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Rabbits Vs Guinea Pigs: Which is Better For Kids?

Hi Pet Blog Readers,

Hope you had a great weekend.  Let’s get the week started with an article from guest blogger Melanie.  She has a post for us that should help you out if you are trying to decide between getting a rabbit or a guinea pig.  Each of these small pets have their own characteristics and behaviors and their care may suit your personal situation better than the other.  Melanie’s outline of pros and cons should be able to help make your decision a bit easier.  If you have a preference between a rabbit and a guinea pig or if you have a question or comment, please let us know in the comments section below.  Thanks!

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A first pet is a very important right of passage for your child. Not only does it make a very cute contribution to your family, it teaches your kids responsibility and to love and respect the animal kingdom. That said, having a pet isn’t always easy. They take looking after, feeding, exercising and immunising.

 

If you’re thinking of getting a pet for your child, it’s always good to start with something small and manageable. Two great examples are either guinea pigs or rabbits. Both of these animals are relatively low maintenance and your children should be able to take care of most of the responsibilities involved.

 

Below you will find the pros and cons for each animal, which should help in deciding which to get.

 

RABBITS

Photo uploaded to Flickr by user Robobobobo.

PROS

  • They are small in size and can fit in your children’s hands.
  • They are gentle and not intimidating for children.
  • They feed on dry food, grass and vegetables which is easy to find.
  • They require little or no vaccinations.
  • They are independent and do their own thing.
  • They can exercise in their cage or indoors.
  • They show affection to their owners.
  • They can be litter boxed trained.
  • They can be left to roam.
  • They live 812 years, slightly longer than guinea pigs.

 

CONS

  • They are stubborn animals and training takes time.
  • They can be smelly. Hutches need to be cleaned frequently.
  • They chew everything they come into contact with so home roaming can be a problem.
  • They are susceptible to exposure and in extreme weather may need to stay inside.
  • Finding veterinary help for rabbits can be difficult as it’s uncommon.
  • They poop a lot and everywhere.
  • They will wee on you if given the chance.
  • They are very quick and can be hard to catch when returning them to their cage.
  • They are rapid breeders so be careful if you have more than one.

 

IMG_3686GUINEA PIGS

PROS

  • They are small in size and can fit in your children’s hands.
  • They do not bite and are even more gentle than rabbits.
  • They don’t smell.
  • They don’t breed as quickly as rabbits.
  • They are independent and do their own thing.
  • They can exercise in their cage or indoors.
  • They make adorable squeaking noises.
  • They are very easy to take care of.
  • They live 5 – 8 years, more than smaller rodents.
  • They love to be held for hours and are easy to catch.
  • They have a great temperament.

 

CONS

  • They can be shy at the beginning and run away from you.
  • They require largish cages.
  • Cages need to be cleaned frequently.
  • They can be noisy so best kept outside.
  • They aren’t as simple to feed as rabbits. They need a variety of vegetables, hay, and high quality pellets that you might have to order online.
  • They poop and pee without warning.

 

Author Bio

Melanie is a pet lover and very keen blogger. Over the last few years Melanie has contributed numerous articles on pet care and products.  Melanie is currently working on a new pet blog that should be released soon.

 

16 comments

  1. avatar

    I’ve had many rabbits and many guinea pigs. I wanted to correct a few things.
    Not all rabbits are small. Some are 20 pounds.
    Rabbits are pretty gentle before puberty but then, they often bite and scratch. Spaying or neutering helps.
    Rabbits should never be left to roam, or some animal will eat them. They are easily scared.
    Many people keep rabbits indoors. There’s a House Rabbit Society. My rabbits ate the wallpaper when I tried though.
    Rabbits are no more smelly than other animals. I think guinea pig urine is more pungent.
    Finding a vet that sees rabbits and guinea pigs is very easy in areas where there are a lot of vets. My rabbits get yearly checkups.
    Newsflash: All animals poop and pee a lot. I think guinea pigs have rabbits beat in this department.
    Guinea pigs don’t normally bite but I’ve been bitten. They are generally nicer than rabbits.
    Boy, guinea pigs (and rabbits) do NOT love to be held. I have three guinea pigs right now. Only one lets me catch and hold her. 20 minutes is the limit unless you want to be peed on.
    Rabbits are larger and need larger cages than guinea pigs.
    My rabbits and guinea pigs get the exact same foods except for the pellets which are species-specific.
    Guinea pigs are as simple to feed as rabbits.
    Ok, this is why I had to write. Do NOT keep guinea pigs outdoors! They are not cold tolerant like rabbits. They will die if kept below 50 degrees F long term. Mine are not noisy enough to worry about that. Guinea pigs cannot be litter trained like rabbits.
    Ok, I do agree, they will pee and poop without warning (just like rabbits)!
    Anyway, hands down guinea pigs are better first pets than rabbits. And please, keep them inside.

  2. avatar

    Thanks for your comments, Robyn. All pets are different and the type of species can really play a role in size. This was a guest blog post, and our pet care experts don’t necessarily agree with all of the author’s suggestions either. Thanks for taking the time to write to us, we appreciate it!

  3. avatar

    As a veterinary student with a focus on pocket pets, I find your list to be a little unsettling. For example, most rabbits hate to be held (they prefer “all 4 on the floor”) and can be quite temperamental. They are not all small, and generally the smaller they are the more aggressive and stubborn they are. It is very common for them to grunt, lunge, scratch and bite if you try to pick them up when they don’t want to be handled. It is also worth noting that if a rabbit is not properly restrained it can easily hurt itself in an attempt to wriggle free. And rabbits require very large cages! Typical pet store cages are entirely too small unless you give them several hours of exercise out of their cage daily. They can make excellent house pets and can be quite affectionate, wonderful pets when cared for properly. They are no more smelly than other caged pets if you clean their cages regularly & are usually easily litter trained.

    Guinea pigs require large cages as well, not as large as a rabbit cage, however. They tend to be friendlier than rabbits once they have adjusted to their new home & family. They can be noisy, but usually only in short bursts and should NEVER be kept outside! I have found guinea pigs to be much messier and more smelly than rabbits, but again, if cleaned regularly it should not be a problem. Also, not all Guinea pigs love being held, especially for hours, and need gentle proper handling like rabbits.

    They both have special needs like proper chewing materials to keep their growing teeth in check, nail trims and yearly veterinary exams. Finding a vet that is comfortable working on either is difficult as vets are not classically trained in treating most pocket pets, it is important to find a qualified vet. Also, spaying or neutering your pocket pet will not only help prevent unwanted breeding, but will help improve their temperament and improve their overall health. And their primary diet should be a good quality hay (such as Timothy)- they need to eat a pile of hay roughly the size of their body every day, pellet food should be given in a small daily dose, and fruits and vegetables should be regarded as special treats, not as part of their main diet. And both are prey species so they need an area to hide and feel safe, quiet environments are best and both can become overly stressed or frightened easily which can be life-threatening to them.

    Ultimately, guinea pigs make the better pet for children. I would never recommend a rabbit as a pet for young children, somehow they seem to have gotten the label as a “starter pet” for children. They can live just as long as a dog and are just as much work & responsibility if given the proper care, and are much more fragile and temperamental. Guinea pigs tend to be a good option, but still require good husbandry, veterinary care and proper handling so make sure your child is old enough to be able to handle those things before bringing your new pet home. Just keep in mind every animal has it’s own unique personality and may not fit what you expect them to be like.

  4. avatar

    Hi Robyn and Liz. Thank you very much for your inputs! Really helpful for the readers and me. I’ve written this post from the perspective of a mother, not a vet. So that explains some of the misconception I’ve written. As you can see, those tips are products of reading tons and tons of guides online and compiled to help fellow parents with the same dilemma. And yes, I agree that guinea pigs are way better as a starter pet. That’s actually what we’ve decided to have for my kid. ;) Again, thank you very much, really appreciate all the inputs.

  5. avatar

    Hi, I’m thirteen years old and take pride in taking care of animals. I was told that for my next birthday I can get a cage animal. I was debating whether to get a guinea pig or a rabbit. At first I decided to get a guinea pig. But I do my research and was told that guinea pigs are very social animals and that if you get a guinea pig to get two of the same sex. I told my mom and she said maybe.

    My other question is what would be best for me as a calm thirteen year old? I have two younger siblings and have the feeling that they would constantly ask to play with them. I don’t want to pressure the animal. And what animal would be good being home alone when I go to school. I just want to know what animal would fit my house situation and fit mw the best.

  6. avatar

    Hi Jade – Thanks for writing in to us!

    You’re on the right track – our pet experts definitely would recommend Guinea Pigs over a rabbit for your situation. Rabbits are less appropriate for your younger siblings; they can become easily started and don’t like to be handled and held. They have powerful back legs and can kick and scratch to overpower them. Guinea Pigs, on the other hand, are great if you’re going to interact with them often and get them used to being handled. They won’t be able to overpower your siblings and learn to love being played with. They are very social animals. My sister’s kids (ages 16, 10 and 8) have had 2 guinea pigs for the last few years and they love them :)

    They are small animals, so you’ll need to teach your younger siblings to be very gentle with them and not to drop them. They should be just fine alone while you are at school during the day. If you’re looking for more information, we have an article on our website you can read about how to best care for your pet: http://www.thatpetplace.com/guinea-pig-article

    Let me know if you have any other questions & welcome to the wonderful world of pet ownership!
    -Heather C.

  7. avatar

    Thank you, that was very helpful! I appreciated you taking the time to answer my questions. I will most likely be coming with more questions. But for now all that I would like to know is what kind of food should I buy for my guinea pig, what kind of snacks can I give to my guinea pig, how often can I give them snacks or treats, how big should its cage be, what kind of bedding should I put in there cage, and… oh wow I have alot of questions!! I’ll just leave my questions at that and then write more questions. Sorry if there are too many questions

  8. avatar

    Hi Jade – It’s not a problem to have questions! That shows you’re going to be a responsible pet owner! I think you’ll find that we answer most of your questions about cages, bedding, food and treats on this page: http://www.thatpetplace.com/guinea-pig-article

    It was written by our in-house pet experts. If you have any questions after reading our care guide, feel free to post them here or email me at hcrotsley@thatpetplace.com

    Thanks again!
    Heather

  9. avatar

    Thank you so much!! I wrote that comment before I read the article but now I read it and most to all of my questions have been answered. Again thank you very much and I will be using you’re articles for any further info unless I need to ask you!! Have a great day!!!

  10. avatar

    You have a great day, too!

  11. avatar

    Hi, I was wandering if a cage that is 9 square feet would be big enough for two guinea pigs?

  12. avatar

    If your going to be keeping them indoors

  13. avatar

    For 2 indoor guinea pigs 7.5 square feet (minimum), but 10.5 square feet is preferred; generally 30″ x 50″ is a good size.

  14. avatar

    Thanks for sharing this useful post. I have a pet bunny already and I am now considering whether I should have another bunny or try some other small animals as pet. Guinea Pig seem to be a good option, will take it into consideration after doing some more research online.

  15. avatar

    There is a pocket pet that is better than rabbits and guinea pigs combined for people of all ages. They’re called rats. They are intelligent, docile, affectionate, quiet, easy to feed and care for, can be litter trained, taught tricks. They are sweethearts and are considered to be the dogs of the rodent world. They only live 2-3 years and rarely 4-5. I also suggest budges.

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