We invited Dr Katrina Warren, mother and leading TV vet to share with us some fun facts and practical advice on why guinea pigs make great pets for kids.
Interesting facts about Guinea Pigs
- Guinea Pigs are native to South America and are also known as Cavies.
- Guinea Pigs are not pigs but are classified as rodents. Like pigs, however, a female is called a sow and a male is a boar. But unlike pigs, the baby guinea pigs are called pups. A group of Guinea Pigs is called a herd.
- Guinea Pigs are born with their eyes open and a full coat of fur and can run and eat solids within a couple of hours of being born.
- Guinea Pigs have a variety of coat types. The most common is the Smooth-haired which has a short coat. There are also Long-haired varieties which require daily grooming and Coarse-coats which have swirly hair and a cute rough appearance.
Do Guinea Pigs make good pets?
- yes, but only to those prepared to commit to giving them proper care. They have a life span of five to seven years which requires a long term commitment.
- Guinea Pigs are inquisitive, talkative and rarely bite.
- they are great pets for people with limited space.
- if socialised with humans from a young age, they are affectionate and cuddly.
- because they are small and fragile they are not recommended for children under five.
Caring for a Guinea Pig
- Guinea Pigs are social creatures and don’t like living alone. Groups of females can live happily together but they also need interaction from their human carers.
- the more you handle and interact with your Guinea Pig from an early age, the more comfortable they will be around humans. Remember, they are fragile and you should never play rough.
- young children should always sit on the floor to handle Guinea Pigs. They have very delicate bodies and serious damage can be done if they are dropped or squeezed too hard.
- Guinea Pigs require a great deal of Vitamin C , making it necessary to feed them formulated Guinea Pig pellets supplemented with lots of fruit and fresh vegetables like broccoli.
- a Guinea Pig’s front teeth continually grow so it is important that they have hard food like pellets to gnaw on.
- Guinea Pigs are sensitive to changes in temperature so their cage must be kept out of draughts and direct sunlight.
- unless your Guinea Pig does a lot of exercise on hard surfaces like concrete, you will need to trim his/her toenails to prevent them curling back up to their foot pad.
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