I resisted getting pets for many years, despite the pleas from my children. Because I knew exactly who would end up looking after them! If we got a pet, I always thought it would be a rabbit, because that’s what I used to have as a child and young adult. But we decided on guinea pigs almost on a whim and I’ve never looked back and regretted it!
It’s two years since the guinea pigs came into our lives and they’ve brought me a lot of pleasure. They’re both male, but ironically it is the one with the female name, Daisy, who is the alpha male. Eric, the long-haired one, is placid and happy to do as Daisy tells him. It is Daisy who gets the food first, Daisy who gets out of the hutch first and Daisy who gets back into the hutch first. It’s remarkable that two such small animals have such strong, and such different, personalities.
At first, I thought my fears were unfounded. My kids were really pulling their weight with the guinea pigs. Not only were they feeding and cleaning them without moaning, they were also getting them out of the hutch to play with them.
Needless to say, the weather turned colder, the days turned darker and the novelty of our furry friends started to wear off. I don’t think the boys have ever fed or cleaned them without being reminded first and, yes, they do moan! But I’ve been strong and I haven’t backed down and relieved them of their duties (like my dad did back in the day). They wanted pets, so it’s important they take responsibility for them.
So what have we learned in two years as guinea pig owners?
- Long-haired guinea pigs need brushing regularly and they also need their hair cutting (my daughter broke my husband’s razor shaving Eric).
- The hutch should be cleaned three times a week – two partial cleans and a full clean.
- Guinea pigs can be prone to mites, which can be treated with drops from the pet shop.
- Guinea pigs’ claws grow long and need clipping. It’s not easy and if you hurt them they will squeal!
- Guinea pigs need a bath several times a year. They don’t much like it and we find the kitchen sink the best place to do them.
- Guinea pigs love eating and never stop. Vegetables are their favourite, followed by hay. They will eat their nuggets only when the good stuff has run out.
- Guinea pigs don’t like being cold. We put extra bedding in their hutch in winter and cover it on extra cold days. I really want to get an indoor hutch, but my husband is resisting!
- Guinea pigs don’t like being hot. On very hot days, we put a frozen bottle of water, wrapped in a tea towel in their hutch.
- Guinea pigs don’t like being damp. In the winter, they don’t run on the grass. They come inside and run round the kitchen instead.
- If you have a guinea pig that nibbles, like Daisy does, have a special ‘guinea pig top’ to wear when handling him/ her to avoid all of your clothes getting ruined.
- Guinea pigs like nothing more than a cardboard shoe box to hide in.
- Guinea pigs squeak and chat and have lovely personalities.
- Guinea pigs are lovely to hold and stroke.
They take a little bit of work but, to me, it’s worth it. Guinea pigs make great pets!