Guinea pigs have long been popular companion animals—especially for kids— and it's easy to see why. They're gentle, social creatures that are relatively easy to care for, and they have fun and adorable personalities that make them a joy to have around. It is always recommended to have two guinea pigs instead of just one, as they are very social and do not appreciate being alone.
As veterinarians, we are often asked what kind of pet is best for someone looking for a low-maintenance companion. While every animal requires proper nutrition, appropriate husbandry, and veterinary care, guinea pigs are often much easier to handle than larger pets, like cats or dogs. They make excellent pets for several reasons. Whether you’re shopping for your child’s first pet or looking for a new furry friend to add to your own animal menagerie, here are a few reasons why guinea pigs make great pets.
Compared to Other Animals, They’re Very Low-Maintenance
For pet owners looking for an easy-care companion, guinea pigs are a great choice. In addition to having charming personalities and being great fun to watch, their low-maintenance needs make them cost-effective and straightforward pets to care for. Compared to dogs, cats, or even reptiles, they have very simple needs. There are plenty of books out there on how to care for your pet guinea pigs, you can pick on up at the library or book store.
Their diet consists of fresh vegetables, hay, and water and changes little between the summer and winter seasons. Also, since they are easily handled (when properly socialized), guinea pigs make friendly companions that are suitable for children and adults alike. As long as you take good care of their enclosure, feed them a proper diet, play with them, and make sure they receive appropriate veterinary care, they will likely live several years, the average is 5-7 years, without requiring extensive maintenance.
Two is Better Than One
Guinea pigs are extremely social by nature, it's always best to have two versus one. There are cases where a guinea pig does not bond to another guinea pig, this is referred to as a Singleton. When introducing new guinea pigs to one another it can take time to get them to bond, but it can be relatively easy especially if you adopt littermates. Be sure that you pair your guinea pigs by sex and place males with other males and females with other females as guinea pigs can begin reproducing as young as 4 weeks of age.
Guinea Pigs Are Relatively Quiet, So They Won't Disturb Your Neighbors
Guinea pigs are gentle and relatively quiet animals, so if you're looking for a pet that won't be too loud or disruptive, they are an excellent choice. Unlike some other pets, guinea pigs will not disturb your neighbors. This means that you don't need to worry about creating tensions with those living near you or causing problems in your community.
As long as you have enough space for their enclosure, guinea pigs make great pets for apartment dwellers due to their quiet, peaceful nature. And if you are shopping for a pet for your child, getting two of them means you won’t have to listen to a dog barking or cat meowing all night while you’re trying to sleep! However, guinea pigs are not completely silent, the often times will make squeaking sounds or purr when they are happy!
They Have Big Personalities And Can Be Very Affectionate
Guinea pigs have long been popular first-time pets for kids. In addition to being easy to care for, they’re a lot of fun! Known for their gentle nature, guinea pigs are often very social animals with a lot of character. As owners of guinea pigs like to point out, they also have an interesting way of communicating with squeaks and chirping noises meant to convey emotion. Some are quite comical! They may appear shy or timid on the surface, but these small animals will show their affectionate side through little nudges and cuddles. If you're looking for an attentive and loving companion with an adorable personality, a pair of guinea pigs might just be the perfect pet for you.
Guinea Pigs Don’t Require a Lot of Supplies, and You Can Find What You Need at any Pet Store
Owning a pair of guinea pigs can be an incredibly rewarding experience, and fortunately, it is easy to get started. You can find everything you need for them at a pet store or big box store, so you don’t need to worry about struggling to find supplies. Before bringing your guinea pigs home, all you’ll need to do is pick up some basic items.
The supplies guinea pigs typically need include:
- An appropriate enclosure
- Timothy hay
- Guinea pig food pellets
- At least one hiding place
- Food bowl
- Hay feeder
- Water bottle
You’ll also want to make sure you have nail clippers on hand for trimming their claws. Buying some treats and toys is a good idea, too! With the right supplies on hand, you will have everything needed to keep your furry friends healthy and happy.
As veterinarians, we highly recommend that all guinea pig owners purchase high-quality food and supplement their regular diet with vegetables as appropriate. This will help ensure they are getting all of the nutrients they need to stay in good health. If you ever have any questions about housing, feeding, or caring for your guinea pig, we are here for you and encourage you to contact us.
Guinea Pigs Make Great First Pets For Children
As we mentioned previously, a pair of guinea pigs are an excellent choice for a child's first pets. With their friendly and social nature, guinea pigs can be excellent companions for young children. They don't need to go outside for walks (though they do require exercise time outside of their habitat) or have their litter box cleaned. They don't bark like a dog, scratch furniture like a cat, or require a ton of specialized equipment like many bird and reptile species.
Nevertheless, keep in mind that although they don't take much effort to raise, guinea pigs still require TLC. It is always important to provide proper housing and nutrition and interact with them daily. Because children of all ages can have a short attention span or get bored easily, prepare to handle many of these responsibilities yourself. Even the most well-meaning little ones often aren’t ready to care for even low-maintenance guinea pigs on their own. While pets are a great way to teach kids responsibility, it’s ultimately up to you to ensure that any animal in your home is properly cared for.
Prepare for a Life Long Commitment
Even though what we outline above indicates that guinea pigs are relatively easy to maintain, please remember when you choose to add a pet to your home they are a lifelong commitment. Pocket and caged pets are often viewed differently than more typical pets like cats or dogs but they still deserve a lifelong commitment, which on average is 5-7 years. Local shelters and rescues are already overwhelmed with homeless and stray pets, do not seek out a pet that you are not willing to commit to caring for them for their entire lifetime. Before you go and buy a pair of guinea pigs from your local pet store be sure to check Petfinder for your local area for a list of guinea pigs available for adoption in your local area and check with your local shelter, rescue or humane society, you are very likely to even find guinea pigs that are babies if you look to adopt in the right places. Once you find your new furry family members, be sure to schedule an appointment with Dr. Emily Linscheid as soon as possible for a wellness exam, we can help ensure that you are proving the proper husbandry, diet and care for your new guinea pigs. Like all animals, guinea pigs need routine vet services to stay healthy and happy. We look forward to meeting your precious pet!