If you are looking for a good first pet for your child, I would like to recommend guinea pigs as an option. You may not have thought about guinea pigs, but they truly make wonderful pets for kids. Our household has a pair of piggies, named Dixie and Ginger, that have added a lot of fun and very little trouble to our home.
Guinea Pigs Are Tame and Love Attention
Guinea pigs have been domesticated for a very long time, making guinea pigs very tame with really no desire to run away. They might want to “run away” to hide under a bed or something, but that’s just because of their need to feel safe, not because they’re trying to escape. Guinea pigs are just as happy to run up a pant leg to hide, which the piggies in our home have done on occasion, while the “victim” laughed hysterically till they got the piggy out. This definitely shows that the guinea pigs are not trying to get away from their owners. Guinea pigs actually love attention and interact well with people. Ginger and Dixie love to be pet and will sit happily in your lap or on the floor for as long as you want to pet them. They will also cuddle up to your neck if you hold them on your chest. Piggies can become so attached to their owners that they squeal with delight when they see them, just begging to be taken out of their cage for some love and attention.
Just the Right Size for Kids
Guinea pigs are just the right size. They are small enough to be held by a child, but not as small as a hamster or gerbil that could be easily injured or even killed if held too tightly or accidentally dropped. Guinea pigs are also not as big as a cat that may not appreciate a child that can barely hold it dragging it around the house nor as big as a dog that may be large enough to knock young kids over instead of being held by them. Piggies are just the right size for even a young child to hold without you needing to be afraid that the piggy might accidentally get hurt because they were shown a little too much affection. The piggies in our home are handled by a two year old. Of course, proper handling should be instructed and supervision of very young children with a piggy is wise.
Guinea Pigs Are Gentle
Guinea pigs are very gentle. Though a piggy may mistake a finger for a carrot on occasion, the guinea pig is not trying to be mean and this can usually be prevented by instructing children to not put their fingers by a guinea pig’s mouth. Of course, a guinea pig may nip if they are being hurt. This has only happened once in our house, shortly after getting Ginger and Dixie, and the child learned the lesson that a guinea pig is a living creature that he had to be more gentle with. Guinea pigs are not aggressive and do not bite without a very good reason.
Guinea Pigs Are Easy to Take Care of
Guinea pigs really are easy to take care of. The piggies in our home are taken care of by children ranging from ages three to ten. Younger children are capable of giving piggies food and water, while older children can clean the litter box and cage and give the piggies a bath. If you don’t have older children to take care of cleaning and bathing, it wouldn’t require much of your time to take care of these needs and your young children would probably enjoy doing it with you. Also, since guinea pigs live in a cage, they are also not out running around the house while you are gone, so there’s no concern of coming home to a mess that you will have to clean up. For more information on caring for piggies, you can read my article How to Take Care of Guinea Pigs.
Guinea Pigs Are Fun
I think guinea pigs are fun first pets for kids. They are awake during the day and love to be taken out of their cage for love and affection. They also love to eat and all of the children enjoy feeding them carrots and other “treats”. Guinea pigs are also very cute and make adorable little squeals and grunts. All in all, guinea pigs make great pets, even for young children.
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