How much time do guinea pigs require?

Vilde

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Salutations forum!

So i was recently asked by the barn manager of a stable i’m at if i wanted to adopt her piggies for free. The care they get is quite poor, so i had on multiple occasions taken it upon myself to clean their cage, waterbottle, give them carrots etc. Needless to say she knew i liked the pigs.

I am quite depressed at the moment, and my mother and i have been looking into getting me a pet to help with that, because of how happy i am around animals. However, because of my depression, i have very limited energy. I am not able to do things that are very tiring, or take a lot of time

I guess what i am asking is wether you guys think adopting these pigs is a good idea, and maybe you could give me a rough estimate of how much time guinea pig care takes each day. Do i have to give multiple meals? Do they need a lot of floortime?

(Ps: there are two guinea pigs, idk if that means anything)

Thank you forum :)
 

Siikibam

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It’s good to give them floor time regularly. As for time, it depends what kind of relationship you want to have with them. As they have a companion, then they can get along well and do guinea pig stuff. You can decide to feed once or twice daily, it’s up to you. Hay is the main source of food so that needs to be available constantly. They also need space. 120x60cm for two sows or a boar and sow. 150x60cm for a pair of boars. You could clean out daily - poo picking. Water needs changing daily and you need to weight and health check weekly. And if you decide you want a ‘close’ relationship with them then you would need to spend time with them daily. I’m not sure how capable you are from what you say - being tired out

The thing you have to think about more seriously is the cost. Yes they’re small but people don’t know that vet fees for them can be very high - they’re counted as exotic pets. So make sure that you can have the funds to pay for any vet fees that may arise. We always advise people start up a vet fund. As well as that, they have to be fed. It’s not that expensive but the ‘startup’ can be quite a bit with cages etc.

So have a think about the financial side then go from there. Just a thought, if it was financially viable and you were unable to take care of them, would your mum take over? If not then perhaps it’s best not to get them for now.

PS carrots daily aren’t recommended, same for fruits. They’re high in sugar and should be an occasional treat.

And it’s good there are two. Piggies aren’t meant to be alone.
 

Robin_

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As for specific time, when I pig sat, I would spend a few minutes twice a day poo picking/changing hay/tidying up and maybe an hour twice a week to change out the fleece. Free time is great to provide but you don’t exactly need to actively do much during that unless someone is feeling a little naughty and gets into something.
I fed veggies once in the evening but others like to do a morning meal and an evening meal. What’s important is punctuality or your piggies will wheek til their lungs burn out until they get fed lol.
 
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Black piggies

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It's great you're caring for these piggies. For me the worst thing is cage cleaning which you're already on top of.
I give mine hay and a salad / veg platter twice a day which is enjoyable not a chore.
 

Vilde

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Thanks everyone for your advice! I feel like i know more about what to expect now :).
I really want to adopt them because i feel so bad for them, but I am still unsure wether i’ll be able to have them, i’m pretty busy and my mom probably wouldn’t be much help.

I forgot to say that i was thinking of asking if i could «borrow» the pigs for a bit to see if i should adopt them. I don’t know if this would be too stressful for them though.
 

Sweet Potato

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I find with my depression that even if I can't care for myself I find the energy to care for my piggy boys although this isn't the same for everyone. Borrowing the pigs may be a good idea as long as this doesn't involve too much travel as this can be stressful. also consider how you want to keep them whether they'll be in an indoor c&c cage or outside in a run and hutch set up. If you will need to buy a lot of stuff in order to borrow them and get a good idea of what it will be like to keep them then you may just want to take the plunge or decide against it.
 

Piggies&buns

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@Siikibam has given good advice there and for their care and requirements.
How much you get out of it depends on the time you put in. Guinea pigs are naturally skittish and shy and don’t always make great cuddly pets. Mine don’t like it so I tend to just watch mine interact with each other rather than making them interact with me.
I spent probably an hour a day on their day to day care - feeding and watering, cleaning/changing out wet bedding, refreshing hay throughout the day. Plus any time spent just being with them on top of that.
In terms of floor time, then they will need a few hours a few times a week. If they have a large cage, then they won’t need to come out daily as they can run around plenty in their own cage.
 

Black piggies

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Given the fact the piggies aren't being looked after well, it seems a good idea for you to take them on a trial to see if it's ok for you, if there's a plan B if it's too much. Do you know if you live near a guinea pig refuge? There's a list on the site.
Sorry if too much information but when I had cancer treatment a few years ago, friends and family said straight away that I should get rid of my pigs, but they kept me going, and I found the energy for them! They put a spring in your step.
But really good idea to just see if it's manageable for you with a trial, as the pigs would be better off, even if you'd be a good home for them, as a stepping stone to another good home.
 

Black piggies

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Given the fact the piggies aren't being looked after well, it seems a good idea for you to take them on a trial to see if it's ok for you, if there's a plan B if it's too much. Do you know if you live near a guinea pig refuge? There's a list on the site.
Sorry if too much information but when I had cancer treatment a few years ago, friends and family said straight away that I should get rid of my pigs, but they kept me going, and I found the energy for them! They put a spring in your step.
But really good idea to just see if it's manageable for you with a trial, as the pigs would be better off, even if you'd be a good home for them, as a stepping stone to another good home.
PS I have 2 pigs in a 2x5 c and c cage and they don't get daily floor time. Just daily feeding and picking up poops then clean out twice a week. It's just the clean out that takes a while.
 

Siikibam

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Thanks everyone for your advice! I feel like i know more about what to expect now :).
I really want to adopt them because i feel so bad for them, but I am still unsure whether i’ll be able to have them, i’m pretty busy and my mom probably wouldn’t be much help.

I forgot to say that i was thinking of asking if i could «borrow» the pigs for a bit to see if i should adopt them. I don’t know if this would be too stressful for them though.
I think if your mum wouldn't help then it may be best that you don't take them on. As I mentioned, what would happen if you, for some reason, didn't have the energy to take care of them? Your mum may do it but her hand would be forced, which isn't fair. And what of the vet bills? I'm also not sure I would recommend 'borrowing' them.

I don't know where you're located, but it would also be a good idea to know about local exotic vets.
 

Vilde

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When it comes to money and vet bills, I’m sure I’ll be able to afford that just fine. I know a vet at my local clinic who has great reputation with guinea pigs and exotic pets in general as well. You are very right about the thing with my mom, she doesn’t even like guinea pigs and hasn’t been much help with my other animals either. It would be pretty unfair to leave her with a responsibility she never wanted.

With looking into things a little bit more, i think i’ll be able to care for them just fine. If i spend my energy more so on giving them proper care than spending time with them alone, i think i can give them a good and enriching life. Floor time and good food rather than just cuddling with them, getting tired and being neglectful. As someone said in one of the responses, i tend to like caring for my animals even when i’m too tired to care for myself. This was after all the reason i was thinking of getting a pet in the first place.

I’m unsure of whether i will try borrowing them for a little first, i think it may be a good idea for my sake but may be stressful for them. Do you know anything about that? I know most of my animals don’t like being moved around like that, but i don’t really know how that is for guinea pigs :)
 

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Guinea pigs actually do ok being moved as long as you can keep a lot of their environment the same and they are together with their regular companion.

We have several members who take their piggies on holiday with them.
So if you can arrange a trial I think they would cope just fine.

Will they come with a cage, toys, etc or are you having to buy that too?
 

Piggies&buns

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:agr:
Keeping them together and keeping some of their soiled bedding so their new home smells of them can help them to settle.
I think if you are unsure, then borrowing them to give you an insight of how it is to look after them, would be a good idea.
 

Vilde

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Guinea pigs actually do ok being moved as long as you can keep a lot of their environment the same and they are together with their regular companion.

We have several members who take their piggies on holiday with them.
So if you can arrange a trial I think they would cope just fine.

Will they come with a cage, toys, etc or are you having to buy that too?

The cage they are in currently is a small building, so i will have to buy a new one for them. Unfortunately they don’t have any toys or accessories except for two wooden houses and their food bowl and water bottles, which i really don’t think i should keep ‘cause of how absolutely disgusting they look :(

It’ll be a new environment for sure.

Bringing them home would be a 10-15 minute drive if it means anything


Edit: keeping some of the bedding might be a good idea, i’m not planning on using straw but they currently have that in their houses so maybe i could take some to scatter around
 

Piggies&buns

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To be honest commercial toys can be dangerous. cardboard boxes stuffed with hay, hay piles with veggies or forage hidden in, cardboard tubes etc and piggies are happy!
Enrichment Ideas for Guinea Pigs
Potentially Dangerous Cage Accessories And Toys


Are they boys or girls? Boys need a larger cage - 150cm x 60cm as a minimum to stop there being fall outs over space.
Cage Size Guide

To be honest, if you are going to the trouble to buy new cages etc then I can see that you will want to keep the piggies!

The journey is fine. We have members who travel for hours to see a specific vet , so a 10 minute journey will be absolutely fine

Regarding the straw - only keep a small amount of it then. Straw is dangerous for piggies as it is too sharp and can cause injuries, plus it’s hay they need to eat and straw offers no nutritional value
 

Black piggies

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I've taken my piggies on holiday and set up a pen for them and they've been fine. If they have all they need they're happy. The main thing mine like is not to be near noise.
They used to be scared of our pet sitter and then they got used to her. They seem quite adaptable to change if it's all good.
 

Vilde

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I don’t really know whether they are male or female, i really have not talked much to the owner about this at all. I’ll make sure to ask her of course, however i think I’ll have the cage be at least 60 x 150 anyway, just to make sure they have a good amount of space each.

I might not keep the straw anyway, i knew it wasn’t good for them but i didn’t know it was downright dangerous, so needless to say i’m not very tempted to keep it lol.
They have dust extracted wood pellets (the kind that dissolve and expand in water) as bedding, i feel like that would be safer to bring with me. I don’t know exactly what type of wood it is, however it works great for horses with severe respiratory issues, so i’m guessing it would be okay for at least a little bit.

It’s good to hear that a trial wouldn’t be too hard on the pigs, i think i might try that out for a little bit. I do know it costs a lot of money to buy cages and stuff, but i think i can manage that :)
 

Vilde

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I don’t really know whether they are male or female, i really have not talked much to the owner about this at all. I’ll make sure to ask her of course, however i think I’ll have the cage be at least 60 x 150 anyway, just to make sure they have a good amount of space each.

I might not keep the straw anyway, i knew it wasn’t good for them but i didn’t know it was downright dangerous, so needless to say i’m not very tempted to keep it lol.
They have dust extracted wood pellets (the kind that dissolve and expand in water) as bedding, i feel like that would be safer to bring with me. I don’t know exactly what type of wood it is, however it works great for horses with severe respiratory issues, so i’m guessing it would be okay for at least a little bit.

It’s good to hear that a trial wouldn’t be too hard on the pigs, i think i might try that out for a little bit. I do know it costs a lot of money to buy cages and stuff, but i think i can manage that :)
Just a random question here, but i have heard that you shouldn’t feed dried foods to piggies. I am not thinking of seed mixes/mueslis or anything like that, but i have some dried dandelion greens that i give to my hamster. I was wondering whether feeding these would be okay, and whether dried treats such as peaflakes, dried herbs etc. Are good or bad to give?
 

Piggies&buns

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Dried leaves are fine to give as forage treats. I don’t know where you are based, but in the uk we have a fab company called piggie parcels (run by a forum member) who sell dried forage leaves for guinea pigs and many of us find our piggies love it.
Pea flakes are ok to give as an occasional treat. I personally prefer to use fresh herbs though as treats. My two get fresh coriander every day as part of their daily veg, but other herbs that should be fed so regularly such as parsley or dill, I give as treats.
 

Robin_

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They have dust extracted wood pellets (the kind that dissolve and expand in water) as bedding, i feel like that would be safer to bring with me. I don’t know exactly what type of wood it is, however it works great for horses with severe respiratory issues, so i’m guessing it would be okay for at least a little bit.
Usually pellets are a different issue than shavings—due to the reduced surface area there’s less space to release phenols, making them a pretty viable option for bedding (although they are a little hard on the feet). Often times these pellets are made of pine.
 
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