By now, we know not to purchase puppies from pet shops. The inhumane treatment of dogs in puppy mills makes the news regularly as our state governments attempt to legislate those breeding facilities. But mass breeding doesn’t stop with puppy mills. Other, equally inhumane breeding facilities exist across the country. One of the worst? Guinea pig mills.
Guinea pigs are cute little rodents that originated in South America. They have a longer lifespan than most small pets, living five to seven years. They’re social animals and love to be handled by their people. But because of their popularity – really, how can anyone resist that cute little nose? – industrial breeding mills mass produce the small furry friends. They make great family pets, but if you’re interested in adding a guinea pig to your home, locate adoptable guinea pigs rather than purchasing one from a pet shop.
Just like adding a dog or cat to your household, adopting a guinea pig requires some thoughtful planning. Here are 10 tips to help you rescue the perfect guinea pig for your family:
- Don’t shop; adopt!
- Determine if you have enough space to adequately house a guinea pig – if you have room for two of the social buggers, even better! For one guinea pig, 30″x36″ is a good idea; for two, aim for 30″x50″.
- Plan for the care and feeding of your guinea pigs. In addition to a roomy cage, they require a mix of pellets, hay, and fresh vegetables.
- Learn about a guinea pig’s exercise requirements. Yep! Just like us, they require daily exercise like running around a large, fully-enclosed pen.
- Find a small animal veterinarian that will give your new pet a once-over exam and handle emergency care, if required.
- Stop by your local animal shelter to find out if they rescue guinea pigs.
- If your local shelter doesn’t have any, but they do rescue them, let the adoption coordinators know that you’re interested, and they will notify you when a guinea pig gets turned in.
- If you’ve exhausted local options, search areas surrounding your zip code on Petfinder.com.
- If you decide to adopt multiples, aim for the same gender – or else get the males neutered to prevent further overpopulation.
- Most importantly, meet and handle the guinea pigs before you adopt. Ask the shelter if they’re fine with children if you have kids. Find out about any health concerns (fur loss, for example) or behavioral issues.
A rescued guinea pig makes a great pet – not as high maintenance as a dog or cat and far friendlier than a hamster. And by adopting a rescued guinea pig, you’re helping to break the cycle of abuse in guinea pig mills.