It is a sad fact that many guinea pigs end up in rescue centres after Christmas. They end up as unwanted gifts given by someone who may be well meaning who wants to surprise a child, friend or relative.
There are many reasons why a guinea pig should not be given as a Christmas gift. We are going to go through some of them here and would really appreciate it if you could share this page to get the word around and hopefully reduce the numbers of guinea pigs that end up in rescue centres at the beginning of the New Year.
At the end of the article we give you what we think is a really good alternative to getting guinea pigs for Christmas.
A guinea pig is a living creature just like you and I. They are fragile pets with feelings. They can be sad, happy, lonely, depressed and excited. They need to be taken care of properly. They are not disposable items like a toy that you might get bored with after a couple of months and then discard.
Guinea pigs need a lot more living space than many people realise. They need a large cage that takes up a considerable amount of room and this may not be suitable for everyone’s home setup.
They are a commitment for 4-8 years and possibly longer. Some guinea pigs live up to 10 years.
Research is needed before getting a guinea pig and it should never be an impulse buy. Any guinea pig that is being given as a gift should be discussed with the person who is receiving it.
There is so much you need to know about how to care for them and what they need. It should be well thought out and planned with plenty of research done in advance of making a decision whether or not to keep guinea pigs.
There are ongoing costs involved with owning a guinea pig. This includes buying regular bedding, feeding hay, pellet food, fresh veggies and chewable items such as tunnels etc to provide enrichment for their daily lives. And that’s before we’ve even thought about vet bills that tend to pop up when you least expect them.
The person you’re getting the guinea pigs for may be allergic to them or to the hay. This would be a really bad situation for the guinea pigs as they would be unwanted and the receiver of the gift wouldn’t have a very nice Christmas day either if they had to contend with a horrible allergy.
Children often get bored once the novelty has worn off and the responsibility falls on the parent. Even if boredom doesn’t set in, children have school commitments with homework and exams not to mention the distractions of computers and devices these days.
For example if a child is ten years old when they are given guinea pigs they could be 17 or 18 by the time the guinea pigs are at the end of their lives.
Christmas is a busy day and probably the worst time you could introduce a pet to the family.
Adults are organising the Christmas meal and festivities while the children are opening presents and playing with their new toys. It may be quite noisy and the complete opposite of the ideal environment for settling in new guinea pigs.
So think about it. Before giving a guinea pig as a gift, consider that it’s not just the guinea pig you’re giving.
It’s several years of commitment and responsibility, considerable additional daily work for the receiver of the gift, ongoing costs and potentially bills they may not be able to afford when they have a vet emergency.
We have a great alternative to buying guinea pigs as a present for Christmas. Do the following:
If you have done your proper research, had discussions with the family and recipient and everyone is in agreement, then getting guinea pigs would be a great idea. BUT NOT AT CHRISTMAS.
Our suggestion based on the above is to buy them the cage, accessories, bedding and all the guinea pigs will need as a Christmas present.
Then AFTER THE NEW YEAR, visit a rescue centre and adopt a pair of guinea pigs who are in desperate need of a home. It is pretty much guaranteed that there will be plenty to choose from and you will be contributing to helping guinea pigs rather than contributing to the number of guinea pigs that so sadly end up unwanted and unloved.
We recommend that you always contact a rescue centre before purchasing the items needed as different rescues have varying requirements as to cage size.
However, if you want a pair of guinea pigs, a 2×4 grid indoor C&C cage (with a lid if you have other pets – see this video on how to easily make it) is the safest option as this is a good size for 2 guinea pigs.