Debunking five myths about guinea pigs

To ensure your guinea pig lives comfortably, you should take note of these five myths and truths. These misunderstandings could unintentionally harm your furry one.
By Sheryl Lau
Published on Thursday, 17 August 2017

We’re sure that you’ve heard that guinea pigs are great starter pets, but in fact, they are very fragile and will require an experienced pet owner to handle them. This myth is amongst one of the many that you might have heard of and unfortunately, if not debunked, these misconceptions could prevent paw-rent or potential paw-rents from providing their furry ones with the best quality of life they deserve.

Here, we reveal the truth of five common myths you’ve heard about guinea pigs.

 

Myth: Guinea pigs cannot be played or bonded with

Truth: Contrary to popular belief, guinea pigs are in fact, very sociable creatures. They enjoy the company of other guinea pigs and humans. Due to their shy nature, they may not open up to you immediately and may seem distant when you first bring them home. However, you will need patience and time before they will show you some love.

You can start building a relationship with your guinea pig by placing their cage where activities in the house take place so they can see you most of the time. As curious creatures, they enjoy watching your daily hustle and when they are used to your presence, they will feel closer to you.


Myth: Guinea pigs cannot be neutered

Truth: Guinea pigs are no different from other animals such as dogs or cats; they can go through the same sterilisation procedure and can be neutered by a veterinarian. If you intend to keep two guinea pigs of different genders, you should neuter either one of them or both to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

However, with any surgery, there are risks associated with it and it is important to seek advice from a veterinarian to find out about the procedures and post-surgery aftercare to prevent any infections.

 

Myth: Guinea pigs are great for children

Truth: “The smaller the pet, the easier they are to handle.” You’ve definitely heard this line too many times. Even though these small furry creatures will teach kids the values of responsibility, love and patience, they are not ideal starter pets for children.

Kids can get very excited when they have their first guinea pig (or pet) and will definitely want to carry or snuggle with them. As guinea pigs can get slightly nervous during the first few days, they should be kept in their cages to get used to the surroundings and should not be handled by kids.

In the animal kingdom, guinea pigs are considered prey and thus have the tendency to be very guarded. Accompanied by their skittish behaviour and fragile body, it is important that an experienced pet owner handle these small furry ones instead of kids. This is to prevent kids from startling them and to reduce the stress.

 

Myth: Guinea pigs are low maintenance pets

Truth: Owning a pet has its own set of responsibilities, and it is no different for a guinea pig. Most of us may want to own a guinea pig because it is less expensive and requires lesser work than dogs or cats, but that’s not true.

Guinea pigs are a long-term commitment as most of them can live up to seven years old. Even though they do not require daily walks like dogs, they require bedding, food, water, toys, vitamin C supplements, daily cage cleaning and a lot of attention. Throughout the years, hereditary problems may plague these guinea pigs, especially dental problems. Hence, Veterinary fees could be costly.

 

Myth: Guinea pigs don’t need a large living space

Truth: You may assume that a regular hamster-sized cage (24x12 inches) or the medium-sized ones you see at a pet store is adequate for a guinea pig, but because they are much larger in size, they actually require a bigger space to romp around.

The recommended size for one guinea pig is 30 by 36 inches and for two guinea pigs, it will be 30 by 50 inches. The cage is where they eat, sleep and play, thus, living in a confined area can cause them distress.