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Cajungaltx
04-28-14, 10:38 pm
My 17 year old (Tori) has fond memories of Domino, the hamster she received for her birthday when she was five (don't judge, I was a single mom and thought 'hey, it's better than a cat or dog...honestly, I didn't realize what I was getting into.)

She was really too young to have a hamster and the majority of the care, etc fell to me. I think that's pretty standard for all moms in homes with pets.

My seven year old daughter (Sarah) came home and asked 'can I get a hamster?'

Please... Pretty please?

She practically begged.


Her birthday is in July, so I told her she could put it on her birthday wish list and we'll see.

Daddy said (as he was tucking her in that night): when you get a little older.

Next morning she tells me daddy said when she gets older, and she'll be older ON HER BIRTHDAY!!

She's already signed up for law school, don't worry. :-)

I suggested my 17 year old take her by Petsmart to see if they would let her hold a hamster.

So today when I get home, I find out that hamsters bite (I knew that from personal experience!) and that instead if a hamster, a guinea pig would be a better fit.

So, like all good moms, I started doing research and found this forum.

I'm not 100% sold on the 'get a guinea pig' plans being made but I'm definitely considering it.

Positives seem to be that a guinea pig is more social, interacts more, and easier for 8 year old little girls to hold onto. And apparently they can be litter trained??? WHO KNEW?

Negatives are...well, cage issues. But I'm an avid sewer and love the fleece pads and could easily whip those out on my serger with rolled hems for safety.

So thanks for sharing your experiences, I'm off to read!

CavyMama
04-29-14, 02:39 am
Welcome to the forum! It's a good thing you landed on this forum. It is filled with knowledgeable people with a lot of guinea pig experience.

The first thing I (and everyone else here) would tell you is to look into adoption of your guinea pig. Do not be suckered into buying one from the store. Pet stores get their live inventory (which is how they think of the living animals they sell) from breeding mills. Breeding mills keep females in horrible conditions and keep them pregnant until they no longer produce pups at which time they are discarded. Buying from a store perpetuates this system and keeps breeding mills in business.

Petstores also often missex the pigs and send people home with what they THINK are two males but end up being and male and female and pretty soon, instead of two pigs, the family ends up with 6 pigs. In some cases, a petstore will sell someone a pregnant pig. Petstores will also occasionally send home a sick pig some of which end up dying soon after getting home.

There are many guinea pig rescues in Texas. Check petfinder.com to find one near you. There are so many guinea pigs in need of good homes.

The second thing I would mention is a cage. Don't bother with the cages that the petstores sell. They are far too small for the kind of space that guinea pigs need and essentially become glorified litter boxes. Think about it - would YOU want to sleep, eat and tinkle all in the space the size of a closet?? C&C cages offer much more room for a guinea pig. They are easier to clean and the store bought cages start to smell MUCH quicker. C&C cages are also easy to redesign for a different look or to fit in an oddly shaped area of the room. The cage in the picture you posted is definitely marketed to be for hamsters but truly, is far too small even for a hamster.

As for litter training, sadly no. This isn't really the case. Sure they sell corner litter boxes but those are mainly for ferrets and rabbits who WILL use it. Guinea pigs do naturally tend to "do their business" in one corner but unlike a cat, a guinea pig will not wait to urinate until it gets to a certain area. They go where they go and sometimes where they go is on your lap.

Yes, guinea pigs are social but not in the same way that a cat or dog is social. Guinea pigs won't learn their name or warm up to you within a day or two. It can takes weeks, possibly even months for a guinea pig to be comfortable eating out in the open or taking food from your hands. On the flip side, they are super entertaining to watch, especially with a guinea pig friend to live with. Guinea pigs make all kinds of cute sounds and they definitely learn the sound of the fridge opening or the crinkle of a produce bag. That's when you hear the loud and high-pitched wheeking that guinea pigs are known for.

Anyway, it's a lot to consider but you are in the right place for great information about guinea pig care. Feel free to ask questions.

PiggyMommyWendy
04-29-14, 05:17 am
Hello and welcome! No judgement here....We went the 'hamster route' for a little while, too. :) As a mom who has owned both hammies and piggies, I would definitely recommend guinea pigs as pets for children (who are gentle, respectful of animals, well-supervised and taught how to handle and take care of them) over hamsters. (Not saying anything bad about hammies - I love them, too!) Yes, hamsters can be nippy. I have heard (here and from others) of guinea pigs biting/nipping people, but none of our piggies has ever nipped or bit us. I found that guinea pigs are easier to handle (especially in a cozy or cuddle cup), more interactive and responsive, and they are awake during the day more than hamsters are. My daughter and I have really enjoyed our guinea pigs; we can't wait to get another pair! C&C cages for guinea pigs are definitely the way to go. They make great homes for piggies; and choosing one, putting it together and decorating it can be a fun family project. Having guinea pigs (like any other pet) is a commitment and involves some work (daily poop-scooping/sweeping & regular cage cleaning as well as piggy grooming), but it's something that my daughter & I really like doing together. It's also a good learning experience for kids. I bought my daughter a few books (on Amazon.com) on guinea pig ownership written especially for kids. I will also agree with CavyMama about where you get your piggies (more than 1, as they are social animals)..... Our first 2 were from what is considered around here to be a small, reputable, family-owned pet store....My bad!....One (our sweet little Alice) died within 2 weeks (no refund or empathy from pet shop owner), and the other 'female' turned out to be a male (sexed by pet store owner). You may have to do a little searching for a rescue in your area (as I did), but it's well worth it. Good luck and have fun! Keep us posted! :)

MamaP
04-29-14, 05:58 am
Welcome! We had a hamster as well and loved him so much. When he passed in March we went the GP route. I can tell you that having the GP is MUCH more work than the hamster. They require a lot of cleaning and are time consuming. That being said I wouldn't change a thing. We love them. I don't think people in general realize the commitment that GP's require. I know I didn't. It is 5-8 years of cleaning poo out of cages 2-3 times a day. Wash several times a week and cutting veggies. Our girls are not easy to handle right now but they are getting better. I thought all pigs were "lap pigs" from what I heard. Wrong! lol They would rather be running than sitting on my lap. They are young though (under 6 months) and I know it may take time. I also know they may never be happy being held. We got the pigs for my 11 year old daughter, however, I am the care taker and I think I love them more than her. She will argue with me of course lol
It is great that you are here. Read everything you can before making the decision. If you don't have the time get a hamster. Ours was great! They still require care of course but if you don't want to take them out daily they are more than happy being alone :)
Good luck with everything! Your daughter is adorable!

Inle_Rabbit
04-29-14, 07:07 am
Welcome!

I got my first guinea pig when I was 7. I think they make great family pets for people with older children.

I'm not sure about Houston but there is a guinea pig rescue in Austin (Austin guinea pig rescue) and in Dallas/Fort Worth (Texas Rustlers Guinea Pig Rescue). You could also find your new pair of piggies on Craigs List or from another source trying to rehome them.

slynnski
04-29-14, 07:28 am
Welcome to the forum. I am a piggy newbie as well. In fact, I don't even have any pigs yet. Like you, I am researching as much as I can (as well as saving up a ton of money!) before I commit to my first pigs. I want them to have the best home possible! I commend you for being a responsible parent and doing research before potentially taking in an animal. Way too many times have I gotten 'pet' fever and taken in an animal before doing adequate research, only to end up heartbroken and overwhelmed later on. But for precious piggies, I am doing all I can to not make that mistake ever again. And yes, try your best to adopt your potential piggies from Craigslist or a rescue. I used to have the mindset 'but petstore piggies need homes too!!' and then because of this forum I have learned adoption and rescuing is so much better. With a little digging, I was able to find a guinea pig rescue relatively close to me that I plan to adopt from when I am ready.

Anyway, good luck on your journey and know that you are not the only newbie around these parts. :)

bpatters
04-29-14, 07:33 am
Hi, and welcome! Glad to have another Houstonian around!

Please do rescue your pig rather than buying it. (And you have discovered, I hope, that you need two rather than just one!) There's a rescue in Spring, but they're a small operation, and it may take them a while to get back to you. The CAP shelter in Katy frequently gets guinea pigs, but they don't list them on their website -- you have to call and ask. Craigslist is an option, but there are some pretty disreputable backyard breeders around, so you have to weed them out. I got mine from Texas Guinea Pig Rustlers in Dallas.

As far as research on care goes, there aren't any good guinea pig books around. They've all got some major deficiency. But between this site and Guinea Lynx, you can find out almost anything you want to know about pigs.

Welcome to the forum.

Cajungaltx
04-29-14, 07:55 am
CavyMama - lol - I have friends who would bury me if I dared to buy an animal of any sort from Petsmart. ;-) We had a medical foster dog a couple of weeks ago.

I also found the cage info, which I will admit was suprising, I didn't realize the cage would need to be quite so large. Definitely changes the 'where we would put it' plans a bit.

PiggyMommyWendy - we are making her do a book report/research paper on guinea pigs before we commit. She's going to have to find out things like: what they eat, what she will have to do every day, what things to look for to make sure they are healthy, how to clean their cages... and whatever other questions we can come up with. ;-)

MamaP - thanks. I didn't realize the cages would need to be cleaned out 2-3 times a day. As for Sarah - she's ridiculously girlie...no idea where she gets that from. ;-)

Inle_Rabbit - I found our local SPCA has guinea pigs, as well as a few other shelters in the area. ;-)

bpatters - I know now that we will need two. ;-) I didn't before I started though. My husband is ft Army, and there's a rescue in Austin as well.

MamaP
04-29-14, 08:21 am
Cajungaltx - I clean mine that often. I have my girls on fleece. If I didn't they'd be up to their ears in poo :)
Others may have different cleaning schedules. I probably change my fleece more often than needed as well. It starts to get stinky. PU!
I think it's great that you are having your daughter do research! Yay for you!

Starthecavy123
04-29-14, 08:43 am
Hi and welcome to the forum.

I would like to point out that guinea pigs can not be litter trained. They are gonna go where they wanna go. But the preferred place is in their hideys. As far as anything else I think the others have got it covered.

Cajungaltx
04-29-14, 09:28 am
Hi and welcome to the forum.

I would like to point out that guinea pigs can not be litter trained. They are gonna go where they wanna go. But the preferred place is in their hideys. As far as anything else I think the others have got it covered.

I knew it had too be too good to be true. ;-)

CavyMama
04-29-14, 09:35 am
CavyMama - lol -
MamaP - thanks. I didn't realize the cages would need to be cleaned out 2-3 times a day. As for Sarah - she's ridiculously girlie...no idea where she gets that from. ;-)


They really don't have to be cleaned 2-3 times/day. Spot cleaning 1X daily is fine. This just means going through and sweeping up the poos (if you have fleece) or scooping the poos if you have loose bedding. The cage should be fully cleaned out once/week. This means all bedding comes out, pigs are out for floor/lap time, new clean bedding in.

Starthecavy123
04-29-14, 09:40 am
Very very few people get their pig's to use it. Some pigs are just not litter box friendly. But if you'd like to try thats it won't hurt nothing. You may be able to contain it in the litter box but they won't use it every time. Like for me I have their kitchen in a cat litter box with fresh news cat litter and I've found they like to do most of their business there and in their igloos. So you could try that most people have kitchens with some kind of shavings or litter in it. It really helps if your bottles leak and for their rack and keeping the hay off the fleece. Hay is awful to get off of fleece.

Starthecavy123
04-29-14, 09:50 am
They really don't have to be cleaned 2-3 times/day. Spot cleaning 1X daily is fine. This just means going through and sweeping up the poos (if you have fleece) or scooping the poos if you have loose bedding. The cage should be fully cleaned out once/week. This means all bedding comes out, pigs are out for floor/lap time, new clean bedding in.

It really depends on the pigs like I find I only need to vacuum the fleece once a day. But depending on how many pigs you have and the size of the cage will determine how often you will need to vacuum or sweep the fleece. For my cage I vacuum the fleece once sometimes twice a day but more often its just once. Then about ever Friday I do a whole cage clean. I take out the fleece and kitchen dump the kitchen bedding. I wipe down the coroplast with a 50% water and 50% vinegar mixture. And then I lay down new uhaul pads then the new fleece on top of that. And then I add more litter to the kitchen and place it in the cage and add water bottles, food bowls, and hay rack. And walla nice new clean cage. Then of course you wash the old dirty fleece and whatever your using as the obsorbent layer (ie. Uhaul pads or towels).

CavyMama
04-29-14, 09:57 am
It really depends on the pigs like I find I only need to vacuum the fleece once a day. But depending on how many pigs you have and the size of the cage will determine how often you will need to vacuum or sweep the fleece. bowls, and hay rack..

This is true. If you have several pigs, the daily cleaning will need to be more than once but it sounds like Cajungaltx is thinking about one or two to start. I wanted to give her a better idea of what the cleaning would be like for a small number of pigs.

Cajungaltx
04-29-14, 11:45 am
lol - 'several'...lol... no. no several.

One suddenly morphed into two...it stops at two. I feel like Captain Picard: They invade our space, and we fall back. They assimilate entire worlds, and we fall back. Not again. The line must be drawn here! This far, no further!

Two. No more. :cool:

Cajungaltx
04-29-14, 11:46 am
I'm going to use fleece - it seems more economical and I already have a bunch...plus, it's pretty.

LuvCavysLuvCats
04-29-14, 11:57 am
Well it sounds like everyone gave you plenty of starter info haha just wanted to say I'm Stephanie and welcome to the forum! :)

I've become obsessed with my two piggies, they truly became my little fluffy jelly bean babies. :3 I even get anxiety if I'm gone for a night or two and someone else has to take care of them lol :p They have huge and unique personalities and are vocal, so much like a dog or a cat you feel you can communicate with them on some level which helps to bond you with them. It's a lot of fun to hear them wheek for their veggies because they remember what time everyday it comes or when you're cuddling and they burr in content and if you're lucky they'll fall asleep on you or when they popcorn all around because they are excited to be in their freshly cleaned cage and clean fleece. Haha You aren't going to get any of that with a hamster.

Also I'm an artist so I love to make things. I go nuts making "piggie furniture" for them and liners, etc. It's so much fun to pick out fleece and make new beds and things for them! Hehe I prefer it too because its cheaper in the long run than bedding, it's tidier (doesn't fling all out into the floor when they run around... Because with these proper sized cages they are actually able to do that!) plus like you said... It's prettier. Lol

Starthecavy123
04-29-14, 12:17 pm
Make sure to read up on fleece bedding like how to wick it and everything else. There is boundless information on the subject. And if your like most you'll become obsessed with fleece. I know I have but I don't have a job so I have to go in moderation :).

CavyEngineer
04-29-14, 12:33 pm
lol - 'several'...lol... no. no several.

One suddenly morphed into two...it stops at two. I feel like Captain Picard: They invade our space, and we fall back. They assimilate entire worlds, and we fall back. Not again. The line must be drawn here! This far, no further!

Two. No more. :cool:

Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.

Starthecavy123
04-29-14, 12:35 pm
CavyEngineer I like that :)

CavyEngineer
04-29-14, 03:17 pm
Sounds like you are going the guinea pig route. I had several hamsters as a kid. They were nippy, but on the plus side: smaller cage (even though mine was huge), happy to live solo, can leave alone with extra food and it will save it for later, easy to find pet sitter (due to portability of cage and ease of feeding/watering), will use wheel (so don't need floor time for exercise). My sister walked around with Fuzzy sitting on her shoulder, the most friendly hamster I ever met. Most importantly, very small, almost unseen tail, so my mother permitted them in the house!
If your daughter is satisfied with watching a hamster running around his cage, it will be less work for you. If she wants a furry to cuddle, go for the guinea pigs.

PiggieWigglies
04-29-14, 04:33 pm
Hi and welcome! Glad you found the forum! Im Abby, and guinea pigs are truly wonderful little critters :3 They are good pets for responsible children who know how to gently pick them up and feed them because then they can interact with them more. :)


Pellets: A good brand You will need PLAIN Timothy pellets, no nuts, seeds, or colored bits. The amount of pellets to give your pig is 1/8 of a cup per pig, per day. Pigs under 6 months can have unlimited pellets.


Hay: Guinea pigs need a long grass hay to keep their teeth worn down and their gut moving. Good hay to give them is either Timothy or Orchard. There are more substitutes but I cant think of the other substitutes. Baby guinea pigs need Timothy hay, along with either parsley or alfalfa hay WITH their Timothy for extra calcium to grow. Alfalfa is not a long grass hay to be feeding your pig. Its a legume like a pea, and does not keep their teeth worn down.


Water: People say water bottles are the best choice, because water dishes get too dirty and can flip over. If you are worried about extra minerals in the water and you have a Brita Filter you can use that (I use it)


Cage: Petstore cages are glorified litter boxes. A C&C cage is the best type of cage for a pig. If you look around you can see where to get DIY tips and items on how to build one. The minium space for two pigs (girls get along in this well) is 2x4 grids. If you can fit it, 2x5 is preferred. For males a 2x5 or 2x6 fits well and they get along. Warning: if you get grids, make sure the squares are 9x9 in the grid. They changed some of them to 8x8 and peoples guinea pigs were getting heads stuck in the bars.


Bedding: Nice beddings to use are either fleece, or kiln dried pine shavings/aspen shavings. Never use Cedar because the oils in it cause respitory and foot problems.


Hide Houses: Every guinea pig needs a hidey house. Dont get the medium size pigloo, those cause lack air circulation and who wants their pig sitting in a stink hut. Each hide house you get will need to have 1 entrance and 1 exit. Some people including me use RubberMaid stools for hidey houses. There are other house options besides stools dont worry.


Veggies: Good veggies to give your pig are: Green/red leaf lettuce, cherry tomato, carrots every once in awhile, and green bell peppers. Green bell peppers are a good source of vitamin c for a pig. Piggies cant make their own vitamin c, so giving them 1/8 of a green pepper a day will help them. To add about the carrots; guinea pigs cant process sugar that well, so keeping the amounts of fruit and carrots small and spread apart is best. There are other veggies you can give your pig and how often to, and what veggies are not good to give: http://www.guineapigcages.com/food/V...uit-Charts.pdf


Care and cleaning of your pig: Guinea pigs rarely need baths, unless they are super smelly or dirty. A good shampoo to use for your pig is either Gorgeous Guineas, or Squeaky Clean for small animals from a petstore. Also, their nails do grow and there are tutorials on how to clip them or have a vet clip them for you. If you ever need a vet, make sure they are an exotic pet vet and are cavy savy.


Getting a buddy and how to introduce: Guinea pigs are happier with a buddy. If you are looking to get a buddy, please check recues, craigslist, or petfinder. Do not go to a petstore or a breeder. This forum is anti-breeding/petstore and pro-adoption. Breeding guinea pigs is hard on the mother and babies. There are enough pigs without homes in the world, breeding makes it worse. Breeding also means a 20% chance the mom might die. Anyway back to buddies and introductions. You will need a same sex pig friend for your own pig, or if your pig is a girl you could also find a neutered boy. After you found your desired pig, there is a 21 day quarentine to make sure your new pig isnt sick. Quarentine needs to be in a different cage, in a different room. After quarentine is over, find a large open space for your pigs to meet. It needs to be on neutral ground where neither pig has been before. Do not just plop your guinea pigs in a cage, this needs to be done on neutral ground. Put a pile of some veggies in the area and a pile of hay, and put the pigs in the area. See this for more details: http://www.cavyspirit.com/sociallife.htm

Rywen
04-29-14, 07:40 pm
Hi and welcome to the forum!

Inle_Rabbit
04-29-14, 08:16 pm
lol - 'several'...lol... no. no several.

One suddenly morphed into two...it stops at two. I feel like Captain Picard: They invade our space, and we fall back. They assimilate entire worlds, and we fall back. Not again. The line must be drawn here! This far, no further!

Two. No more. :cool:

Yeah... About that.... Ever seen 'Trouble with Tribbles'? It starts with 1 and ends up with "several". Lol We went from 1 to 5 just like that.