This is Squinky.
Isn’t he cute? He’s the newest addition to the menagerie we have going on here. He’s also a guinea pig, if you didn’t know.
I love having pets around the house. I think it teaches children respect, compassion, and responsibility. My girls are predominantly involved in the feeding process right now. They feed Delilah (our tortoise) regularly and the dog as well. Not everyone has room for a dog or cat, and I think pocket pets are great for kids. There are a lot of options out there. but guinea pigs are my favorite for kids 5-8 years old. Here’s why.
1. No biting
If you stick your finger in a guinea pig’s mouth, they will bite, but otherwise, it really isn’t their primary defense mechanism. I don’t have to worry about my kids getting nipped and dropping the pig or flinging it across a room by accident.
2. They’re Big
That makes them a little more sturdy then some of the smaller pocket pets. They can handle a smaller child’s rougher touch. They don’t squish so easily. And unlike a rabbit, if your kids let their feet dangle, their not going to break their backs kicking their hind legs. (Really, it happens. No rabbits for kids under 8.)
3. They’re slow
Unlike smaller rodents, a guinea pig left on the floor is not going to sprint for freedom and wind up in your walls. You can catch a guinea pig pretty easily.
4. They Don’t Escape
When you open a gerbil’s or rat’s cage, they try to make a break for it. Every time. Not guinea pigs. They mostly just sit there. Leave a guinea pig’s cage door unlatched accidentally, and most like, it will still be in there the next time you look.
5. They Make Cute Noises
They get their name from the squealing sound they make when excited. It’s a little like a tiny pig. It’s really cute. And they stampede. Nothing like a guinea pig stampede.
6. They Live 5-8 years
Other rodents, 2 maybe 3 years for a rat. Dead pets and little kids are not fun. I try to avoid mixing them as much as possible.
If you’re thinking of a guinea pig, there are a few things you need to know.
1. They eat guinea pig pellets
Not rat, or mouse, or any other kind of rodent pellets. Guinea pigs can’t make their own vitamin C (same with people) so it’s supplemented in their pellets. Other rodents make their own vitamin C, so there’s none in their food. The pellets need to be kept refrigerated and you should only get enough to last about 3 months or the vitamin C starts to degrade. I get a 5 lb bag every three months. If they don’t get their vitamin C, they get scurvy (just like people. And pirates).
2. They tend to be messy
As far as rodents go, guinea pigs are, well, pigs. They throw their litter and hay, they sometimes play with their water bottles and make puddles, and they generally poo a lot. Keep them somewhere easy to clean under or around and be prepared to change the litter twice a week if you don’t want an odor. (Once a week isn’t too bad.)
3. They eat hay
It should be the main part of their diet. They’re like little horses. They should eat Timothy hay, not alfalfa. No matter what the high school drop out at the pet store tells you, timothy hay. They’re pellets are alfalfa, and it’s high in calcium. They can get bladder stones if they get too much calcium.
We’re all enjoying our little piggy. Penelope loves him. She wants to hold him all day long and carry him around like a baby in a blanket. (We don’t let her, much.)
Another great thing about guinea pigs is they are great dog entertainment. This is how Missy sat for the first week we had him. She did not move. Penny did too, by the way.
Do you have any pocket pets? What are your favorites?