Guinea pigs may seem like a small pet and relatively inexpensive to keep. However, the expenses can add up and catch new piggle parents unaware. As long as you’re prepared to add the cost of keeping guinea pigs to your budget, they’re a great pet.
The Short Answer: How Much Do Guinea Pigs Cost?
In 2024, owning a guinea pig will cost somewhere between one and two thousand dollars annually. However, the cost of supplies can fluctuate, so make sure you research.
A Quick Note
Since they are social animals, Guinea pigs do best when kept in pairs or other groupings. Therefore, it’s better to plan for two or three guinea pigs rather than just one when starting out.
One-Time Expenses with Guinea Pigs
Setting up for your new guinea pig(s) can be a substantial investment, and it may require some planning. Note that pricing is for a single guinea pig, so you may need to double or triple depending on how many guinea pigs you’ll get.
Store or Adoption Fees
First, some folks offer guinea pigs for free. If you opt for this route, inquire about the guinea pig’s medical history and why it is being re-homed. It helps if you know the person who is re-homing the guinea pig.
Rescues and pet stores both charge adoption fees for guinea pigs. This fee could be between $10 and $75, though around $45 is pretty standard. Where possible, adopting from a rescue should be your preferred option.
Enclosure Setup Cost for Guinea Pigs
Typically, you need to find some form of enclosure to keep your guinea pig indoors since many parts of the United States are not suitable for keeping them outdoors. Remember, guinea pigs need more space than many “starter kit” cages.
For the enclosure, you need the enclosure itself ($100-$500), food dishes ($10-$20), water bottle ($10-$40), hay rack ($10-$30), pet brush ($10-$20), nail trimmers ($10-$20), hidey area ($10-$50), and initial bedding. You can choose changeable or washable for bedding, dramatically affecting the cost.
Having a way to transport your guinea pig to the vet or an enclosed area to put them in while you’re cleaning the cage is essential. You can add towels to the bottom of a cat carrier or get a specific small animal carrier. Expect to spend anywhere from $25 to $100 though.
Initial Vet Visit
Regardless of where you get a guinea pig, you should ensure it is healthy. That means making a vet visit as close as possible to your adoption. Most vets have a $100 or so exam fee, plus any testing they want to order, like bloodwork. You should plan on this visit being at least $300.
This step is particularly important if you’re bringing a new guinea pig to meet your existing pets.
Recurring Cost with Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs should have access to fresh hay and high-quality pellets. You can get various hay types, though Timothy hay is a standby of the guinea pig community. For Timothy, you should expect to spend about $400 per year.
Guinea pig pellets come in many varieties as well. If possible, you want to avoid corn, soy, wheat, artificial colors, and GMOs. Avoiding these things is a little extra, but you will likely see reduced vet bills. For high-quality pellets, expect to spend $250 per year.
Guinea pigs can drink any water that is also safe for human consumption. You should not see a substantial increase in your water bill if you can safely drink your tap water. If this is not the case, expect to add three to four 16-oz water bottles per week.
Greens, Fruits, and Vegetables Rotation
Guinea pigs need a rotation of additional fruits, vegetables, and greens to maintain optimal health. Since it is a rotation, as long as it’s safe for a guinea pig to eat, you can buy a little extra of whatever vegetable you’re using for your family’s dinner for the guinea pig.
Realistically, this adds somewhere between $200 and $300 each year.
Bedding is a challenging question. You can buy washable fleece liners or disposable bedding. Over time, the fleece liner option is cheaper, but initially, it’s $100 or more. Disposable bedding is priced per cubic foot, cubic inch, or liter. It can go from $10 to $40 per 50 liters.
Vet Visit Cost for Guinea Pigs
It’s best to plan for your guinea pig to visit the vet at least once yearly. Your vet’s exam fee will vary, but it’s usually somewhere between $100 to $150. These visits are a great opportunity to build a rapport with your vet.
Your guinea pigs will hide anything wrong for as long as possible. It’s part of their makeup as prey animals. This can result in higher vet bills depending on how far something goes before you get your piggle to the vet.
Guinea pigs can get injured, and it’s best to set aside $50 to $100 per month in a little guinea pig savings account. These savings give you a cushion if one of your guinea pigs bites the other, an abscess develops, someone gets an infection, or a cut happens.
You can get pet insurance for guinea pigs, but make sure you read the fine print on what they will exclude. Some guinea pig insurances exclude common problems like dental as part of their standard policies.
You may find you want to update or replace parts of your guinea pig enclosure. Items like hidey houses get chewed on or stop coming clean, for example, and you may want to replace them with newer versions. You can set aside anywhere from $100 to $400 annually to do this.