When thinking about getting a guinea pig, you probably want to know how much guinea pigs cost.
We'll explore all the costs involved with guinea pigs here, so you can have an accurate idea of what you'll be spending to acquire or maintain your guinea pig.
- Essentials for A New Guinea Pig
- Optional Items for a New Guinea Pig
- Monthly Maintenance Cost
- How To Get Free or Discounted Guinea Pig Accessories
- Poll: Tell us How Much You Spend on Your Guinea Pigs Each Month
- Is Your Cage Big Enough Calculator: Inches to Square Feet
- Calculate Your Actual Startup Cost
- Calculate Your Actual Monthly Maintenance Cost
Guinea pigs are cute, gentle creatures who make wonderful pets. Before you get one, though, you need to know what you're in for and how much you'll be spending.
We'll look at the initial costs costs of acquiring a guinea pig, as well as the on-going monthly maintenance costs. We also provide a handy calculator so you can get an accurate estimate based on your own geographical area and preferences.
If you are acquiring a guinea pig for the first time, there is an initial investment that you'll need to come up with to prepare for the arrival of your guinea pig. We'll list the necessities, the optional items, and a section on how to get what you need for free or at a discount.
What You Need
Guinea Pig(s)The cost of the guinea pig itself can vary from $10 to $40. You can acquire them from breeders, a rescue shelter or humane society, or from a pet store.
Cage or Some Sort of HousingSize matters! The absolute minimum amount of space you want for your guinea pig should be at least 7.5 square feet per guinea pig (i.e., at least 36" x 30"). If you house two guinea pigs (highly recommended!), you need a minimum of 10.5 square feet of space (about 30" x 50"). If you're not comfortable calculating square footage, and you want to determine the sq. footage of a certain cage size, here's a handy calculator.
Water BottleUsing a water bottle that hangs on the side of the cage keeps the water from getting soiled and helps you better monitor the amount of water consumption. We recommend water bottles instead of setting a water dish in the cage, which can easily get overturned or soiled. A larger water bottle needs refilled less often, so I recommend an 8 oz. bottle as a minimum.
Feed BowlYou can either use a bowl that can't be easily tipped over to put food in, or you could get a feeder that hangs on the side of the cage. Using a hanging feeder is a better option since it uses less space, minimizes spillage, doesn't provide a way for your guinea pig to lay on top of his food, and it keeps the food from getting soiled by cage debris. Hanging feeders are more expensive than bowls, however.
Something to Hide InGuinea pigs need to feel safe, so they need a hideaway to be able to snuggle inside and hide in. There are many options. You can use plastic store-bought hideaways, homemade hideaways, or hideaways made from fabric, wood, wicker, or even metal.
BeddingThere are several options for bedding. Some owners use fleece bedding, but others use some type of wood shavings, wood pellets, or a shredded recycled product. Never use cedar shavings, as they are toxic to guinea pigs. Good choices include aspen shavings, Carefresh bedding, pine shavings (some owners disagree with using these), or fleece. If this is your first guinea pig, we'll assume you will start out using inexpensive wood shavings. The price will depend on the type and size you buy.
Grass HayGrass hay is especially important. It should always be available to your guinea pig and should comprise about 75% of his daily diet. Grass hay provides roughage, which helps keep their ever-growing teeth trimmed down, and it provides necessary fiber and nutrients. The best grass-based hay to use is Timothy hay. Of course, the price will depend on what type of hay you choose, what brand, and how much you get.
Pellet FoodNever feed a guinea pig pellet food designed for other animals, like rabbits, because guinea pigs need Vitamin C. A high-quality guinea pig pellet food will contain Vitamin C, whereas rabbit pellets usually do not. It's best to choose a timothy-based pellet instead of alfalfa-based, because it has a lower calcium content, and too much calcium can lead to the formation of bladder stones. Be sure your food does not contain nuts or seeds.
It's important to buy high-quality food, so we will not consider the cheap, low-nutrient foods in our price calculation. Prices vary widely, but on average, you can expect to pay anywhere from $8 - $25. We'll assume you're going to buy a 5-pound bag of Oxbow pellets. That will cost you about $15.
You should provide your guinea pig with about 1 cup of fresh vegetables per day. Fresh vegetables are a necessary part of his diet. They provide Vitamin C and other important nutrients. Be sure to wash them, and make sure they are pesticide-free. For a list of which vegetables are good and which ones you should avoid, see What Can Guinea Pigs Eat.
It's difficult to estimate the price of fresh vegetables, because price depends on what kind you buy, which season you buy it in, where you live, and so on. But we will assume that you buy 6 varied pieces of vegetables per week, such as 2 carrots, a head of romaine lettuce, 2 green peppers, and a bunch of asparagus. We'll use an average cost of $9 per week, for a monthly total of $36.
Vitamin C Supplement
Guinea pigs need Vitamin C but can't produce it, so they must get it as a supplement in their diet. They need 30-50 mg/2 pounds daily. Vitamin C is water-soluble and is not stored in the body, so you can't overdose on it. It does degrade rather quickly, however. If you feed your guinea pig a well-rounded diet, he should get the Vitamin C he needs from his diet, but it's a good idea to give a supplement anyway. You can buy tablets or liquid drops.
Optional Items to Prepare for a New Guinea PigThese are items you might want to purchase when getting a new guinea pig, but they are not absolutely needed.
What You Might Want
Guinea pigs' teeth never stop growing, and they need to chew to keep them whittled down to an appropriate size. You might want to invest in some chew sticks to aid with this.
A lot of owners choose to purchase various toys for their guinea pigs. Check out this article to find lots of ways to make your own toys.
A hay rack lets you provide hay for your guinea pig while keeping it off the ground so it doesn't get soiled. Make sure you get one that's big enough to hold a good amount. Otherwise, be sure to include some loose hay as well.
If you're planning on getting a long-haired guinea pig, you might want to purchase a soft brush for grooming. Other grooming items that some owners purchase include nail clippers or guinea pig shampoo.
Taking your guinea pig outdoors for some fresh air and fresh grass is a good idea, but you'll need to contain and protect them. You might want to purchase an outdoor run if you don't want to make one yourself.
Monthly Maintenance CostThese are the ongoing items you will need to replenish each month, and approximately what they'll cost. Again, this list assumes you have a single guinea pig.
What You Need
If you have a single guinea pig and are using wood shavings as a bedding material, you might clean his cage once or twice a week. Assuming you don't have a huge cage, we will assume you'll go through much of the 1200-cubic-inch bag of aspen shavings we discussed earlier from amazon.
We will assume you will use a large bag of Timothy hay for his hay needs.
A single guinea pig will eat about 1/4 cup of pellet food a day, so in a month, you will need about 8 cups of pellet food.
Fresh Vegetables & Fruit
You should provide your guinea pig with about 1 cup of fresh vegetables per day. Fruit can be given daily or even just once or twice a week. Each owner has different preferences.
Vitamin C Supplement
We already discussed Vitamin C in the Initial Setup Costs section. You can use powder, tablets, or liquid Vitamin C as a supplement.
How To Get Free or Discounted Guinea Pig SuppliesIf you have a little bit of patience and time, you can get what you need for free or at a reduced cost. Here are some tips to help get you started. If you have an idea, please share it with us in the comments below!
How To Find a Free Guinea Pig
Sometimes people have a guinea pig but can no longer care for it. Some will choose to sell their guinea pig with his cage and accessories, and sometimes they give them away for free. I found a guy in Akron on Craiglist just yesterday who said he didn't have time to devote to his guinea pig, and as a result, was giving it away for free along with his cage and accessories. If you're not in a rush, you can find these great deals.
- Craigslist is a great place to find free or discounted guinea pigs and supplies. There are several ways you can set up alerts to look for what you want, such as "free guinea pig". One way is to set up an alert at If This, Then That. Start a new recipe. For your trigger, select "craiglist". Set up your search terms, like "guinea pig" or "free guinea pig" or whatever you want to filter your searches for. Then when something does come up with that term, you will receive an email letting you know.
- Check your local animal welfare league or nearby rescue shelters. Sometimes, when they are searching for a home for an abandoned guinea pig, they will give them away for free or for a very low cost. There are several guinea pig rescue directories online. Just do a google search for one nearby.
How To Spend Less on Guinea Pig Supplies
Deals on guinea pig supplies and accessories are out there, but it takes a bit of time to find them. Here are some options to help you find great deals and save money.
- Utilize IFTTT (see above). Lifehacker has a good tutorial on how to use it effectively.
- Go over to slickdeals once a week, type in "guinea pig" and hit search to see if there are any deals listed there.
- Petco offers sales alerts. Sign up, specify your search terms (e.g., guinea pig), and they will email you when there's a sale on guinea pig items.
- Go to DealsEA and search for guinea pig to find deals listed there. You can set up alerts that will get delivered via email or text as soon as they appear.
- Check Bens Bargains for their list of deals. Type in either "guinea pig" or "small animal" as a search term. You can also set up a;erts to have deals matching your words emailed to you.
- If you shop at amazon.com and buy certain products, you can go to CamelCamelCamel and set up an alert. They monitor price fluctuations at amazon, and when the price of your item drops, they will notify you via email or twitter.
- Create an account at coupon sites like retailmenotThey provide discount coupons for thousands of stores, including petsmart, amazon.com, walmart.com, etc. These are coupons that you have to use while shopping online, however. I don't think you can print them out and take them to the store to use. But if you buy pet supplies online, you could get a great deal using these coupons.
- Another site that a lot of people are using is ebates. You don't actually save money on the things you buy, I believe. You just earn money back or gift cards for the money you spent, as long as you did your shopping online. I haven't used it, but I have friends who use it regularly. Check it out and see if it's something that interests you at eBates.com
- Check your local garage-sale type stores. In our town, Easter Seals has a garage-sale type sale that they open up two Saturdays a month. It's a huge store, and it's filled with donated items - anything from toys to housewares to furniture to consumables. I just went there today and found a guinea pig water bottle for $0.50, a large bag of guinea pig shavings for $5.00, and a metal food bowl for $0.50. Check your local area salvage stores, stores that sells donated items, or just plain old garage sales for some awesome deals.
- If you use a smartphone, amazon has a price checker app. You scan a barcode on an item you're thinking about buying (or enter the name, etc), and it compares the price with prices for the same item at amazon. It helps you make sure you're not paying too much.
- Another deal-checker site you might want to check is offers.com. Search for "guinea pig" or "small animal".
1. Is Your Cage Big Enough?
To make sure you have enough square footage for your guinea pig's cage, enter the dimensions (in inches) of the cage you have in mind into our handy calculator, then click "calculate" to find out how much square footage you will be providing.
Don't forget - you want a minimum of 7.5 square feet for a single guinea pig, and a minimum of 10.5 square feet for two guinea pigs. Bigger is better, though, so try to get the biggest one you can.
2. Calculate Your Actual Startup Cost
The prices we've listed here are average prices. Items cost a lot more in Alaska or New York than they do for someone living in the rural Midwest. So to get a more accurate total of what your individual cost will be, use this calculator. Enter the prices of the items you intend to buy from the stores you prefer to shop from in your area. If you like Walmart, look up prices at walmart.com and enter the prices here.
You must enter a value in each field, so if there's an item you don't intend to purchase, please enter a zero.
3. Calculate Your Monthly Maintenance Cost
To get a more accurate total of what your individual monthly maintenance cost will be, use this calculator. Enter the prices of the items you intend to buy from the stores you prefer to shop from in your area. If you like Walmart, look up prices at walmart.com and enter the prices here.You must enter a value in each field, so if there's an item you don't intend to purchase, please enter a zero.