Most of us don’t think twice about adopting a dog or cat from the Humane Society, but have you ever thought of pairing your children with guinea pigs? March is ADOPT A RESCUED GUINEA PIG MONTH, sponsored by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and Petfinder.com. Hundreds of guinea pigs are relinquished to shelters each year when their owners decide they no longer want them or cannot care for them.
Also known as cavies, guinea pigs are gentle and make good family pets, especially for children over six years of age. As with all other pets, small children should be supervised by an adult while handling a guinea pig.
Some people don’t believe guinea pigs live very long, but the truth is they can live up to 10 years, so the decision to adopt one must be made carefully with that in mind. Guinea pigs require daily care including feeding, watering, cage cleaning, exercise and companionship. They even need a bath on occasion, as it happens.
Look what I saw on facebook a few days ago! How cute is this:My young friend Vincent has two guinea pigs – and yes, they are taking baths! Don’t they look happy to be so well cared for??? 🙂
There are 13 breeds of guinea pigs, differing in hair types, colors and markings.
The adoption process is not unlike that of adopting a dog or cat. It involves completing an application and paying an application fee.
What does a guinea pig need to be happy? They like to play and can jump as high as a foot, so the enclosure should provide a minimum of 7.5 square feet for one guinea pig. If you use a wire-bottom cage, make sure you cover the bottom with wood, grass mats or some smooth surface to protect their little feet. Never use a glass aquarium enclosure because there is not good ventilation. Keep the cage away from direct sunlight, drafts and extreme temperature changes. Line the cage with bedding for the baby to snuggle down in – such as sawdust or wood shavings.
Get your baby a toy, such as a little box for him/her to hide in. I always had one of those plastic balls for mine to roll around the house in too – they like to move! Make sure you follow them around the house though, so they don’t accidentally go to the edge of a stairway or somewhere else they could get into mischief or get hurt.
Feed your guinea pig quality timothy hay at all times. In addition, provide fresh, quality commercial pellets made especially for guinea pigs every day. They require daily vitamin C, which rabbit pellets don’t contain. Fresh vegetables and clean fresh water should also be provided daily. The water should be provided in an inverted bottle that attaches to the enclosure.
Guinea pigs’ teeth grow continuously. They need to chew to keep their teeth the proper length. Provide a piece of wood to gnaw on. It should be a pesticide-free tree branch or an unpainted piece of wood that has not been chemically treated.
Brush your baby daily to keep his/her coat smooth and remove loose hair. This brings us back to the tub time… lol.