Prepare in advance. Before you ever bring a new guinea pig home, be sure your child understands how to care for one ahead of time. Check out books at the library and read them together. Your child can also read information on the web from trusted sources and organizations. Take your child to local animal shelters and be sure there is interaction between the child and the guinea pigs. Your child's reaction, as well as the reactions from the guinea pigs will give you an idea of whether your child should adopt one.
What does my child need to know? Aside from dietary needs, proper housing and bedding, and fresh water, there are plenty of other things your child needs to know. The proper room temperature is also key. Consider the age of the guinea pig as well as any special needs. Your child also needs to talk with the appropriate licensed professional both before and after adopting the guinea pig. There are many things besides regular feeding and care that your child should know. Some pet stores and animal shelters offer classes kids can take about proper pet care.
Can my child sign the adoption papers? This will depend on the location where your child adopts the guinea pig. Most likely, even if your child can sign the papers, the signature of a parent or guardian also needs to be present for anyone under the age of 18. When my daughter adopted her guinea pig, she was able to sign the paper as the pet parent. But as her legal guardian, I also was required to sign. This is to ensure that an adult is held responsible for the proper care of the animal.
Where should we adopt a guinea pig? There are a whole host of options when it comes to adopting guinea pigs. Many people purchase guinea pigs from pet stores rather than from a reliable breeder or shelter. Our family prefers to adopt animals from shelters for many reasons. Many times the animals sold via pet stores have been victim to mass breeding, mistreatment, and other issues. Aside from knowing we have saved a life, our family appreciates the fact that the animals in shelters have been vetted. Most will come with a medical guarantee of some kind, assuring that the animal has been checked by a licensed and certified professional.
Does my child need to have experience with guinea pigs first? While it is not always a requirement for adoption, it's smart to educate your child beforehand. This helps prevent certain issues from arising and it's also best for the safety of the guinea pig, as well as your child. Adopting a guinea pig should be treated with as much care as adopting a child. Adoption is more than just taking home a cute and cuddly friend. It also means responsibility for that guinea pig's life. The moment you and your child sign those adoption papers, the guinea pig becomes a part of the family and family is for life.
*Always contact a licensed veterinarian for the health of your animals. The information above is not meant to replace the advice of a qualified professional and is derived solely from the author's own personal experiences.