Guinea Pigs as Pets

Things You Should Know About Keeping Guinea Pigs as Pets

Guinea pigs can be lovely pets, but there are a few things you should know before getting a pet guinea pig. From expected life span to the social nature of guinea pigs, here are some things to consider before choosing a guinea pig as a pet.

  • 01 of 07

    Guinea Pigs Are a Long-Term Commitment

    Farm pet, guinea pig (Cavia porcellus)
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    Guinea pigs live on average around 5-7 years, sometimes longer, so be prepared to provide care over the long term.

  • 02 of 07

    Guinea Pigs are Social - Plan on Keeping More than One

    Guinea pigs sitting together
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    Guinea pigs are very social animals and will be happiest living with other guinea pigs (and don't worry, they will still bond with their owners, too). Keep a same sex pair; females can be kept together as can males, though sometimes individual differences will mean certain guinea pigs won't get along. Introducing them as babies is the best way to get a pair to bond, though even adults can usually be introduced with care.

  • 03 of 07
    Midsection Of Men Standing By Guinea Pigs In Cage
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    Guinea pigs need a lot of floor space, and most cages marketed as guinea pig cages are much too small, especially for a pair. Making a homemade cage is very easy, though, and since guinea pigs are a good size and not escape artists, a homemade cage is a great option.

  • 04 of 07

    Guinea Pigs are Generally Quiet, But Can Wheek Loudly

    Guinea pig peeking out of his hut
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    Guinea pigs make a distinctive wheeking or whistling type sound, often in anticipation of getting a favorite treat or when in need of some attention. Though generally not loud enough to annoy the neighbors, a wheeking guinea pig can be surprisingly loud.

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  • 05 of 07

    Guinea Pigs are Generally Easy to Tame

    A girl stroking a hamster
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    While guinea pigs may be nervous or skittish at first, with consistent gentle handling, they usually become tame very easily. Careful handling is a must, and children should be supervised with them, but they are unlikely to bite even when stressed.

  • 06 of 07
    Close-Up Of Cute Guinea Pig Indoors
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    Guinea pigs are one of the few animals (humans are another) that cannot manufacture their own vitamin C so need to get adequate vitamin C from the diet. Choosing a good quality diet and providing a variety of fresh foods is important, but most owners choose to also give a vitamin C supplement -- and tablets are generally a better way to supplement than adding vitamin C to the water. Feeding Guinea Pigs has more information on supplements.

  • 07 of 07
    Close-Up Of Guinea Pigs In Cage
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    Before heading out to buy a guinea pig, check with your local shelter or rescues for guinea pigs in need of a new home (or check on Petfinder.com). Many guinea pigs end up at shelters, and are in need of a second chance at a forever home -- and guinea pigs are generally so social and easy going, it should still be easy to bond with even an older piggie!