When choosing the right guinea pig, you should always pick the one that is running around like a psycho. This shows that they
are able to walk and run properly and you can get a good look at their body size and shape. A guinea pig can grow to be at
least 13 inches long and can weight up to 1.5 kg, so I personally dont recommend them as pets for small children. I have heard
of a case when a guinea pigs back was broken in half when a toddler threw it over their shoulder to carry around.
Although most books recommend them
as the perfect pet for children, I think that just because they are easier to look after compared to a dog or cat they shouldnt
be taken for granted. Young children do not understand that they need to be handled with love and care and sometimes they
dont know their own strength. If a guinea pig is bought as a pet, handling sessions should be supervised by a parent or adult
to prevent any accidents from happening.
There are several breeds of guinea pig ranging from short to longhaired. The short-haired varieties are easy to look after
in the sense that they do not have to be brushed. I have 6 longhaired breeds altogether and they need regular grooming with
a brush or comb to prevent the fur from becoming tangled and dirty. Just like human hair, guinea pig hair can become very
tangled and painful to brush so to keep it tangle free on a regular basis will prevent any discomfort in the long run.
The age of the guinea pig
is also a problem factor. Young guinea pigs that have been taken away from their mother too early may not survive long. This
is not because they are dependant on their mother as they are born Precocial meaning they come out fully furred, with their
eyes and ears open, able to run around and eat solid foods. It is because they suckle from their mother until they are at
least 5 weeks old; this milk provides the body with Cholostrum, which contains antibodies to help the immune system fight
disease and infection. If the young guinea pig is taken away too early it hasnt received all the antibodies and therefore
will not be able to fight any illness.
If you purchase an old guinea pig then the transporting, change of environment
and new home could cause severe stress problems. Also the average life span of a guinea pig is 4-6 years so to get a companion
the younger the better.
the gender of a guinea pig is concerned I have no preferences. The only point I will make is to never buy just one guinea
pig. This is because they become very lonely and withdrawn and can be impossible to tame. I find that if they are alone their
mortality rate is increased quite substantially, which could be due to the fact that they have no interaction with other pigs,
this in turn causes them to be depressed and unwilling to eat or drink. Other people say that it is best not to pair two of
the same sex together unless they are related. Personally I have at least three sets of non-related pairs who have become
the best of friends. On the other hand I do believe that the younger they are paired up the more compatible they are.
If you want to keep Boars, which are
male guinea pigs, then it is best to have them from when they are at least six to eight weeks old. They will establish a pecking
order as they grow and will stick to it until they die. If you find yourself in a situation where one of the boars has died
leaving the other by itself the best option is to buy him a new friend. This friend would have to be a young male who will
learn that the older male is the boss and they will live happily.
When Sows, known as female guinea
pigs are concerned, the same circumstances apply; the younger the better. You could also pair up two guinea pigs of opposite
genders, but I would recommend that the male pig is castrated in order to prevent any more from being produced. It is safer
to have the male castrated compared to the female. This is because the males reproductive organs are easily accessible, so
the operation is quick and safe. The females reproductive organs are located inside the body so a full-scale operation would
be in order. This can be dangerous, as they would have to be anaesthetised causing the animals life to be threatened, due
to small animals being unable to cope with the stress of the operation.
When pairing up your guinea pigs they
should be watched very carefully to prevent any fighting. After about 48 hours if they are still bickering they should be
separated, if not then they are getting along fine.
I have three males who have been together since birth and they often
have small arguments but nothing to cause me any concern.