Guinea pigs: cute, fluffy, squeaky lumps of fur. Available in a variety of colours and patterns. The distant cousins of the South American capybara and household pet and occasional dish (depending on what part of the world you’re in).

As a meat, I can’t comment. But I have had two guinea pigs sharing my home for the last two years, with the addition of a third in the past month. If you’re thinking about getting into guinea pig collecting here are a list of pros and cons you should weigh up before you take the plunge.

PRO: They are extremely cute

If you like the idea of a miniature, fur covered pig then you’ll probably like the Meerschweinchen (literally “little sea pig”), which is what they call a guinea pig in German. (Although I’ve never seen one in the sea. But anyway…)

CON: They dislike most human contact

Though they may be cute, you may not be able to satisfy your desire to squeeze the cuteness out of them as readily as you’d like. Of all they guinea pigs I’ve had the pleasure of meeting NONE of them just let you pick them up. Oh no. As soon as your hand enters that cage the chase is on; scurrying around full pelt and flipping over food bowls and fellow balls of fur. When you finally get one don’t be surprised if it pisses on you at least once. You’ve been warned.

PRO: They are extremely cute

See above.

CON: They require a lot of maintenance

If you house two or more of these things it take a minimum of 1 hour to clean them out. Sure it only has to be done 2 or 3 times a week but it is a mammoth task to take on. The process is wet and odor-full.

PRO: They are relatively noise free creatures

“Amount of noise production” isn’t usually a criterion that one uses to choose a pet, but these guys score relatively low on the decibel meter. Which is nice. The iconic high pitched squeaking of an excited guinea pig at the rustle of a bag of vegetables is as loud as it gets. No barking at the postman or howling at the moon at two in the morning with these guys.

CON: You will spend an extra £10-15 on vegetables/fruit every week and realise that they eat much healthier than you ever have or will

Guinea pigs are herbivores. They eat nothing but hay, grass, fruit and vegetables. Without these substances they will die. If I fed myself just half the amount of fruit and veg that I feed to my guinea pigs I’d be a lot healthier.

PRO: They are cute though…

Let’s end on a positive note, shall we?

A cape wearing Guinea pig atop a cape wearing capybara. Beautiful.