Guinea pigs can make great pets for children and adults. These cute, fluffy animals have a life expectancy of 4 to 8 years, are bigger than rats, mice, or hamsters, and thereby easier to handle for children, they don’t jump or climb out of their enclosure like many other pets do, and have a sleeping pattern that is more kid-friendly than many other rodents.
As a whole, guinea pigs can make really good pets for children, teens, and adults. They are active, curious, and can become very tame. Guinea pigs need daily interactions and need fresh vegetables on a daily basis.
In the following, you will find many interesting facts about guinea pigs, that will help you decide if these furry rodents are the perfect fit for you, or not.
Are Guinea Pigs Good Pets for Beginners?
The short answer is: That depends highly on what you are looking for.
Yes, of course, guinea pigs can be good pets. And at the same time: No, they are not good pets. It depends on who you ask, and also what you want.
Guinea pigs are rather peaceful animals that are usually kept in large enclosures indoors. They are super cute, make the sweetest sounds to communicate with each other and with you, and can become very tame and cuddly.
They need to be fed with fresh vegetables and pellets every day and need a constant supply of hay to chew on. They also need fresh water in their bottles or bowl every day, and the enclosure needs to be cleaned at least once a week.
Guinea pigs tend to poo a lot and a clean cage might look super messy after only a few hours. This might frustrate guinea pig owners, but regular cleaning is one of the major parts of a pet owner.
In the following, you will find a list of all the pros and cons of owning guinea pigs.
Pros and Cons of Keeping Guinea Pigs as Pets
Guinea pigs are lovely creatures. They are furry, fluffy, affectionate, and incorporate everything that many people are looking for in a pet.
They are Active During the Day
Other than many rodents, guinea pigs are not nocturnal or crepuscular. They tend to be awake many times throughout the day and night, which makes it easier to interact with them even if you want to sleep during the night. Especially for kids that are at home during the day, this is a great advantage.
Compared to other pets such as cats, dogs, or reptiles, guinea pigs come with rather low maintenance. They do need daily interactions, but other than that they are easy to take care of. They need fresh vegetables, hay, pellets, and water every day, as well as at least an hour of out-of-cage-time. The enclosure should be cleaned at last once a week, but with some experience, this routine will only take about half an hour, depending on the size of the cage.
No Long Tail
Many people find the hairless tails of rats or mice offputting. For these people, guinea pigs might be a great option. They are furry, fluffy, and have no long hairless tails.
Guinea pigs are rather clean animals. They clean themselves and try to stay as clean as possible. It is your duty as a pet parent to regularly clean the enclosure. As long as you keep the cage clean, the guinea pigs will not be smelly.
Guinea pigs rustle through hay and bedding and make cute little squeaky and sniffing noises, but other than that, they are rather calm animals that are not noisy at all.
Very Cute and Fun to Observe
Guinea pigs are very cute in general.
They can come in different fur colors and there are also different species of guinea pigs. They are active, curious, love to explore new places, and enjoy playing with each other.
They make great pets to have around and to watch.
Can be Very Tame and Cuddly
Guinea pigs can make great pets for children because they can be very tame and even cuddly. They get attached to their owners and are big enough to be easily handled.
Guinea pigs can make great and beloved pets, but just like most pets, there are also some cons that need to be considered, before acquiring a new family member.
Cannot be Left Alone for a Few Days
With guinea pigs, you will always need a pet sitter if you go on vacation, even if it’s just for two days. Guinea pigs need their daily supply of hay, pellets, fresh vegetables, and some time outside of the cage for their mental happiness. You might find yourself in a situation where you get annoyed by your pets.
Just like all rodents, guinea pigs grow their teeth all their life long. This is not an issue per se, but if they don’t get enough to chew on, the teeth can get too long. That can lead to serious medical issues and even prevent your pets from eating until they starve to death if you don’t see a vet trim the teeth down.
Guinea pigs are rather sensitive to temperature changes. They don’t like humidity and cannot bear hot temperatures. Anything above 70° F (approx. 27° C) can already be an issue for them.
My guinea pigs lived outdoors and had several places to hide where it was nice and chilly when they felt like it was too hot, but in a normal enclosure at home, the temperature issue might be a problem and you might need an air conditioner to help your pets out.
Guinea Pig or Hay Allergy
I did not know it until I experienced it: It is possible to have a guinea pig allergy. I am not allergic to anything that I know of- only guinea pigs. When I cuddle them, I get a rush wherever they touched my bare skin. Unfortunately, this seems to be an issue that is not so uncommon.
And in addition to the guinea pig, there is also a possibility to be allergic to hay. This is quite an issue with guinea pigs, as they do need a constant supply of hay at all times to wear down their teeth.
Sensitive Digestive System
Guinea pigs have a rather sensitive digestive system. With the right diet, they can thrive, but they need a constant supply of the right hay, fresh vegetables, and pelleted food. And they need all of that on a daily basis. If guinea pigs do not get their daily supply of fresh food or don’t have hay to eat, they will quickly have some serious medical issues.
Guinea Pigs Need Other Guinea Pigs
Like all animals that live in herds or colonies, guinea pigs need other guinea pigs to be happy. That means that even if you acquire two or more guinea pigs, they will never die at the same time. That means that you will have to keep getting new guinea pigs so that one is never alone. This can lead to a never-ending cycle of owning guinea pigs.
Guinea Pigs Can be Costly
Just like any other pet, guinea pigs can suffer from health issues that can lead to high medical bills. Treatments of any kind can become costly very quickly.
Guinea Pigs Need a Lot of Space to Roam Around
In addition to a rather large enclosure, guinea pigs also need a playpen or a guinea-pig-friendly room, where they can run free every day. They are rather active and curious and cannot be kept in a small enclosure all day long.
The Cage Needs to be Cleaned Regularly
Guinea pigs like a clean cage, but since they cannot clean by themselves, you need to clean their mess.
They tend to poo a lot and scatter hay everywhere, therefore you might want to clean messier parts of the enclosure on a daily basis in addition to the deep cleaning session once a week.
Should I Get a Guinea Pig for My Child?
Guinea pigs can make great pets for children. They can learn to take responsibility for animals by feeding them and cleaning the cages.
As a whole, this decision depends on the age and the character of the child. Every pet comes with responsibilities such as feeding and cleaning, and a child has to be willing to fulfill these tasks. Pets can also be costly when it comes to medical bills, and in most cases, the parents end up paying.
Guinea pigs are cute, kid-friendly, easy to take care of, and usually very peaceful. But they also need daily interactions, food, fresh water, hay at all times, and a deep cleaning session at least once a week.
Depending on the age and the temperament and character of the child, you, as a parent, might have to supervise these activities and make sure that the pet is not neglected.
Guinea pigs make great companions, but every pet comes with responsibilities and you have to be sure that your child is able to meet these responsibilities for the next 4 to 8 years, depending on how long the guinea pigs live. And of course, your child should also be totally on board with it.
Lisa is one of the two founders of Animal-Knowledge. She has been very interested in animals and insects from a very young age and has owned different kinds of pets such as snails, ants, fish, turtles, mice, rats, hamsters, rabbits, a dog, … you get the idea 🙂