No Dog but Maybe a Ginea Pig?

Updated on March 03, 2012
C.Z. asks from Manning, IA
20 answers

Does any one have luck with a ginea pig? What all do these animals need? What is their favorite food? Are they trainable ( small tricks)? What is your favorite breed? We are opting not to get a dog anymore because we want to wait for the " perfect" dog. But I still need a pet... Something to take care of. Does anyone have any advice on these little cuties?

I dont know if this makes sence but I NEED something to take care of. Like I have said previously I had a bad pre term labor and I am feeling a little lost without my baby. I am looking for something that I can well... baby... Its not that I am weird its just that I want to be somethings everything and with a pet I understand they all need care. Cleaning and everything. The reason I want a guinea pig is we are in tight quarters and they are small. Beleive me the pet would not go without everything it needs and wants that is for sure. It would be my baby.

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answers from Dallas on

If you are in tight quarters, a GP is not a good option. Contrary to popular belief, they actually need space. They also really need a partner. They are not meant to be solitary animals. So two pigs, is actually quite a bit of space. The little dinky cages that are barely bigger then the pig, are not a healthy environment for GPs. Have you considered a cat? They are low maintenance, and they don't take up room. Here's a little info:

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

I love, love, love my guinea pig "Zippy". She is a crazy looking, tri colored swirly thing and about a year old. She does not smell and lives in a pretty deluxe, double decker cage. My daughter is really good at cleaning the cage and uses the fluffy bedding, not the shavings.

She eats pellets, timothy hay and fruit (mainly oranges).

Yep, she speaks like a guinea pig but I like the noise!! It's usually in reaction to the sound of a plastic bag because that's what her hay is in. We play with her quite a lot and she also plays with her hanging toys in her cage. None of my guinea pigs have ever been aggressive.

I decided I wanted her to do a trick, to sit up on her back legs so every time I gave her hay, I made her reach up and out of the cage, she can "sit pretty" like my dog now :)

ETA: they can be litter box trained if you start when they are very young. Maybe I just lucked out with the world's coolest pig.

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answers from Washington DC on

They are great little pets BUT they need as much care as a dog or cat and do best in pairs or herds.

You can clicker train them, but I've never tried.

Unlike dogs, they have very similar personalities, so the hairstyle doesn't matter so much. I would liken them to a cat. Like cats, some pigs are incredibly social and loving and some are aloof. One of mine used to sleep on my lap while I watched TV. If you keep them in a bedroom and don't interact with them, they are much more likely to be aloof. will tell you a lot about them, and how to build a nice cage for cheap. They only stink if you don't clean their cage. A bigger cage is better because a small cage is basically living in a litterbox. They also enjoy floor time, which I did in the kitchen where it was easy to clean.

You will need to know which vet in your area sees exotics and be prepared for all their needs. They can be more expensive than people realize. They need hay (good quality hay), pellets, and fresh veg daily. They need their toenails trimmed regularly.

Also, look at rescuing a pair. has tons of animals of all types, including guinea pigs.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

My three granddaughters have two guinea pigs (between them). They love them dearly. And they have been good at socializing them - taking them out every day and playing with them so that the little critters are not afraid of people.

I am so glad that they don't treat their pets as "disposable" just because they're small; these GPs aren't pampered, but they're truly loved and cared for.

There is guinea pig food in the pet stores, but if I were you, I'd talk to a vet first (yes, there are vets who take care of these critters). We had a sad situation when my younger daughter had a parakeet - we bought the line, which we had read in books, that parakeets live on bird seed, with fruits and veggies as a treat, when in actuality it was the other way round. The poor bird could have lived quite a while longer if we had realized what he needed. While you're talking to your vet, ask about diseases; it's good to know in advance.

Because GPs are part of the rodent family, they MUST always have safe things to gnaw on all the time. Their teeth grow quickly and, if they can't keep them working, they grow so large the animals can't eat.

They do make noises, which are not too irrititating except sometimes in the middle of the night. And they are messy as well as smelly (as all rodent types are), so you will be cleaning the area around the GP's cage as well as the cage itself.

The little guys have personalities and temperaments. One of my grand-GPs lets us know very clearly when he's stressed or afraid about anything! His owner has taught him to go through a maze she has made, and she also bought him one of those balls that he can go into and roll around the room (with strict supervision).

Here's a place to start (but follow it up with a talk with a real vet):

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answers from Portland on

My granddaughter and I visit a pet store often. They told us that a rat is the best small animal as far as ease of care and they are more social than guinea pigs and hamsters. My granddaughter has spent time playing with them all and prefers the rat. The rat will ride around on your shoulder as you do chores or in her case do homework. They are small and once they're socialized become attached to their owner.

I suggest you spend time in a small pet store where the clerks will spend time with you explaining about each animal and allow you to handle them over several trips so that you do get to know them.

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answers from Dallas on

I had a guinea pig as a kid. My parents got it for me, so I could have a pet of my own. We lived in military apartments, and they thought it would be a good pet for tight quarters. Although I loved that little critter, it wasn't the best match. They need exercise, so we were encouraged to let him out of the cage to explore (keeping a close eye of course). While out, we had guinea pig poop to contend with....not fun. This little guy was a biter. He made more than one person bleed. The cage, no matter how clean, had a bit of a smell to it...again not pleasant for tight quarters. And finally, the whistling. I had no idea how LOUD they can be until we owned one. It happened all hours of the day and night and could be quite disruptive. There are positives and negatives to all pets, no matter the breed, but from my experience, I know that guinea pigs are definitely not the pet for our family!

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answers from Sacramento on

Do your research before getting one... we have two (because they like to live with a friend) and they need much more space that people realize. And although they are smaller than a dog, they really aren't that small.

Here's a great site:

Guinea pigs are great pets... we love ours, but they do require some care that is beyond babying. Feeding them the proper food, trimming their nails regularly, giving them a proper enclosure, holding and interacting with them on a regular basis. They pee and poop where they want to and you can't really erin them to do much. They do give something back, but honestly it does sound like a small dog would be a better choice for you. Dogs "need" people to care for them. They crave attention and love to please. It sounds a little bit more like what you're looking for. Or even a bunny might be a better choice than a guinea pig...

Best of luck!

I wanted to add that I hear a lot that guinea pigs stink and their cage stinks. If you follow the advice of the site I listed, you make their cage from sign board which does not absorb the urine odor the way that metal or plastic will. We change our pigs cage weekly in the winter and twice a week in the summer and they don't stink. They do tend to be noisy at all hours, and they are social so if you're looking for a quiet pet, they aren't the best choice.

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answers from Rochester on

I love rodents, but I want to give you the cons first.

They stink. You have to clean their cages several times a week in order for it NOT to stink. And I don't mean just change the have to empty the entire cage, and scrub it with soap and water to remove urine and feces residue. The stench can be unimaginable.

They are not an incredibly social pet, like a cat or dog. Some will get used to humans and can be played with, others won't. There isn't anything you can really do with them. When you think of "training" them...well, maybe small things for a treat, but I honestly think of a rat maze when I think of this.

On the plus side, they're cute. That's about it. They're not a lot of fun to watch because they're probably the most inactive of pet rodents...mice are fun to watch, but they can get a little crazy.

I personally prefer a dwarf hamster (tiny) but all the above applies to them as well.

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answers from Honolulu on

We had guinea pigs.
yah they are cute.
But you can't control their peeing and pooping... they will do it anywhere and can't be trained like a cat or dog about it.

They make sounds. Whenever our fridge was opened, the Guinea pig would make their squeaking sounds. They knew their food comes from there.

Maybe a small dog for you? Because then, there is that "reciprocal" type attention with a dog. That is why, dogs are used in therapeutic ways too, such as at hospitals etc. They comfort others, and they also like the attention given to them. The dog/human relation.
And you can train them.

With a guinea pig.... get a good sized cage. So they have room to scurry around and not just sit like a log in their cage.

But yes, they are cute.
Observe them first at the pet store. And then, see which personality you like or are drawn toward.

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answers from Providence on

My son has had his guinea pig, Max for the last year and a half. He is very affectionate, likes to be held, and will squeel when he is happy. He also knows his name, and does a trick for his food. They are trainable. When my son is at school, I even enjoy picking him up and holding him. He's very sweet. He goes crazy when my son comes home from school every day and squeaks and squeels until my son comes in his room.

The cage can get messy of course, but it really isn't that bad. They need vitamin C drops, wood sticks, and hay as well as the Guinea pig pellet food.

I think they are great pets. His is just a normal guinea pig, probably the shorter haired ones, not the puffy ones.

If you are looking for a smaller pet, but not a dog, I would recommed adopting a cat as well. A male cat is quite affectionate, and very sweet. It wouldn't take as much time to train, and their litter box is smaller then a guinea pig's cage.

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answers from New York on

guines pigs are alot less work then a dog but theyre a mess.. we watch my neighbors pets wen they go on vacation.. they have to put the cage in the middle of a huge table and cover the table and floor with newspaper they throw theyre food all over the place.. im not sure if its because im not their owner but they are not very friendly to me u cant really play with them they dont do much.. althought the little girls have harnesses n leashes n walk them through the backyard..i thnk theyre cute they make funny noises but i wouldnt count on getting much love in return from a guines pig.. a dog on the other hand is a different story.. but im not sure what u mean u wana wait for the perfect dog.. why dont u just keep looking around because it seems like the guinea pig is just taking the place of the dog until u get it

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answers from Beaumont on

We have 2 females. They poop/pee whenever they want which makes it difficult to hold them while watching tv etc. They need to be in something to hold them with a towel underneath them to catch droppings. Mine don't do much of anything. I put them outside on pretty days to eat grass (making sure they're safe with a cover on of course). We give them carrots, celery, green beans, red cabbage for treats. I love them but they're pretty worthless... :)

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answers from Redding on

Guinea Pigs are great in that they are smaller than a dog and easier to contain. They can actually be quite affectionate little creatures.
However, their urine stinks to high heaven and you have to really keep on top of changing out the chips and "bedding" they have in their cages. We had long haired guineas and they needed to be cleaned and brushed. They can be a lot of work.

I'm sorry for your loss, which brings me to another point.
Some guinea pigs can live quite a while and then others don't. They are rodents, after all. Bunnies can be quite tame and box trained. We had one that lived in the house and loved snuggling. We even had a little harness for her so she could walk around the yard. We kept a potty pad around in case of accidents. Our bunny loved baths and getting her hair blow dried and brushed. She was an Angora mini lop. The sweetest little creature.
Birds can also be really good pets. I've had birds all my life and my children grew up around them. They can be very affectionate as well. One of our birds had to have a vet procedure and slept under my shirt where she felt safe until she was recovered.

Guinea pigs are like any pet. Hopefully you will get one that is affectionate.
They do take work with daily cleaning or you won't like the smell that accompanies them. They require constant sources of water which means lots of peeing and it can get stinky.

I hope you find a pet that you can adore.
Best wishes.

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answers from Dallas on

Have you considered a bird? Conures are small Parrots. They are about 8 inches long and are super sweet, affectionate, and can learn to talk! They will sit on your shoulder all day if you let them and actually lay on their backs for tummy rubs. They are trainable, ours use to fly back to it's cage to go potty. Green Cheek Conures are very quiet as well and make kind of a frog croaking sound but not a load chirp.They don't take up much space. Personally I think they are better than a Guinea Pig...way too messy! Look into it! I was desperate for a dog growing up and someone introduced me to these birds and I fell in love!

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answers from Chicago on

Just know one thing - they STINK!

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answers from Minneapolis on

Check with your local Humane Society. They can provide tons of information. When I was researching rabbits my Humane Society sent me a long email message about rabbits, their care, etc. It was very useful. FYI--rabbits aren't recommended for children under 10. What about caring for someone else's guinea pig as a trial run? We borrowed a friend's rabbit for 2 weeks and it led us to decide to NOT get a rabbit. It also got the kids to stop begging me for a rabbit. (-:

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answers from Washington DC on

OK I personally don't like guinea pigs. They are very cute but they tend to be skittish, not only that they do this "screaming" thing that I cannot stand! I bought dd one years ago, it was a black and white long hair one, a real cutey-thing drove me crazy all night, every night w/ that noise. She was pretty calm tho. The don't do many tricks. They have a high vitamin C requirement, so make sure you always buy guinea pig food, rabbit food is not a appropriate substitute. decent life expectancy. If you decide to get one, go to a smaller pet store. Small stores tend to use small, private breeders as opposed to mass breeders. Less chance of wet tail problems ( the runs, but it can be fatal for them) and have better temperment(sp) Make sure you handle the animal, don't just pick it off of looks and then let the employee put it in a box. Have you considered rabbits? They can be similar in size, depending on the breed, similar life expectancy, but have better temperment, can be litter box trained, and they can even be taught agility tricks! Rabbits love to be held and will walk on leashes! I've had both and worked with both and prefer rabbits. Feel free to message me if you need more advice. I love animals and love to help people with them! Good Luck!

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answers from Dallas on

We have one and I don't like the amount of cleaning that goes with it. The cage is very large and a lot of work to clean and it has to be done quite often. The guinea pig herself is very sweet. She loves carrots and if we give her her solid food first before the carrots,she starts a type of squeaking sound, which is her way of asking (demanding, lol) carrots! Also my situation is the animal is my son's pet and he feeds her, but that's it. I feel sorry for her and may rehome her to someone who would interact with her.
Whatever you decide, I wish you the very best!

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answers from Minneapolis on

I don't think guinea pigs are trainable, and I don't think they are affectionate, either, so that might be a real disappointment.

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answers from Seattle on

Rats snuggle.

And like to be carried.

And aren't mean.

And don't stink.

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