Adopt a Pet – Guinea Pigs!
Here at Found Animals we put a lot of energy into trying to get pets out of the animal shelters and into loving homes. We urge everyone to adopt a pet over buying at a pet store or on the internet. Every week we have an adoptable dog and cat that we feature on our website in the hopes that an interested adopter will see and decide they must meet this cat or that dog. While cats and dogs make up the majority of the animals in the shelters, there are often horses, chickens & roosters, snakes, lizards, turtles, rats, hamsters, lots and lots of rabbits and my favorite of all the small animals, Cavia porcellus, Guinea Pigs!
Guinea Pigs, in my opinion, make excellent pets. They were first introduced as pets in the U.S.A by European traders in the 16th century. Their docile and personable natures, ease of care and fondness for being held and fed have made them a popular choice of pet even to this day. They live between 5 and 8 years and like a lot of pets, are happier in pairs, (males with males and females with females please)!
Guinea pigs have a range of noises they make to communicate with you. When I was young, I had a really sweet guinea pig named Marley. Marley loved carrots so much, whenever I would open the vegetable drawer in the fridge, he would whistle at me from his cage in the living room. He was white and ginger spotted and the white fur around his mouth was always stained orange from carrots. I would scoop up my little whistling Marley and he would sit on my lap munching the carrot down to a stub. He was very good friends with my dog and they would cuddle together on the couch.
Here in Los Angeles, we have several Guinea Pig Rescues that pull them from the shelters and foster them while working to get them adopted into homes. They encourage, just like dogs and cats, that people adopt over purchasing at a pet store. There is an abundance of Guinea Pigs in need of homes here.
Guinea Pigs are easier to care for than a dog for sure, and they don’t have the allergy factor that cats do, however, they do need specific care that perhaps many owners don’t realize. If you’re considering a Guinea Pig as a pet, here’s a basic checklist of Guinea Pig supplies you will need:
- A Guinea Pig Cage – A minimum of four square feet of space per Guinea Pig, a larger cage is always better if you have the room. Guinea Pig cages have plastic tub bottoms and wire mesh sides. Wire mesh floors and aquarium type cages are not acceptable for Guinea Pigs. A wire bottom will hurt the Guinea Pig’s feet and glass aquariums do not provide enough ventilation.
- Bedding – Hardwood or aspen wood shavings or grass hay. Cedar or pine chips are commonly sold but dangerous to Guinea Pigs because of oils found in them. They need a little cave to sleep in, a variety of Guinea Pig shelters are sold at the pet store, but you can also make your own from a shoebox or similar.
- Food – Guinea Pig Pellets will be the majority of your pig’s diet. You should offer fresh fruit and veggies to them everyday. Guinea Pigs need Vitamin C, so be sure to include fruits and veggies high in Vitamin C, like oranges, kale and strawberries. They will lap water with their tiny pink tongues from a water bottle.
- Gnaw Sticks – Like hamsters, a Guinea Pig’s teeth are continually growing so they will need some special sticks to gnaw on and keep their teeth filed down.
Daily care of a Guinea Pig requires you to remove and replace soiled bedding, remove old uneaten veggies and replace with new, as well as handling and attention to keep them friendly and happy. Once a week the cage should be completely cleaned with everything removed and the plastic bottom scrubbed with warm water and soap.
Guinea Pigs would make great pets for an adult that wants and loves animals, but can’t have a dog or cat for whatever reason. I think they are fantastic pets for a child that is eager to experience pet ownership and ready for all that comes along with it (like I was, eager is an understatement). I recommend doing research together and ask yourself these questions:
- Are we prepared to provide all the necessities, physically and emotionally, for these animals for the rest of their lives?
- Are we prepared to take the piggies to the veterinarian for annual checkups and more if necessary?
- Do we have the space, time and money to keep them?
A lot of Guinea Pig Rescues have a foster program with a minimum time commitment of 3 to 6 months. This is a great opportunity if you’d like to test the waters. By joining up with a rescue, you have a support group already in place to help you with your new pets. If you’d like to adopt directly from a shelter (where the Guinea Pigs are in more danger of euthanasia) you can use our Adopt a Pet locator tool. Type in your zip code and sort for small & furry – Guinea Pigs to see what’s available and in need of homes at your local animal shelter.
Have you got a Guinea Pig adoption story to share? Please tell me all about your piggies and include photos! We may feature your story on the Water Bowl and send you some presents in the mail as well!