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View Full Version : Whats your opinion on owning a Guinea Pig?



hallister
06-22-14, 05:02 pm
Hello! I am new to the forums, and basically the whole world of guinea pigs! My name is Halley, and I am a high-school student who is very interested in getting a Guinea Pig.

I have been researching Guinea Pigs for a long time, and I am still having my doubts about acquiring one. Here are my reasons why, as well as a bunch of questions I have that I hope someone can kindly answer for me! :)

I have owned many animals in the past, including 3 hamsters, a rabbit, a hedgehog, and multiple cats. We actually used to own 2 Guinea Pigs back in the day, but I don't really remember what they were like as I was quite young.

I haven't owned a pet now for over a year, and I miss having something who depends on me and in return gives my life some excitement, as I am not your typical teenager and quite boring, lol.

My last pet I owned was my hedgie, but we had to give her away because of her smell! Don't get me wrong, she was a joy to have and I loved her dearly and was very sad to see her go, but my mom just wouldn't let me keep her. She started off fine, and we had her for about half a year, but no matter how often I cleaned her cage, it always smelled terrible. I fully cleaned it every 3 days, and we used fleece bedding, but it began to stink up my room, eventually making the whole basement smell like a barn. And so, my mother made me give her away. This surprised me, because I had read that hedgehogs didn't smell as long as you kept on top of their cage. I had also used that care fresh bedding but it smelled even worse, that's why we switched to fleece.

Now, having said all that, everything I have read up on Guinea Pigs for the past month have made me convinced it is the appropriate pet for me. I have a job, so money is no problem, and I always have free time and patience. But, I really want others opinions of Guinea Pigs smell wise, as I would keep them (I will be getting two, since I have read this is the appropriate thing to do so they don't get lonely,) in my room, and I am willing to spot clean everyday, and do a full cage clean once a week, or twice if need be. I really would like to invite Guinea Pigs into my life, as they seem like such wonderful little creatures, but I would really like to learn as much as possible about them first, as I don't want a repeat of the hedgehog incident.

Also, any other tips and information you could give me would be great! Like, for example, are male or females better to keep? I read that females smell less, and vet bills wont be as expensive, but I would like to hear your opinion also!

Thank you in advance to anyone who replies to this!

GuineaBoys
06-22-14, 05:28 pm
Can't say I'm an expert on all this but I can tell you what I know. Guinea pigs, no matter what you do, will have an animal smell. Its the same as if you went to a friends house and she had a single small dog, you would notice a smell. That being said I, and my friends that come to my house, do not think guinea pigs stink. To me they always smell like fresh hay, but I live with them, so...

A couple of tips that I have found useful for keeping smell down.
- Use "pee pads" in high urine areas, change them daily, and let dry. (ex: http://www.guineapigmarket.com/potty-pad#.U6dlgbFqrHk)
- Change the kitchen fleece out daily and let dry.
- Vaccume your cage AT LEAST once a day, if not twice.
- I have a drying rack (link below) that I hang the kitchen fleece and pee pads on to dry. This is kept in the garage in a corner not often visited. This is because drying guinea pig urine does stink. Once they are dry they get rotated back into the cage until it is laundry time (whenever they start to smell/look soiled).
http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/polder-reg-compact-clothes-drying-rack-in-white/1013624755?Keyword=clothes+drying+rack
- Use fleece with UHaul underneath, not towels. Change the bedding (once a week seems to work for me) and wipe down the chloroplast with 50/50 water/vinegar.
- I have two boars, and they stunk to high heaven when they were first introduced to each other since they were trying to claim dominance and are sent marking everything, which lead me to airing out the house every day till they settled. Generally, a couple of times a week you will get a whiff of their sent mark when one finds something he wants to claim or if the cage has just been cleaned. Just how they are. I would say the scent mark smell lasts 10 minutes or less.
- For my boars, their butts start to stink after a while. No proof on this really working, but when their butts start stinking I give them an anal sack cleaning and it seems to do the trick!

Hope some of this helps. You may want to try fostering to see how the smell is with your parents, just in case, so that your pigs don't end up (back) in a shelter.

hallister
06-22-14, 05:37 pm
From what I have researched, males tend to smell more so I will get 2 females if I choose to get guinea pigs. I will be using shavings, because my hedgehog kind of scarred me for life with the fleece thing, lol. Some people have said that their cage smells like wood and hay if kept clean, but I am still hesitant and also I am not 100% sure how often I would need to clean for it to just smell like a regular animal, and not stink. If someone who uses shavings, or has used both shavings and fleece could give me their opinion I'd greatly appreciate it!

bpatters
06-22-14, 06:11 pm
I think you're wise to stick with females. Males give off "boar stank" when they're marking their territory, and it's really rank.

Those of us who use wood pellets are absolutely sold on them. They're cheap, and control odor better than anything else out there. I use pellets with a single layer of fleece over the top, mainly because it makes it so much easier to dump the peed-on hay and the poop. I change the fleece every 3-4 days, and the pellets every 4-6 weeks. They are heavy, but I've tried just about every bedding out there, and pellets win hands down.

You can't tell about the vet bills. Some pigs go their whole lives without needing vet visits, and others will rack up hundreds of dollars of vet bills in the first few years of life. You just need to set aside money in case you do need a vet visit, because they need exotic vets, and they're expensive.

plum22
06-22-14, 06:13 pm
I own both animals and I have to say that the pigs are much more maintenance than the hedgehog! I have to clean the pigs a lot more often than the hog or they would smell more because they pee much more than the hog does! Not that I really think either has much of an odor really.
I agree you should try fostering or babysitting some pigs to see if u can handle the smell because I would hate to see them ending up back in a shelter because of them just being what they are!

sallyvh
06-22-14, 06:25 pm
I think guinea pigs are great pets but they are high maintenance.

One thing I want to comment on is your longer term plans for your pigs. You mention you are in high school now, do you have plans for once you finish school like college or university? You need to make sure you can take care of them for their lifespan which is about 4-8 years. If college is in your plans you won't be able to bring them into residence and it can be difficult finding off campus housing that allows pets or is large enough to accommodate their cage. You need to think long term with them.

Now on to guinea pigs themselves, I have owned several small critters over the years, I've had rabbits for 9 years, a hamster, degu's and guinea pigs. Out of all of these I find that guinea pig's smell the least. I honestly don't even notice a scent with my pigs unless their cages are dirty. However I use aspen shavings, not fleece because I found that the fleece smelt horribly after only a couple of days. Hopefully some other people can comment on how they use fleece successfully.

In my experience I think my female's smell less than males. I had a male before who lived for 6 years and I seem to remember him being more smelly than the girls I have now. At the same time though I don't think it makes all that much of a difference, if you have a large enough cage and keep it clean you should be good with either.

With vet bills I don't think sex really matters, I actually think that females have the potential to have more vet bills because as they age they have the chance of developing ovarian cysts which require a spay to fully fix. Other than that though I would say they are equal.

One thing that I didn't think of when getting my pigs was how many veggies they ate and how often I would have to make trips to the grocery store so that stuff was fresh. I have 4 pigs and usually have to go twice a week to buy lettuce and stuff. You also need to think of the fridge space veggies will take up.

They are nice pets but not always very cuddly, it really depends on their personalities, if you want a super affectionate pet you may not find it in guinea pigs. I think the suggestion of fostering may be good for you if you have a rescue near by, then you know if they are the right pets for you and if the smell is acceptable. I think it's terrible to bring pets into your home and then just get rid of them, it is not fair to them in the slightest. You need to be sure of your animals before you take the plunge and make a commitment.

StarTaleMaddnes
06-22-14, 06:56 pm
Hey, so... Guinea pigs are really smell free if you keep on top of their cage and you seem like you've been browsing for a while so I won't explain why people tend to love fleece bedding so so much, but I don't think you should give up on it just yet. Piddle pads are a great way to keep down smell, along with a great excuse to buy more fleece, an honestly wouldn't it be more fun to spend your money on cute fleece that will brighten up your room than on disposable bedding. Also Something I've found that helps keep my washing machine and dryer from smelling is I add in about 1/4 cup pf natures miracle along with the vinegar when I wash my stuff and I line dry (but I live in Vegas so I can do it all year round and I know people with actual winters and humidity have a harder time)

Also I found that making sure the cage has proper ventilation really helps the smell from building.

Guinea pigs are a lot of work, and are a joy to have, but they really tend not care for people. Mine have never been aggressive, but the only time they like me is when I'm getting them fresh hay or food and veggie time. It's not so much a matter of handling them, or making sure they have floor time (mine hate that and the only time they get it on clean out days and they spend the whole time huddled together in spare hidey hut.) This is a great pet for watching and the entertainment factor, but it's unlikely to be your best friend. Again I love my girls, I'm debating getting a third actually, but they're easily the least people oriented animals I have ever owned. My tortoise was much more affectionate than my girls. Also say goodbye to sleeping in with guinea pigs, mine are up with the sun (or if I get up earlier they're up too) and immediately let me know it's breakfast time, and no the dog can't be fed first!

I hope this helped you some, good luck whatever you choose.

hallister
06-22-14, 07:04 pm
Your comment helped me out a lot! The smell was the only thing holding me back. I have a lot of patience when it comes to if a pet is cuddly or not, (after all, hedgehogs are prickly grumpy little buggers, and I loved just chilling with my Hazel) and so I would be willing to spend time letting it warm up to me. As for university plans, I will be moving into a home that allows animals and will bring any pets I already have with me, that has never been a concern for me, since I wont be going to a live in university. My hedgehog was also high maintenance, but that was also a while back and I have grown up since then and gained more respect for animals. I have been working since 13, and so money will never be a problem, as well as my parents being decently well off so if their assistance was ever needed for some reason they would be my backup plan.

Thanks again for your helpful info!

hallister
06-22-14, 07:07 pm
I think I'll be going for a wood type bedding, as it seems most people say it smells least on here, and that's my biggest concern.

Thanks for the info!

sallyvh
06-22-14, 07:44 pm
I'm happy my post was helpful! I will say guineas make awesome university pets, they don't demand attention except for their daily feedings so they are fine when you're busy and don't have the time to take them out, they are content with each other. They are great stress relievers too, I love having one sit in my lap while studying :)

hallister
06-22-14, 10:14 pm
StarTaleMaddnes, I do love the decorative factor of fleece, and how it looks a lot better, but the smell is a big thing for me! I was thinking, what about both? Perhaps a layer of newspaper, shavings, and then fleece? Not sure how that would work, but I wonder if its doable? Also, if someone has any fun but simple C&C cage ideas I'd appreciate it! I am not very handy, so maybe like a "C&C cage for dummies" guide, lol. I gotta say, the owners on here have been very nice and helpful, the hedgehog community isn't so nice, since hedgies are a quite complex pet to own. So thanks again to everyone for the kindness and information! :)

hallister
06-22-14, 10:16 pm
Also, like 99% of the information I've read said that GP's are very affectionate, and can even learn to come when called, so I am surprised!

CavyMama
06-22-14, 10:56 pm
Also, like 99% of the information I've read said that GP's are very affectionate, and can even learn to come when called, so I am surprised!

Hmmm I wouldn't say guinea pigs are "very affectionate" or even mildly affectionate. They might tolerate cuddling but when I think affectionate, I think of a cat or dog. If this is what you are imagining for guinea pigs, you will be disappointed. Guinea pigs won't come when called. They don't see humans as anything more than the source of their food. They are funny to watch but you will need to get at least a pair as they do thrive in each other's company.

If 99% of what you read told you that guinea pigs were "very affectionate", you got 99% wrong information. I would seriously question your source of information and stop looking there for information on guinea pig care. This is not to say that guinea pigs are aggressive but they certainly won't seek out affection from you. If you are lucky, you will have a particularly friendly pig who will tolerate being petted in the cage. Most will run & hide when you try to pick them up. This is their nature.

StarTaleMaddnes
06-22-14, 11:53 pm
CavyMama Thank you, you managed to say exactly what I meant! More concisely than I managed too anyway.
hallister No I don't think that would work too well because the fleece would bunch up and be uneven which would make the daily sweeping you have to to get rid of poop and scattered hay impossible. They way I, an many others on here, do fleece is
1.) water proof layer: in my case a table we built with an clear shower curtain stapled to it but coroplast is a common one.
2.) A layer of towels, doubled over in the corners they pee in most often
3.) A Uhaul pad, wash before you cut it because it will shrink a bit
4.) your fleece
5.) piddle pads in the corners and to catch a leaky water bottle. These need to be changed daily to every other day, depending on size and your piggies habits. I have to change mine daily because my girls think they're for laying on. The rest needs to be changed weekly for me. The only time I notice a smell is when I get behind on either daily sweep outs or on the weekly change out otherwise it's great.

cages are easy there are some beautiful ones on here to aspire to but my 2 girls are a 2x4 C&C cage, if I get a third I'll have to expand, so all you would need is on pack of grids from bb&b and some zip ties (i prefer those over the provided connectors for securities sake) Here's a picture of my cage to give you the basic idea.

And no, they're not affectionate with people, but they need each other although sometimes you'll get the oddball who is a loner just like on occasion you'll get one that wants to be held and loved and cuddled, but don't count on either.