Many parents get their kids pet guinea pigs – for a multitude of reasons. But is a guinea pig really the right pet for children? Is it fair to the guinea pig – or to the child? Sometimes a guinea pig makes a great pet for kids, and other times, it is a sure death sentence for the guinea pig.
The first thing to realize is that a guinea pig is not a toy. Its purpose on earth is not to ‘amuse’ your child. It is a living, breathing being, and it has certain care requirements, and it also needs love and attention. A guinea pig is also not a science project. Too many parents see guinea pigs as disposable pets – pets that can easily be disposed of when the child loses interest.
Most guinea pig rescue operations will not allow children to adopt guinea pigs. They prefer for adults who really want a guinea pig as a pet to adopt their pigs. Some operations won’t even allow households who have children to adopt guinea pigs.
Can you believe that many parents use guinea pigs to teach their children lessons? They want to teach their kids that pets require proper care and treatment – or the pet dies. They use the guinea pig as an example, knowing in advance that their children will not properly care for the pet, and that it will die.
Another common problem is that many parents really think that guinea pigs are easy to care for – just put it in a cage and give it food and water. This, again, is a death sentence for the guinea pig. Guinea pigs are essentially high maintenance animals, and are usually higher maintenance than a dog or a cat.
This doesn’t mean that a guinea pig should never be a pet for a child. It only means that the guinea pig needs to be obtained for the right reasons – for a true love and interest in the animals. Instead of the child being the sole caretaker of the guinea pig, it should be a family pet, where all members of the family are responsible for its care.
Children must be monitored when handling a guinea pig. They should not only be taught how to properly care for it, but also how to handle it correctly, so that the guinea pig is not injured, and the child is not bitten. Children should also be educated concerning the behavior and habits of guinea pigs, and should also be a part of keeping the guinea pig groomed, and the guinea pigs housing clean.
Most experts agree that guinea pigs should not become pets in homes where there are children under the age of nine, while most agree that the age of eleven is more ideal. Younger children cannot be expected to be responsible, and they aren’t usually as gentle as a guinea pig may require.
It is important that parents understand that guinea pigs do not require a small amount of space. They actually require a large amount of space. A guinea pig is not easier to care for than a dog or a cat – they are harder to care for. As a parent, only you can determine whether a guinea pig is a good pet for your child. Just make sure that you are choosing a guinea pig for all the right reasons.