Fluffy, bubbly and affectionate, guinea pigs will steal the heart of almost any child.
Guinea pigs, also known as cavies, are squishy little fluff balls with two big front teeth and large doting eyes. No wonder children find them hard to resist! Although guinea pigs have been around for a long time they are gaining in popularity due, aside from their cuteness, to their relatively low maintenance costs, and their contentment to chill out at home (without turning your house and garden upside down)!
So if your kids are interested in befriending their own little cavy – or two, as your next family pet, there are a few things you might like to find out to ensure they are happy little piggies.
Buying a guinea pig in Brisbane
Guinea pigs are sold at most pet stores, including Pet City and Our Vet or online at Gumtree and Guinea Pig Finder , and on average the price of a short hair will range from somewhere between $10-$40. There are also long haired guineas that range from $60 + but keep in mind that they will need regular brushing in order to keep those long locks luscious. If you are interested in rescuing a pre-loved guinea check out The Cavy Cottage located in Geebung (right near the train station), QLD Guinea Pig Refuge, Gold Coast Guinea Pig Rescue and Cavy Angels Guinea Pig Rescue to give a surrendered cavy a new home and help put an end to irresponsible breeding.
Families Tip: If you decide to take home more than one guinea (and you probably should as they like to have company) just be sure that they are both female (or two tame males) as guinea pigs can start breeding from 4 weeks of age turning 2 into 6 within a few months. (If you really want a male and female de-sexing can be arranged at vets trained in small animal care for under $100).
How to care for your guinea pigs
Guinea pigs live on average for around 5-7 years so you will want to make sure that their living environment will sustain them. Choose either an indoor home with a removable bottom tray for ease of weekly cleaning, or an outdoor cage providing space to access fresh grass and a hidey hole for napping.
They will live a comfortable life when their cage is kept stocked with fresh straw or litter for bedding, and their food supply consists of grass, Timothy Hay, seeds, pellets and fresh fruit/vegies and with access to fresh water (changed daily).
Our family have a family of guinea pigs now and one of their favourite jobs is to take the bucket of fruit and vegie scraps, as well as their aforementioned Timothy Hay out to the guineas every afternoon. These gorgeous little pets must have an adult supervising their overall feed, accommodation and safety, but children will enjoy participating in their care as well!
Guinea pigs are also very social animals and if handled daily will enjoy the company of any loving family. They also enjoy the company of other guineas as they usually live in packs so keeping them in two’s, when possible, is the best way to go. (They are extra cute when they are happy too, and can make some very funny crooning sounds as they bounce about happily like popcorn- this may be why enthusiasts call this behaviour popcorning).
Remember that guinea pigs, like all pets, may need ocassional trips to the vet so please DO consider that when adding these fluff balls to your family!
Showing off your guinea pigs in Brisbane
If you ever feel like showing off your new family addition or you would like to take your kids out for some fun, visit one of Brisbane’s guinea pig shows. Your kids will marvel at the wide variety of colours, hairstyles and sizes on display and enjoy seeing the awards that some of Brisbane’s cutest cavies have accrued.
Want more ideas for small pets? Check out our guide to pocket pets for kids.