View Full Version : Impulsively bought guinea pig at petsmart...

04-09-11, 02:37 pm
It was our son's 5th birthday we had not discussed things in depth but knew we wanted to get him some sort of little "friend". He loves all creatures and calls them his friends (even the black ants that make their way to our kitchen sometimes). SO, it was between a fish and a rodent the guinea pig idea won. It was only after getting him and having spent $40 on a 30"x18" cage at petsmart that I came home and did some googling and found this site. I have no problems trying to make "Pretzel" happy and am planning on making a C&C cage, but my hubby will only agree to it if we can return his other cage to petsmart. (Hopefully if I clean it well and put it back in the original box it won't be an issue) I am also hoping in the future to adopt a spayed female from a rescue as a companion for him- but I will have to sell hubby on that idea! We are expecting our 3rd child in a few months (we have a 2 year old daughter) and he does not want to "go overboard" with this "guinea pig thing". I am an animal lover who grew up with many rescued cats and dogs, had pet rats, a stray bird, some lizards, etc. However my husband grew up with ONE very pampered Sheltie who he had to groom himself as a weekly mandatory chore. He wanted to make our son happy, so he agreed to the guinea pig and I am hoping I can win him over by showing him how cute and fun they are!

Anyway, just wanted to introduce myself. Pretzel is currently very timid and hides in his igloo alot. He will take lettuce or carrots from my hand if I wait patiently- but my son is just too squirmy and scares him. Any tips on getting him used to being handled?

Another concern I have is that we have a Whippet, who likes to chase small creatures and has killed two squirrels in the past. He did fine when we had cats in the house previously...so I'm hoping he'll make friends or at least tolerate the presence of one or two guinea pigs. We'll see I guess! For now I'm being very careful about making sure Pretzel does not end up as a chew toy.:ohmy:

Thanks for advice in advance everyone!
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v205/Hisgirl93/Pets/217550_10150151331795773_568610772_7217271_4352297 _n.jpg

04-09-11, 02:52 pm
"It was our son's 5th birthday we had not discussed things in depth but knew we wanted to get him some sort of little "friend". He loves all creatures and calls them his friends (even the black ants that make their way to our kitchen sometimes). "

Welcome. Yes definitely take the pet store cage back. Make sure he has unlimited hay. When you make your cage, childproof it. Totally, as if you had a cat. Because in a few months you are going to be very busy with a baby and two small children around. Even a five year old needs to be supervised when he pets. Just understand. He is your pet. The kids just get to enjoy his presence. YOu are responsible for all his care.

And when you can adopt him a friend.

04-09-11, 05:16 pm
I agree completely with FlowersGrandma. Even well-meaning children can drop, squish, and injure guinea pigs who are scared or excited. It is very important that you do supervise all handling because some injuries can be fatal.

Please check out Guinea Lynx for proper care information and diet. http://www.guinealynx.info/healthycavy.html

Welcome to the site! I hope you'll find it a great resource.

04-09-11, 05:25 pm
Welcome to the site! I'm so glad your getting him out of the store bought cage and looking around the site to give him the best care! I also bought a petstore cage in the beginning (even though my pigs were from a rescue) and I got it off craigslist so there was no returning it. I did a C&C/petstore combo and it works great! Check out my photo albums (please ignore the ugly mix matched towels, we have since upgraded to solid fleece on both sections with a towel under the petstore side since that is where they do all of their business.) for ideas if you can't return your petstore cage.

Before adding any friends for your piggie (please seriously consider adopting!) double then triple check to make sure you got a male. Petstores are known for miss sexing piggies. What kind of food (pellet and hay brands, and what kind of veggies) are you feeding him and how old is he? I ask because most stores only sell junk pellets (usually containing dangerous chemicals that can cause cancer and seeds/colored pieces of food) and often tell owners to use Vit C water drops which is not needed at all or reccomended. Since you have a whippet (which I think are an awesome breed by the way even though I've never had one!) and a small child I would make sure you have a top on your C&C cage so that your son can't get in the cage without you knowing. Your dog could also be a serious threat to the piggie. Perhaps if you keep the cage on top of a table of some sort or in a room that he is not allowed in that would be much better (less chance for injury to the piggie) and less stressful for the pig and probably the dog.

As for handling tips, being from a petstore (and probably a guinea pig mill) he was probably rarely, if ever, handled so a kid who is super excited to play with him is a concept he isn't familiar with. If you want your son to handle him have him lay a towel or something else warm for the pig to snuggle in, on his lap and have him hold a favorite veggie so the piggie gets the idea 'snuggle time means good things! I don't have any reason to be afraid'. You could also try during floortime, to place treats in little paper towel rolls or other 'hidey' type places that will make him explore(in a piggie safe zone of course). I saw someone made a maze once with those mega large legos and hid treats throughout it, your son may have fun with something like that for floortime.

I hope I helped you out somewhat, again welcome to the site! :)

04-09-11, 06:22 pm
Thanks so much for the input everyone. Yes, my son is supervised at all times with Pretzel and I'm considering "locking" his cage with some kind of child-proof closure. At least for the time being. He is very good/gentle with animals for his age, but I think he is just too eager to interact with his new friend and I discovered the cage looked a bit messed up- as if he had been trying to pet Pretzel and Pretzel was trying to hide! (I asked him about it but he thought he would be in trouble and refused to confess) We put the cage up on a table so he is off the floor and not intimidated by people/dog walking around. (Or by my kids jumping up and down "dancing" to some music as they were doing last night- right next to his cage!) He's been getting brave and exploring his cage while we are in the room watching tv or playing video games. Still spends alot of time in the igloo though.

I don't remember what brand pellets we got him, but they were from petsmart and they did tell us to buy Vitamin C drops! We just picked some up today only to come home and read online that you can give them vitamin C tablets or buy them food with stabilized vitamin C in it. In fact, the drops only work minimally since the vitamin C breaks down in the water so quickly. Grr.

Anyway, I am going to look into adopting a companion for Pretzel at some point before our new baby is born. My thinking is that if I am busy and distracted with a newborn, I don't want him to be lonely. Of course once he is tame he will get to play with my son more- but I will still need to supervise that. I'm guessing I'll be nursing the baby while my son plays with Pretzel! But hopefully a little "girlfriend" will give him additional companionship, I keep reading that they do so well in pairs. And thanks for the tip on making sure he is a boy. Petsmart has only one sex per store (all male or all female) but I'm sure it's possible for them to get the wrong sex from the breeder and not realize it.

Hubby is now on board with the C&C cage idea and said now that we've gone and committed to having a guinea pig we need to give it what it needs. So, that is a relief for me because initially he was looking at me like I was becoming some crazy guinea pig fanatic. (Unfortunately he has had bad experiences with me and animals in the past...involving providing foster care for several litters of kittens and their mothers) We are considering using an alternative to coroplast...either rubber matting or clipping a shower curtain liner to the cubes. We like the idea of a bottom that can easily be folded up and taken outside to dump in the compost pile.

Sorry this is so long. Thanks again for the info!!

04-09-11, 07:11 pm
You mentioned getting Pretzel a companion. A spayed female is a good idea but there's nothing wrong with getting him a male friend either. And yes, always double check to make sure of the sex before introducing them - AFTER the 21 day quarantine, of course!

04-10-11, 09:44 am
They don't need pellets with extra vit C or tablets (unless they are very ill, then I hear they are alright) either. They only need veggies with high vit C and your set! Green bell peppers and cilantro are excellent sources of Vit C for piggies, 1/8 of a bell pepper a day is all they need for getting that Vit C into their diets(though they need 1 cup per day per pig of veggies). I don't like cilantro since it goes bad extremely quickly. I give cherry tomato's, romane and green leaf lettuce, bell pepper (sometimes a little bit of yellow one but that has higher sugar than green so its not fed as often), cucumber, parsley, carrots, and maybe a piece of orange or apple once every two weeks or so.

As for pellets the only good things to feed them are Oxbow, Sweetmeadow, and the queen of piggie pellets Kleenmama's. If he is on a Kaytee brand of pellets take him off of them asap because that is one of the worst brands to feed. If your boy is under six months he should either be fed alfalfa along with another grass hay (timothy, bluegrass, orchard) and a timothy based pellet (like Oxbow Cavy Cusine) or don't give him alfalfa hay and give him a alfafla based pellet (Oxbow Cavy Performance). If he is over six months then all he needs unlimited hay, 1 cup of veggies, and 1/8-1/4 cup of a timothy based pellet. I love Oxbow and buy a 5 pound bag at my feed store (I only get my hay from Petsmart since I don't like to support the buying of petstore animals) and that lasts 3 months for 2 males. I use to feed them this crap from walmart and I noticed a difference within a week from switching. Feeding a bad pellet makes them sluggish and overweight just like humans and can lead to costly vet bills along with a shorter life span.

I agree, two boars (males) do well together as well! If you can find a spayed female (which could prove hard since it can be dangerous for a piggie to get that kind of surgery) thats great but don't rule out another male. It's a total lie and myth that male piggies can't get along. While they are more territoral (hence why its reccomended for a 2x5 cage for two males) they can get along great! I have two boys myself and they are brothers from the same rescued litter, they fought a lot during their 'puberty' stage but now they are just fine. :)

I couldn't find any coroplast in my area and had to improvise. I use like a thick matt type stuff with grips on it. Its almost like something you would stick under a computer chair to protect hardwood floors only nice and thick (so its more chew proof). I got it at Home Depo for like 8-10 bucks and that was enough for a 2x3 with 2-3 inch high sides. I love it because our cage is on the floor and we live in a very chilly state and even though the floor may be freezing its toasty warm inside their cage. So its a great insulator (plus they have little accidents in there sometimes and its super easy to clean down). Just an idea since your looking for a coroplast alternative.

Don't worry about long messages, its best to get all the info you possibly can! We don't mind around here, let us know how Pretzel likes his new cage when you build it! :)

04-11-11, 08:39 am
If you can find the coro, I HIGHLY recommend it over a shower curtain. It is very easy to take up the towels and the fleece, and wipe it down with vinegar (my preteen can do it by herself). No need to take the coro out of the cage. (I found that shower curtains moved, were hard to clean and didn't hold poops in the cage very well.) Then put down fresh towels and clip the fleece and you are good to go. I use CHIP clips instead of binder clips and find them much easier and less burrowing. They are around $1 at dollar stores around here. I buy one for each grid section so a 2x5 would use 14.

I have an old upright canister vac that we use for vacuuming the cage during the week. When the canister is about half full, just dump in trash. Then on cleaning day, she takes the fleece outside and shakes and then we wash on the sanitize cycle. Time consuming, but fairly easy.

I would NOT let your son play with the guinea pig while you are nursing. When I nursed, I could not properly supervise a five year old doing anything. I would feed the baby, get him/her down for a nap, and then have special one on one time with Pretzel and your son. Make it a treat. If he behaves while you feed the baby, then you and he can play with Pretzel.

You can easily put a top on a 2x5 with closet shelving you can get at Lowe's or Home Depot or some other hardware store. Attach it to the back of the cage with zip ties just like you use on the rest of the cage. Then buy a small lock to put on the front to keep the kids out until you are ready for play time. Will help with the puppy too.

I know you are thinking your children are very well behaved, and believe me, I have no doubt that they probably are. But understand, 1) I teach 5 year olds. :) and 2) you children will have friends over who are not always that well behaved. Be prepared now. 3) You have a dog too. Cat-proof, dog-proof, child-proof that cage as best as you can.