J.B. asks from Beverly Hills, CA on February 20, 2008
Does Anyone Have a Guinea Pig...
My daughter would like a pet of her own for her 8th birthday. We have a two-year-old Cockapoo and he has been a true joy for each of us. I just do not want to bring another animal into the house for a variety of reasons: the mess, the responsibility, and the fact that it may end up being neglected the way our fish(who are now all dead!) were. One friend advised getting a coquatail bird because it is low maintenance and sweet, but my daughter wants something furry and cuddly. I am worried that our dog may terrorize a guinea pig and that I'll be the only one worried about it's care. What should I do???
B.R. answers from Los Angeles on February 21, 2008
If you get a pet then you will be taking care of it. If you're okay with that, then Guinea pigs are a good choice. I've had two. Unfortunately, I'm kind of a child in that area and when the newness wears off I always give them away (to good homes, of course). I'm not sure how your dog will react to one, though, it depends on his personality. I have a cat, though, and when I was researching I found that Guinea pigs are large enough that they don't trigger a cat's hunting instinct, but I doubt that applies to dogs. The good things about Guinea pigs- they don't smell as bad as other rodents (ferrets, ew), they can be litter trained, although not as easily as rabbits, they are large enough that if they get away they are easy to find, they can be house trained (again, not easy, and by house trained I mean you can let them run around your house), and they don't escape as easily as hamspers and gerbils. But they tend to bite when threatened (mine wouldn't bite if you were holding it, but it would if you stuck your fingers in it's cage.) Either way, eight year olds are usually not mature enough to take care of a pet on their own, and you will be ultimately responsible for the pet. If she absolutely swears that she will, give her another shot at a fish or a fairly high maintainence plant to prove herself, and if she can care for it for 6 months all by herself without it dying, then go for the guinea pig.
C.A. answers from Los Angeles on February 21, 2008
NO WAY JOSE!!!! Trust me, you get pets, you take care of them.. forEVER!!! You want to go away for a few days? Gotta get someone to feed all the animals, etc. Get her a stuffed animal. She can take it with her. It won't need food all the time, and they don't poop or pee. They don't usually stink, either. Go online and check into WebKinz. They are stuffed animals that when you buy it from the store, it has a little tag on it with a code. You enter the code on the website and it moves and stuff. But if you don't take care of it you don't have to have a 'funeral'.
C., mother of 3 with ([presently)2 dogs, 2 cats, (formerly)2 mice, 2 turtles and fish that would not die, but FINALLY did, and a snake that is now in foster care after 9 years of taking care of it MYSELF.
C.C. answers from Los Angeles on April 13, 2008
I had a guinea pig for about ten years. I think that is probably fairly ancient as far as guinea pigs go. Mine started out as an inside pet. He was fairly quiet and easy to care for. But, as soon as he matured, his urine started to smell. Male rodents are known for their pungent urine. In spite of frequent cage cleanings, the guinea pig had to move outside to live with the rabbit.
While some people have had success socializing their guinea pigs, mine was not particularly "cuddly." He was not a biter, but he would wriggle out of your hands if you tried to pick him up or hold him. He would also scream if you held him too long.
I have to agree with the previous poster who said rats are a better choice for cuddly, tameable and friendly. Although, I can't stress enough, that if you want to have an indoor pet (rat, guinea pig, mouse, hamster, etc.) you get a female. The urine smell of the males will make you want to get rid of the pet very quickly, and that is not fair to your daughter or the pet.
J.V. answers from Los Angeles on February 20, 2008
You proabably don't want to hear this, but I'll risk saying it. Recently we had a lot of pet rats and they were the sweetest and smartest animals we ever had. They were very cleaned and trainable. They do love human contact and need lots of attention. However, some people are a bit freaked out by them. I used to be a big hamster fan, but after having a rat, I'd never go back. Our rats never bit at all, but our hamsters were notorious biters.
D.D. answers from Los Angeles on February 21, 2008
Consider having the kids work towards this - making it THEIR responsibility from start to finish. Go to the pet store, find out total cost for basic supplies, monthly supplies cost & maintenance. They also need to read on how to maintain the animal (Library), and then offer to match what ever money they have to get the animal, but be sure that it is understood that it will be their responsibility - mom doesn't need another pet, but you are willing to get them started. Dog vs Guinea pig - evry match is different. My Dobe was afraid of our rabbit, so you never know.
M.T. answers from Visalia on February 24, 2008
My daughter is 4 and she's had her guinea pig (Caillou, yes she named him!) since she was 3. He is great with her. He is very very sociable and loves attention and to play with her. He doesn't bite (I think we got lucky in that department) and doesn't mind when she puts him in her wagon and takes him for rides or plays in her doll house. He is very low maintenance although they are very very different than mice or hamsters (in regards to feeding and vitamin c requirements). We got a really good book on guinea pigs at Petsmart and he has really become a part of the family. At first I was the main person to take care of him but I now have my 4 yr old help. She can help feed him, give him carrots and water and when we clean him out, she helps with that, too. It's a good learning experience in responsibility and the concept of positive rewards (fun, friendly pet) for positive actions (feeding, watering, cleaning). It also gives her a sense of accomplishment and responsibility and even at 4, I feel this can only be a good thing!
S.R. answers from Los Angeles on February 21, 2008
i don't have a guinea pig but maybe you would want a small dog. not much more big a mess but maybe it'll work...