guinea pigs become happy members of your family.
Are guinea pigs the right pet for your family?
Before you purchase a pet guinea pig, be sure that you are willing to take on the responsibility of caring for it. Guinea pigs can live for up to seven years and require fresh food and water daily. They also need a secure hutch to keep them safe from predators, and this will need to be cleaned out weekly. Many children will lose interest in an animal after a while, so you cannot rely solely on your child to care for your guinea pigs. Having said that, most children will enjoy learning how to care for their pet and taking on some of the responsibility. Guinea pigs are social animals and thrive on interaction with both humans and fellow piggies, so you need to be willing to spend time with them on a regular basis. They love to be (gently!) cuddled, groomed and played with. If you are in a rental property, don’t forget to seek permission before you get a pet.
Purchasing your guinea pigs
If you’re ready to take on the responsibility of a pet guinea pig, it is best to adopt a pair from the Australian Cavy Sanctuary Brisbane Shelter, based at Narangba (on Brisbane’s north side). Contact Jessica at [email protected] or make contact via their facebook page which has an online adoption enquiry form. You can also purchase food, housing and other accessories such as water bottles through the shelter. Alternatively, you can search on the RSPCA web site “pet match maker” for guinea pigs available to adopt at a number of locations across Brisbane.
You can expect to pay approximately $20 per guinea pig. Being social creatures, it is best to adopt more than one guinea pig so that they can keep each other company. Purchase either two males or two females to prevent multiplication, and ensure that the guinea pigs are not already pregnant when you purchase them. Otherwise, you could find yourself having an unplanned “birds and the bees” talk with your Brisbane Kids! There is no requirement to register your guinea pigs with the Brisbane City Council or local authority.
Choosing your guinea pig
There are both short and long haired guinea pigs available, but bear in mind that long haired guinea pigs require a considerable amount of grooming. There are lots of different colours and markings in guinea pigs – it is fun to let your children choose.
A healthy guinea pig –
- Will have bright, clear eyes with no signs of weeping
- Its nose will be dry to moist, with no signs of discharge
- Should have a coat that looks shiny and healthy
- Should be active
Most guinea pigs are timid, so it will take time for it to build up trust in you.
Caring for your guinea pigs
It is simply adorable to hear your guinea pigs squeaking with delight when they see you and squealing excitedly when it’s dinner time! Guinea pigs are strictly vegan and need the following elements in their diet:
- Fresh hay needs to be available at all times as it assists in digestion.
- Pellets are available from most pet shops and are rich in nutrients, especially vitamin C which guinea pigs cannot synthesise themselves, and therefore need to obtain daily from their diet.
- Plants and vegetables – green leafy vegetables (excluding iceberg lettuce), grass and other vegetables are important in your guinea pigs’ diet. Approximately one cup of vegetables per guinea pig, per day is the correct amount to feed them. Potatoes, onions and mushrooms are poisonous for guinea pigs.
- Fruits can be given as a treat.
- Water must be available at all times.
Supervise younger children when handling guinea pigs to ensure they are not dropped or squeezed too tightly.
Brisbane climate and guinea pigs
Guinea pigs are sensitive to extremes of temperature. In the warmer Brisbane months, ensure that guinea pigs are kept in the complete shade with adequate ventilation. Fruits with a high water content, such as watermelon are good for keeping guinea pigs hydrated. You can also make guinea pig ice blocks (chopped vegetables mixed with water and frozen) for a cool treat.
In the cooler months, guinea pigs should ideally have an enclosure that is well insulated with hay. Having more than one guinea pig means they can snuggle up with a friend to keep warm. On particularly cold nights, your little piggie friends will appreciate a hot water bottle.
Benefits for Brisbane Kids
The benefits of children owning pets has been widely documented – they provide companionship, encourage nurturing behaviour, offer comfort and encourage children to take responsibility. Spending time with a pet helps kids to unwind and relax after a hectic day. You may even find yourself quite attached to this newest member of your family.
Five fun facts about guinea pigs
- Despite their name they are not pigs and do not come from Guinea. They originated in the Andes.
- Another name for a Guinea pig is a ‘Cavy’. A male guinea pig is called a boar and female is called a sow.
- Their teeth are constantly growing so it’s important for them to chew to wear them down.
- A young guinea pig can run when they are only three hours old.
- Guinea pigs have a great sense of smell and hearing, but their eyesight is weak by comparison.
Follow the Brisbane Kids Pet Series with our guides to Owning a Dog or Owning a Cat. The Parenting 101 section of our site contains lots of valuable parenting information, including 10 Ways to get your kids eating more vegies.