Preparing for your guinea pigs!
Getting guinea pigs can be really exciting! Maybe they’re your first pet or maybe you’re thinking of getting some new ones after having them as a kid? Either way, there’s steps you need to take to make sure you’re prepared! This is a little guide we’ve put together with some of the most important steps.
Find a Vet!
First things first – we recommend that you find a vet before you even get guinea pigs. Despite being a normal pet, guinea pigs are actually considered to be exotic when it comes to vets. Most vets won’t see guinea pigs that often, just dogs, cats and rabbits.
Find a good, reliable, experienced exotics vet, so that when you need to dash off with your piggies you’re already registered and know exactly where you’re going! This can save valuable time and is so much better than leaving it until you actually need one! Don’t be scared to ask a vet questions, you can ask them how many guinea pigs they’ve treated and what procedures they’ve done so you have an idea of how much experience they really have! We also have a list of local vets so you can always send us a message for that if you’re near us 🙂
Next, sort out where you’re going to put the piggies in your home. Do you have enough space? A pair of guinea pigs needs at least 4 x 2ft living space, but the bigger the space the better, as guinea pigs like to run around! Guinea pigs also need a playpen/run for indoors and outdoors – somewhere new but safe for them to explore and run around…did we mention they like to explore?
Guinea pigs need lots of hay to lay around on, burrow into and lots to eat too. They love fresh veggies twice a day, breakfast and tea – have you thought about the on-going cost of this?
Vet’s bills can soon mount up too, should your piggy ever become ill! So, will you put a bit away regularly or just pay as needed? We’re not trying to put you off, but having guinea pigs is a serious commitment and needs a lot of thinking about.
Do you have any other pets already? Guinea pigs are prey animals which means they can get very scared if they feel threatened. Having a dog barking away all day or a cat poking their paw into the cage is going to be pretty scary! Some dogs and cats are perfectly content to live around guinea pigs – all animals are individual. You need to decide if you’re bringing your piggies into a safe environment or not and what’s best for all of the animals.
Once you’ve sorted all this, then you can start to think about getting piggies! But don’t forget to do plenty of research first! Do you know how to pick your piggy up? Do you know what dry food you’ll choose? Do you know which vegetables are safe to feed?
Choosing your piggies!
We would recommend that you avoid breeders due to the fact that they’re notorious for producing pigs with diseases that don’t actually live very long (we’ve heard some horrendous stories) and there are lots and lots of guinea pigs out there already needing homes.
Also avoid ‘free to good home’ adverts, as you don’t know if the piggies are in good health and you want to avoid needing a vet trip straight away!
We’d definitely avoid pet shops because the majority of pet shop owners don’t actually know a great deal about guinea pigs in general and we know of many incorrect sex cases and before you know it, you have a family of guinea pigs! So with that said it leaves only one place left to go and we think it’s the best place, as you could change a guinea pig’s life for the better!
We recommend that you go to your local rescue. They will have given the guinea pigs a health check, vets visit if needed and sexed them correctly. They understand piggy needs and will be there for you, to support and guide you along your journey and with their knowledge and many years experience they can answer any questions that you may have.
These are our local rescues:
North East Guinea Pig Rescue: http://www.northeastguineapigrescue.co.uk/
Tees Valley Guinea Pig Rescue: https://www.facebook.com/TVGPR/
Or you can find a rescue in your area using this website: http://www.guineapigrehome.org.uk/gp/centres.asp