Friday, September 18, 2009

Which Would be a Better Pet for Me?

As I mentioned in the previous post, Guinea Pigs are one of the pets I've long been interested in adding to the family. Also on that list: bunny. I'm going to provide a little info about our home environment and then hopefully some of you experienced owners will weigh in and advise if one seems more fitting than the other or if neither/both are suited.

Either a Guinea Pig or a bunny would be a house pet and segregated from the dogs by necessity since we have retrievers, a hound and a grumpy Chihuahua mix. I would hate to think of a pet being terrified by barking dogs so hopefully they would adjust to that. I'm not looking for a pet who wants to be constantly held and from what I've read, I think either would be a good match in that regard. On the other hand, I don't think I'd enjoy any pet that wouldn't tolerate at least a daily hug and kiss. I'm very cool with pets who like to "hang" - maybe sit on the couch next to me or what have you - but not so much the lap type. Subtle affection is the name of the game.

I have read that spay/neuter is recommended for both Guinea Pigs and bunnies but I don't know if it's truly necessary, especially if I have only one. And on that topic, I wonder if a lone GP or rabbit would be happy without companionship of its own kind.

OK that's all I can think of at the moment. Please chime in if you have any advice.

12 comments:

MerleGirl said...

We have both, kept upstairs away from the four dogs with a pressure mounted gate with a doorway.
I prefer the bunny. (shhhh don't tell Midnight Bob the guinea pig!) She is softer, more willing to be held for affection, and seems to have more personality. We got her from a shelter and she came spayed. I would recommend it highly for any bunny. She uses a litter pan and is happy to get out and roam upstairs.
The guinea pig is less happy about being picked up, and while he tolerates being held, is happy to get away at the first chance. He's figured out a plastic bag means hay and will squeal every time he hears one. He's messier than the bunny because he goes where ever he happens to be. Most guinea pig folks will tell you they are happier with a friend.
Both need a fairly large cage to be truly happy. Best "cheap" idea I've seen is a kid's wading pool with an Ex-pen around it.
Both are nice, but I definitely prefer the bunny!

jan said...

I got a bunny for Easter when I was a child and he lived happily with our family for nine years. When he was outside he was just an eating machine in the backyard where we had planted clover for him. He soon grew so large that our largish Chihuahua gave him a wide berth when he was inside. My memories of Buck is of a fat, happy, affectionate animal that I still remember most fondly.

I've often thought of getting another rabbit, but I'd be afraid of comparing it to this memory of childhood.

Falen said...

I am a guinea pig expert (we foster pregnant moms, injured pigs and house several rare breeds)
Guinea pigs are social and therefore may like a pal. But you do not need to neuter or spay a pig. i don't know anyone in the cavy world who does this or reccommends it. Pigs do need a pretty big cage - BUT, you can easily make a homemade cage with coroplast and wire shelving units you can buy at target etc.
My dogs bark at the pigs all the time and they just don't care. We've added a top to the cage (since new puppy was thinking about actually getting "in" the cage) and that made the pigs even happier. In fact, when one of the pigs was a baby, she used to race along the cage with my frenchie - they were best pals.
Pigs aren't huge fans of being held, but some of them are better than others but many pigs LOVE to just hang out on a lap for some chin scritches and petting. It all depends on personality and frequency of handling.
I, too, would LOVE a bunny - but i'm pretty pro on letting a buny have roam time in the house, and my prey-driven frenchie would end any bunny that he found in the house.
I'm excited to see which you choose!

Rinalia said...

Guinea pigs are nocturnal. Rabbits are active at dusk and dawn, intermittently throughout the day.

Both have similar diets.

My guinea pigs were not spayed. They died of mammary cancer at a young age. This is an issue in any intact female mammal, though. Most of the gippie guardians I know do neuter and spay but most have multi-piggies.

My rabbits were spayed as are all the bun-buns at the sanctuary (for obvious reasons).

They should not live most of their lives in cages but should have ample access to a child-proof (and thus gp/bun proof) room and, if possible, access to outdoors (if they enjoy it).

Guinea pigs are probably easier to handle and enjoy it more than rabbits. That's a generalization. You know how those work. :) Both would prefer you didn't pick them up a lot - it's telling them you might eat them. Rabbits handled inappropriately can break their backs (we've lost one rabbit to this, it was awful).

GPs are much more vocal than rabbits and are a little easier to read. Both will do their best to mask pain and sickly behaviors (prey species are often like that).

Guinea pigs are probably better for a daily hug and kiss than rabbits. :)

Both rabbits and guinea pigs are social, group animals. They would probably prefer having an appropriate companion than complete isolation. Guinea pig intros are a lot less violent than rabbit intros. :)

Good info on cavies: http://www.guinealynx.info/healthycavy.html
Good info on rabbits: http://www.rabbit.org/

YesBiscuit! said...

I appreciate and love hearing everyone's experiences. Only problem: all your experiences are not identical! Oy.

Katie said...

You might consider rats, too. They make awesome pets. No idea if you're at all interested in them, and maybe they're too small for what you want, but I figured I'd throw a good word in for them.

I had rats for years before I got the dogs, and now that they're gone, I rather miss them. But I don't have enough time to offer them at the moment. Maybe someday.

sfox said...

I really like rats. Smart and affectionate. I love their bright little button eyes. But they don't live very long compared to rabbits.

Don't know that you'd want to turn one loose even in a secure room though.

Rinalia said...

I noticed all of our information didn't seem to exactly match!

Guinea pigs are, unfortunately, being dropped off at shelters b/c of a certain movie. I'd suggest visiting your local shelter or contacting a gp rescue and handling them. Same with rabbits, meet some. Oftentimes, that's the easiest way to ascertain which species you are most attracted to.

Megan said...

We had bunnies, five of them, two were rescues. I loved the bunnies. The only thing about bunnies is that they can have very specialized health concerns that only a vet who knows bunnies can deal with (but I'm sure with your other pets, you know lots of vets).

The reason to spay females is not just because of getting pregnant. They need to be spayed because they are unfortunately predisposed to ovarian cancer. We had both of our girls spayed as soon as they were old enough.

Our boy bunnies were very healthy, but we had one who sprayed something terrible. He did live with the two girls, so I think he was just constantly marking them as his. Our other two boys never or rarely sprayed.

You need to be careful about the bunnies natural need to chew. They have to wear their teeth down and they will do so on your baseboards, door trim, and electrical cords. We coated our baseboards with hot sauce and they just thanked us for the seasoning!

Heather Houlahan said...

Piggies are very, very LOUD. I find their squealing when they hear the lettuce crisper opening to be kind of charming, but then, I don't mind a yard full of roosters, either.

I've had both and found them satisfactory pets. Probably more differences between individuals than general differences (in temperament) between the species.

A rabbit may surprise you with its ability to stand up to the dogs and actually form relationships with them.

smartdogs said...

How about a chinchilla? There are plenty in rescue, they're softer than a bunny, friendlier than a guinea pig, don't like to be held but once used to you enjoy sitting with or on you.

I had one in my twenties and really enjoyed him. Kept him away from the cats but the dog learned to leave him alone. He was incredibly entertaining to watch, very agile and enjoyed manipulating things with his hands.

Sarah said...

I have a rabbit (previously 3 rabbits), rats, and 2 Vizslas.

I've heard my rabbit is an exception, but she's crazy! She thinks she's a dog, so is basically a little dog that doesn't yap. She plays with the dogs and cuddles them, does basically everything they do. She loves to be held and follows me around the house. She especially loves "hide and seek," and often waits behind curtains or under tables to ambush you. She doesn't chew things but loves to toss stuff about, usually first thing in the morning.

Rabbits must be neutered/spayed. This isn't just for baby purposes. 80% of unspayed females have cancer by the age of 2. It also calms their personality a great deal.

The breed of rabbit makes a big difference is personality, just like with a dog. My girl is a Dutch. The other 2, which are now in a new home for multiple reasons, were unknown, but I believe one was a Havana. She was shy but would sit next to me, much like what you described you wanted.

Rabbits need much more room than piggies, more food, etc. But they can easily be litter trained and learn other behaviors. It depends on the rabbit if you should have one or two. Some are better off alone, just like some dogs. Others need a buddy. Rabbits can form very tight bonds with another.