IMG_0150Did you know that Easter is one of the most popular times of the year when it comes to small pet adoptions? While bunnies are probably the most popular choice, hamsters, guinea pigs, and mice are also at the top of the list. A small pet is a great way to help teach your children responsibility and bring a little extra joy to the family. After my experience adopting Crystal, I can say with great confidence that if you’re considering getting your child a guinea pig (or any other little creature), PetSmart is definitely the way to go.

Jacob has been begging and pleading for a guinea pig for months now, ever since someone in his class got one. I gave him a bunch of excuses on why he couldn’t have one, but it really boiled down to finances. Last week, though, as I was sitting in the waiting room for Sal to get out of gall-bladder removal surgery, I was checking my emails and found one from the PR company that handles PetSmart publicity, offering me the chance to share with my readers (you) the process and excitement of adopting a new small pet. It was like fate!

Adoption Day!

Jacob, Sal and I headed to PetSmart on Friday to meet with Mike, the local manager who happens to be quite the expert in small animals (and reptiles, as Sal would later discover). Mike spent a good 45 minutes with me, starting in the habitat aisle. I had looked on PetSmart.com before going to the store, but it turns out the habitat I had in mind was totally wrong for our new family member. Well, maybe not wrong, but it was a “starter” cage and would be too small in about a month.

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PetSmart Starter Cage
Mike and I went back and forth, looking at the starter cage and another cage that he felt was a better fit. He never pushed, but rather steered me in the right direction with logic. While the starter set would be fine for now, ultimately, I would have to get a larger cage. Plus, while it came with the supplies I needed to get set up, I would still need more of everything within a week. We ended up choosing the larger rabbit habitat because it can hold two guinea pigs comfortably. This is important because, according to Mike, female guinea pigs are happier when they have another female companion. This is the habitat we went with:

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Next, it was time to pick up the other supplies we would need for our new guinea pig. Mike explained in detail the entire process of feeding Krystal. For the first week, she gets the pellets, the hay, a quarter orange a day, and vitamin drops in her water. Mike explained that the fancier foods really aren’t all that beneficial because the more other stuff it has in it, the less likely she is to eat the pellets, which are the most nutritious parts. I also learned that I need to avoid seeds, because they’re not good for her digestive system.

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Picking out the bedding was easy, I learned that paper is the best. Wood chips can retain too much moisture, and guinea pigs are prone to upper respiratory illnesses. Mike explained that I should never, ever, ever use cedar chips because they can cause neurological damage. I think that requires bold letters! Never use cedar! Jacob chose a few wooden chew toys at Mike’s encouragement. Then it was time to choose our new family member!

Choosing our new guinea pig

Honestly, I thought this part was going to be much harder than it was. There had to be at least a dozen guinea pigs to choose from, and they were all so cute. Mike made it easy by narrowing the choice down to three that he thought would be perfect for a family that has never had a guinea pig before. What impressed me was that he actually knew the temperament of all the animals in his care. This tells me that he spends time learning about the animals that he is adopting out rather than just pushing them out the door to anyone who walks in. That matters to me, and makes me trust his advice even more.

First he had Jake sit on the floor, in case the guinea pigs tried to make a break for it. Plus, it’s just a more comfortable position for meeting a new furry friend!

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Next, he selected the first guinea pig for Jacob to meet. It was love at first sight, but I wanted Jake to check out the others too.

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The second one didn’t want to face the camera. She was pretty, but not the guinea pig for us. The third one bolted.

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Mike’s first choice turned out the be the best one! She snuggled with all of us for a moment, then climbed into my hair to hide. Before leaving, we had to get a picture with Mike too!

Choosing the right guinea pig

Krystal is all set up in her new home, although she’s a little nervous still so she won’t come out from under her little deck. I did manage to get a picture though. Isn’t she cute?

Krystal the Guinea Pig

Stay tuned! I’ll be sharing more stories about Krystal the Guinea Pig once she’s ready to come out more. Oh, as for the name, we went through a plethora of options before Jacob settled on that one. Originally, she was going to be named Cake! Don’t ask.

Huge thank you to PetSmart for providing me with a gift card, and to Mike at the PetSmart in the Shoppes at Stroud in Stroudsburg,  PA for all his help in choosing the right guinea pig and all the necessities to get her started in her new home.