View Full Version : NEWBIE...with some questions

01-03-09, 04:35 pm

My name is Pamela and I JUST joined this forum. I actually do not have any guinea pigs but have been considering it for awhile and want to ask some questions before I take the plunge. I LOVE animals and have some fond memories of my previous pets (hamsters, passed away 5 yrs ago). I think I am emotionally ready to move onto a new pet that I can take care of and play with.

I thought of getting two same-sex (female) guinea pigs and leaving them in a 10.5 sq. ft cage (the preferred size for 2 guinea pigs) together, which I was going to purchase from C&C Cages. I was looking through the site though and now I am not so sure if a guinea pig is the right pet for me. :( I am worried that some circumstances will make it unfair for the guinea pig..

Anyone want to help me/advise? If yes, I will be glad to go into more detail..

Hope everyone had a great New Years Eve!

- Pamela

01-03-09, 04:47 pm
Here's what to expect:
They're VERY HIGH maintenance and need lots of love and attention.
You'll spend a lot of money of food,bedding,new cages and especially vet bills.
They need a lot of space for a cage and free time.
You need to spend a lot of time holding them and cuddling them
You'll need to do some research before getting them and while you have them.
You need to keep them safe from other pets and small children.
They need a wide variety of veggies.
They love and need to hide.
They may not like you and will run from you.
There are many things you'll find on this site and many other sites.

01-03-09, 05:04 pm
I'm sure lots of people will be happy to help. What are the circumstances that concern you?

01-03-09, 06:38 pm
wow! thanks for responding so fast! :)

I have sooo many questions and concerns. I guess I will start by describing a bit about myself and my experience with pets. I am 21, love animals and had my fair share of pets, most noticeably my hamsters, which I have many fond memories of. My latest hamster died about 5 yrs ago and I have wanted a new pet since then but have held off because of some plans. Now that those plans are done I figured I could think about a pet again.

A few weeks ago I started making plans and was ready to commit. Today I found the site for C&C cages and was just about to order one, but stumbled upon some guinea pig care info. I read pages and pages about guinea pigs and their environments/attitudes, and now I am worried that I can not offer a guinea pig what it needs to be happy. I am very giving and love to spent time in my room, am very responsible, affectionate but willing to give the animal it's space. To me, any pet should be treated as an equal who deserves happiness, health, respect, comfort and the whole sha-bang.

One of my two main concerns is that I am not sure if my household can offer what my guinea pigs need. I am staying with my parents until September, in which case they said it is okay if I get GP's (as long as I leave the cage in my room) and they don't seem to mind the idea of floor time, I bet they will even start to enjoy it themselves. I read on the site that it is ideal to leave the cage in a common area, like a kitchen or living room, but there is NO way my mom will allow this. Believe me. I figured that I could overlook that and keep them in my room, since they would have each other (and me from time to time) to keep them company, but now I am not sure if that is enough.

Also, I am real worried about my living situation in September. I will be returning to University but am on the hunt for roommates and am aware that living with strangers is risky. I would love to find a great place to rent and just stay there for hopefully years to come, but am worried about the repercussions if this does not work out. Also, I am very picky about my surroundings and want to live in a social, open-minded environment with peers. I never rented before (successfully) and do not want to put the guinea pig in stress by moving a lot. I assume it would be safe if I moved them once (from my parents house to undecided new place) but what if I have to move it a year later? And leaving it with my family may SEEM like an option but unlike me, they do not see animals as equals but as cute little creatures beneath them that are fun to play with but not important enough to bring to the vet when it is sick.

I am sooo sorry about the length, but this morning I was all like "Tra la la, I will get 2 guinea pigs and things will be great!" and as of a few hours ago I was like "Uhhh....I don't know... </3...:("

01-03-09, 10:09 pm
If you are going to college, you may want to wait a bit. College is time consuming and expensive on its own. Caring for the guinea pigs is likewise. Most apartments around colleges do not allow pets, at least the ones I've been to. You may be able to find a pet friendly one but they may charge you a higher deposit and monthly fee.

You may find it hard to pay for a $300 vet bill when you have textbooks to buy.

01-03-09, 10:21 pm
I've seen many people go from their parents or siblings go from hating pigs to loving them. I've had one of these experiences with my son. Moving once wouldn't be very stressful for a pig. It will be nervous at first(even with going home to where you're living now) but eventually it'll get used to it. Your room will be good if you visit it often. It's great you read this forum I just want to suggest these other great websites. guinealynx ( http://www.guinealynx.info/) guinea pig home forum(our sister site (http://www.guineapighome.com/forum/)

01-03-09, 11:15 pm
I agree with waiting especially if you have a very time consuming major (or you may be like me and picked something easy :P)

But I would also say if you still want to get them some ways to cut down on the cost. 1) Build your own C&C cage, it really is easy and saves you a ton on even buying one. The Grids can be bought at bed, bath and beyond for ~$20 and the coroplast for about the same if you can find it wholesale. 2) use fleece for bedding, its a one time buy and the piggies love it. 3) find a farmers market to buy your hay from. You can get about 10x the amount of hay for the same price as local stores. Make sure you're getting second cut timothy hay though.

As far as moving, we've actually moved twice since having booger ~7-8 month period. And since he was already use to us he didnt get very stressed by the move. As for living with strangers I would not recommend keeping your piggies in a common area as you dont know what they might do when you're not around. It could be something as accidental as feeding them something they're not suppose to have or a little mishandling to flat out torturing them (trust me I've heard of this). Which is why I would recommend keeping them in your room or living with someone you know and trust.

01-03-09, 11:43 pm
Keeping them in your room shouldn't be too much of a problem if you spend a lot of time in there and take them out for floor time and lap time. The main concern is having them in the rooms of small children, which makes the pigs less likely to receive proper care.

Moving the pigs should be okay as long as you try to minimize stress. The more pressing concern is finding an apartment and roommates that will allow pets. It may be best to wait until you're already moved into a new place for this reason.

Make sure that you will be able to afford proper food, and set aside some money for emergency vet bills. Using fleece and making your own C&C cage can help cut down on costs.

You might want to consider adopting older pigs. Guinea pigs live much longer than hamsters (5-7 years is about average, but some live longer), so this may be your best option if you don't know your long-term plans.

Overall, if you plan ahead, I think you could make it work. If you're having second thoughts you can always wait until after you have moved. Hope this helps!

01-04-09, 12:17 am
Thank you everyone for all of the helpful tips! I will definitely keep these in mind when making my decision. After reading the comments, the only concern I have is if I will have free time, but I tend to like to spend time in my room, hanging out, studying, snacking, tv watching etc. I will be taking sciences in Sept, which I know is very time consuming so I was considering taking only 3 courses until I am more use to it.

My lifestyle is quite nomadic but there is no other way I could live really. I am glad that I don't have to sacrifice something as wonderful as pets in order to stay true to myself. Don't worry, I am VERY picky when roommate hunting.

How much can a vet bill cost?

01-04-09, 12:26 am
well, thats going to depend greatly on where you live. Typically living in a college town (Which I Currently do), a vet bill for just a visit can be about $50, mine is currently $45 for a quick check up. But mine also charge $10 for just nail clippings. I recommend you do this on your own it's very easy. So far all of my piggies have gone to the vet once for a check out. Gertrude has been in twice because one day we woke up to her coughing really bad and the vet told us she ate some bedding which is when we changed to fleece.

So really just a visit isnt too bad and really shouldnt happen to often. It's only if something happens and you need them to really look at them or do some tests or get medication where it gets pricey. I know if you find out they are sick it can be in the hundreds to get them healthy again.

addition, since Gerty ate the bedding I now dissaprove of carefresh bedding because thats what they had. She spilled her food out and ate the bedding with the food and was choking on it. Thankfully we got her to the vet in time and everything was on. Please check into using fleece, its so much better.

::quick edit here:: I didnt really word this well. The 45 is PER piggie, so for all my pigs together it was 130 dollars.

01-04-09, 12:34 am
So no to Carefresh, that is interesting because the website claims that Carefresh is amazing. They should change that. What is the name of the fleece you are referring to?

I am not sure where I will be living, most likely in the Toronto area, near downtown but not too close (because that is real expensive). Also depending which university I go to will decide how much free time I have. And besides using that time with my potential guinea pigs (I am thinking about using the names "mabel" and "bumps"), I think I learn a lot better when I have time to process the information more.

Thank you so much for the tips! I am so glad I found this forum and hope to return here many times in the future (with less anxious posts though, and more happy ones) :-D

01-04-09, 12:44 am
Don't get me wrong, Carefresh is one of the better beddings to use. The only main downfall is if you let it go for about a week it gets very dusty feel to it. Also I dont think most guineas eat it on purpose its just Gertrude always.. ALWAYS, knocks her food out of the bowl and eats it off the ground, I guess she just likes it better that way. But fleece is awesome and my piggies love it.

Here is a section of the website where we talk about the fleece bedding and how to use it.

and here is the general bedding section (note lots of threads about the fleece).

As for the fleece I use specifically, I buy the cheapest, most colorful polar fleece I can find. Usually cut by the yard from a fabric store is the best way to go, but sometimes you can find good deals at like dollar stores or walmart.

01-04-09, 05:48 pm
Carefresh is a good, safe bedding and many people here use it for their pigs. Just be careful they don't eat it is all. But, it is very pricey so fleece is a much more cost-effective alternative providing you have access to your own washer and drier. In the bedding forum there are threads on fleece and pros and cons for other disposable bedding.

Also, please choose to adopt your new companions from a shelter, private party, or rescue. There are so many homeless piggies without supporting the cruel practices of pet stores.

01-09-09, 08:06 pm
So I am on my way. I was wondering about some things though, should I be worrying about my guinea pigs chewing on the cable ties/connectors? This may sound real weird but besides guinea pigs and a few beta fish, I had two hamsters that loved to bite everything.

Also, how much floor time should guinea pigs get in general? Should they have more at first or not as much? I read the page about floor time already.

01-09-09, 08:32 pm
One of my guinea pigs would chew on cable ties, the moment I noticed this, I cut down the cable ties to make them as short as possible. So I would tighten the cable ties as much as possible, then cut off the extra part that sticks out.

I give my pigs floor time twice a week for 2 to 3 hours each time. They get their floor time when I clean out their cage, and since I use fleece and towels for their bedding, I wash it twice a week, and disinfect the coroplast as well.

You don't need to give them floor time everyday as long as your have the proper size C&C cage or a larger cage. One of the reasons for having such a large cage for them is so they can excerise on their own terms.

And please adopt, if you don't know where, just ask!

01-09-09, 08:42 pm
I should also probably add this:

I'm 21 also, and live in a small college town in Wisconsin. A regular vet check-up for me costs $38, so look around for a vet you can afford BEFORE you get your pigs, I did.

I also live in an apartment, and checked to make sure that I could have guinea pigs before getting them. In my apartment dogs aren't allowed, cats are with a fee, and "small caged animals" (as they refer to them as) are allowed without a fee. What they are concerned with is biting, noise, and smell. You don't have to worry about any of those things with guinea pigs! You don't even have to worry about the smell as long as you clean their cage often enough, like I do twice a week, plus I have an air purifier.

Keep in mind they are HIGH maintance.

My mother also was not crazy about the idea of me getting guinea pigs, and she's even allergic to them, but they stay in my room when I visit my parents and she's become crazy about them! She holds all of them and plays with them too, she even pays for all of their expenses when I visit them.

They have a C&C cage at my parents house too!

01-09-09, 09:32 pm
Thanks NicolsS10!

People keep telling me they are high maintenance as if that is an automatically bad thing, but I think I will be okay with it. I enough enough pets in the past to know what I can handle and what I want, and I want a pet that I can spend more time with and actually bond with. I don't mind cleaning cages and (if I have time) may even have floor time more than twice a week! I had pets that were less maintenance before and I couldn't bond with as much as it really got to me. I REALLY do not mind doing the extra little things if I know that I have something special with my guinea pigs, instead of just a pet that looks nice but doesn't remember you.

Anyway, I think my family will like them a lot too. I already cut my cable ties as much as possible, so I should be okay.

How many guinea pigs do you have? How does one pronounce "cavy"?

01-09-09, 09:36 pm
Just want to add that the prices that are being posted for a vet visit are just to walk in the door. Should your pig need any type of diagnostic procedure (x-ray, blood work) or treatment (medication, minor or major surgery), it adds to the bill substantially. I've had vet bills range from $50 to $300.

It is important to know that guinea pigs are somewhat fragile animals (in my opinion). You will almost be guaranteed to experience at least one medical problem with a pig in its lifetime whether they be minor or severe. I go to the vet with some kind of problem at least 3-4 times a year (but you can keep in mind that I have 5 guinea pigs).

I just wanted to add that so that you realize what you are getting into because I didn't realize guinea pigs were so fragile before I had them. The ONLY reason I don't have more pigs is due to the vet bills. You just never know what your future pig will end up needing medically. I had one pig who lived to be 6 and only needed to go to the vet one time for mange mites (a very minor skin condition). Another of my pigs had recurrent urinary tract infections, ovarian cysts, a uterine mass and finally liver disease which killed her. I spent at least a thousand dollars on her.

If you do decide to get a guinea pig, it is a wise idea to start a vet fund or have credit cards available should something arise.

01-09-09, 09:41 pm

I started off with 2 pigs, but my herd grew to 5! I have 4 girls and 1 neutered boy. I love them dearly and would do ANYTHING for them! I even bought a second C&C cage so I could make the one they are in 10 months of the year larger, and use their original one at my parents house, which is 90 minutes away from where I go to college. Being a pet parent is so rewarding, as I'm sure you know.

If I know people that are considering getting guinea pigs, I always tell them they are high maintenance, because I want people to know what they are getting into, you know? It's for the best of the animal, but it sure sounds like you would be a great guinea pig owner!

I'm horrible about letting people know how to pronounce things unless it's in person. The best why to tell you, is that cavy rhymes with savvy. Like a cavy savvy vet! I'm sorry I can't be more helpful with the pronounciation (sp?). At least that's how I pronounce it. It may be different in different regions.

01-09-09, 09:46 pm
I'll also add my most recent medical bill amount on here. It cost me $345 (for 5 pigs) when I brought them in due to a minor lice outbreak. Since I had to get them shots, and one just wouldn't stay still, I had to bring HER into the vet for her to get her shot, which was another 13 dollars (which was cheap). When their 3 round of shots rolled around, I didn't have the heart to do it because of the squealing, and took them in for shots, that was 29 dollars. I must add, that the vet gave me a TON of discounts. She felt for me because I'm in college, and I want to do what is right for my pigs, and she remembered her college days.

01-09-09, 09:53 pm
I'll also add my most recent medical bill amount on here. It cost me $345 (for 5 pigs) when I brought them in due to a minor lice outbreak. Since I had to get them shots, and one just wouldn't stay still, I had to bring HER into the vet for her to get her shot, which was another 13 dollars (which was cheap). When their 3 round of shots rolled around, I didn't have the heart to do it because of the squealing, and took them in for shots, that was 29 dollars. I must add, that the vet gave me a TON of discounts. She felt for me because I'm in college, and I want to do what is right for my pigs, and she remembered her college days.

Hahaha! That was so nice of the vet, and It's awesome how much you are loving your guinea pigs. Maybe one day I will be talking to a newbie on this forum and telling them something similar to what you told me. :P

No worries about the spelling. I THINK it was right. ;)
Thanks again for all the tips!

01-09-09, 10:00 pm
Oh, and one more thing. Thanks for saying that you think I'd make a good guinea pig pet owner. I really appreciate it. To be honest, I feel really guilty about how my last hamster died. I bought her at a pet store and was not sure how old she was, but she didn't LOOK like a baby. As a matter of fact, they told me she was a HE and being as young and naive as I was (pre-high school) I believed them! Anyway, I know that she died of natural causes cuz I took very good care of her and did all I could and loved spending time with her and she always seemed so comfortable and happy. She died around the most busy time for high school students and although I kept cleaning her cage and feeding her, I barely had any time to spend with her, for a good week or so. I know that that lack of attention will not kill her, and I was living at home/her cage was in common area, so it's not like it was completely isolated, but I feel like it was the reason she died.

Anyway, so I have some guilt but also love animals and pets and can not stand any type of cruelty or ignorance of animals. I think I just worry too much, but maybe these guinea pigs will teach me to worry less?

Sorry for the long response, I obviously need therapy. Were guinea pigs ur first pet?

01-09-09, 10:21 pm

I always had dogs growing up, but they were family pets. But, yes, guinea pigs are MY first pets in the sense that they belong to me and I take complete care of them. I got my first 2 about a year ago, and while I discovered this site in my research before getting them, I didn't become a member until recently.

01-09-09, 10:33 pm
You don't need to give them floor time everyday as long as your have the proper size C&C cage or a larger cage. One of the reasons for having such a large cage for them is so they can excerise on their own terms.

I'm going to have to disagree with that, my piggies get floor time for an hour on weekdays, 3-4 hours on weekends, which is the recommended minimum for floor time (in my opinion). I've noticed that my guineas are way more active on the floor than in their cage, even with them being in a proper size c&c cage. everyone once in a while heidi will get excited in her cage, usually on the veggie days when she is getting kale, and run circles. But I would say daily floor time is a must.

Edit: or as close to daily as you can manage.

01-09-09, 10:43 pm
I think it also depends on the pig. Not all pigs LIKE floor time. I know after my pigs run a few laps (in a large hallway) they start to scratch at my door (since their cage is in my room), whine at my door, sit near my door, and look up at the door waiting to go inside.

Of course that's for 3 of my 5 pigs. My boy just runs around trying to romancing the girls. I also have 1 girl that just loves to run, but she's the only one. So sometimes I give HER extra floor time, but the others only get floor time twice a week.

01-09-09, 11:04 pm
I can agree with that to an extent. But I still think whether they seem enthusiastic about it or not you should atleast start out with daily floor time until you work out a routine to see what the cavy likes. I know when they are out for the extended floor time on the weekends they go back in their cages for about 10 minutes every hour, roughly. This is because they like to go potty in privacy. But once they went potty they bite and climb on the bars to let you know the are ready to go back out, except my Gertrude, she will just look out at the other piggie and squeal until you put her back out with them. But once it hits about the 3-3 1/2 hour mark they are tuckered out and ready to go back in their cage for a nap.

01-10-09, 12:36 am
3.5 hr/day is a lot of floor time. When people said high maintenance I didn't imagine it being that high. I was thinking that 1 hr a day would be enough...


01-10-09, 12:39 am
one hour is enough and is the recommended minimum :) like I said, my piggies get one hour on weekdays we just extended to 3-4 hours on weekends because we can and usually aren't doing much else during the day. But thats just what I do because my piggies seem to like it. Your piggies may be different.

01-10-09, 01:30 am
My pigs don't get any floor time at all. What's the point? They just sit there. They move around much more in their cage, so that's where they stay.

01-10-09, 02:40 am
Some pigs are too scared at first. They tend to move more if there are other pigs with them. It helps to put down toys and things to explore like tunnels, boxes, etc. And to hide treats around so they can hunt them out.

01-10-09, 06:43 pm
Another option you might want to consider is fostering for a rescue. This will help the rescue and free you of the worry about your future circumstances. If you still decide you want to adopt and the time is right you have a good relationship with a rescue and you have more hands on experience with guinea pigs.

01-10-09, 11:31 pm
wut do u mean fostering for a rescue?

and, i dont think i m too concerned about how my future circumstances will play into my guinea pigs...i will work things out one way or another.

i was thinking of adopting anyway, but didnt really look into any local adoption agencies, i was going to look more into that closer to when i have everything else ready. :)

01-11-09, 07:32 am
I foster for my local rescue. Anyway, fostering is like taking in some pets to help make more room at the rescue. You are responsible for their health during that time. Requirements and circumstances probably vary for each rescue, but here's how mine works:
They will pay for the food, but only up to a certain amount. Usually I just buy Oxbow for them. They won't pay for outside vets, but they can see the rescue vet for free. I don't necessarily approve of the rescue vet, because he is more of a dog/cat vet (and while he is excellent for those animals) he isn't that good with small animals. So I pay for them to see my vet. Of course, I set aside money for my foster animals so that I can afford that without running out of money for my regular cavies needs. I also live at home because I'm still young, so I don't need to worry about any other bills. Just me and my cavies.

01-11-09, 12:15 pm
I think in all fairness... "love" for a guineapig or a relationship takes a very important aspect called the "commitment".

If you have even a tiny doubt, to that "long haul" that relationship (even that of a pet) is not right for you.
But that is my POV, a dedicated one... I have a legit reasoning for thinking like that too!

Like a relationship, you would have opened up your heart, house, investments, time & money (vets/doctors) etc. to it the relationship. If & when you find that you can no longer afford your time, money, hardwork to your S/O (significant other "or your pet") due to maintenance/upkeep; then sooner or later you will have to part either with that person/pet.

E.g. you have been trying all your while trying to take care of a sick spouse, but in the end you gave up on him/her b/c you just cannot do that anymore... is kind of like your pet taking too much $$$ for being sick & its too high maintenance in time & effort for you... so the ending is a parting (for the spouse; a divorce, for the GP; the shelter/rescue).

If one cannot dedicate "in sickness & in health", "for better or worse"... even with time & money... to me it does not justify a person wanting a GP/pet or another "life" into your home, your heart!

It is b/c Guinea pig is my passion, my children, that I cannot bear to see someone not as passionate & only wanting a life with only enough love just as a pet; not a relationship to a very "precious" life... that I think in the end, for the happiness of everyone involved for them not to even start having one. Rather than having them realizing "later on" that they are too busy for their pet, too allergic to their pet, got bored with their pet... that a poor life has to be "given up" & chance dying at a shelter.

"LOVE" is a word that does not includes "abandoning".
"LOVE" is a God given word, which very much meant God's commitment to us as in he will never abandon us... as in commitment between lovers, vows of a married couple (which in reality should be 'soul-mates' till the very end; even though it sometimes does not happens like that), it is from parents to child, for that dedication for that "taking care" of their next generation for their succession of their genes/lineage; what about that "love" from a mother to their children... limitless, never-ending.

LOVE we should never abandoned.

Any doubts to that significance to that word "love", one should never have used it lightly or that word love never held any true meaning at all (Love is then nothing)!

Just my POV.