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Are Guinea Pigs Good Pets?
Guinea pigs great pets. But, before jumping on the ‘small pet’ bandwagon, there are a few things you should know about these loveable little critters. Knowing about your pet’s diet and feeding habits, social behavior and life expectancy is a very important part of being a good pet owner.
The average life expectancy of a pet guinea pig is between five to seven years, although some have been known to live up to eight years or more. If you’re thinking about buying or adopting, you should be prepared a long-term commitment. One thing that’s very important to realize is that you should never get a single pet. These animals are extremely social, and if you want your pets to have a rich, rewarding life, you should keep at least two.
Your pets will bond and socialize with each other, but that does not mean they will not bond with you. They are very gentle and friendly animals, and will soon win you over. If you handle them gently, they will even show signs of approval by wheeking and grunting.
The best time to get a guinea pig is when they are babies. If you are planning on getting a pair (as you should), know that same-sex pairs work the best. That is, two females or two males will usually bond most easily. Introducing the animals as babies gives the best chances of the two forming a lasting friendship. In some cases however a pair of baby pigs may not bond right away, but that is rare.
Adult pigs can form a fast friendship as well, if they are introduced under the right circumstances. How long a pair takes to bond also depends on the breed.
Another important consideration is cage size. Although small animals, they require a large floor space because they are very active. Most pet stores only carry small cages that may cramp your pets’ style, especially if you get a pair. The good news is, you can construct a homemade cage using readily-available tools and supplies. Guinea pigs are not known to be adept escape artists, and can be safely accommodated in a homemade cage. When caring for pets, ensuring a comfortable living area for the animals is vital.
Most breeds are usually quiet, but they have the ability to make a loud, high-pitched sound known as a ‘wheek.’ This is most often heard when they want attention or food. A wheek is not as loud as a dog’s bark, but it is audible at night when you’re trying to get some sleep. A good idea may to keep the cage away from your sleeping quarters.
Guinea pigs are small and friendly animals that can bring joy to any household. They live about five to eight years, and adults can grow up to one-and-a-half pounds. If you want to keep guinea pigs as pets for your family, you should be prepared for a long-term commitment. As long as you take care of them properly, your pets can be oodles of fun for years.
Question: I recently purchased and planted several Sago Palm trees. A friend told me that these plants are poisonous. Is this true? How dangerous are they to animals and humans?
Answer: Sago Palm is extremely poisonous to both humans and animals if ingested. Pets are at particular risk since they seem to find the plant very palatable. Clinical symptoms of ingestion will develop within 12 hours and may include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, depression, seizures, liver failure, or toxic liver disease characterized by jaundice, cirrhosis, and excess fluid. The pet may appear bruised, have nose bleeds, blood in the stool, bloody straining, and blood in the joints.
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center estimates a fatality rate of 50 to 75 percent when ingestion of the Sago Palm is involved. The incidence of Sago Palm ingestion by pets has risen by over 200% in the last five years. If any quantity of the plant is ingested, a poison control center or doctor should be contacted immediately. Effects of ingestion can include permanent internal damage and death.
All parts of the plant are toxic; however, the seeds contain the highest level of the toxin cycasin. Cycasin causes gastrointestinal irritation, and in high enough doses, leads to liver failure. Other toxins include Beta-methylamino L-alanine, a neurotoxic amino acid, and an unidentified toxin which has been observed to cause hindlimb paralysis in cattle. Very little plant material can produce a poisoning. The ingestion of just one or two seeds can result in very serious effects.
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