Blog Entry 47: Guinea Pigs Are Cheap… NOT!

*Image from Guinea Pig Today Site, used for my original post there*

Monthly Guinea Pig Cost
Many people seem to think that guinea pigs are a low cost pet. This can’t be any farther from the truth. In one month I go through a good amount of money taking care of my six guinea pigs. This does not include any of my other pets.

Some of the things you MUST take into account is that guinea pigs need high quality pellets and hay. Lower quality can cause upset in their digestion and other health issues. I personally feed my guinea pigs Oxbow pellets and a 2nd cut timothy from local farmers. Buying my hay local does save me money because I do not have to pay the high mark up at pet supply stores.

After that cost you need to think about their bedding. Are you willing to buy bedding every month? Make your own or buy liners for a one time fee? Buying fleece cage liners has its advantages. You don’t have to fold or binder clip fleece to your cage. Buying bedding material like CareFresh can run you over $50 a month just in bedding. Aspen is a little better but not by much.

Next is, in my personal experience, the most expensive part aside from vet costs – the veggies. In the summer, veggies are in their prime. You can easily find lettuce for 70 cents. Come winter, that’s a different story. Here in Canada lettuce can fun as much as $1.50 per head of lettuce. That’s not counting their daily bell peppers, which in the winter time can run over $2.00/lbs!

If your lucky you may never end up seeing a vet, but sadly no matter how well we take care of our loving guinea pigs issues can still arise. These issues can cause huge vet costs. Having a savings on hand for vet care is a VERY good idea.

Here is an idea of what a guinea pig can run based on my own guinea pigs:
Pellets: $22.53
Hay: $4.16
Veggies: $16.66
Vet: $40.00 (savings)
Total per month: $83.35

I have been using fleece cage liners for years now but if you use CareFresh or Aspen or even Pine, I can guess that you are probably over my monthly total.

Some saving tips:
1. Buy in bulk. Pellets can be put in deep freezers for months at a time. I buy 50lbs of oxbow from a local supply store every 6 months. I keep a few weeks worth out and the rest go in the freezer.

2. If you have farmers around your city or town, call them and see if they have Meadow Grass or second cut Timothy Hay. First cut will work but it tends to have too many stems which can hurt your guinea pigs. I personally buy three 50-55lb bales, which is one years worth for me. I keep them in the shed behind my house.

3. If you see your daily veggies go on sale, buy a few extra. Don’t forget about them or they will go bad. Every month try and put at least $10 per guinea pig into a vet fund. This could be a savings account or even a cookie jar. You never know when this money will come in handy.

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