My Daughter Wants a Guinea Pig. Should I Let Her?

Updated on April 24, 2011
K.J. asks from Cincinnati, OH
21 answers

My 13 year old daughter wants a guinea pig for Christmas this year. We already have a cat and she feeds him and changes his litter every day.I know I will have to take care of some of the guinea pig's needs but i will encourage her to do as much as she can. My daughter loves animals and in fact wants to be a vet. She even typed up a reaserch paper on guinea pigs to prove to me she knew what she was doing. Should I let her have her guinea pig?

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answers from Columbus on

Yes, but keep it protected from the cat. Give it a little wooden house that it can hide in and chew on, too.

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answers from Detroit on

I had one when I was 13...unknowingly she was preggers when I got her :) I was never allowed "pets" with the exception of fish...boring! Guinea pigs are great as they love to snuggle, play, explore and they DON'T BITE!! If you daughter takes daily care of a litter box, she can totally handle a guinea pig cage!

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answers from Dallas on

My first question when I saw the title of your post was "Do YOU want a guinea pig?"

But, after reading your post your daughter seems really responsible and she is probably a really good candidate to have another pet. We have considered getting one, but my kids are too young to help take care of it and I don't want the extra load so we are putting it off for a while.

Good luck! That's awesome that she wants to be a vet. Texas A&M has a wonderful vet program and they even have an event each year for everyone to visit their college of veterinary medicine. Kids dress up in scrubs and sew up stuffed animals among other things. Might be something fun if for some reason you and your family were ever in the Texas area!

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answers from Detroit on

Sure, why not? She's already demonstrated she can be responsible by taking care of the cat, a guinea pig is not much different. Get one that's been hand-raised as a baby and they are generally very tame.

One word about guinea pigs: they must have vitamin C added to their diet. Most species can make what they need themselves but GPs and primates (including us humans) do not and must have it supplemented in their diet. A guinea pig requires 15 to 25 mg of vit C a day. There are guinea pig pellet diets that do contain some vit C, but not enough to meet their needs. Also, the vit C in the pellets is only good for about 30 days from the date of manufacture, so it breaks down pretty quick and that 50 lb bag of pellets that lasts 6 months is not going to be okay for them. You can supplement the vit C in the drinking water but the water will need to be changed daily (which should be done anyway). It is preferable to give the GP a daily vitamin C supplement "treat" (yogurt drops, etc.) in addition to the pellets. Many fruits and veggies are high in C too of course and can be fed as treats as well. Without enough C, they will actually develop scurvy and can eventually get very sick and die.

Let your daughter know that I am a veterinarian, and I wish her the best of luck. :)

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answers from Minneapolis on

If she typed up a paper on them then you're aware that you need to have two guinea pigs, either 2 males from the same litter (if they're from different litters they'll fight) or two females (any female, any litter). Never get a boy and a girl or you'll have baby guinea pigs everywhere! You'd also be aware that they need a large amount of space with different levels to climb to.

My daughter wanted to get one too, until we mapped out the cage in her room where she wanted it and it left her with nothing but a path between her bed and the cage!

It's a big responsibility but if you think she's ready for it then go for it. Keep in mind though, if she ends up not being responsible enough, it will probably be you that takes care of them.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Your daughter sounds like she would take great care of guinea pigs. Someone else mentioned that they need a companion, this is true. Someone else suggested getting a ball. Don't. Although they sell them and advertise them for guinea pigs, they are actually quite dangerous for cavies. In her research did she come across cavy cages? I hope you have fun with her piggies. Oh and you could always see if there are any cavy rescues near you.

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answers from Columbus on

If she has done a research paper on a guinea pig.... get her one! Or if she has an allowance, let her save up for one. Sometimes when it's their money they will re-think their priorities. My daughter at age 10 wanted one but, as soon as we got books from the library and she realized they don't live very long, she was no longer interested! Good luck!



answers from Washington DC on

I was going to say get her one only if you want one but at 13 and already taking care of a cat it would probably be a really neat pet to have. I don't[ have one but a friend does and it lives in her daughter's, 12 yo, room. It didn't stink.
Get her all the stuff for Christmas then go and let her pick out her guinea pig.



answers from Cleveland on

WHy are you hesitating? IF she is responsible and there no allergies. If your significant other is okay with it why not?



answers from Los Angeles on

If your daughter wants one, and you are already fine with getting it for her, go for it!

My daughter wants a chinchilla. I'm holding off on getting her one until I'm ready to share some of the responsibility of taking care of it too.



answers from Redding on

I had a guinea pig. His name was Petie. He looked like the dog on Little Rascals. He was really sweet, but he lived in my room and even though I kept him clean, I hated the smell of his cage. I love cats, but can't stand having a cat box in the house either. I had Petie for a couple of years and strangely enough gave him to a girl I went to high school with who wanted to be a vet. She had horses, goats, everything. I was able to see him whenever I wanted. He lived a long time.
Since your daughter is so responsible with the cat, I would let her have one.
You can also buy a ball for a hamster ball only they come in bigger sizes and that way it can run around the house without getting hurt or chewing on anything and any accidents stay in the ball. They rinse out easily.

Best wishes!



answers from Indianapolis on

Absolutely! What is the worst that can happen? She does not take care of it and you give it away. She sounds like a responsible young lady and this can encourage her to keep being responsible. She will learn love from a very fun creature. They are not difficult to care for and they are a lot of fun. My children are now grown, but we laugh at all the critters we owned over the years of their growing up. We tried to let them have a say in what pets they had as long as they took care of them. I had boys, so I had hampsters, guinea pigs, dogs, a large bird, an iguana, lizzards..... all fun and frustrating. Great memories.



answers from Atlanta on

I would let her, If she takes care of her other animals, and has gone throught the steps to prove to you, and has done the research. I think shes old enough to handle it. I grew up on a farm, an I had Tons of all types of animals. I think that would be good for her and teach her a lesson in responsablity.



answers from Hartford on

Guinea pigs are great pets and not too hard to care for. If she will share in the responsibility then I say go for it.



answers from Colorado Springs on

Wonderful - your daughter has done her homework. Some people feel that the little critters - hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, mice - are "disposable" and don't need to be cared for. She knows better. Good for her - and good for you, Mama!

Help her figure out how to get her new pet through the Christmas festivities without stressing out or becoming ill - he'll be a baby, of course. Help her figure out how to keep the kitty and the GP separate. If she hasn't talked to your vet about a GP, encourage her to do it; she may know what she needs to know, but if she's that seriously interested in animals it would do her good to talk to your local professional. She might get some good pointers as well.

My children had pets of their own (those who were interested) from about that age, and did well with them. I was always the backup help and sometimes the reminder-person. They never owned a GP, but they took care of one for a couple of days (he belonged to the teacher, and traveled around on the weekends). I never knew GPs made noise, but this one talked to us all weekend, at night. But then, the hamsters did their escape routines at night, so I don't know that a singing guinea pig was any harder!

Best wishes to your daughter.



answers from Houston on

I had a GP a few years ago...they are cute, they dont bite.....BUT THEY STINK TO HIGH HEAVEN!!! Man!!! Unless you change the litter every other day...stink city!!!! I can understand males getting "fixed" to help..that didnt change my "fixed" male....I spent HOURS every week just to keep the smell at bay....

If its ok with you....just know...every person that enters your house will know that you have a GP....THAT, or that you dont change your male cats litter box....yes, its that bad. WHEW!!! ammonia city!!!!



answers from San Francisco on

yes because she has the resabilites to do it. She taking time just to learn on the speices in everything and she want to be a vet so it good for her to start at a young age



answers from Sacramento on

We have guinea pigs and we love them!!!! It sounds like your daughter has done her research! Great for her and for you!!

We have two (because they are social and happier being paired). The biggest mistake people make is getting a cage that is too small. We made a cage for ours out of sign material (chloroplast) and wire cubicles. There's a great website

We have a 6 year old and a 5 year old and they have been terrific first pets for them. I could give you lots of info (we wanted to be sure they would be good pets too), but it's found easily on the internet.

PS.We have two males and they do not smell, but they do poop a lot! We change the bedding twice a week because I have a daycare at home and maintain a clean house. To make it easy we use puppy pads underneath the bedding and this makes changing the cage a snap.

Also check your area for a guinea pig rescue or foster. We got ours from a wonderful woman who only asked us for a donation to "pay" for them. But the best part was that she was a very helpful resource and gave us lots of good information, we knew the piggies we well cared for and healthy (free of mites, lice etc...) and we got two that were already happy together.

E-mail if I can help with questions! Good luck!



answers from New York on

i had one for a while, they are very cute and very sweet. also a little stinky/musky smelling, even if you keep them clean. just know that they need a pretty big space and they need lots of stuff to always chew on and they need to be kept really clean. the cleaning is a bigger job than you might think only because they need a large cage/tank whatever, so its a lot of medium. but they do have personality, they are snuggly too. if you really think she will care for it, including as she enters her teen years and all that stuff starts to take priority in her life, then i think it will be good. a nice little pet that requires a bit of dedication but gives you rewards in return :)



answers from Indianapolis on

Clearly, she's showing responsibility. I think you should. However, before hand, set the ground rules and stick to them.


answers from Rochester on

I had a pet guinea pig when I was much younger than that (maybe 8?) and it was my first pet. I was responsible for its complete care, so your daughter should have no trouble caring for her pet. Mine was actually a Christmas present as well, and I bought another one with birthday money and we had babies. :)

It was a great first pet--they are friendly, easy, clean, and affordable animals.

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