Guinea pigs packed and ready to go

Sunny and Toffee will be homeless for four weeks in July and August, while Jess and I are away on holiday. Would you like to have them stay with you for some or all of that time? We will check them into a guinea pig hotel if necessary, but we'd much rather them stay with someone who could show them some love and affection, not just feed them.

Sunny and Toffee come with their own cage (to be kept indoors), water bottle and food bowl, as well as plenty of food, hay, wood pellets and newspaper for bedding and soap to clean their cage. All you'd need to provide is a steady stream of fresh veggies (about a handful each morning and then again in the evening), clean water and a daily dose of attention and cuddles.

Leave a comment or ask me in person if you're interested!


Q: What do they do?

A: Mostly, they go about their lives looking cute and feeling cuddly. They spend their time eating, digging through piles of hay to find the perfect piece to chew on, stretching out for a snooze when they think nobody is watching and preening themselves before doing it all again.

When you get them out of their cage (which you should try to do at least daily), they will generally sit calmly on your lap or cradled in your arms, happy enough to be patted and cuddled as long as they feel safe. If set loose on the floor, they'll immediately dart for any available cover rather than sit exposed in the open, but if left alone they'll eventually venture out to explore their surroundings with a cautious curiosity that is incredibly endearing.

Q: Do I have to clean the cage?

A: Once a week. This is the only real chore that comes with keeping guinea pigs, but it sure beats walking a dog on a really cold day! You need to take the pigs out of their cage, take the top off and empty the bottom part into a rubbish bag (best done outdoors as hay tends to get everywhere). Then you need to rinse the bottom out with hot water (we use our laundry basin for this, but a shower enclosure will work too) and then spray it with disinfectant soap. Let it sit for ten minutes or so, then rub it down with a rag or sponge before rinsing and drying it. Then just add a few layers of newspaper, pour in some wood pellets, and top it off with a few generous handfuls of hay. Seeing the pigs happily inspect their clean, new digs makes it all worthwhile.

Q: How much space do they take up?

A: Their cage is about one metre long, 40cm wide and 40cm tall, so you'll need an indoor space of that size that's protected from drafts and is preferably up off the ground and will have people around for at least a couple of hours each day. The pigs themselves are about the size of small rabits, roughly 15cm from nose to bum.

Q: Do they smell?

A: A little, but mostly like hay. As long as you keep the cage clean, they'll keep themselves clean. They certainly won't stink up your apartment or anything.

Q: Do they make a mess?

A: When they get excited and run around their cage, they will knock a bit of hay out onto your floor/carpet. If this bugs you, ten seconds a day with a dustpan will clean it up. As for "accidents", guinea pigs are naturally house-trained and will only do their business in the safety of their cage unless they have no other option. If you keep them out too long and ignore the warning signs, they'll leave a small puddle that you'll need to clean up. Very occasionally they'll leave a poop pellet where they were sitting, but these are quite small and firm and it's the work of a moment to toss it in their cage and wash your hands.

Q: Are they noisy?

A: They'll squeak if they think you're bringing them food (rustling plastic bags in the kitchen gets them every time). A few times each day, they'll growl at each other for a minute or two to decide who's boss. Other than that, they're pretty quiet.

Q: Do they bite?

A: Not often, and even then, not hard. Sunny and Toffee are used to being handled. If you keep them out of their cage for too long (more than 10-15 minutes or so), they might give your fingers a gentle nibble to let you know they have... er... pressing business to take care of, and only if you ignore that (and keep your fingers near their mouths) will they get more forceful.

Q: Are they good with kids?

A: Small children and especially toddlers are probably not a good idea. Guinea pigs need to feel safe and secure when they are held, and small children tend to pull their hair or drop them.

Q: What about other animals?

A: The only other animal they have been around is a cat, which was so afraid of them it would hide under the nearest piece of furniture. That said, we would prefer they not be kept where cats or other potentially predatory animals would be around unsupervised.

Q: What if it doesn't work out?

A: With cute, inoffensive creatures like Sunny and Toffee, I'd be very surprised. But if for whatever reason you don't want to keep them for the full four weeks, you can drop them off at the guinea pig hotel and they'll take care of them till we get back.