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Hello again -


My 12 yo dd really wants guinea pigs. She has researched quite a bit and seems pretty serious.

I don't really care for pets except maybe an outside cat or something which requires very little. So she would be on her own with this.


She says they would be good pets because they are so cuddly, etc.

So I'm wondering, are they really? Because we tried a rabbit once a couple of years ago and it was NOT cuddly. I hate to be dissapointed all over again.


Also, we are going to keep it/them (I guess you have to get pairs?) outside. We have a good sized hutch and a nice sheltered area and can put it in the garage if it gets too cold in winter. We live in oregon - mild winters and summers.


Are there any big problems with these animals that we should be prepared for? Hidden expenses we haven't thought of?

thanks for tips/experience



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Guinea pigs don't take much care at all. They are social animals and usually do best if they have a companion (although we had one who did better alone). Ours live in my 12yo's room.


The rescue that we got them from kept the piggies outside, so I know it can be done, but it generally isn't recommended. You have to make sure that your cage is escape-proof and that they piggies don't overheat.


We made a cage based off of this site:



Our cage is 4 panels by 2 panels on the bottom and 1 panel by 2 panels on the top with a ramp between the two levels. We have two piggies and use bath towels for bedding.

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First of all, twelve is IMO on the borderline for being able to take this type of responsibility on. AND, even if she ends up being responsible & taking good care of them, I feel strongly that the adults in the home are 'the buck stops here' people. So if for whatever reason the child grows bored or too busy, the adults need to step in --- and the stepping in should be to take care of the animal, to demonstrate what being responsible means (it does not mean dumping it/getting rid of it/taking to a shelter). People often say they want the child to get a pet to learn to be responsible but they don't follow through.


So I'd say that if you're not willing at all to look after it when push comes to shove (or to MAKE her look after it even if it involves endless tedious reminders & consequences etc.) then I would say don't get them.


Cavvies can live 6-8 years or more so that's the length of commitment you need to be ready for. *


As for cavvies themselves - do a board search as they've been discussed before. They can be quite docile. I don't know that I'd say cuddly per se - not like an affectionate cat or dog is, but they often can be handled lots & they may enjoy hanging out on your lap. Long haired ones require grooming & if they're used to it, they can enjoy being brushed.


Any animal kept outside requires IMO 3x the attn & the willpower to make sure their needs are taken care of - & not just the physical but the social. They are social - the squeak when they recognize you & they want you to come visit. IMO, they should be inside with you. Putting hutches outside is usually a recipe for eventual neglect.


Most commercial cages are waaay too small. Here is a good site which explains the housing requirements for cavvies:



Yes, pairs. Either same sex or get a spayed/neutered pair.


Vet bills are a possibility. They may need treatment for mites or other parasites. They can get tummy upsets from wrong food.


ADOPT - there are lots of guinea pigs in shelters or in small animal rescues. I foster for a small animal rescue. Look on www.petfinder.org for your area. You may need to be a bit patient to find the ones you want but it's worth it. Don't buy from pet stores!


*If you adopt, you can get an older pair & then your commitment would be shorter.


best wishes!

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We have had Spencer for about 8 months, since he was about 8 weeks old. We adopted Dereck from another family. Dereck is over 2 years old. They are wonderful pets. Spencer is like our baby. He sits like a dog and watches our dd (16) when she is sitting or lying down on her bed. (Their cage is in her room) He takes naps with you and is very loving. Dereck, of course is shy. We are the new family. ;) He was so fat that he couldn't get his belly off of the floor to walk around. He was put on a diet and is doing very well. He loves to be cuddled.


If they hear or see you they "squeak" loudly and get very excited.


Their cage needs to be cleaned every week or every few days. Our two like to get baths.


Sometimes they do need to go to the vet. Spencer got sick when we bought him and he needed some meds. and a shot.


They are beautiful/loving animals and I'm glad I allowed dd to get them. They are "my" babies. :D

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We have two guinea pigs. My daughter did all the research and takes complete care of them. She is very devoted and shows a lot of concern for them. I don't think 12 is too young at all if your daughter is mature.


We bought a large cage from a pet store. It has two levels. They live in my daughter's room. I, too, would not recommend putting them outside.

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We've had very good experiences with guinea pigs. We currently have one piggy. Dd is 8 and keeps Sunflower in her room and cares for her, so I think 12 should be a sufficient age. She will need to trim the guinea pig's nails, so be prepared for that.


Any animal can come up with an unexpected medical expense, but we have been lucky so far with all of our pigs over the years. Ours have usually lived to be around 5-6 years and have been healthy. I really wouldn't advise keeping a guinea pig outdoors. They are VERY susceptible to heat and cold.


Overall, I think they're great pets for responsible children. We also have 2 rabbits, adopted as a bonded pair from a rescue. I enjoy our pig much more than the buns. They are bonded to each other and not to US in the slightest :glare:. We don't dump animals, so we're in it for the long haul, but I don't think rabbits will be in our future again.

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thanks so much for the encouragement and the advice! My daughter is very mature/responsible, so I think she is old enough...but I guess it will be a case of trying it out to know for sure. She has had fish for a while and is very diligent about cleaning out the tank, feeding, checking water level, etc.

I don't know about the indoor/outdoor factor. We really can't have them inside, so maybe we need to rethink...

Anyway, it's nice to hear that they can be affectionate.


thanks again,


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I have four guinea pigs; two came from our local rescue.


They are my first pets and when I got them I committed to getting them vet care when they need it. The cost of bringing a guinea pig to our vet is less than half of bringing a cat or dog. I have bonded with them as much as I would a dog or cat.


Guinea pigs are prey animals and when sick will attempt to hide their symptoms. They go down hill very fast when sick, simply because they stop eating. It's not unusual to lose a pig at 2 years if you don't attend to their health, but they can live as long as 5 to 7 years. Something to keep in mind as your daughter becomes a busy teen.


They need relatively large cages, compared to other rodents. The bottom of the hutch or cage you use should not be wire mesh - this will cause bad back or feet injuries. I use indoor coroplast bottom cages with towel and fleece bedding that I wash weekly. (Saves on CareFresh paper bedding.)


I don't consider them livestock animals. I would never put mine outdoors because I would miss them and worry about their health/safety. They are not built to withstand temperature fluctuations. They can become lonely or bored just like a cat or a dog. Mine know me from my husband, they respond to my voice, love to be petted, have fun running and playing, beg for food, etc.


Last year we adopted an elderly (5.5 year old) boy guinea pig who was so friendly and sweet - instant bond. He would watch us from his cage, chew on the bars for attention, allow me to pick him up without wiggling, cuddle for hours. We were devastated when he passed after six months, but we knew he had a wonderful life with us, much better than living out his life at the rescue where he wouldn't have gotten as much attention. This particular pig was on his third adoption, through absolutely no fault of his own. So don't discount rescue pigs, especially when they are healthy.


Depending on personality, they can be quite cuddly. It's like any other pet. They aren't very similar to rabbits in my mind. If you want to be more sure of personality, adopt through a rescue where the owner can observe the pigs before adopting them out. Guinea pig are social animals, so a pair is the best choice - your local rescue might have an already bonded pair who get along wonderfully well ready to go.


They need good quality Timothy Hay, plain Timothy pellets in a dish, and fresh veggies everyday. Dairy and nut products are not necessary. Never use a harness, ball, or wheel, as they aren't compatible with piggy physiology.


Having been to my local rescue, and had two pigs who came from bad neglect situations, please know they do have a tremendous capacity to feel pain and become disheveled and unhealthy without you really realizing it. That is no fun to deal with, especially when your family has developed an attachment.


Large indoor cage (with a pigloo for each pig), proper diet, occasional bath and regular brushing and nail clipping, vet when they are clearly ill, weekly or more often cage cleaning, daily lap and floor time - they all go a long way to healthy guinea pigs.

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