How Much Do Guinea Pigs Cost?

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It is widely believed that guinea pigs were first domesticated around 2,000 to 3,000 years ago by the Incas and were primarily kept as pets, food, and as sacrificial offerings to their gods. And contrary to popular belief, they did not come from the African country of Guinea. Instead, guinea pigs hail from South America, particularly the mountainous regions of the Andes.

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Currently, there are 13 recognized breeds of guinea pigs; the most popular of which is the American guinea pig.

Initial Costs of Owning a Guinea Pig

The initial costs of cavy ownership would include one-off payments made by the pet owner including the guinea pig price, housing, and the necessities needed by the pet.

1. Pet Purchase

The average price for guinea pigs sold at pet stores is between $10 and $40. At PetSmart, you may be able to buy a guinea pig for a standard price of $31.99 while the price of said animals on Petco varies by store.

If you’re planning on buying from certified breeders, know that it may cost you more to do so. This is because breeders make use of a complicated process of breeding to make sure that the offspring produced will be of optimum health and free from any genetic defects.

But before you think about buying guinea pigs, consider adopting from rescue centers and pet shelters because there are lots of animals there that were abandoned and were looking for a new place to call home. Furthermore, it is also a more cost-effective choice of acquiring a pet.

Since guinea pigs naturally conglomerate in herds, it would be unfortunate for one to live alone without a companion of the same kind. For this reason, you should at least buy guinea pigs in pairs because despite the love they have for their owners; they still love their kind more.

cute guinea pig pet

2. Housing

One of the very first things you should do if you plan on getting a guinea pig or two is to build a suitable living area for your pet(s).

The cage would probably be the first thing that would come to your mind when it comes to guinea pig housing. When it comes to guinea pig cages, it is recommended that you choose a size of at least 0.7 square meters for a single cavy. Adding 2 to 3 square centimeters for every guinea pig added to the enclosure.

The price for guinea pig cages can vary depending on a number of factors: cage provider, size, quality, and how the cage is made along with other special features like ramps. Cage price can be as low as $30 to over $200.

It would also be great if you could add a hideout for your pet which costs only about $4 and if you are feeling particularly generous, you may even add a $10-worth of special cup bed for your guinea pig.

3. Basic Necessities

Your pet would need food and water to survive. Because of this fact, you would have to provide special containers where your guinea pigs will have easy access to food and water.

Drip bottles are the ideal conduit for water since they are less likely to cause a mess inside the cage. You can purchase drip bottles for less than $5.

Food dishes exclusively for small animals like guinea pigs are also fairly cheap being only around $2.

Recurring Costs of Owning a Guinea Pig

Since guinea pigs could normally last up to an average of 9 years, you would have to take into account all of the expenses you would incur during the animal’s lifetime aside from the initial costs. These are the costs of maintaining your pet guinea pig beginning with its diet, grooming, beddings, and more.

1. Food Expenses

The bulk of a guinea pig’s diet should come from specially-formulated pellets aimed at providing complete nourishment and sustenance to the small animal. As much as possible, feed your pet calcium-containing Alfalfa-based pellets when it is young because it would help in its growth and development.

Adult guinea pigs should then move towards Timothy-based pellets because too much calcium would make them prone to developing bladder stones.

Since guinea pigs cannot produce their own vitamin C, this must also be included in their diet. There are special pellets that contain vitamin C but another great way for your pet to meet this need is by feeding it fruits and vegetables.

Pellets typically cost around $5 to over $30 for the 15oz to 30-lb. bag depending on the brand, quality, and if you’re buying in bulk.

Fruits and vegetables could be inexpensive if you just feed them the ones you got from your trip to the grocery.  Just make sure to feed them only one cup per day of fruits and vegetables and see to it that what you give them is actually safe to eat.

Grass is an important part of every guinea pig’s life so make sure to include them in your pet’s diet. Orchard grass or Timothy hay would be the ideal choice because they’re proven safe for guinea pigs. Furthermore, hay can help improve your guinea pig’s digestive system. Timothy hay is priced at around $8.

2. Beddings

Beddings are necessary to keep your pet comfortable inside its cage. If you have a ton of old newspapers waiting to be recycled or disposed of, why not shred and use them for your pet’s bedding? Doing so would free you from any expenses.

But if you can’t pursue the free path, you can opt for aspen shavings which you can buy for only $5 or less.

3. Grooming

Guinea pigs seldom need baths. But when they do, you should only use a shampoo that is specially made for small animals. These shampoos would typically cost around $4 to $5 per bottle.

Brushing your pet’s hair daily can also reduce shedding and improve the quality of the guinea pig’s fur. Soft-bristled brushes are the ideal tool to use on guinea pigs and they usually cost only around $5.

Depending on the guinea pig breed, you may also need to trim your pet’s hair from time to time which is why you need to invest in a good pair of scissors. Usually, these are priced at less than $10.

Also, guinea pig nails need to be trimmed at least once a month. A rounded nail clipper can help ease up the process of nail clipping and help avoid cutting deep into the living part of the nail. Rounded nail clippers are priced somewhere around $3.

If you are afraid of clipping your pet’s nails, you can have a professional do it for a fee of $15

4. Health

Guinea pigs do need to be taken to the vet from time to time for a comprehensive checkup. Thankfully, the frequency of vet visits isn’t as high as cats or dogs since guinea pigs tend to be generally healthy when properly taken care of.  Unfortunately, when the critter does visit a vet, it is highly likely that there is a problem.

Determining the vet costs for guinea pigs would be difficult until the problem is determined and the necessary examinations and procedures are done to help the animal. But you can count on an average $50 consultation fee apart from the other procedures the vet might perform on your pet.

5. Toys

Toys are important because they are not only used for entertaining your pet and honing its mind, it also provides an effective chewing material for guinea pigs. Know that a guinea pig’s teeth never stop growing and because of this, it would need to effectively chew in order to prevent its teeth from growing too long.

Chewing toys could definitely help with this problem and the best part of it all is that they often come cheap being priced only around $2 at the very least.

In Summary

Guinea pigs or cavies are an ideal pet to have because they can live for about 5 to 9 years with many living even longer; thanks to good health and proper care.

While this is ideal since you will be able to enjoy more years with them, the great responsibility of maintaining them could also take its toll on your family’s budget. But if you think you have what it takes to be a Guinea pig owner, then by all means, get one or several and enjoy the journey.

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Carlye Yancey
Carlye Yancey

Between internships, volunteering, and paid jobs over the last 4 years, I have pretty much-gained experience with domesticated animals. Currently being in school for my veterinary technology degree, I spend my leisure time with 3 critters that I own.

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