Guinea Pig Monthly
Guinea Pigs as Pets
Contributed By Urika Sia
Our family’s pet story began with a chicken found at void deck which followed us home. We had a cage for it but decided to let it go due to hygiene issues.
My sons were very upset and badgered me to allow them to have pets, which I had always objected due to health and possible allergy issues. However, I relented after seeing that they were so upset. I told them I would allow them to have pets on one condition: they must promise to take good care of them.
Dogs, chinchillas and guinea pigs were among the choices they proposed. However, dogs were out of the question as I am seldom at home and there will be no one to bring it for a stroll etc. I brought them to pet shops and initially I thought that chinchillas are very cute as compared to guinea pigs. However, my elder son stopped me and told me the differences between the two, including the living environment required. His extent of knowledge surprised me. I then realized that they had actually searched online and read up after I told them that I would allow pets at home.
We discussed and decided to have guinea pigs as pets. We did not buy any from the pet shop immediately. We tried visiting SPCA to adopt, but at that point of time, no guinea pig was available for adoption. We purchased our first two guinea pigs (Mao Mao and Tian Tian) from a pet shop and trusted the owner’s information on caging and food etc completely but we soon realised that not everything they told us is accurate, including the guinea pigs’ gender. We began scouring the Net for information and slowly, we picked up different information, shared them and started learning together. I reminded my boys that all pets require life-long commitment and should not be given as gifts or bought on impulse. After seeing all the abandoned pets, they began to understand that every living thing is indeed precious.
We took turns to clean and feed the piggies and currently we have 7 after 1 (Tian Tian) passed away. We also try to involve all the other children in our family in the caring of our pets. My children will always do their best to share whatever knowledge they have with their cousins. Precautions such as masks and air purifier were used to prevent possible allergy issues as my younger son has sensitive lungs and skin. Fortunately, we do not have any problems so far though we do have medication on hand just in case. I have discovered that family support is very important, especially when we go for overseas trips. Our family will then babysit the piggies during the period of our absence.
Today, we have 2 folders on our computer which store all the information we found online: 1 for my children and 1 for my nieces. We will always read the information collated together and will update each other if we find more.
As for the cleaning and feeding, it has now become my sons’ duties as I have always reminded them that if they want a pet, they should take care of it. Now, almost every Saturday, the other cousins will come to our house to play with the piggies and take part in chores such as cage cleaning and feeding them. Although family involvement is important, close supervision from adults is still required especially when younger children are involved. Through caring for their guinea pigs, my children have learnt much about responsibility and life-long commitment towards their pets.