I get the question “how are guinea pigs with kids?” all the time. However, that is not the question that needs to be asked, it should be asked “how are kids with guinea pigs?” Which, of course, depends a lot on the specific child and their age.
Guinea Pigs are very fragile creatures, ones that should NEVER be left alone with a child. Not only are children sometimes unaware of how rough they are being, if the guinea pig is held the wrong way they can become seriously injured.
Now, with that said, guinea pigs are great at helping to teach children gentleness and responsibility.
If you have decided that your child is old enough for a guinea pig, here are some tips on how to involve your kiddo in the process:
1. Buy a book about guinea pigs to read to or have your child read.
2. Have your child help you pick out a C & C cage online (click here to find out why store bought cages should NOT be an option)
3. Make a decision on whether you want to use fleece or loose paper bedding. Fleece bedding is ultimately cheaper, also if you have an older child they can sweep it every nigh. If you have a younger child, and don’t mind the cost, loose paper bedding only needs to be cleaned out once a week which is less cleaning on your end. Here are some tips on fleece bedding.
4. Take a trip with your child to the pet store and let them pick out toys and all the other cage accessories that you need. However, you must be careful as not everything at the pet store advertised for guinea pigs is safe for them. Read this article before heading out. Also, by bringing your child along and having them involved in every step, they are more likely to be more invested in the piggie. Remember, guinea pigs live for 5-10 years, this is a huge commitment that should not be taken lightly.
5. Set up an appointment with your local guinea pig adoption agency. During this appointment, your child will be able to interact with the guinea pig pairs. Finding a bonded pair that suits your child’s personality is of utmost importance! If you decided to buy a guinea pig from a local pet store, their personality is not fully developed and they may not mesh well with your family.
6. Head on over to the appointment, kiddo in toe, and find the piggie best for your family and give them a forever loving home.
So, now that your piggie is home, you need to help your kiddo learn how to care for their new furry friend.
It is best to create a daily routine for feeding and cage cleaning. Creating a daily check list for your child to physically check off each care item as they do it is the best way to make sure that the new piggie is taken care of. I have gone ahead and made two different versions for you to choose from, one with and one without nightly cage cleaning. You can download those by following this link > Guinea Pigs + Kids.
I recommend printing and laminating a copy to pin next to the cage and use a dry erase marker to mark the day of the week and each task as it is completed.
You also want to make sure that for the first few weeks you may want to consider not allowing your kiddo to pick up or handle the guinea pig without you. Teaching them proper handling techniques and how to and how not to play with the piggies is essential in avoiding a trip to the vet. Now, should you need to visit a veterinarian, here are some tips on picking the right one. (It’s always best to find one BEFORE you need them.)
Speaking of vet trips, keeping up on their health is SO important! I recommend putting together a Guinea Pig Care Binder to keep track of nail clippings, food they like, baths, weight and all vet information. You can get yours here! (If you desire a color that is not in the Etsy store, please let me know and I will have it up within 24 hours!)
So, guinea pigs can be great first pest for some children, but with parent involvement.
If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment down bellow!
Ashlee + Piggies