I've talked about our guinea pigs before, but I thought I'd give a little update about them since they have turned out to be such great pets for our family. I know many families would like the benefits of a family pet, but may not be able to accommodate a dog or cat for one reason or another. A guinea pig (well, two actually) is a great family pet!
Unlike hamsters, mice, rats and other small rodents, guinea pigs are actually quite friendly. They never bite (they may nibble because they are oral learners, but never bite in order to cause harm), they recognize their name when called, they learn to recognize their caretakers, and they have lots of different noises that they make to communicate different things (happiness, fear, hunger). We love to watch our two "popcorn" around the cage and beg for snacks! They are loads of fun. :) Many guinea pigs will even let you hold them for long periods of time and just relax on your lap while you watch a movie. We have one pig who is like that, and the other is more skittish, but will sometimes let you hold and pet her for a while.
Guinea pigs have some special needs, like all pets. First, they are pack animals, so they need a companion. That's why we have two. Two or even three guinea pigs living together is ideal, and truth be told, it's just as easy to care for more than one as it is to care for one. Second, guinea pigs need space. The cages at the pet store, like rabbit cages, are too small. You can make your own cage for a fraction of the cost using wire shelving from Target or Walmart. This site will tell you all about how to make one. We made our own C and C cage and even made a travel size one for trips to the vet, and we love it. It's so much more convenient to clean than the store bought style too. Lastly, guinea pigs also need fresh veggies every day, and pellets and timothy hay.
If you are looking to get a small family pet, a couple of guinea pigs may be just what you are wanting. I know we love ours!