The Pros and Cons of Guinea Pigs as Pets: Should You Get One?

The Pros and Cons of Guinea Pigs as Pets: Should You Get One?

Do you know there are about 3.8 million pet guinea pigs in the USA? (1)

That's not surprising since cavies are irresistible with their cute faces, but before committing, you should know the pros and cons of keeping guinea pigs as pets. 

So, I've made a list of the pros and cons of owning guinea pigs so you can decide whether they're the right pets for you and your children.

Just keep reading.

Key Takeaways 

  • Guinea pigs are sociable, affectionate, and funny, so they make great companion animals.¬†
  • Cavies don't have special needs, but you must maintain daily cage hygiene to prevent health issues.¬†
  • Cavies can be more expensive to care for than expected, but their diet is easy.¬†

Pros and Cons of Guinea Pig Ownership

Many people think caring for cavities is easy, but there's more to guinea pig ownership than meets the eye. So, here are the pros and cons of being a cavy owner. 

Pro #1: They're Social Animals 

Cavies are friendly, affectionate, and social. They enjoy human company and rarely bite or scratch unless provoked. 

Moreover, many cavies like to be petted and enjoy cuddling with their owners. They even get excited when they see you and greet you with adorable wheeking, just like in this video.

And guinea pigs are one of the cutest rodents on the planet. They're fluffy, soft, and adorable and quickly bond with children. 

Con #1: They Need Company

In the wild, piggies live in large colonies. That's why animal experts recommend keeping guinea pigs in pairs to prevent boredom and provide entertainment. 

So, you'd be caring for two animals instead of one, which is demanding and can increase your pet expenses.

If you stick with one piggy, you'll have to spend a lot of time with them to compensate for the lack of a companion animal. 

Pro #2: They're Funny and Relaxing! 

Cavies are funny animals, and you can spend hours watching them run around their enclosure and play with each other and their toys.

After a stressful day, being with my furry friends makes me feel better and helps me forget my worries! I also love spoiling them with new toys and cage accessories. 

Con #2: They Need Entertainment 

Wild cavies spend a lot of time exploring territories and looking for food. Domestic piggies are just as active as their wild counterparts and need a lot of exercise to stay healthy. 

So, you have to think about how to keep your guinea pig entertained to avoid obesity and behavior issues, such as aggression, overgrooming, and chewing. 

Pro #3: They're Calm and Quiet  

Cats and dogs are lovely companion animals, but they can make a mess around the house and bother your neighbors with barking and meowing.

A calm guinea pig on a chess board.

Guinea pigs are quiet, so piggy parents don't have to worry about loud noise complaints or property damage. However, their happy chutting may keep you up at night. 

Con #3: They're Easy to Spook 

Guinea pigs are prey animals, which means they're hardwired to spook easily at the first sign of trouble. You have to learn to handle them carefully and keep them away from loud noises and other pets. 

Pro #4: They're Cheap to Adopt 

Guinea pigs cost around $50, depending on what breed you choose and whether you buy or adopt.

It's easy to find the best basic guinea pig supplies (water bottles, food dishes, chewing toys) at a bargain or make them yourself. 

Con #4: Their Care Can Be Expensive 

I expected this small prey animal would be cheap to care for, but I was wrong. Cavies need a regular supply of bedding, food pellets, vitamin C, and hay. 

According to statistics, cavy parents can expect to pay around $500-$800 per year, depending on how many cavies they have. (2)

To save some of the cost, I opt for reusable bedding material, such as Luftpets' cage liners, and buy food pellets in bulk. 

Pro #5: They're Adaptable

Guinea pigs are hardy and can thrive in various environments if you put their enclosure in a draft-free area, away from direct sunlight. 

More importantly, cavies require less living space than cats, dogs, or pet rabbits. And they're easy to transport when you have to travel. 

Con #5: They Need More Space Than People Realize

As experts from the Humane Society say, "Guinea pigs need appropriate room to roam, with separate spaces for a nest, bathroom area, and food and water." (3)

You need at least 10.5 square feet for two guinea pigs, but bigger is always better. And if you have 4-5 cavies, finding the best guinea pig cage in pet shops may be hard. 

Pro #6: They Don't Smell Bad 

Healthy cavies don't smell bad and don't stink up the house. They're clean animals and often groom their fur to keep it spotless. 

A clean and well-groomed guinea pig

Con #6: Cage Needs Daily Care 

While cavies don't smell, their enclosure can stink up the house. You'll have to spot-clean the cage daily to remove waste, soiled bedding, and leftover food. Otherwise, your pet might get sick. 

Moreover, you must trim your pet's nails at least weekly, or the claws overgrow and cause problems. And don't forget about grooming and bathing!

Pro #7: Easy Diet

Guinea pigs aren't capricious about their food. Their diet consists of hay, food pellets, fresh vegetables, and fruit. 

Con #7: Health Issues 

The average lifespan of these fluffy pets is about 5-6 years, which is not much compared to cats or dogs. No matter how prepared you are, it's heartbreaking when you have to say goodbye. 

FAQs

1. Are guinea pigs loud at night?

Most guinea pigs aren't loud at night because they're most active in the early morning and evening. But some cavies are noisy drinkers and can wake you up at night. 

2. Are guinea pigs hard to maintain?

Cavies are low-maintenance pets, but you must trim their nails, clean their cage daily to remove leftover food, and provide playtime outside the cage. 

3. Do guinea pigs smell up the room badly?

Healthy guinea pigs don't have a strong odor, so they should not stink up the room. If you notice that your pet is smelly, you should consult with a vet.  

Conclusion

Cavies can be good starter pets if you're willing to learn about their habits and how you should handle their tiny bodies. But they need a lot of daily care and proper cage maintenance.

Moreover, guinea pigs are sensitive, spook easily, and can get hurt if you drop them. That's why they're not the best choice for young children.

What do you think about the pros and cons of keeping guinea pigs as pets? In the comment section, share your experience of pet parenthood. 

Resources:

  1. Schembri, C. How many guinea pigs are there in the world? [Internet] Kavee. [Cited April 2024] Available from: https://kaveecage.net/blogs/the-piggy-blog/how-many-guinea-pigs-are-there-in-the-world
  2. Campbell, J. Average Annual Costs of Popular Pets. [Internet] Money Management International [Cited April 2024] Available from: https://www.moneymanagement.org/blog/ranking-your-favorite-pets-in-order-of-cost
  3. Guinea Pig Housing. [Internet] Human Society International [Cited April 2024] Available from: https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/guinea-pig-housingl
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