Jessie has written several articles about how to care for guinea pigs.
Are Guinea Pigs Good Pets? An Experienced Owner Weighs in
I have had a guinea pig (also known as a cavy) off and on for my entire life. I won my first guinea pig "Petey" from a name-drawing in my 1st-grade class, and he became my first pet ever. After owning 4–5 different guinea pigs, I would easily recommend a guinea pig as a pet to anyone considering adding a new member to the household.
I currently own two boars (male guinea pigs). Apollo and Wilson are brothers, as well as cage mates. My boyfriend and I adopted them from a guinea pig rescue in Meadville, PA. Their personalities are extremely different, so it is fun to see how they interact and play off of one another. Being the sweethearts that they are, guinea pigs make great starter pets for potential pet owners, which is why I have devoted this article to promoting these chubby balls of fur.
Reason 1: They Are Very Friendly
Along with guinea pigs, I have owned a lot of other small pets and know that all pets are capable of being friendly. I also know that there is always the possibility of a mean guinea pig, but this I have never seen.
Rabbits are often bought from a pet store (never do this!!) as bunnies and then given away when they go through their "teens" because most owners don't know that as the bunny gets older and goes through puberty, it can become very mean and nasty. This time will pass, and getting it spayed or neutered will definitely help (though it is costly), but a lot of owners give the bunny away before it is able to mellow out.
I have heard that rats are extremely smart and can make great pets, but rats can also be very territorial. A fun fact about rats: Their bottom front teeth literally split apart into a v-shape to get a better grip on their prey, and they can bite through concrete, meaning they can easily bite someone to the bone. It is very important to tame a rat when it's still a baby and unable to hurt you as badly.
I have a friend who bought a rat from a pet store (again, a terrible idea!!). Sookie, named after a character from the popular television show True Blood (ironic, right?) was shy and gentle for her first day home. Once she became comfortable with her new cage, she began to change. After three days, she started biting, and it got to the point where my friend had to start dropping food from above her cage into her bowl because if you ever put your hand into her cage, she attacks it and draws blood.
I'm not saying this to offend any faithful rat owners, and I am aware that rats can be amazing pets; I'm just saying that it is important to the owner to tame them, or things can turn ugly.
I have owned many hamsters and love them to death, but when it comes to biting, I will admit I have been bitten by a couple of hamsters. There are certain types of hamsters that are less likely to bite (Russian dwarves, for example), but in referring to hamsters as a whole, I would say that they bite more than guinea pigs.
Ok, back to what I was originally talking about. I have never owned a guinea pig that bit. I have even taken my index finger and touched Wilson's bottom lip, and he has no interest in it whatsoever. I think that's just it; guinea pigs don't care. They are very timid creatures, so they are very unlikely to mistakingly bite your finger thinking it's food because they are afraid to try any kind of new food that's actually put in front of their faces. They are extremely gentle little animals, and it's hard to fear them.
Reason 2: They Are Easy to Care for
Guinea pigs require very little maintenance. They need fresh water, timothy hay, dry pellets, and veggies. Their cage needs to be cleaned about once every 1–2 weeks and is very easy to clean. An even easier option would be to have a c&c cage (a cage made from grids and coroplast) with fleece as bedding. Using fleece as bedding is a very easy option that is meant for guinea pigs specifically (kind of like linoleum for rabbits).
Typically guinea pigs do not need to be spayed or neutered unless you plan on having coed cage mates. This means that vet costs are at a minimum unless your piggy becomes ill. They don't need to be bathed often at all; in fact, they shouldn't be bathed more than once or twice a year. They do not need to be groomed unless they have long hair, but they will need their nails clipped about once every three weeks.
Reason 3: They Are Not Destructive
A very good thing about guinea pigs, they won't destroy your house! They are much less likely to chew furniture, and you never have to worry about them tearing up your carpet. It goes along with the reason why they don't bite. They just don't care and are too curious and afraid to do anything to begin with. It would be hard to not catch a guinea pig before it is about to do something destructive or crazy, they don't think very quickly, and their actions are even slower than their words.
The worst they will do to your house is pee or poop on your floor. Some people claim that their guinea pigs are litter trained, but for the most part, it's a hit or miss with litter training. They either get it or they don't, and most don't. When giving them floor time, it is a good idea to put something down such as fleece or towels so to avoid any accidents.
Reason 4: They Are Inexpensive
Another great thing about guinea pigs is that they can be adopted for a very reasonable price. I adopted my two boars for $30.00 together. They can be bought from pet stores for many varying prices, but you will never spend big numbers on a guinea pig.
**It is a much better idea to choose to adopt a guinea pig rather than buying one at a pet store. There are many orphan piggies out there in shelters and rescues who have most likely been handled more and have definitely been more taken care of. If anyone knows how to take proper care of a guinea pig, it's a rescuer. They will be able to answer any question under the sun.
As I have mentioned before, there won't be too many vet visits with a guinea pig. I have only ever needed to take one pig to the vet. They don't require any shots and spaying/neutering is optional.
Cages can be inexpensive if you know what you're doing. A great cage option is to build a C&C yourself. A C&C cage is a cage built with a coroplast base and a grid boundary for fencing. I can guarantee that any cage in a pet store will be overpriced and too small for any adult guinea pig. For the price, you pay for a large cage in a store you can build a cage that is at least four times the size using cubes and coroplast.
Food prices vary depending on how much you care about the quality of your food. Oxbow Cavy Cuisine pellets are a very popular pellet type bought by many loyal guinea pig owners. I have been buying it for my boars, and they love it. This food is very high quality and doesn't contain any extra ingredients that aren't good for a pig.
Regular pellet food can be found for a fraction of the cost, but I warn you it is not recommended for piggies diets. Timothy hay can be bought at a store or provided by a local farmer who ensures that it is not harmful in any way.
Bedding can be the most expensive part of owning a guinea pig, but there are ways around it. Using fleece for guinea pig bedding cuts down costs immensely. Rather than purchase bag after bag of wood shavings, save money by throwing a few towels and a yard of fleece in the wash instead.
Overall, once you have your piggy settled in their new home, the cost to keep them alive and well should be in the range of about 20 to 30 dollars every two months. This varies depending on how many pigs you have and how fast they eat! My pigs go through a bag of pellets, probably once every two months.
Reason 5: They Live a Good, Average Life
For such small animals, guinea pigs can live a considerably long life. Averaging 4–7 years, these piggies aren't as likely to be found shockingly deceased after less than a year. It is pretty safe to assume they will give you a friend for at least 3–4 years, considering you take good care of them. I owned a guinea pig who lived for about six and a half years, so he stayed with me all through the torturous years of middle school and almost all of high school.
Hamsters can live about 2–3 years, which is pretty good, but there isn't as much stability in living a good solid three years. I bought a hamster for my best friend last year, and three weeks later, she died. It was interesting because the pet store only gave refunds after two days, so not only was it a huge disappointment, but it was a waste of money altogether.
Though rats can grow rather large and appear to live long, they actually only live 2–3 years as well. This is because they are very prone to disease and illness.
I think that the life span of a guinea pig is pretty good. It isn't too small that you have just gotten to know them before they leave, but it isn't too long that you lose appreciation for them and start to take them for granted.
Guinea Pigs Are Great Pets
In a nutshell, guinea pigs can be considered great pets for people of all ages. I wrote this article to share my thoughts on guinea pigs and to hopefully share some knowledge with potential piggy parents. I feel that they are great family pets and even better "first" pets. They don't bite, they're a cinch to take care of, they won't destroy your belongings, they're cheap, and they won't croak on you too soon.
Most of all, they are great little animals. They are fun to interact with, and they are fun to watch as they interact with cage mates. They make cute noises and have quirky behavior involving things such as "popcorning" and "rumble-strutting."
Bottom line—adopt a piggy!
© 2010 Jessie Miller
Twyla on April 20, 2020:
I have 2 guinea pigs Pumpkin&Cookie
geronimo on August 30, 2019:
i have a ginny to his name is geronimo
Brayden on August 26, 2019:
Hi I have a giny pig to
Guinea Pigs 1980 on February 11, 2019:
A Guinea Pigs' diet should be 80% Hay, 10% Veggies and 10% Pellets. Piggies need the hay to keep their teeth and tummy healthy.
bruh on April 11, 2018:
Charles and Tazzy on March 29, 2018:
That's the name of my Guinea's. These two are great especially working from home they keep me company. Cleaning cage is my only peeve since they poop too much and can stink up quickly if not cleaned at least twice a week, other than that everything about biting is true, their bites are so accidental and curiosity but nothing ferocious.
Ella on September 20, 2017:
Would also like to point out that galaxy rat said guinea pigs can't live higher than 4. That is not correct. It is normally the case if you don't give guinea pigs good enough care but if you do, they often live about 7-8 years and the oldest guinea pig lived to 14 or 15 so they can definitely live longer than 4.
Ella on September 19, 2017:
At one point you said that cages need to be changed every 2-3 weeks however, this is not the case with me. my guinea pigs have a pretty large cage but because I use hay for bedding and my guinea pigs are quite messy so it has to be changed about three times a week.
Joey on May 04, 2017:
azorean on May 01, 2017:
Gemini Descendant, all of that is so neat! : )
I've always loved guinea pigs, I got my first two when I was 9 yrs old and had lots of them until we moved to Florida when I was 15. It took me 25 years to be able to get piggies again, I got my two baby girls PJ & Chestnut when I turned 40. I miss them a lot but have soooo many awesome memories. Those 6+ years they were part of the family were exceptionally delightful.
GalaxyRat on April 30, 2017:
Awww Azorean! My first little guy was the sweetest boy on the planet. He always slept but loved following me around places. I would take him outside and let him eat grass and have a picnic with him. I would take him in Hastings and hold him in a towel... oh, the good times. He only lived to be 4, as I stated below... but he was so sweet! Mr. G was one good guy.
Enjoy your boy-boys. ;)
(P.S. My boy looked EXACTLY alike the first and third pictures. Except he had a white back paw and a paw with white toes.)
azorean on April 30, 2017:
Guinea pigs have always been and will always be
my favorite critters on the planet, and my two girls PJ & Chestnut were by far the most cherished friends in the animal kingdom I have ever loved. PJ lived just over 6 years and Chestnut was 1 month away from turning 7. They lived in a giant cube & coroplast cage and had the best hay (KMS Hayloft) and food.
I'm AMAZED that mine looked just like Wilson & Apollo shown in this article!
GalaxyRat on April 29, 2017:
CORRECTION! My Guinea Pig (Mr. G) lived only 4 years. My vet said that was the oldest age for any Guinea Pig.
fkdcxkf on January 06, 2017:
i love your reasons
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joan dietz on April 18, 2016:
VERY unfair to rats! :( As with any pet, if you want it to be tame (no matter where it comes from), you must put in the time. I have had pet store rats who gave kisses and were sweethearts (this one from a pet store) and I have had rats from breeders (notably one female who started out wild and despite my best efforts, has never become "domesticated".) They are all individuals, as with all species. Before you spread questionable statements about an animal, at least have one yourself - and preferably more than one. I love my two new guinea pig boys but one in particular is pretty bad tempered, whereas the other is totally sweet. And both came from the same place as babies.
Kayleigh on February 05, 2016:
Thank you I will do that right now Wilson really is livin the life
Guinea pigs on January 06, 2016:
Guinea pigs will live for 5-8 years if you take good care of them. My Harold ( full name is Doctor Perseus Haroldson James Holmes a fairy tail wizard from Asgard
dan on September 30, 2015:
a guinea pig live 2-3 years
Darrick on September 14, 2015:
Let me say this, I have had pets my whole life, mostly dogs with an occasional cat thrown in there every few years. My last few dogs were English Mastifs. It was seriously like having a gigantic, loving and loyal pony that thought they were lapdogs; however, a couple years ago I purchased Bella, a black female guinea pig from a family that had her a couple weeks, but didn't have the time for her they originally thought. Anyway, Bella has been the greatest pet I've ever owned! I love her more than all previous pets I've owned combined. She's smarter than I thought guinea pigs could get, more loving than any other pet and has a huge personality on top of it all. I keep her cage door open and when I get into bed she will hop out and make her way to my bed and once she's on the bed she'll crawl up on my chest and lick my face like a little puppy. After she gets tired of that she will tuck her head under my chin and lay there while I pet her. If I want her to go back to her cage I'll just say, "time to go to bed" and she'll go straight towards her cage and jump in all on her own. It's crazy how well she understands what I say or ask. I could go on and on about crazy stuff she does, but I think you get the point.
Person on June 15, 2015:
Guinea pigs can also have odd friendships my dog and my piggie are bffs!
brimock on March 24, 2015:
i have loved my little ones forever
Ellie on July 12, 2014:
Thanks so much meeko and marble love playing food scrabble
Jessie Miller (author) from Buffalo, NY on April 21, 2014:
Haha, that's great! Thank you for the feedback!
Moon Daisy from London on April 05, 2014:
Great hub, thanks for writing it. We have two guinea pigs, two boars, who we love. One is on my lap right now. I've showed him your photos, I think he likes them...
Jessie Miller (author) from Buffalo, NY on October 29, 2013:
Haha, I think some of us can definitely agree with that!
Megan Rose on October 29, 2013:
I love my piggies! What's sad is I would spend any amount of money-no matter how expensive-to make their cage as enjoyable as possible.
Jessie Miller (author) from Buffalo, NY on October 22, 2013:
Thank you ^_^
Jessica Peri from United States on October 22, 2013:
Your guinea pigs are adorable! It is true that some rats can be aggressive - it sounds like your friend's rat was cage aggressive. I was going to adopt a rat from my job that a woman just abandoned in our store, but it turned out to be cage aggressive and I didn't want it to hurt my two girls. I've heard they can be trained out of it, but it takes time. Voted up.
Buying a rabbit from puppies to guppies.com on January 25, 2013:
Plaese i want a felmale rabbit she white and i name her sunggles and i buy her a playpen and a cage and food and treats and pallets and a bed and i will not hurt her i will take very good care of her and pet her very nice and hold her very nice and if she don,t want it then i live her a lone
guineapig123 on September 23, 2012:
GUINEA PIGS ROCK!!!
Jessie Miller (author) from Buffalo, NY on August 28, 2012:
I apologize Kinsey, I somehow missed the email for this comment! I hope I can still help!
The adoption for my two guinea pigs was $30, the rescue gave me two for one because they were cagemates and it's very important that piggies have a friend to live with. I built a C&C cage for probably close to $60 with the cost of the cubes and coroplast, it's a 2 x 4 and the appropriate size for two pigs. I use fleece for bedding and spent around $10 for fleece. The food and hay for two pigs will probably estimate to about $30 every two months.
I would estimate spending around $100 up front to get them all settled in, and then around $30 every other month to keep them fed and well.
Sorry for such a huge delay, I'm sure it's too late now but I wanted to make sure I answered you!
Jessie Miller (author) from Buffalo, NY on August 28, 2012:
Thank you MAGICFIVE :) I've never owned gerbils before personally, but my friend owned two for awhile and I thought they were adorable!
MAGICFIVE from New York on August 28, 2012:
This is a great hub! I have always thought guinea pigs are cute. We have gerbils right now...another great "small mammal pet."
Kinsey on June 06, 2012:
Thks for the info.Ive been wanting two guinea pigs for a while.do u think with my 209 dollars that i can buy a guinea pig AND adopt a dog?ive been wantIng a dog too. I used to have two guinea pigs and they both died after a year.i have five gerbils now im thinking bout getting rid of them cause there not as sweet as the guinea pigs i used to have.if i got two guinea pigs a cage timothy hay and food (and maybe a few toys) approximately how much will it cost??
piggymama on May 28, 2012:
I have a guinea pig but I have to clean his cage once every two days or just one. He is very shiny though, and he is probably one of the best pets I've ever had.
Jessie Miller (author) from Buffalo, NY on February 15, 2012:
No problem! Thank you for the feedback : )
Jessie Miller (author) from Buffalo, NY on January 24, 2012:
Aren't they? I can't help but laugh sometimes when I look at my Wilson. His eyes sit further apart than most guinea pigs, and he ends up looking like he's looking in two different directions. It's mean but I can't help but laugh lol
Om Paramapoonya on January 24, 2012:
Reason 6: They're pretty funny-looking in an adorable way. I've never had guinea pigs as pets but I do like them a lot! :)
Jessie Miller (author) from Buffalo, NY on December 17, 2011:
There are so many variables that can come into play I don't think there's a right and wrong span of time to wait. If someone has twice as many guinea pigs their cage is obviously going to need more maintenance, and vice versa. I wouldn't worry too much about what guinea pig gurus say, if your methods work and your pig is happy and healthy that's all that should really matter :)
Alison on December 17, 2011:
I've never heard 1-2 weeks as a time span for cleaning their cage. I usually wait about a week between and I get a lot of mean comments about that.
Shana from East Texas on October 28, 2011:
Guinea Pigs do make great pets. I have had several over the years. We have two right now a boy and a girl. The girls are usually more moody and tend to bite more. I have been bitten by two different female Guinea Pigs.
Most of the cages they sell in the pet stores are too small and a pain to clean. One of my piggies is in a plastic kiddy pool and the other is in a large plastic tote.
Jessie Miller (author) from Buffalo, NY on August 29, 2011:
Thank you so much! It's good to know these articles are proving useful :)
:) on August 28, 2011:
I really want a guinea pig and have done lots of research. I think this site was the most helpful one out of all of them!
itsme on July 25, 2011:
Hey :)) Thank you for the info.
KristenGrace from Philadelphia, PA on October 23, 2010:
WOW! Great hub here with so much information. I have had guinea pigs throughout my life and agree with what you're saying. They're absolutely adorable and very loving. I read Muktu's comment, and agree about the rabbits- They're so much fun!
Jessie Miller (author) from Buffalo, NY on October 18, 2010:
I have never owned a rabbit but I would LOVE to! I originally was going to get a rabbit last year, but I was worried because I have heard that they can chew wood around the house and pull up parts of the carpet, so I opted for a guinea for my apartment so I wouldn't have to worry about my security check :P I definitely would like to get a rabbit sometime in my life though, because I love that they can be potty trained and run around the house, one of the biggest downfalls to a guinea I think haha. Thank you for your input!
Muktu on October 17, 2010:
Wow, a great hub and lots of info. I prefer rabbits myself, but have always been curious about guinea pigs. Thanks for your work.