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Can anyone give me the low down on guinea pigs? My dd1 turns 3yo in a few weeks and she has been asking for a g.p. for over a month now. We have visited shops with g.p. and interacted with them and she is still asking so dh and I are thinking more seriously about this.<br><br>
DH is farm born, always had LOTS of animals, and works in animal medicine. But he never had a g.p. I grew up with cats and dogs, then became a "rabbit person". I had house rabbits for about 15 years but after my last bunny passed on after a long illness I just couldn't keep doing it and decided to take some time away from bunnies. For the past 6 years dh and I have had indoor cats but as of April 1st we will no longer have any pets (our kitty is moving to live with my MIL...we moved to a rural home and kitty didn't transition well. He is special needs and MIL has experience with him and with similar kitties. We'll see him often but this is best for him.) So basically we will be companion animal "empty" for the first time ever.<br><br>
I know I'll be primary care giver for g.p. so what exactly is involved? I've done the website/book research but would love some input from "crunchier" mamas on this! Is a g.p. really a good companion for a toddler? DD1 is very conscientious and caring but she is still a noisy/bouncy toddler... books often say rabbits and children go together and that just isn't true. Would you green light a g.p. for a toddler?<br><br>
thanks!
 

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I think 3 might be too young. gp can startle easily and *most* of them don't like being held and will only tolerate petting. They'll struggle a lot when picked up and their claws can be sharp. I've never been cut by one, but a scraping may startle a toddler.<br><br>
Of all the guinea pigs I've owned, only our herd matriarch is what I would consider *tame*, to where she's ok with being picked up and held and petted (especially if you give her something yummy to eat!). And handful of others were pretty tame. would sniff fingers, run up to the front of the cage to say hi, eat from your hand. The rest were just wild. They had eachother and didn't need us. Now my experience may be a little different because of the larger groups we've had.<br><br>
They do need to live in pairs as they're social, so if you do decide to get them, get two (and make sure they're the same sex or you'll soon have 10!).<br><br>
I would consider most gp to be a bit hardier than rabbits though.<br><br>
Don't know if that was very helpful!<br><br>
~Julia
 

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We had 3 pigs and a toddler and it was a blast! If you are used to caring for rabbits, pigs will be a breeze. I am sure you know the basics, food, housing, etc. I'll share with you my pig/toddler experience...<br><br>
I think gp's and supervised toddlers are great together because of the sweet gp temperament. They rarely bite and are so docile. We would take our pigs out every day, my dd's favorite thing to do with them was to give them rides in her wagon or stroller (both toy size, indoors). She could pick them up and set them up on the bed or couch and just play with them and pet them. She loved to help me feed them, pick greens for them, bathe, clip nails, we really did all the care together.<br><br>
One great thing about pigs is that they are much sturdier than, say, a hamster. Of course, a toddler could hurt one, but not as easily as one of the smaller "pocket pets". Toddlers can hold them easily, they will sit right in their lap and not really go anywhere with just gentle restraint. They are easy to catch if they are loose and don't get lost in the house like a loose hamster! I have to disagree with the pp saying that most don't like to be held and will only tolerate a little petting. Our guinea pigs would sit in our laps for hours of we let them, they really enjoyed it. We had three males and they were just the best little pets. We sadly had to re-home them because of an overseas move, but if we have the space again for them someday, I would definitely get another. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/love.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="love"><br><br>
My advice is to be sure YOU want the piggy. Yes, get 2, they will be happier. Buy your hay by the bale, good horse quality grass hay, they love their hay and if you get a bale you won't have to be stingy with it. They love to burrow in it, play in it, as well as eat it. Build as big a cage as you have room for. I also used horse style bags of shavings for bedding. I know some people say never use pine, but I did and my pigs were fine on it. I did open the bag and let them air out and I bought good quality shavings, they were not dusty. I also went to the (farm) feed store and asked them to order me a bag of pellets (50 lbs?), Purina makes one I think. It was waaay cheaper than pet store bags and it was the same stuff. My pet store bought the same bag and split it up into smaller packages and sold it by the 2 pound bag! Hint, if your feed store guy does not know of the huge mark up on gp pellets, don't tell him, he will probably charge you his standard mark up on the big bag and this is good. If your DH is a farm guy, he will know how to find all this stuff! It really saves lots of money of you have the space to store it. Sorry this got so long! Hope that helps!
 
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