Just because Guinea pigs are small pets doesn't mean they are necessarily inexpensive. In addition to the initial purchase price of your new pet, you'll also have to spend money on their cage setup, food, supplements, bedding, toys, and veterinary care. If you're thinking about getting one, it's important to know how much a Guinea pig costs each year so you can prepare financially. This guide includes startup costs plus upkeep to keep your Guinea pig healthy and happy.
How Much Does One Guinea Pig Cost?
Guinea pigs cost about $30 to $50 from your local pet store. Most stores carry the American Guinea pig, which is the type most pet owners are familiar with. However, if you decide you want a lesser-known or rare Guinea pig breed, like the Skinny pig, you can expect to pay more. One of these special breeds could cost up to $100 or more.
Do I Need Two Cavies?
Guinea pigs do best in pairs, so you'll probably need to buy not one, but two Guinea pigs. They're very social creatures and love having constant companionship. Unless you plan to spend a significant amount of time each day with a solo pig, getting two is worth your while because they'll be much happier. Of course, this increases the cost because you'll need to purchase two Guinea pigs and double the amount of food you buy. You'll also need a larger enclosure to house two cavies, but most of your initial equipment costs will stay the same.
Getting two cavies? Male Guinea pigs can become aggressive with each other, so you should be intentional with the pair you pick. The best pairings are two female Guinea pigs or a female and neutered male.
Cost of Essential Equipment
You'll need to spend a bit on your initial Guinea pig supplies, such as a cage and a water bottle. These pieces of essential equipment should last you quite a while, so get good-quality products you won't need to replace.
|Price can vary based on the breed.
|Should be 30 inches by 50 inches minimum for two Guinea pigs.
|Guinea pigs drink from a special bottle attached to the side of their cage.
|Choose a shallow ceramic or metal bowl with a wide base.
|You will place soft bedding at the bottom of your Guinea pig's cage.
|You can find hides made of plastic, fabric, wood, etc. Make sure each pig has one, so they don't fight over them.
|Hay is an important part of your Guinea pig's diet. Pick high-quality hay like Timothy, oat, or orchard grass.
|Hay feeder (optional)
|A hay feed or rack isn't required but can be helpful to provide your pig with a constant flow of hay.
|Select a pellet diet formulated for Guinea pigs with supplemental vitamin C added.
|Your pig will need fresh vegetables like lettuce, spinach, carrots, and kale daily.
|Vitamin C supplement
|Your Guinea pig should get enough vitamin C from their diet, but it's helpful to have a supplement on hand to prevent deficiency.
|Treats are important for training and solidifying your bond.
|Your Guinea pig will need regular brushings and nail trims. If you feel comfortable doing so, you can perform these at home.
The total initial cost of a Guinea pig is between $195 to $400.
Annual Upkeep Costs
Because your pet will soil their bedding and eat their food, you'll need to replenish these supplies. Your ongoing expenses will include bedding, hay, pellets, fresh vegetables, and routine veterinary care. You can expect to spend anywhere between $500 and $800 annually on Guinea pig care. These are considered the "hidden" expenses involved in Guinea pig ownership because they aren't something most potential owners consider until they're buying bundles of fresh spinach every week.
Cost of Rescuing a Guinea Pig Vs. Buying One
In many cases, adopting a Guinea pig can be cheaper than buying one from a pet store. Plus, you can feel good about giving an abandoned pet a loving home. Adoption costs can run between $25 and $35 per cavy. However, a lot of Guinea pig rescues will offer all the initial supplies plus the adoption of your Guinea pig for $200.
Total Costs of Owning a Guinea Pig
All in, you're looking at a minimum of $200 to start, and another $500 or so for the first year. Routine veterinary care is another important cost that is often overlooked, but by keeping your Guinea pig healthy through wellness exams, you can avoid unexpected medical costs. Dental work or antibiotics for an upper respiratory infection can cost $300 or more, and hospitalization for these small pets can be incredibly costly at $1,500 or more per night. Avoid these unexpected expenses by providing your Guinea pig with optimal care and TLC.