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The Guinea Pig Handbook (Barron's Pet Handbooks)

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Guinea pigs make great first pets for kids because they are easy to take care of and fun to play with. Guinea pigs are also more affectionate than other small pets and will be loving towards your child if given proper care. Guinea pigs live somewhere between 5 to 7 years, so this pet could be a great way to teach your child responsibility as they help raise the guinea pig for a number of years.

Guinea pigs are highly social animals and can pine if they live alone. Therefore, it’s always recommended to get a pair of either females or males. Always make sure the sex of the guinea pigs are checked before you take them home, otherwise you could end up with lots of mini guinea pigs!

If you are getting a pair of guinea pigs for your child, it’s important to teach the child how to properly take care of them so they can have happy and healthy lives. Here are some tips on guinea pig care for kids:

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Find a happy home: Once you get your guinea pigs, you’ll need to decide where to set up the pets’ home. Putting the cage in your child’s room should only be an option if the child is older than 8 years old and is fully prepared to take care of the guinea pig on his or her own for the most part. Even if you do allow this, you will need to check on the guinea pig daily, to ensure all is well. For younger children, place the guinea pig cage in a more centralized area, like the living room, a den or dining room. The guinea pig’s cage should always be away from drafts and in an area that is quiet for a portion of the day so that the guinea pigs can relax and sleep. It is not recommended that guinea pigs live in outside spaces as they are very sensitive to heat, cold and draughts.

Learn about the new petTeach your child about guinea pigs to ensure they are well informed about their new pets. Kids should know about what guinea pigs can and can’t eat, how to handle a guinea pig, how to let a guinea pig exercise and how to clean their guinea pigs’ cage. As an adult, you’ll most likely be helping with many of these activities, so it’s beneficial for you to review guinea pig care as well. Make sure that your child feels comfortable with the new pet so that he or she will enjoy spending time playing and caring for the guinea pigs.

Make time for playtime: One reason that guinea pigs make great pets for kids is that they are extremely social. Guinea pigs love to bond with a family and spend time with their owners. Guinea pigs are inquisitive and intelligent, so their playtime must be monitored. You can set up a special area (like a kitchen or a bathroom) that is sectioned off from the rest of your home for the guinea pig to run around in, or during the warmer months, you can let your guinea pig sniff around outside in an enclosure, while you are right by their side. To keep your guinea pigs happy and healthy, regular exercise and playtime is key. Kids love to bond with their guinea pigs during this important exercise time. It’s also important to provide plenty of toys for your guinea pig to play with.

Cleaning up: A guinea pig’s cage will need to be cleaned about once a week, which includes changing the bedding and washing the plastic bottom of the cage with a disinfectant spray made especially for small pets or warm, soapy water. You may also need to do spot cleans throughout the week, if there are wet patches, and because of this some people prefer to thoroughly clean the cage every 4 to 5 days. Thorough regular cleaning will prevent the guinea pig from getting sick, and also reduce the smell in the cage. Fresh water should be supplied at all times for the guinea pig, and any food spillage should be cleaned up daily. Guinea pigs keep themselves fairly clean, so there shouldn’t arise a need to bathe them, however a regular grooming routine is vital, particularly if they have long hair. Purchase a soft brush and encourage your child to gently groom the guinea pigs daily. The younger you can get the guinea pigs used to this, the better.

Veterinary Care: There will be times when your guinea pigs will need veterinary care and it’s important to factor this into the costs for caring for these pets. If you are ever unsure of any health issues, it’s always wise to get your pet checked out at the veterinarians. This guide offers advice on health warning signs to look out for.

Guinea pigs make great pets for kids, but as with any animal, you should always do your research upfront. Not only will you and your child need to learn about the care of guinea pigs you will also need to factor in the costs of caring for them across their lifetime. If you still feel a pair of guinea pigs is right for you then check out your local adoption centres first, as there are plenty of guinea pigs out there, waiting for a new forever home.


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