Is the guinea pig a good pet for a young child? When a young child expresses the interest to have his or her own pet the guinea pig, along with other rodents, is often thought to be the ideal first pet. But are guinea pigs really the best pet for young children to have?
Guinea pigs, also called ‘cavies’, originally come from South America and live in grassland in small herds. For this reason if you do buy a piggy you ought to get a pair as they prefer to live with others of their kind. They are often recommended for children’s pets due to their gentle temperament and them being very social animals.
Guinea pigs are also fairly easy to look after; this being an advantage for a child’s first pet. Of course children shouldn’t be solely responsible for a guinea pig by themselves and an adult should also check the piggy is being looked after correctly, for the sake of the pig’s welfare.
To keep a guinea piggie you will need a cage or hutch. It is worth browsing through guinea pig hutches and cages to find one that is sturdy and well made and that will last at least four years. You should also check you have a suitable place to situate the pig’s home before you buy it or the pig. Cavies can be kept outdoors or indoors provided the conditions are OK for your furry friend.
Cavies will, like any other animal, need daily care. This involves feeding and grooming, checking their health and letting the pig out in a run for exercise. At least once a week the pig’s hutch or cage will need cleaning out.
In their diet piggies will need to have dried food, hay grass and a range of vegetables. There should always be an unlimited supply of hay or grass, due to cavies in the wild being grazing animals. Fresh, clean water should also always be available.
Before you decide to get any pet for your child make sure that you will be able to financially look after it. Also make sure that you are prepared to physically look after it or find it a new home if your child looses interest in it.
With many children you will need to keep reminding them to feed their pet and look after it; remember they’ve probably never been responsible for their own pet before so it may take a while for them to get used to the idea of themselves as an owner.
So what makes a cavy a better pet for young children than other animals such as rabbits?
There are several things that can make guinea piggies better pets for young children than rabbits. For a start there are far less health problems associated with piggies than with the majority of rabbits, and guinea pigs need to have far less injections and vaccinations, if any at all, than most rabbits do.
Guinea pigs are great animals to cuddle as they will sit quite happily on your lap for ages, mostly without getting bored.
There are different guinea pig breeds that are recommended for different children. In general, a short haired, smooth coated cavy would make a better pet for a young child than a long haired pig, as the latter will need a lot of daily attention to their fur to keep them in pristine condition.
At some point, many children are likely to show an interest in wanting to keep a hamster in their room. Cavies make much better pets in my opinion due to them being diurnal, like us, and won’t keep you awake at night like a nocturnal hamster is likely to. And piggies can even be kept in a child’s bedroom provided the conditions are correct.
So, the answer to the question is yes; guinea pigs can make good children’s pets.