We have so many cute critters at Marin Humane and guinea pigs are certainly no exception.
Guinea pigs make great pets, especially for kids. Less fragile than rabbits and less skittish than hamsters or gerbils, they’re happily swaddled in baby blankets, tenderly coo and are generally adored by their guardians.
Here are nine reasons to consider adopting a guinea pig:
• They love companionship. Guinea pigs are social, herd animals that are almost always happy in pairs. They’ll still bond with you and by having two, they have a buddy when you’re not around.
• They don’t need a lot of supplies. The basic setup is hay (choose a brand like Timothy hay which helps their digestive system), pellets, a tunnel to hide in and a good-sized cage.
• They set a good example by eating their vegetables. Guinea pigs cannot produce vitamin C, so feeding them lots of high-quality greens and veggies high in vitamin C is critical for them to stay healthy.
• They love to exercise. Give them an hour of play time in a safe space outside their cage and your guinea pigs will stay in great shape — mentally and physically. A small room to explore, such as a bathroom or long hallway, keeps them from getting bored.
• They don’t care for expensive toys. A nice little paper tube serves as a tunnel and place to hide. (Those big exercise balls are a no-no; they can cause spinal injuries and foot and ankle injuries.)
• They don’t need a brush or comb. Unless you have a long-haired variety, such as a Sheltie, a guinea pig’s hair is easy to manage and they can style it themselves.
• They don’t need baths. Guinea pigs are naturally clean animals and can easily contract colds and pneumonia if bathed.
• They love being indoors. We don’t recommend outside play time as guinea pigs can be easy prey for others, pick up parasites and poisons, or escape from the yard.
• They have a delightful way of communicating. When you open the fridge, it’s a cue for them that something good is coming their way. They speak in squeaks, chortles, grunts, purrs, rumbles, cooing and chirps.
Carina DeVera has had guinea pigs since she was 5 years old.
“To this day, I’m charmed by their adorable little ‘wheeks’ when they beg for food,” she says. “They are extremely curious and endlessly entertaining to watch.”
Like any pet, guinea pigs do need annual checkups. They generally live five to seven years so yearly checkups are a must to inspect their teeth, heart and skin.
Lastly, we strongly discourage people from buying guinea pigs from pet stores. They usually come from inhumane breeders and are often not sexed correctly so you may very well end up with a breeding pair, which means you’ll have way too many guinea pigs on your hands in no time.
Looking to adopt a guinea pig or already have one? Consider joining us for the Bay Area Pignic from 10 am to 2 pm Saturday at the Marin Humane campus at 171 Bel Marin Keys Blvd. in Novato. This super kid-friendly event features a guinea pig costume contest (cutest thing ever), free health checks, raffles and more. Visit marinhumane.org/events for more information.
Lisa Bloch is the marketing and communications director for Marin Humane, which contributes Tails of Marin articles and welcomes animal-related questions and stories about the people and animals in our community. Go to marinhumane.org or find us on social media @marinhumane.