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Thread: A few unique questions about guinea pigs from a beginner

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    Cavy Slave
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    A few unique questions about guinea pigs from a beginner

    I have done the research and know everything I need, what to feed, and the maintenance. I just have a few questions.

    Would they fill the role of a dog? I want a pet that's fairly easy to care, can play, pet, cuddle, etc. I understand they are completely different animals, but I want a pet that can help with my depression and loneliness. Hamsters are active during dusk, dawn, and the night and seems to not fit for me. Mice and rats I believe are the same way. I can't have a cat and dog, and don't think rabbits would fit well in my household. Not sure of any other pets that can truly help my depression. I love fish, but it isn't the same. Not interested in reptiles. Not sure about birds.

    During play time outside the cage, what do you do if they pee/poo. Lay newspaper, or just clean the floors after, etc. I have carpeting. I know they can be potty trained but what I see is it isn't 100% especially pooping. Do I let them roam my bedroom or do I need to buy a play pen. I also will be buying a c&c cage that will be on the floor.

    Do they smell a lot. They will be in my bedroom, which isn't a big bedroom but still have room for a 10.5 + sq ft cage for a pair. I will spot clean every couple days or when needed and weekly full cleans as well.

    My sleep cycle changes sometimes, so would that prohibit me from getting guinea pigs. I will always feed them, clean the cage, etc but it may never be at the same time everyday. Say I am on a schedule from 8 pm to 6 am sleeping. then I stay up late until 1 am and keeps going until I sleep at 6 am and wake up at 4 pm. Then it takes a while until I get on a regular schedule.

    Are they really messy? I kind of already know the answer is yes as they poop a lot. I used to be a terrible germophobe but I am MUCH better now, just want to know what I'm getting into. I have changed diapers so I think it won't be too bad.

    Also forgot one question, I will most likely buy a c&c cage from here as well as use aspen bedding. Do I need to use newspaper on the bottom to absorb the urine or will just the aspen bedding be fine.

    Any help is greatly appreciated, thanks.
    Last edited by Hoops; 12-21-17 at 12:58 am. Reason: forgot 1 question

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    Cavy Slave jds2017's Avatar
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    Re: A few unique questions about guinea pigs from a beginner

    I just got my piggy and she is a baby. But is really active at night. I have not put mine on the floor yet but I am getting ready to do so I also have carpet. And I got a big piece of hard plastic and a pin that she will go into and play on the ground. Also the poop mine poops a lot so I spot clean everyday.


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    Cavy Slave scoottie's Avatar
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    Re: A few unique questions about guinea pigs from a beginner

    I would say no that they really don't fill the role of a dog they are prey animals and unless food is involved when they are tame they would stay away from you guinea pigs don't really like to be picked up either but we do it anyways.

    As for playtime get a playpen and watch them anything could happen in the blink of an eye and guinea pigs cannot be potty trained.

    Do they smell, yes in short they do but then again what animal does have some sort of smell to them.

    You will need to spot clean everyday otherwise it will stink.

    Guinea pigs are loud and they will put you on their schedule

    Are guinea pigs messy? Yes very much so I clean my floor twice a day.
    Using newspaper it has no odor control at all so in short just stay away from it. Aspen bedding is great and a lot of us here use fleece bedding.

    Well I think that's it I hope I didn't scare you away.

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    Moderator CavyMama's Avatar
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    Re: A few unique questions about guinea pigs from a beginner

    Quote Originally Posted by Hoops View Post
    I have done the research and know everything I need, what to feed, and the maintenance. I just have a few questions.
    Much of what we know about guinea pigs comes from just having them so please know that everything you think you know about them comes from "on the job training" so to speak :-)

    Would they fill the role of a dog? I want a pet that's fairly easy to care, can play, pet, cuddle, etc.
    .
    It depends on which role a dog has that you are looking for. Will a guinea pig play/interact with you the same way a dog will? No. Will a guinea pig entertain you and make you laugh like a dog will? Sure. As for cuddling, it depends on the guinea pig. Some will tolerate it, others won't sit still for it. In essence, if you are looking for something like a dog to fulfill a role...don't get a guinea pig.

    I understand they are completely different animals, but I want a pet that can help with my depression and loneliness
    A guinea pig may be able to help with those types of things. They are definitely entertaining and will make you laugh

    During play time outside the cage, what do you do if they pee/poo. Lay newspaper, or just clean the floors after, etc. I have carpeting.
    For carpeting, either have something absorbent to lay down on the carpet or a good spot remover. Accept that your carpet. clothes, furniture, etc will get peed/pood on. Such is the nature of having a guinea pig.

    I know they can be potty trained but what I see is it isn't 100% especially pooping.
    Guinea pigs cannot be potty trained. Potty trained is 100% going in the proper area. Guinea pigs will tend to pick a corner for their bathroom and go there.

    Do I let them roam my bedroom or do I need to buy a play pen.
    Unless you are prepared to guinea pig proof your bedroom, get a play pen for them to keep them contained.

    I also will be buying a c&c cage that will be on the floor.
    Excellent choice!

    Do they smell a lot. They will be in my bedroom, which isn't a big bedroom but still have room for a 10.5 + sq ft cage for a pair. I will spot clean every couple days or when needed and weekly full cleans as well.
    If you spot clean every day, you can keep the smell down to a minimum. Every couple of days for spot cleaning - especially if you have more than one - won't be enough.

    My sleep cycle changes sometimes, so would that prohibit me from getting guinea pigs. I will always feed them, clean the cage, etc but it may never be at the same time everyday. Say I am on a schedule from 8 pm to 6 am sleeping. then I stay up late until 1 am and keeps going until I sleep at 6 am and wake up at 4 pm. Then it takes a while until I get on a regular schedule.
    Hmmm be prepared to be on the schedule of the guinea pig...especially if you plan to keep it in your room. They can be noisy which is one reason people don't usually keep them in the bedroom.


    Also forgot one question, I will most likely buy a c&c cage from here as well as use aspen bedding. Do I need to use newspaper on the bottom to absorb the urine or will just the aspen bedding be fine.
    Just the aspen will be fine. It's made to absorb urine. Newspaper is not absorbent and would just make a big mess.

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    Cavy Slave Soecara's Avatar
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    Re: A few unique questions about guinea pigs from a beginner

    One tip I can give particularly because they will be in your bedroom, train them to only expect food after hearing a very particular noise. It could be something as simple as a phrase said in a particular way, but make sure you do it every time before you feed them (and try to make it a noise you won't make by accident). Mine are trained to three noises "dinner time" for vegetables, rolling wheels for fresh hay (this one was an accident as some of their hay is stored in a wicker laundry basket with wheels in a room with a wooden floor), and "hey guinea pigs" for treats.

    Guinea pigs can be very noisy if they think they might be getting food. Without a set feeding schedule and no other feeding cue they can week for food at the slightest provocation such as simply tossing while you sleep in your bed (google a video of guinea pigs wheeking if you don't know what that sounds like). So given that you probably won't have a set feeding schedule due to your sleep patterns it is even more important to give them some other kind of cue before feed time or you may end up with living alarm clocks.

    Also if you are a light sleeper you may need earplugs, as they will drink throughout the night and for some people the noise of the guinea pigs drinking from their water bottles can wake them up (this will normally be a rhythmic tapping noise).

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: A few unique questions about guinea pigs from a beginner

    I'm new to guinea pigs. Have only had mine for a couple of months, but I can speak to the depression. I have run a rat rescue for 9 years so I'm constantly around animals, but rats don't live long so I deal with a lot of death. That is precisely why I got guinea pigs. I wondered an animal that I could hold to my heart to cuddle and that would live longer.

    Thankfully I read that they were cuddly and did not read that they did not like to be picked up until I had them. For me that has not gotten in the way at all. I know that I will have to chase them across the cage and in 2 months they squeal a lot less, sometimes not at all when I pick them up. I immediately take them to my sofa and lie down with them in the crook of my arm while I watch TV. I feed them chunks of carrot and they are very contented. After they finish their carrot they cuddle. Sometimes they actually lie on my arm and tuck their heads under my chin. I am so soothed and comforted by that.

    I am also comforted by their joy. I take very very good care of them and show them lots of love. I give them very good food and lots of toys and places to play. I am rewarded by watching them hop and run. They are clearly very happy and it is joyful to watch.

    I talk to them a lot which seems to make them very happy.

    As to smelliness, I use goodbye odor in their water. I increased it by one squirt a week until it took care of the smell. I also measured their water in the beginning to make sure they would drink the water with the goodbye odor in it. And I reminded myself that they are vegetarians, so their poo is just organic matter.

    I also faithfully spot clean their cage everyday. That is another time of fun because they love having me spot clean while they are in the cage. They follow my hand around and popcorn and play.

    Having them has been a lot more work for me, but I have not regretted it at all and would do it again. But I also think that is not for everyone. You really have to be ready to commit 2 investing in their care before you can expect the investment to pay off.

    Sent from my SM-N900V using Tapatalk

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    Administrator bpatters's Avatar
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    Re: A few unique questions about guinea pigs from a beginner

    I wouldn't recommend Goodbye Odor in the water. Guinea pig pee and poop is mostly odorless, and any odor comes from not keeping the cage clean or from illness. Peed-on hay is the worst offender.

    If you've got a good absorbent bedding, there's shouldn't be much odor. I use wood pellets under a layer of thin fleece, and have no odor at all in the cage. My recliner sits right next to it, and the only time I ever get a whiff of anything is if I haven't dumped the hay recently.

    If you're looking for a pet that will love cuddling with you for hours on end, this isn't it. Some pigs will cuddle, some won't. Some will take a nap with you for a few minutes, others won't. Mostly, they'll tolerate being held in the hopes of getting an extra snack, and they they're ready to go back to the cage. I think you'd find that a cat would be a better fit for what you're looking for, with far less effort.

    Ditto @CavyMama. Forget potty training.

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: A few unique questions about guinea pigs from a beginner

    Thanks for all the replies. I already knew a guinea pig is no where no how a dog is but I meant are they interactive, do they like to be petted, etc. Are they a pet that isn't just to look at like a fish or even a hamster. I can't have a cat or dog so I am wondering is this the next best option. Don't think a rabbit would fit my household.(free roaming) Thanks

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    Cavy Slave scoottie's Avatar
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    Re: A few unique questions about guinea pigs from a beginner

    Not really interactive no my pigs hate being petted.

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    Cavy Slave spy9doc's Avatar
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    Re: A few unique questions about guinea pigs from a beginner

    Quote Originally Posted by scoottie View Post
    Not really interactive no my pigs hate being petted.
    And, that's just your experience. Many of us have cavies who love to interact.....and often. My boys will often "ask" to come out for lap time in the evening. They will happily sit with each other or with us for extended periods of time. They both have signals when they want to go home.....whether for toilet needs or just that they have had enough of lap time and want to go home, for whatever reason.

    @Hoops......you'll be fine with cavies so long as you don't expect them to be like a dog or cat. They are unique little creatures who require an inordinate amount of patience in order to gentle them and to have them trust you. Regarding your changing sleep schedule, they are creatures of habit and thrive on consistency. They may have difficulty adapting.

    If they are going to live in your bedroom, you really need to invest in an air purifier. I highly recommend the Homedics brand. (See the recent discussion we've had regarding this subject.)

  11. "Thank you, spy9doc, for this useful post," says:


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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: A few unique questions about guinea pigs from a beginner

    I meant are guinea pigs not just a pet to look at like fish or a hamster? But one that you can pet, maybe play with, etc. I know they have their unique personalities.

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: A few unique questions about guinea pigs from a beginner

    Also to keep in mind, guinea pigs are NOT cheap pets. You can keep costs in hand for their food and housing needs (though initial housing costs can be high), but vet bills can get up there!

    They hide illness so well that once you know something is wrong, quick and rigorous treatment is often required. Plus a lot of vets just don’t know much about piggies and you need to line up a good exotics vet.

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    Cavy Slave Soecara's Avatar
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    Re: A few unique questions about guinea pigs from a beginner

    Guinea pigs are certainly more interactive than most fish. I can't compare to hamsters as I have no experience with them as they are illegal in my country (but guinea pigs don't have a set sleep schedule, rather they just nap when they feel like it, so you can interact with them at pretty much any time it suits you).

    From animals I can compare to from personal experience guinea pigs are comparable to a rabbit (some can be very friendly and love people, some can be more timid and scared of people), of course there are some key differences between the two (for example in my experience with rabbits they tend to like being pet more than guinea pigs and seek out the attention of their people more, but guinea pigs are more vocal). If the guinea pig has the right personality they can be taught to do some basic tricks like spinning in a circle to get a treat (training them to do tricks is easier with a guinea pig with a more bold personality, but much harder with a very shy and timid guinea pig). If you do a google search you can find some videos of guinea pigs doing tricks.

    However guinea pigs are not the kind of pet to typically seek out and depend on your attention unless they think there may be food involved, this can be a pro or a con depending on your personal situation (for example if you get very busy you don't have to worry so much about not being able to spend as much time with them, as long as they have food, water, a big clean cage, vegetables once a day, and a friend, they will be okay without you spending time with them every day). Most guinea pigs can enjoy lap time (more so if some food is involved, though some guinea pigs don't like to sit still for long), but they will run when you go to pick them up or if you approach them from above (this is just an instinctive reaction on their part, because they are prey animals). If the guinea pigs enjoy spending time in a play pen they may even approach you on their own if they have a less shy temperament (or if they think you might have food) if you just sit/stand still inside the pen.

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: A few unique questions about guinea pigs from a beginner

    Quote Originally Posted by bpatters View Post
    I wouldn't recommend Goodbye Odor in the water. Guinea pig pee and poop is mostly odorless, and any odor comes from not keeping the cage clean or from illness. Peed-on hay is the worst offender.

    If you've got a good absorbent bedding, there's shouldn't be much odor. I use wood pellets under a layer of thin fleece, and have no odor at all in the cage. My recliner sits right next to it, and the only time I ever get a whiff of anything is if I haven't dumped the hay recently.

    If you're looking for a pet that will love cuddling with you for hours on end, this isn't it. Some pigs will cuddle, some won't. Some will take a nap with you for a few minutes, others won't. Mostly, they'll tolerate being held in the hopes of getting an extra snack, and they they're ready to go back to the cage. I think you'd find that a cat would be a better fit for what you're looking for, with far less effort.

    Ditto @CavyMama. Forget potty training.
    I think some of us are more sensitive to smells than others because I keep my cage clean and I still smell odor from their pee or I did before I put goodbye odor in the water. My pigs aren't sick either.

    Sent from my SM-N900V using Tapatalk

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    Cavy Slave Marie1234's Avatar
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    Re: A few unique questions about guinea pigs from a beginner

    Have you thought about a couple rats as pets? They can be litter trained and free roam in your room under supervision with a little rat proofing (mainly wires). Their cage can be more vertical and therefore take up less space in your room. They are not as much work as guinea pigs and are surprisingly social. The are also highly intelligent so you can teach them tricks and interact with them. Rats can become very bonded to their people. Also they are easier in terms of feeding as they don't require hay. I have had dogs, cats, rats, hamsters, rabbits, fish, turtles, lizards, and right now Guinea pigs and my two rats were some of my favorites.

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    Cavy Slave Marie1234's Avatar
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    Re: A few unique questions about guinea pigs from a beginner

    Oh and more about rats, they don't smell so long as you clean their cage regularly. Mine groomed and cleaned themselves constantly.
    Also, they are relatively cheap to own, you can easily find a good cage second hand, they can eat table scrapes and rat block. You can make toys from cardboard and dollar store items and hammocks out of old towels and wash clothes, etc....

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: A few unique questions about guinea pigs from a beginner

    thanks for the reply, i have thought about rats. I researched and heard about everything you just said. However the people I currently live with are grossed out about rats. I know, it's kind of ridiculous but I can't force it upon them. I was really thinking about getting them too as they love human interaction and are cheap and easy to care for which is what I want. As days go by, I think guinea pigs won't be a good fit currently. Thanks again.

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    Cavy Slave Marie1234's Avatar
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    Re: A few unique questions about guinea pigs from a beginner

    Quote Originally Posted by Hoops View Post
    thanks for the reply, i have thought about rats. I researched and heard about everything you just said. However the people I currently live with are grossed out about rats. I know, it's kind of ridiculous but I can't force it upon them. I was really thinking about getting them too as they love human interaction and are cheap and easy to care for which is what I want. As days go by, I think guinea pigs won't be a good fit currently. Thanks again.
    I understand, you have to accommodate the people you live with and there are a lot of misconceptions around rats. And I don't mean to dissuade you from GPs, we are certainly enjoying having ours, but they are not as easy to care for as a cheap as you might think.

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: A few unique questions about guinea pigs from a beginner

    Quote Originally Posted by Marie1234 View Post
    I understand, you have to accommodate the people you live with and there are a lot of misconceptions around rats. And I don't mean to dissuade you from GPs, we are certainly enjoying having ours, but they are not as easy to care for as a cheap as you might think.
    I know they are expensive compared to other pets.
    The main 2 reasons I don't think they will fit is my sleeping schedule changes. So say now I am waking up at 6 am and going to bed at 8 pm. After a few weeks I might be going to bed at 6 am and waking up at 4 pm. I hear you have to be on a strict schedule with guinea pigs. The other reason is, I have loud nephews that visit a few days a week. The loud times would only be 3 hours for 3-4 days of the week. I would guess Guinea pigs would be terrified.

    If those 2 things won't be a problem then I may get guinea pigs. No one really answered those two concerns, and when making an entire post for each of those concerns a mod deleted one thread and then closed another.

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    Administrator bpatters's Avatar
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    Re: A few unique questions about guinea pigs from a beginner

    You don't have to be on a strict schedule for guinea pigs. And I did answer your concern about noise, I believe at GL. They'll adapt. It's not a problem.

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