Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Rabbit or Guinea Pig

My first blog because apparently this is the thing to do and I have no idea where to start!

OK, so first of all, in any posts that I do, I am probably going to start off by saying "This is my opinion.  I'm not an expert and NEVER take anything you read on the internet as gospel".  I'm never going to post on here telling you how you should do something.  Ask an expert.  If you've bought from a breeder they will probably have told you and given you a care sheet.  If you haven't bought from a breeder, maybe take your pet to the vet and ask their advice. 
Secondly, the people who ask me questions about caring for pets are usually mums, so I'm going to talk in our universal language.  Thirdly, rule of thumb applies in all cases.  We are talking about animals and they surprise me every day.

I guess the most common question I am asked is "Would a rabbit or guinea pig make the best pet?"

Answer - depends what you are looking for, for your little one.  My personal favourite is guinea pig.

However, If you have a gentle child who loves cuddles then a rabbit is what you are looking for.  Mini lops are without doubt my favourite.  They are so fluffy and cuddly.  Another small breed is a Netherland Dwarf.  However, most rabbits don't DO much!  Remember that rule of thumb though, maybe you can train yours to do tricks.

If you have a child who is maybe a bit more rough and tumble and looking for a bit of entertainment, then a guinea pig is what you need.  Now when I say A guinea pig, I mean guinea pigS!  They are a social animal and love to be with others, so minimum two.  You will hear them talk to each other as well if you get more than one.  They make a variety of sounds and they all mean something.  Obviously if you get two and you only want two (and not two hundred), get girls.  Girls get along (most of the time), I haven't yet had to separate any of my girls.  Be prepared to buy another hutch in case the rule of thumb doesn't apply here!  I'm not talking about their little spats, you may see them the odd time taking a nip.  Typical female, we'll have a nip at each other and then be besties five minutes later. 

"What about cleaning the cage?"

You know it's kind of like changing a nappy (honestly not as smelly).  You've done that right?  Every day, quite a few times a day.  Well, with a hutch, you only have to do it once a week.  Cool!  Just like a nappy if you leave it too long, the job is even worse.  Then you have to deal with the guilt of nappy rash, except with these guys it's sore feet.  No, my animals have never had sore feet!  But imagine if you leave it, what they are walking on....

I also buy extra bits to make the job easier for me.  I buy butchers paper and a paper based cat litter.  Butchers paper on the bottom, then a thin layer of cat litter, then hay.  When I'm cleaning (because I haven't left it too long and it's not soggy), I can just roll it up in the paper and throw it away.

If I can do this for four hours once a week, you can do it for one hutch, can't you?!??!?  Trust me it's better than the ducks and chickens coops.

Go on YouTube and have a look at guinea pigs popcorning.  Mine do this every time I clean their cages.  What a reward!  (Might be why it take me four hours, I just have to watch).

"What do you have to do to look after them?"

Obviously fresh food and water twice a day.  Ask an expert what you can and more importantly CAN'T feed them. 

Trim their nails once a week.  It's so easy!  I dreaded doing it the first time, but again it's like clipping a baby's nails.  I actually use baby nail clippers for my smaller animals.  You just have to make sure you don't cut too far.  Google for a video of it.  I'm not going into detail on this general blog.  Make sure you do it and if you don't think you can or you can't find someone who will, then don't get one for a pet.  I have a guinea pig I inherited whose nails hadn't been clipped and his feet are deformed.  I am working on it as you can trim them back, but it's a long process.

When you're playing with them, regularly check them over for any lumps and bumps.  Check their ears and bottom of their feet as well.  Any concerns, take them to the vet.

In summer, if you can't bring them inside, freeze bottles of water overnight and then put them in the cage (remove the labels).  They'll either sit on it or next to it.

So that's it!  My first blog.  What do you think - guinea pig or rabbit?  I run a mobile animal farm, so let me know what you think and if you have another topic you think I should write about, let me know.

Next time - my next most asked question "What do I do with the lambs that I take to the parties when they get bigger?"