If they are in child’s bedroom, then the pet is looked at as the child's responsibility. Most parents leave their child's bedroom alone, save for a quick gathering of dirty clothes. Guinea pigs need daily socialization, treats, care, and handling. Are you certain that the piggies will get adequate socialization with this set - up? We do not adopt to children, we adopt to the parents and families. It is illegal for a child to take full responsibility of a pet in this State (Washington State).
When guinea pigs get sick, they tend to spire downhill very quickly. Most children are not astute enough to notice a very subtle change in their pig's behaviour until it's quite likely, too late to treat for most illnesses. Most children, even the most mature kids, just aren't around enough to monitor the piggy on a daily or even multiple times a day basis. If the piggy needs medication, who is going to be responsible for this?
Guinea pigs require fresh food greens, fruits or veggies, at least once a day. They should have fresh water every day. Also, they need a constant supply of timothy hay or grass hay and enriched pellets. Guinea pigs need their cage refreshed when soiled and thoroughly cleaned once a week, keep in mind a child's idea of clean is drastically different from most adult's idea of clean. This can vary even with adults. :-)
Despite what your child promises you now (I'll take care of it, I won't grow tired of it, etc) there will be a time when your child can't take care of the pig because there is a pressing issue elsewhere. Guinea pigs can live up to 10 years of age and in rare cases, even beyond that! Your 8 year old child may be going off to college, and what will happen to the guinea pig who is still alive? It is the nature of being a child. There are exceptions, but they are few and far between. I cannot tell you how many guinea pigs are surrendered to shelters or rescues because the children grow tired of them, don't take care of them properly and the parent does not want to assume that responsibility. I will be taking in 8 this week alone, and this is not uncommon. It's tough on the little cavies to go from home to home to home, and I think really difficult on pigs who have lived in a home and have bonded for a few years with their caretakers, and then shuffled off to home after home after that.
Most young children cannot hold a guinea pig properly without risking a fall or a drop. Pigs can move VERY quickly and once on the ground, can scurry under dressers or desks, behind bookshelves and can quickly get into trouble, all trying to get away from something they fear. Even though kids don't mean to handle them roughly or not support them correctly, even a fall from a foot or so can injure a pig, cause a leg, foot or spine to fracture or break, or cause internal injuries.
If you are thinking that having a pet (any pet) is going to help teach your child responsibility, then please, please think again. Children need to learn to act responsibly as a first step in proving that they are capable and mature enough to care for another living being FIRST. Please read this short article Kids and Guinea pigs. While it is written from the rescuers' perspective, and is a bit pessimistic, parents should take its direction to heart.
Just remember, YOU are the one who is going to be adopting and caring for this piggy while your children may have a small portion of that responsibility. Please make sure this is something YOU as the parent wish to do first, and then discuss it with other responsible members of the family. We at Companion Animal Care Services will of course take back any unwanted pets, but we want to ensure that the best interests of the animal are taken to heart. Moving from home to home induces stress on these little guys, and they are fragile enough that they can become physically ill due to this stress. We want to ensure they are around for years and years of enjoyment!
**The bulk of this article was re-written from a post from Cavy Spirit, another cavy rescuer.
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