Guinea pigs are cute and cuddly and make amazing pets. However, they can be a lot of work to care for especially if you don’t know what to expect. Maybe you’re like we were in the beginning and are weighing the pros and cons of guinea pigs as pets.
We had no idea what we were getting into when we adopted Theo and Remmy, our guinea pig pair. We had never owned a guinea pig before. Except for that one time I shared in a previous post: CLICK HERE to read what my mom had to say about that!
I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t a fan of adopting guinea pigs as pets. I say guinea pigs with an “s” because as you will learn it is best to adopt two at a time.
Today, we share all that we have learned from our personal experience and extensive research after adopting two guinea pigs that quickly turned into SIX, so you know the pros and cons of guinea pigs as pets before you bring them home.
So, what are the pros and cons of guinea pigs as pets?
- Cute and Cuddly
- Affectionate and Social
- Fun and Entertaining
- Easy to Tame
- Time and Money
- Daily Care and Exercise
- Ample Space
- Possible Allergies
Are guinea pigs good pets?
Guinea pigs make great pets. They are cute and cuddly, affectionate and social, fun and entertaining and easy to tame.
First we will list out the PROS of guinea pigs as pets:
1. CUTE AND CUDDLY
I was surprised to learn how cute and cuddly guinea pigs are.
Theo and Remmy like to be held close and will even “snuggle” with you. And if you’re not paying attention they will scurry up your shirt and give you kisses by your cheek.
They also enjoy hanging out and just sitting on your lap while you pet their soft fur.
2. AFFECTIONATE AND SOCIAL
Our guinea pigs are affectionate and social animals who love it when we walk into their room. They let us know by wheeking with excitement.
One question that I had in the beginning was: “Do guinea pigs bite?”
This was my main concern because I didn’t want my children to get bitten and become afraid of the guinea pigs.
After reading lots of articles, we learned that they rarely bite, but may nibble gently on your hand if they think you have food.
This has been our experience as well. Our guinea pigs have never acted aggressive or tried to bite us.
Another question that I had was: “Can you have just one guinea pig?”
My kids told me that we JUST HAD TO get two guinea pigs because if we only got one it could potentially die of loneliness.
Um…yeah, right! I figured this was just their way of conning me into another pet.
Well, it turns out they were kind of right! (Words I never thought I would say…lol.)
Every article that we read during our research strongly recommended adopting two guinea pigs of the same sex.
Guinea pigs can live alone, but it is in their best interest to provide them with a cage mate so that they can play and socialize throughout the day. This is because guinea pigs need social interaction and a companion to thrive. Even with a companion your guinea pigs will still need daily interaction with you, their pet parent.
RELATED: CLICK HERE to read our unfortunate story of the same sex adoption mix up!
3. FUN AND ENTERTAINING
Guinea pigs are so much fun to play with and can be very entertaining.
We get our guinea pigs out for “floor time” at least one time per day to play and exercise. They are curious and love to explore every inch of the room.
We use a playpen to keep them safe and in one spot. CLICK HERE to check the price on Amazon.
It is so much fun to watch them get excited, “zoom” around the room, and “pop” in the air!
Our guinea pigs will get a case of the zoomies where they just run around in circles and make figure eights. Every once in a while they will pop up in the air. We learned that this is known as “popcorning”.
Maybe you’re wondering the same thing I was when I first witnessed this bizarre behavior: What is popcorning and why do guinea pigs do it?
Guinea pigs will on occasion pop straight up in the air like a kernel of popcorn. Not to worry – they are simply expressing their happiness and excitement.
In general, guinea pigs love to play and will find ways to entertain themselves with whatever you put in front of them.
We have made cardboard houses, tunnels and most recently a guinea pig maze!
4. EASY TO TAME
Guinea pigs are super smart and curious, making them easy to tame.
Of course, not all guinea pigs are created equal and some have had difficult life experiences which may cause them to be skittish or shy.
We have learned that it is relatively easy to tame your guinea pigs by being patient and persistent and using food as a reward.
In the beginning, we read that it is important to give your guinea pig plenty of time to get used to their new home before handling them a lot.
We set their cage up in a quiet space in our house so that we could sit and talk to them for the first few days. This allowed them to get used to us.
It didn’t take long until our guinea pigs were running to the side of the cage looking for attention when we walked into the room.
RELATED: CLICK HERE to read how to tame your guinea pig (a step by step guide).
What are some bad things about owning a guinea pig?
There are a few things to consider before adopting guinea pigs. Guinea pigs take an investment of time and money, require daily care and exercise, need ample space and you or a family member could be allergic and not know it.
Next, we will dive deeper into the CONS of guinea pigs as pets:
1. TIME AND MONEY
One big question that I had in the beginning was: “How much does it cost to keep guinea pigs?”
While the initial investment may not seem like a lot, the costs do add up over time.
We are frequently buying hay, commercial guinea pig pellets, veggies, vitamin C tabs and chew toys.
To get started, your guinea pigs will need the following:
- Adequate size cage
- Water bottle
- Food dish
- Chew toys
- Commercial guinea pig pellets
- Vitamin C tabs
Guinea pigs can be expensive, but we have found ways to save money.
CLICK HERE to read our article on tips for saving money on guinea pig supplies.
Guinea pigs eat and poop A LOT which requires us to spend a lot of time caring for our guinea pigs.
We have found ways to cut down on the amount of time it takes us to care for our guinea pigs.
2. DAILY CARE AND EXERCISE
By now you may be thinking, “Are guinea pigs high maintenance?”
Yes and no.
Guinea pigs are similar to keeping cats or dogs as pets.
In my opinion, I would say they are less maintenance than dogs because they do not require as much training and socialization. However, guinea pigs may be a bit more high maintenance than indoor cats because they require a lot more daily care and exercise.
This is what our daily guinea pig care routine looks like:
- Feed one vitamin C tab per guinea pig
- Replenish hay supply
- Feed commercial guinea pig pellets
- Wash food dish
- Prepare and feed fresh veggies (our guinea pigs love romaine lettuce, peppers, carrots, tomatoes, blueberries and broccoli)
- Clean water bottle and refill with water
- Spot clean cage daily; change fleece bedding every other day
- Floor time
Once you develop a routine to care for your guinea pigs, it doesn’t seem as overwhelming as it did in the beginning.
3. AMPLE SPACE
I imagined keeping guinea pigs would be similar to keeping hamsters as pets where they would thrive in a small space in the corner of a room.
The truth is guinea pigs need a lot more space than you think.
They are extremely active throughout the day and when given ample space to run around they will take advantage of it.
During our research, we found The Humane Society of the United States offers the following guidelines on how much space your guinea pigs should have:
|One Guinea Pig||7.5 square feet cage (minimum); 30″ x 36″ recommended|
|Two Guinea Pigs||7.5 square feet cage (minimum); 10.5 square feet cage (preferred); 30″ x 50″ recommended|
|Three Guinea Pigs||10.5 square feet cage (minimum); 13 square feet cage (preferred); 30″ x 62″ recommended|
|Four Guinea Pigs||13 square feet cage (minimum); more is better; 30″ x 76″ recommended|
The guinea pig cages that we have seen for sale at our local pet stores are expensive and not quite big enough for guinea pigs.
We started out with a fairly nice sized guinea pig cage that we found on Amazon, but we needed an upgrade quickly when our guinea pig family expanded unexpectedly.
Our guinea pigs are a bit spoiled and now have their own room with multiple enclosures that we created with C & C grids.
3. POSSIBLE ALLERGIES
Allergies was something that I didn’t even think to consider before adopting Theo and Remmy. The kids never had issues with allergies to food or our other pets.
We found out pretty quickly that my youngest daughter was most likely allergic when her skin broke out into a rash after holding Remmy for just a short time.
During the first week of having the guinea pigs in our home, she also began exhibiting other allergy symptoms such as red, itchy eyes, stuffy nose and congestion.
Of course, she didn’t want to return our new baby guinea pigs since we had already fallen in love with them. We scheduled an appointment with an allergist to confirm our suspicions and get some advice on what to do next.
It turns out that she is mildly allergic to pigs and guinea pigs, but that the cause of her suffering was more likely due to the timothy hay we were feeding.
The good news is we were able to keep the guinea pigs and get her allergies under control. We switched their hay from timothy to orchard grass since we suspect that is the primary cause. In addition, she wears gloves and long sleeves to limit the amount of exposure to her skin.
If you suspect that you or a family member may have a potential allergy, it is a good idea to get tested.
Theo and Remmy