• You can find lots of information on how to settle in, understand your new guinea pigs in our New Owners Guide Collection but please ask any questions you have in Wannabe and New Owners' section.

Children And Guinea Pigs - Age Appropriate Interaction And Responsibilities.

Status
Not open for further replies.

Goth Mummy

Adult Guinea Pig
Joined
Oct 11, 2013
Messages
4,193
Reaction score
2,936
Points
1,025
Location
Nottingham
Children of all ages can enjoy interaction with the family guinea pigs in a way that is safe and also an enriching experience for the guinea pigs.

Guinea pigs are best kept in a family room, rather than a child’s bedroom, as then an adult is more likely to be able to assist with guinea pig care and can notice any health problems more quickly.

Guinea pigs are not live cuddly toys bought to amuse the children, but complex little prey animals with a strong “flight” response that require careful handling.


Feeding, interaction and daily care

Very small babies and young toddlers will greatly enjoy watching the antics of guinea pigs in an outdoor run or indoor play pen.


As soon as a toddler is capable, he or she will enjoy helping to fill up water bottles and food bowls (under very close adult supervision!). Children of all ages are usually delighted to hand feed guinea pigs their vegetables.

From the age of 8 and over, I would expect a competent, interested child to have the responsibility of daily feeding and watering the guinea pigs, but an adult must check twice a day that this has actually been done.

Safety and Toddlers

With toddlers in the household I would recommend a small padlock on the cage to avoid any accidents, especially if you have both male and female piggies in the house. It is sometimes too tempting to a very young child who wants to cuddle their guinea pig to wait until an adult is ready to assist, and the result could be tragic.

Cleaning out is a shared responsibility!

Cleaning out the guinea pigs should be a shared family job, supervised by adults. It is unrealistic of adults to think that children can be relied upon to thoroughly clean cages on their own to the standard required for the good health and comfort of the guinea pigs.

Handling and cuddle time

Children love to hold guinea pigs for cuddle time. For young children (certainly those under 8) I would always recommend that the adult wraps the guinea pig in a cuddle cup, tea towel or fleece and places the guinea pig on the lap of the child, who should ideally be sitting on a safe soft surface such a bed or sofa. An adult must always be very close by to supervise and assist younger children who are handling guinea pigs.

I would recommend sitting next to the child, with hands ready to physically support the guinea pig on the child's lap or to remove the guinea pig if the child suddenly wants to move!



Please take all the same safety precautions as you would if a small child asked to hold a newborn baby!

Under the age of 9 or 10 years old I would recommend that an adult always removed the guinea pig from the cage, as guinea pigs are easily dropped if they scrabble or try to run away.

Over this age, it does depend somewhat on the individual child, but responsible children who have been properly educated about guinea pigs should be able to competently lift guinea pigs from their cages (perhaps using a cuddle cup or tunnel).

Toys, Crafts and Enrichment Activities

It is great fun to make toys for guinea pigs, and children will enjoy cutting up boxes to make hidey-houses for “floor time”, stuffing loo rolls with hay, making “no sew” fleece forests and building tunnels and mazes with cardboard and even using Duplo bricks to make tunnels!




Picking forage and grass daily is a pleasant task that children can do if you have access to suitable plants in a safe environment (teach your children to recognise the common piggy-safe plants such as dandelion leaves, cleavers etc). If you do not have a garden, or even if you do, then growing grass and herbs on a windowsill is also great fun.

We spent a rainy Sunday making name plates for our guinea pigs with our 3 year old and 9 year old.


All these activities really help to sustain the children’s interest in the guinea pigs, and keep the guinea pigs at the centre of family life.



Please also have a look at our parents' guide to guinea pigs that will hopefully help you to consider and anticipate many of the practical problems that can arise. https://www.theguineapigforum.co.uk/threads/children-and-guinea-pigs-a-guide-for-parents.124784/

Remember:
An adult must always be very close by to supervise and assist children who are handling guinea pigs!
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top