Guinea Pigs as Pets - Pros and Cons

How are guinea pigs as pets? We'll tackle this topic and in this article. In the end, you should be able to make an opinion on whether a guinea pig is the best pet for you or not.

Guinea pigs can make really good pets if you like smaller animals. They tend to live five to seven years, which is longer than some other smaller pets like the hamster, mouse, or gerbil.

If you are uncertain about if a guinea pig would make a good pet for either yourself or your family, keep reading. We will provide the best information about these sweet miniature creatures to help you decide if a guinea pig could complete your family.

About Guinea pigs

First and foremost, I think it's important to know that these little animals have a very misleading name. Firstly, they are not miniature pigs nor are related to pigs at all. Secondly, they do not originate from the Republic of Guinea, but from the Andes Mountains in the United States. It's still uncertain how they got their name.

The scientific name of guinea pigs is "Cavia porcellus." They are also known as the domestic guinea pig, cavy, or domestic cavy. The name "cavy" or "cavies" comes from the family of rodents they belong to, Caviidae. This family includes several species of rodents native to South America such as guinea pig, wild cavies, and capybara. 

Similar to ferrets, the guinea pigs we know and see in pet stores are not found freely in the wild. Many think that they are the domesticated form of Cavia tschudi (montane guinea pig). Therefore, the ancestor of the domestic guinea pigs are not pigs, but a species of caviid rodent that lives in high mountainous areas.

Guinea pigs were initially domesticated and bred as a source of food. While nowadays they are popular family pets, sadly, they continue to be grown for their meat in some areas across the world.

The Appealing Qualities of a Guinea Pig

Guinea pigs are domestic animals that have a very relaxed temperament. In the 16th century, these small rodents were known as exotic animals.

If you like to hold an animal, a guinea pig may be a good choice for you! These creatures do not jump off your lap like a cat would do. Instead, they like to be held, which is part of the reason they are so easy to handle.

Guinea pigs have great smelling and hearing. If they hear you, you may find they jump excitedly. And they will go hog wild when they hear or smell you making their favorite treat for them.

These pets are also very small in nature when compared to cats and dogs. They will weigh up to 2.5 pounds and measure up to 12 inches.

Are Guinea Pigs Solitary Animals?

Guinea pigs are not solitary animals. They prefer to live in groups of 2 or more. If you do have two, you may want to steer clear of two males. Males like to fight each other.

Be sure that if you have more than one, you provide them with ample room to run around. The cage in which they live should be on the large side, providing areas not only to run and play but also a few “hiding” areas where the cavie can be alone if they so desire.

Is A Guinea Pig Good Pet For Young Children?

Guinea Pigs Pet For ChildrenEven though a guinea pig is small in size, it may still be a bit too heavy for a young child to tote around.

While they are small, young children may want to pick them up too harshly. If you have small children, it is important to show them how to hold the guinea pig.

A child may accidentally drop the guinea pig, hurting them. Be certain to tell children they are only allowed to pick up the pet when an adult can assist them. It is important to note that fast movements or loud noises may also startle a guinea pig.

If you tame your pet guinea pig, over time they will be very affectionate and trust you.

How Much Does a Guinea Pig Cost?

The adoption fees at pet stores for a guinea pig is generally not super expensive. Your guinea pig will have needs that are ongoing, such as vet bills for regular checkups and shots.

They may need to be treated for ear mites or you may have to make an emergency appointment at your vet if they get sick. You will also be required to purchase a cage for them to begin with, along with a food dish and water bottle. Bedding is needed too. There are various kinds of bedding from wood to paper. Do note that some wood bedding can give off an odor that is not healthy for humans.

What Do Guinea Pigs Eat?

Guinea pigs are herbivores. Grass, hay, vegetables, and fruit are what the diet of a guinea pig consists of. They will need high-quality dry food to eat as well. Plenty of fresh water should be offered daily. You will need to make sure that your cavie is getting enough vitamin C in their diet as these rodents are not able to produce their own.

They also like to always chew on things due to the fact that their front teeth are constantly growing. Hence, you will need to provide them with enough material to chew. This can include things like special chewing toys, sticks, or young green tree branches (they love to peel and bite on them). Be careful though to make sure that you don't give them any parts of trees that are toxic to them.

Can Someone Be Allergic to Guinea Pigs?

Allergies can occur when a person has a guinea pig. There are proteins in the guinea pig's urine and saliva that can cause a person to be allergic to them. Their hair or dander is not the issue when it comes to allergies, however, the allergens listed above can be spread through the hair or dander when contact is made with the animal. A person may also be allergic to the bedding that is used for the guinea pig.

If you are concerned about allergies, you may want to visit with a guinea pig a few times at the pet shop. Or if you know of a family that has one as a pet, ask if you can visit it for a few hours to see if you may be allergic to it.

Are Guinea Pigs Noisy?

Guinea pigs are not very noisy animals. In fact, we could even say that they are silent most of the time.

However, they can make themselves heard when they really want to. There are several occasions when they squeal. Mostly, when they want food, when are angry, or when are excited about seeing you when you come home from work or school.

One or two typically won't produce too much noise. However, when you have a small army of guinea pigs, they can become quite vocal.

Watch the following video to make a better idea.

They are not so loud, aren't they?

Well ... at least, they will never start barking in the middle of the night as dogs do.

Are guinea pigs messy?

One or two guinea pigs won't make too much mess. However, when you have more of them, things can quickly become messy in their habitat.

They are not the most orderly creatures when it comes to keeping clean. In addition, due to the fact that they always eat, they will make a considerable amount of feces.

In order for these not to start issuing an unpleasant odor, especially when the piggies are kept indoors, their substrate must be changed quite often.

Fun Facts About Guinea Pigs

  • The guinea pig has teeth that keep growing. They must chew on things in order to have them wear down.
  • The oldest guinea pig that has lived was 15 years old.
  • There are five different kinds of hair that make up guinea pigs fur.
  • When they are only 3 hours old, they can start to run.
  • They have four toes on the forefoot and 3 on the hindfoot.
  • These pets only sleep for short amounts of time.
  • They are awake for 20 hours a day.


Guinea pigs make good pets for anyone that wants a smaller pet. They make ideal companions for those who live in an apartment and don't want a big commitment that another pet can bring with it. They have an easy diet, do not require a lot of extra care, and are usually pretty healthful animals.

As stated above, there are some cons of owning guinea pigs, but owning any pet type will have its own advantages and disadvantages.

Now that you know how it's to keep guinea pigs as pets, it's time to decide whether these are the most best pets for you and your family or not.