I’m about to have a lot of haters here, but I just have to say it.
Guinea Pigs are TERRIBLE pets.
Before you contact the ASPCA, hear me out. I had the same ideas as you do, about how cute and adorable guinea pigs are. I mean, look at him!
This is the same day we adopted Timothy, formerly known as Rufus. My eldest wanted a snake for Christmas, but my husband wasn’t cool with that. Plus, we’d tried the snake route before, and that didn’t go so well (read all about Snakey HERE). I took such great care of that snake, but I was ready for something with a little fur to him. Rufus was alone in an enclosure, hopping around and making those cute little squeaky noises Cavies like to make. He was chubby, and had a cute little cowlick on the top of his head. The Petco attendant told us how Rufus was a loner. They attempted to put him in an enclosure with other Cavies, and he just wasn’t having it. Since the rest of my crew can be a little cantankerous (and I preferred cleaning up after one pet, not two) I decided to throw caution to the wind, and we added Timothy (my son changed his name based on the Timothy Hay these little guys consume by the gallons full) to our family.
I was the most enamored with Timothy! I bought him a play pen, and toys. I went all out. I wanted to hold him and love on him more than my son did. And guess what?
They suck as pets.
Timothy never wants to be held, no matter how much I’ve coaxed, talked sweetly, given him treats, or held him. He always runs away, terrified. It’s as if he forgets daily who feeds his chubby butt, and keeps him alive. Speaking of feeding, this guy eats a TON of food. I give him fresh food twice daily, including treats like bell peppers, so he can consume the vitamin C he needs to be healthy. (A side fact: did you know Cavies can’t produce vitamin C within their bodies? So, they need supplements. Oh, and they eat their own poop. Moving on….) Of course, eating all this food means he poops. Like, a ton. Twice daily, I scoop his poop. And I refill his cage with fresh paper pellet bedding, only to have him refill his cage with pellet turds. It’s a give and take relationship between Timothy and I. Once a week, I completely disinfect his cage. While my son attempts to hold Timothy (and Timothy hollers and squeals as though he’s being tortured) I throw out all the old bedding, wiping everything down with disinfectant wipes, and using soap and water on his food dish and on his water bottle. It’s a long, drawn out process. I put all new bedding in, and after I retrieve Timothy, he scrambles out of my hands, trying desperately to go back into the sanctuary of his cage. I also “bathe” Timothy with non-scented baby wipes weekly, wiping his body as gently as I can, while he of course squeals and acts as though he’s being tortured. Did I forget to mention the frequent nail trimmings? Oh yes, you have to trim their nails too. You can imagine what happens when I do that. Let’s just say if I don’t get peed or pooped on, it’s a miracle.
I’ve never worked so hard for a pet. Seriously, and I had a cat for 13 years. I took excellent care of him, but I never had to work so hard! This pet (who doesn’t want to be held or loved) gets the most attention in my house! And if I forget to stick to our feeding/cleaning schedule, Timothy lets me know about it. His water bottle will be found leaking on the bedroom floor, his food dish toppled over, and his hay strewn everywhere. He revolts on me, so I feel as though I am forever tied to this little thing.
Is it bad that I’ve practically bribed my son with a kitten, in order to get rid of the guinea pig? We saw the cutest kittens at Petco on one of the many frequent trips we have to make to buy more _______ (litter, food, hay, toys, chew toys, blocks) and my son wanted one. I don’t want to be responsible for two pets, OK? I already have enough going on with this guinea pig! I told my son: “I don’t want to be responsible for two pets, so…. ” and I let that trail off. I let him come to his own conclusions. And dang it, if my son doesn’t choose Timothy!
Timothy makes my son happy, so I will continue on. We made a commitment to this pet, and blah blah blah…. I want to teach my son that you don’t just take in something to take care of and love, and give it up on a whim, even when the work gets hard. I know this is a good lesson, probably for the both of us, but can’t Timothy throw me a bone here?
I must go now. It’s time for our morning scooping.