14 Misconceptions about guinea pigs
You may or may not have heard of guinea pig appreciation day, which falls on the 16th July every year. The RSPCA take in a lot of abandoned and unwanted guinea pigs, here in the UK. They wanted to make people aware there is more to their care than one might think, to stop more piggies coming into their centres. I go through the 14 misconceptions about guinea pigs in this article.
1. They can live in a tiny cage
Guinea pigs need room to run in and go about their daily rituals. It is recommended a minimum space of four by two feet. Some pets shop cages are way too small, so avoid them.
2. They only need to eat nuggets
Yes they need a small amount of nuggets per day but some vegetables and good amounts of hay to eat as well.
3. I can get a wheel for them to run in
Please don’t get a wheel, they are not hamsters. Their spines are delicate and are simply not the right shape to run in a wheel. They will prefer to run about in a good sized space.
4. What about feeding them human snacks
No, no and no, they must only eat veggies that are suitable, hay and nuggets. Crisps and chocolates are not on the menu.
5. My cat, dog and rabbit will love playing and being around them
Some people have reported that their guinea pigs play and live with their other pets, but they may be trained or they have been lucky. Yes I think to some extent that if you gave it time and effort, that it could work. But it is risky and cats or dogs for example do have an inbuilt mechanism to think small animals like guinea pigs are prey. Also, there is a risk of diseases being passed to each other, so keep guinea pigs with their own company, not even with syrian hamsters, who sleep at different times and are territorial. Guinea pigs could be injured from bigger animals.
6. Low maintenance
Unfortunately guinea pigs are not the low maintenance pet that you think of. A lot of care goes into looking after them. This can be time consuming. Cleaning, feeding, spending time with them and sorting out bedding are all things to consider, before you get guinea pigs in your life. Don’t forget when you go on holiday, someone needs to be around to look after them.
7. Such a great first pet for children
Children can scare and stress them out by maybe being to vigorous or excitable. Along with a lot of maintenance involved, its not easy for a child to cater for all their needs on their own, it requires an adult to do the majority of the work. But children will learn the importance of being responsible and caring for a living creature.
8. I can get a single guinea pig
Its vital that any guinea pig is not on their own, this causes stress and terrible loneliness. You are not going to be enough company for them, no matter how much time you might spend with them.
9. Boy do they smell
If you clean out their homes enough, they really are not smelly creatures. Guinea pigs actually clean themselves all the time, so I don’t think they would be too happy being labeled smelly. When you put fresh hay down into their home, it all smells lovely.
10. They are not very smart
Well they can associate many sounds like the fridge door opening at a certain time, means to them that food is on its way. They communicate how they feel with other guinea pigs and human owners by using different sounds. So you will be surprised, as they are more clever than you think. For example one of my guinea pigs Charlotte, jumped over Sophie in the hutch, whilst she was having a drink, jumping straight through the doorway. This is even with poor eyesight and guinea pigs can pick up doing tricks quite well. They are very inquisitive creatures.
11. Don’t live for long
One of the small animals that do live the longest from 4 to 8 years. If looked after properly, they will hopefully not die young. Its something you need to think about, as they will need to be consistently looked after, day after day for many years.
12. They love exercise balls like hamsters do
Actually both guinea pigs and hamsters should not be put into the plastic exercise balls. It disorientates, wears them out too quickly and it will get a bit warm in them. It will injure guinea pigs spine and make them feel trapped and scared.
13. They bite!
Yes but only very rarely, this can be if they think your fingers are food because you have been handling something before being with them. They should not be known for biting because its just not in their nature. Don’t make them feel really threatened or annoyed, but even then its just a slight warning, it won’t mark the skin.
14. They can handle colder temperatures because of their thick coat
No they are not like sheep and will feel the cold like us. They need to be inside or their home properly insulated if they have to be kept outside. The coat is not like an eskimos, of course skinny and hairless will obviously feel the cold even more.
Guinea pigs sure are cute creatures but they can’t just be a quick purchase and then left. Some care can be easy to do, but other care takes more time. Cost cannot be forgotten, as it does add up. So make a considered decision whether guinea pigs are definitely the pet for you.
Thank you for reading and please leave a comment below. I will reply back as soon as possible and remember a guinea pig is not just for Christmas.