Looking around for a first pet for your kids? It’s not a light decision. Animals like turtles, for instance, can live over 20 years, and cats and dogs usually live 12 to 15 years. Some parrots can live up to 80 years! So you have to be ready for a long-term commitment if you go with these pets.
Guinea pigs, on the other hand, involve commitment and care, but they usually live between 4 and 8 years. There are other advantages to owning guinea pigs as first pets, too. Here are some reasons why these rodents make wonderful first pets.
Guinea Pigs Can Handle the Handling
Children love to handle their pets. Small rodents like mice and hamsters need to be handled rather delicately, and pets like fish can’t be handled at all. Guinea pigs, on the other hand, enjoy attention and handling. Of course, they are not indestructible and handling should be supervised by an adult. Still, guinea pigs are not likely to get bored or irritated with lots of handling and attention.
They Don’t Need Much Space
Guinea pigs do like to be played with and they need exercise, but a basic cage with a toy or two, bedding, and water is all your pig needs for the majority of the time. Many guineas enjoy open cages with bars, because they are social and like to be “with” the family.
Each day, your kids will need to take their guinea out for some exercise. Mazes, a well-supervised romp in the grass outside (an open-bottom cage or movable fencing is ideal for this), ramps, and other fun obstacle courses can be constructed by your kids. And if you miss one day, it’s okay.
Guinea Pigs are Interactive
Guineas are social animals. Many experts recommend getting two of the same gender so they will have company. If you have just one, your pig will want to interact a lot. They enjoy picking up on cues, too – they get excited when you come home, squeal when you open the cupboard where their treats are, and otherwise amuse family members.
They Require Simple Care
Guinea pigs are not picky about their living conditions and food. A weekly cleaning of the bedding and twice-daily feeding is fine. They enjoy treats like parsley, fruits and vegetables in addition to their regular feed. Fresh water is the only other thing they need. They are generally not expensive to keep.
Guinea Pigs Are Not Prone to Biting
Some rodents can get into biting, but guinea pigs tend to keep biting at a minimum. Usually, if a guinea bites, it’s because he or she has made a mistake and thought a finger was food, such as a carrot stick. Some pigs will bite if they are fatigued and anxious, so teach your children to read the signs of guinea pig overload!