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Can I Care For 2 Rabbits or 2 Guinea Pigs?

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EmilyGrace
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Can I Care For 2 Rabbits or 2 Guinea Pigs?

Postby EmilyGrace » Sat May 31, 2014 10:56 pm

Hi all,
So I've been researching into rabbit and guinea pig ownership, and would love to bring 2 shelter-babies of either kind into my life. For someone like me who relates more strongly to animals than people, I feel incomplete without having a furry companion to nurture (We haven't had a dog for several years, and our remaining cat is an outdoor cat with a very independent nature). But I'm torn as to whether or not I'm able to own an animal.

I know it's at least a possibility because I've already located a vet and my prospective landlords have given me the go ahead to own animals other than cats and dogs.

I know I don't need to be perfect to be an owner, but my future seems so uncertain. I go to school 3 days a week and am on campus for 12 hours on some days. I work the other 4 days at my part-time job and am so concerned that I will not have enough time or money. =P

Here is my anticipated monthly expenses (split between me and my 2 prospective room mates, with my parents paying for tuition and car expenses)

Breakdown By Month

monthly income: 867
tuition: 0
books: 117
max pass: 36

rent:270
food: 200
electricity: 23
cable: 13
miscellaneous: 100

total expense: 759
savings left over: 108

So my questions for all you wonderful owners out there... :D
1) What would you estimate is the monthly expense of owning 2 rabbits or 2 guinea pigs? I'm assuming it has to be 2 because they are social animals, but I may only end up with one if my first baby is not sociable towards other of its kind.

2) How often do you go to the vet?

3) What is the average vet bill? This is my biggest apprehension! I absolutely will not get an animal if I can't afford to take it to the vet.

My friends have encouraged me to do it, thinking that such animals will not require much expense or attention compared to dogs and cats (not the case, I know!). But I know Sybil'sDenners will tell it to me straight.

In terms of my income and lifestyle, could I make a good owner? What are your experiences trying to own animals while going to school/working/living at home (hopefully for not much longer, because my parents can't stand the idea)?

Thank you so much!!!!!
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Juska
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Re: Can I Care For 2 Rabbits or 2 Guinea Pigs?

Postby Juska » Sun Jun 01, 2014 1:21 am

You spend $200 a month on food!?

Haha. Anyway, to be honest, if you have doubts I'd say to trust your gut on whether or not you think your lifestyle would be suited to having animals. Even small animals require a lot of work to keep healthy and happy, and they are NOT as cheap as most people think. I can tell you that from experience.

I know a couple of people who have gotten rats/other small pets thinking they would be fine by themselves all day, but then had remorse about them being alone for so long (even with multiple animals living together, like rats). I've even been asked if I would be willing to adopt them because they felt so guilty about not giving them enough love.

I worked part time while I had my rats and sometimes I still felt like I didn't give them enough attention each day. But I think that depends on the owner. I usually worked 4-5 hours a day, sometimes 8 either in the morning or afternoon. So I had most evenings to spend with them.

Rats can get pretty attached to their people, so they do need social time with you, daily, as most pets do. People seem to think you can just leave them in the cage their whole lives and never touch them, which will affect their health as well as behavior. But anyway.

My monthly breakdown of rat-owning expenses, and I had three males together in a large cage, was about this:

Food: $14
Bedding: $15
Treats: $8
Toys/Hammocks: $5-10
Emergency Vet Fund: $30 (kept at least this much on hand every month in case of an emergency, so I wouldn't really count it as an expense for every month)

Mind you, this was for rats and not larger animals like you're looking for. With my minimum wage job I could keep them in good health and happy, mostly because they don't need much in the way of expensive toys and the like. They liked thrift store towels to chew on.

Because my local vet didn't normally see small pets, I got charged an "exotic" fee for them to see my rats, which was $30 per rat. Then any medication/supplements on top of that, which for my one rat Johnny who came down with a respiratory infection, cost me $25 for each dose of medicine.

I didn't take them to the vet often as there isn't a whole lot a vet can/will (will being the key word there) do for a rat besides spay/neuter, prescribe medication and euthanize, unfortunately. Bunnies and Guineas are a little different obviously.
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EmilyGrace
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Re: Can I Care For 2 Rabbits or 2 Guinea Pigs?

Postby EmilyGrace » Sun Jun 01, 2014 8:26 pm

Juska,
Unfortunately, I think $200 is about right for food. I can never seem to get out of the grocery store for less than $50. Possibly because I buy organic and fair trade groceries whenever I can, which is more expensive.

Anyways, I suppose if I'm feeling so much reservation towards doing it, then I shouldn't do it. But I know I tend to over analyze things.

The cost of your rats sounds quite doable. I should have mentioned that they will be owned by both my boyfriend and I, so we will share the expenses. But I know rabbits and guinea pigs eat a lot and I will want to spoil them with the best of everything. In terms of play time, they would be out and interacting with us whenever my boyfriend or I is there, which would be most mornings and evenings.

But if I were to adopt Tabatha before someone snatches her up (I've been itching to take this cutie home) http://multcopets.org/adoptable/other she would be living in my family's home for 3 months or more before I'm able to move out. And I just asked Mom if I could keep her here temporarily, and she said absolutely not! I don't know why my family is so uninterested in animals, and look with disfavor on anything even a little exotic (my mom is still trying to convince me its wrong to own a fox).

So unfortunately that answers that question. If only I was already settled and on my own! D:
I guess I really just need to move out to move out and become accustomed to living on my own. If I feel I have enough money at the end of each month to provide a wonderful life to two little animals, then I will do so. I know this is the right choice, even if it means giving upon a great opportunity now... http://multcopets.org/adoptable/other

Thank you guys for listening. Its just hard not having any real independence, when there's so much I want to accomplish. But do still please tell me about your experience providing for guineas and rabbits, there's still a lot I'd like to know!
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BlueBaby1023
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Re: Can I Care For 2 Rabbits or 2 Guinea Pigs?

Postby BlueBaby1023 » Sun Jun 01, 2014 10:31 pm

Well, I've had both 2 rabbits and 2 guinea pigs for the past couple of years, so I have quite a bit to say... :lol:

Monthly expenses: This can be quite variable, honestly. Some people don't feed them like they should be fed to minimize costs. Ideally, either rabbits or guinea pigs are going to need fresh veggies daily. I'd say that this can run at least $15 a month even if you buy the cheapest veggies available and don't rotate much, which you should. In addition, hay runs about $2 a month at the cheapest for pigs (by the bale, but since you're in an apartment that's not always feasible) and about $50 a month at it's most expensive from a pet store for large rabbits due purely to the size difference and expense of pet store hay versus baled local hay. The third food expense these guys need is pellets. These balance out their vitamins and minerals, and this is essential for guinea pigs as pigs are like us and cannot produce Vitamin C. Theoretically you can go without pellets for rabbits, but you have to maintain a heavily varied diet of veggies and they will make up for the calories from veggies and extra hay (more expense). You do NOT want the crap pet store mixes that contain seeds and other goodies, little guys can actually choke on these and it will upset their sensitive tummies. Oxbow is really the best brand to feed, and it costs $8 for a 5lb bag which lasts about a month for my guinea pigs and about 3 weeks for my rabbits, as my rabbits are about 3/4s of a pound larger than my pigs. I'd say that my guinea pigs and rabbits cost about $50 a month in food alone for each pair, and I am creative with how to save money.

Additional monthly expenses include litter (I use woodstove pellets and it costs me about $10 a month) and toys (I usually spend about $20 a month on this, all wooden or cardboard so that they are safe for the pigs/buns to ingest).

Your other question in this section is that you assume they have to be in pairs. This is a definite yes. Rabbits are big time cuddlers and need another rabbit to be social with unless you allow it to be out with another animal (like a dog or a cat) all day. Rabbits are really intelligent and can get into mischief, though. I had one rabbit by himself for a few months, and he wasn't nearly as happy as when I adopted his friend. Guinea pigs also need to be in pairs (or more), because they're very much herd animals. They aren't as cuddly with each other as rabbits are, but mine tend to panic when they are alone. There are very few guineas or rabbits that are not social, and it's usually just misunderstood even then (most male rabbits can only live with female rabbits, spayed of course).

In this expenses section, I will add that pet store cages are not enough for rabbits or guinea pigs. The cheapest way to get a large cage is to build one out of C&C ("Cubes and coroplast") materials. The cube part becomes the "wire" part of the cage, and the coroplast (for guineas only! Rabbits will eat it.) becomes the bottom of the cage. For my rabbits, I have a sheet of vinyl linoleum from a home improvement store cut to fit the bottom to make it "waterproof". Most people place this over an untreated wooden bottom, but my rabbit is injured and needs a soft floor instead of a hard one so mine has rubber floor mats underneath instead. Here is a picture of my cage that I build for about $150 total.

Image

The main thing with guinea pigs is floor space. Two pigs need at least a 2x4 grid cage (mine have a 2x5 because of the rabbits and because I've found it is the easiest size for cutting fleece to fit. Any smaller and you waste fleece, any larger and you don't have enough) which comes out to 28in wide by 56in long by 14in tall. Pigs need this space to "popcorn" in. Now, my rabbits are in a cage that technically isn't quite big enough because I don't have additional levels for them. This is because one of mine has a permenantly injured foot and additional levels would not be soft like the fleece, so it would injure his foot more. Also I want to emphasize, my rabbits are tiny. Darwin is 3.25lbs and Emma is 3.5lbs. The rule of thumb for caging is large enough so that the rabbit can hop three times from end to end unobstructed by litterboxes and beds. This can be complicated for rabbits that are much larger (Flemish giants can get up to 20lbs!).

I use fleece as bedding, which is why I didn't mention bedding in my exstimates. I buy it on sale for about $30 for several pieces that lasted me for two years. I just bought some new fleece which I'm assuming will also last as long. In addition to fleece, beneath the guinea pigs fleece is a Uhaul recycled denim pad for absorbing urine. Pigs aren't good with the litterboxes, whereas my rabbits are. The pads and fleece are washable.

Vets: Mine see the vet at least once a year. All are on Adequan due to arthritis or skeletal issues, so some see the vet more than others. Just recently my injured rabbit got hay in his eye, and that's been a nightmare in and of itself, so I've been at the vet every week or every other week for the past two months. My rabbits are my most expensive animals in this sense, but I do have a very needy one because of his injury. If you want to read more about this, he and Emma have their own thread called "Darwin and Emma".

Vet bills: Little critters are expensive! I have spent the most money out of all my animals on my rabbit. In the past two years, vet bills alone have been close to $2000. My rabbit is exceptionally injured, but I know of people who spend more on rabbits because they are so fragile. I'm just lucky I don't have a rabbit prone to GI stasis (deadly AND costly). I feel the cost of my little guys more than my cats and dog because I have my cats and dog insured at 90% coverage and a $100 deductible for $90 a month for all three of them. It seems expensive, but I've definitely used it. I just hope that some company will start to cover little guys except VPI (because they suck!). My guinea pigs have not cost as much as my rabbits, maybe $300 total in the past couple years at the vet for annual visits and adequan for their arthritis. But, my pigs are only 2.5 years old where as my rabbits are around 5.

Tl;dr: Rabbits and guinea pigs are expensive. I spent less on my rats when I had them, and my least expensive animal have been my cats when it comes to vet bills and monthly costs. I would say that your $108 extra a month would not be enough to cover them, especially in a pinch with vet bills. You may be able to pull it off with young healthy guinea pigs, but there are always surprises and little guys tend to have BIG surprises. :lol:

The other thing to consider is that most apartments do not take rabbit tenants because their is a myth that all rabbits love to eat drywall (that's never been my experience). So, while your current apartment may allow them, most do not. This may play a factor if you ever move.

In terms of lifestyle, guineas are easier to maintain because they do not really crave human affection like most rabbits do. They are perfectly fine if you only check in a few times a day to give them veggies and some scratches on the head. In healthy rabbits, you should ideally give them room to roam at least 2-3 hours a day outside of their cage. More is always better, but that's a minimum to keep their legs strong and healthy, as well as to prevent cage aggression and the rabbit version of "cabin fever". Either one of these could fit into your schedule (I know because I am in a similar lifestyle situation as you are).

I would say that if you parents would help you in a pinch with vet bills, guineas would be a good idea! But I would not suggest rabbits just due to their expense. I think you'd be a great owner for either in terms of lifestyle, I'd just be concerned about possible vet bills due to unforeseen circumstances. If you have any other questions about individual breeds or more specific care questions, feel free to ask! :mrgreen:

Also, sorry this turned into a novel... :lol:
4 Fancy Rats
2 American Guinea Pigs
1 Holland Lop Rabbit
1 Rex Rabbit
2 Ferrets
1 Lutino Cockatiel
5 Mixed Breed Cats
1 PitxLab
1 Great Pyr
1 Greyhound
2 Great PyrxAnatolian Shepherds
2 Red Foxes
5 Goats
~100 chickens, ducks, and turkeys
EmilyGrace
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Re: Can I Care For 2 Rabbits or 2 Guinea Pigs?

Postby EmilyGrace » Sun Jun 01, 2014 11:30 pm

I was hoping you would chime in, BlueBaby. I've read your whole Darwin and Emma thread, such adorable buns! Thank you for all the useful information. My boyfriend really likes guinea pigs. But I was leaning towards a rabbit from the beginning because I love their affectionate nature and would like to try litter training. We both would adore either though, after bringing it home. The food and toys I could afford, but I about had a heart attack when you said what the vet bills were like ($1000 a year!).

There's no way I can give them a good life until I start working full time, and then I wouldn't have any time for them... Grrr, this stage in my life is so frustrating.

Here are my questions for you
What are your fruits and veggies of choice to give to your buns and guineas?
I've heard lettuce types other than iceberg, spinach, carrots, apples(no seeds), oranges, grapes, and tomatoes are good with the fruits in small quantities.

How do you like hand feeding?
This was my master plan for bonding with my shelter bun. And sitting quietly by her enclosure until she wanted to approach me.

How many hours of floor time would you say is adequate per day?

How do you keep them out of trouble during floor time?

Do you take them public places with you?
I would love to take them to a park, or to work for my co-workers to love on. :)

What is GI stasis, and how common is it?

How likely are they to be frightened to death?
This is my main apprehension about taking them public places

Thank you,

Emily
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BlueBaby1023
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Re: Can I Care For 2 Rabbits or 2 Guinea Pigs?

Postby BlueBaby1023 » Mon Jun 02, 2014 1:09 am

Thank you! I like to think they're adorable to more than just me! :lol: $1000 a year is not uncommon, especially with more needy bunnies. If you adopt an unfixed rabbit, the spay/neuter alone could run you $400-500 and is completely necessary as they will mark, be aggressive, and eventually develop cancer at a young age (4-5 years) if they are not fixed. Even without, if you have a bun that's accident prone or just injured like mine, and you see the vet every 8-12 weeks for something or another that generally runs $200 a visit minimum, that's already your $1k for the year... So just be prepared. You may end up with easy rabbits if that's what you get, but you may also end up with very difficult and expensive ones.

As far as fruits and veggies go, I stay away from fruits for the most part. During the winter my guineas and buns get a rotation of lettuces (mostly red and green leaf with sporadic romaine, it's a little too high in calcium for my comfort as both rabbits and pigs are prone to bladder stones if fed large amounts of calcium, Vit A, or oxalate compounds), cilantro, parsley, celery, chard, squash, bell peppers, cucumbers, and occasional carrots (they're too high in sugar for daily feeding). Fruits they get on a every other week basis, and it mostly consists of apples and oranges during the winter. During the summer, they get the same veggies with more variety in their fruits, with some berries, watermelon and other melon rinds with most of the fruit removed, and bits of mangoes, peaches, and other summer fruits. Another summer staple is fresh corn husks and silks. Both buns and pigs love them, and it beats just throwing them away. :lol:

Now, this certainly isn't an exhaustive list. Here is a list of fruits and veggies that are good for pigs (and buns, it's just produced by a pig website): http://www.guineapigcages.com/forum/thr ... lants-List

As for spinach, it should only be fed sparingly. If I have a bag that I was using for cooking that's getting a it wilted, I will give it to the animals before it goes bad, but it's high in calcium as is romaine lettuce. My animals have never liked tomatoes, so they don't eat them.

Grapes is an argued subject, but many suggest that it's a big no-no. In many animals, grapes cause kidney damage and kidney disease, even kidney failure in dogs. There is no research to support this association in guinea pigs and rabbits, but not much has been done. Since the whole urinary system is sensitive in both of these species, I would just rather not test the waters so I don't feed them grapes. Obviously this is just airing on the side of caution, but it never hurts to eliminate a possible danger since it's data deficient at the moment.

I love hand feeding. All of my little guys will take food from my hands and they are all very gentle about it. Even Emma, who is a bit of a pill, has never bitten me. Definitely let them approach you, especially with rabbits. They hate it when they feel their territory is being invaded.

For rabbits, that have an adequate cage, I would say 2-3 hours minimum. More is better but we all have lives outside of our animals. As soon as my boyfriend and I buy our house/land and build a house at the end of this year, we are going to create a small animal room and give half of the room to the buns so that they won't need to come out of the bun-proofed area. :lol: Guinea pigs don't necessarily need floor time if you have a large enough cage like mine.

Since my rabbits are in my bedroom, I don't have any cords except for my alarm clock and printer on my desk. These cords are elevated so they cannot access them. My rabbits aren't big on destroying things outside the cage, just inside, so they mostly just hop around and explore while I clean their cage or do homework or whatever may be going on. I never leave them out unsupervised, though, because I let them out when my cats are in the room and I don't want anything to happen.

I do not take mine to public places. Harnesses are very dangerous for rabbits because of their delicate spine. Neither of my rabbits are very confident in public spaces like the vet office, so I minimize the stress of it all. If I had a yard, I would let them out there in an X pen or something similar. But, until then... :lol: It's not a good idea to take them to work unless you have very confident rabbits, which is very rare. Even then, harnesses are still dangerous because of the points of the spine that it pulls on and the power that rabbits have in their hind legs. I've heard horror stories of bunnies snapping their spines on them. The same goes for guinea pigs. Wheels, harnesses, etc. that are good for most small animals do not work well due to the spinal structure.

GI stasis is one of the most common issues for rabbits. It is basically a slowing or stopping of the GI track, which is fatal for rabbits (and guinea pigs, but it's less of an issue in guinea pigs). It happens from poor diet, lack of food, stress, a foreign body, and sometimes just having a sensitive bun. :roll: Some buns are chronic GI stasis buns and need constant monitoring. It is a very serious issue, and can kill rabbits within 12 hours if their GI tract stops completely. It causes massive death of their microbes, which are essential for rabbits. There is more information here: http://rabbit.org/gastrointestinal-stas ... -killer-2/

The House Rabbit Society is a very good resource for rabbit health and care.

While there are stories of rabbits being frightened to death, I haven't encountered it personally. It is definitely a possibility as stress is a big factor with rabbits and can cause disease other than just keeling over from sudden cardiac arrest, such as GI stasis above. I wouldn't say it's common, but then again, no one I know with rabbits takes them to public places. It's just too stressful for them, and I have no interest in stressing out my animals. They are much happier hopping around at home.
4 Fancy Rats
2 American Guinea Pigs
1 Holland Lop Rabbit
1 Rex Rabbit
2 Ferrets
1 Lutino Cockatiel
5 Mixed Breed Cats
1 PitxLab
1 Great Pyr
1 Greyhound
2 Great PyrxAnatolian Shepherds
2 Red Foxes
5 Goats
~100 chickens, ducks, and turkeys
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Re: Can I Care For 2 Rabbits or 2 Guinea Pigs?

Postby minervasden » Mon Jun 02, 2014 2:02 pm

When I read through I didn't see X-pens mentioned. A highly customizeable housing option. Inexpensive if you can source second hand (CraigsList, freecycle, yard sales, etc.) http://www.sandiegorabbits.org/housing/x-pen-living-can-improve-your-rabbits-life
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Re: Can I Care For 2 Rabbits or 2 Guinea Pigs?

Postby Ash » Mon Jun 02, 2014 4:18 pm

Unfortunately, I think $200 is about right for food.


Heehee, you're not alone! My sister and I live together, so we split the cost of groceries down the middle, so for me it's just $100/month. Maybe we could be more savvy with the food budget, but no matter how hard we try, it winds up being around this.

I had no idea rabbits and guinea pigs could be so expensive. I really like hearing your experiences, Bluebaby. It makes me think twice about some of these smaller "easier" pets.
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BlueBaby1023
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Re: Can I Care For 2 Rabbits or 2 Guinea Pigs?

Postby BlueBaby1023 » Mon Jun 02, 2014 6:22 pm

minervasden wrote:When I read through I didn't see X-pens mentioned. A highly customizeable housing option. Inexpensive if you can source second hand (CraigsList, freecycle, yard sales, etc.) http://www.sandiegorabbits.org/housing/x-pen-living-can-improve-your-rabbits-life


I did mention it in the second post, but only for outdoor containment. Neat Idea and other cubes are much cheaper per foot for actual housing, at least generally unless you can find a basically free X pen. I was able to find cubes used much easier than X pens, and they were priced cheaper as well. :) It is a good resource, though, if available!

Ash wrote:I had no idea rabbits and guinea pigs could be so expensive. I really like hearing your experiences, Bluebaby. It makes me think twice about some of these smaller "easier" pets.


They definitely can be expensive! :lol: The only "easy" pets I have had are fish, and most people who have fish as their all encompassing hobby would probably argue with me on that front. :mrgreen:
4 Fancy Rats
2 American Guinea Pigs
1 Holland Lop Rabbit
1 Rex Rabbit
2 Ferrets
1 Lutino Cockatiel
5 Mixed Breed Cats
1 PitxLab
1 Great Pyr
1 Greyhound
2 Great PyrxAnatolian Shepherds
2 Red Foxes
5 Goats
~100 chickens, ducks, and turkeys

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