#AdoptNotShop is a familiar slogan when it comes to rehoming cats and dogs. But did you know you can also adopt a guinea pig? When looking for a cavy, a lot of people will more often than not head off to the pet shop rather than check their local rescue centre. The reasons for this are unclear, but we think it could be because the adoption process feels somewhat daunting, and of course, there are the associated costs.
In this article, we look at why it is better to adopt a guinea pig, what the process involves and what you need to consider before bringing your piggy home.
7 Reasons Why You Should Adopt A Guinea Pig
Through no fault of their own, hundreds of guinea pigs find themselves in rescue centres around the country, which is why it is better to adopt rather than shop.
But there is so much more to opening your home and your heart to a piggy in need of its ‘forever’ home. So let’s take a look at the 7 reasons why you should #AdoptNotShop.
1. Rescue Centres Carry Out Health checks
When you adopt an animal from a rescue centre, you know it has been checked out by the vet for any health problems. They will be able to tell you if the guinea pig is in good health or advise if there are any existing conditions.
2. Rescue Centres Understand The Animals’ Needs
Rescue centres, unlike pet shops, have staff that spend a lot of time getting to know the animals in their care. Understanding its specific needs and the animal’s personality, the rescue centre can match you with a pet that fits in with your family while also ensuring the animal’s needs are being met.
3. Rescue Centres Have Animals Of All Ages
Many people will buy from a pet shop because they think rescue centres only have older animals. But this is not the case at all. Often, a rescue centre will get a pregnant piggy in. Then, as soon as the babies are old enough, they are available to adopt.
4. A Rescue Centre Offers Ongoing Support
We love that a rescue centre is with you every step of the way throughout the adoption process. Yours and the animal’s interests are at the heart of what they do and will even take an animal back to rehome should your circumstances change.
5. Rescue Centres Know The Sex Of The Guinea Pig
Guinea pigs can be tricky to sex if you don’t know what to look for. And we’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve heard or read about a pet store sexing a piggy incorrectly. The end result can be an unwanted pregnancy.
6. Rescue Centres Will Help You Find A Suitable Pair
Rescue centres agree that guinea pigs shouldn’t be kept on their own. However, if they have two piggies that have established a bond, they will do their very best to rehome them together.
They can also help you find the perfect pal for your existing piggy and give you all the advice you need to successfully introduce them.
7. You Are Supporting The Rescue Centre
Your kindness goes a long way when you adopt from a rescue centre. Not only are you freeing up space so they can care for another animal in need, but you’re also supporting the centre financially with your adoption fee.
Where Is The Best Place To Adopt A Guinea Pig From?
Trust us, if you are looking to adopt a guinea pig, there is no shortage of places to check out. The RSPCA and Blue Cross have rescue centres across the country, or if you prefer, you can speak to a smaller organisation that helps out in your area. You can also check Facebook for rescue groups in your area.
Another option is to adopt a guinea pig privately. However, if you decide to go this route, you will need to be careful of scams and fraudsters. Also, there is no guarantee that they will be completely honest about any health issues or behavioural problems.
What To Consider When Adopting A Guinea Pig
There isn’t much not to love when it comes to guinea pigs. But contrary to popular belief, they are not starter pets and actually need a lot of time and care. Of course, there are also the ongoing costs of food, toys and accessories and vet bills.
Before you adopt, there are a few things you need to carefully consider.
Do You Have Enough Time?
Guinea pigs need a lot of time and commitment from their owners every day. For a piggy to be happy and healthy, it needs at least two hours a day of playtime outside its cage.
You will also need to set time aside to clean the cage. This includes daily spot checks, weekly cleans and a deep clean once a month. Depending on how many guinea pigs you have, you may have to do this more often.
And then there’s the guinea pig itself. Regular grooming is essential for a cavy’s well-being. Long-haired piggies should be brushed every day, while their short-haired counterparts only need a brush every five to seven days.
Do You Have Enough Space?
As small as they are, guinea pigs need a lot of space. So experts recommend housing guinea pigs in a large hutch with a run and providing them with plenty of floor space.
Even if you keep your piggies inside, they will still need an allocated area where they can run, play and explore.
Is A Guinea Pig Right For Your Family?
Before adopting a guinea pig, you need to figure out if it’s the right pet for your family. Generally, cavies don’t like loud noises or sudden movements, and they also need to be handled carefully. In addition, homes with smaller children or lots of other pets may not be the best environment for guinea pigs.
Are You Worried About Costs?
The adoption fee, although affordable, is only the tip of the iceberg. Other costs include:
- A hutch and run or a hutch and run combo
- Food bowls
- Water bottles
- Hay (and lots of it)
- Hideouts, tunnels and toys
- Regular vet visits for general checkups
Owning guinea pigs will cost you a few hundred pounds a year, excluding vet bills for emergency treatments. You will also need to factor in a pet sitter to look after your cavy when you go away.
Are You Willing To Own More Than One Guinea Pig?
Guinea pigs are social animals and need the company of other piggies. A responsible rescue centre will never rehome just one guinea pig, so you will need to ensure you have the time and the budget for two or more cavies.
Have You Thought About A Guinea Pig’s Lifespan?
Owning a guinea pig is a commitment, not only in terms of time and money but also its lifespan. Unlike other pocket pets, like mice, hamsters, and gerbils with a lifespan of two to three years, guinea pigs can live up to seven years.
The Adoption Process – What You Need To Know
The adoption process may vary from one rescue centre to another, so it’s worth checking their website for relevant information. More often than not, though, the process will include:
- A visit to the rescue centre to find the right guinea pig for you
- An interview by one of the staff members. The kinds of questions to expect include:
- Whether you have owned guinea pigs before
- How many other pets are in the home
- Are there small children in the home
- The size of your garden
- Whether you have the time to care for a guinea pig
- How you plan on housing your guinea pigs
- Advice on how to set up a hutch with all the essentials
- A home visit by the rescue centre to make sure everything is ready and in place
- A confirmed date to collect your guinea pig from the shelter or rescue centre
Getting Your Setup Ready – Our Recommendations
For any rescue centre, the animal’s well-being is their first priority. So while the requirements needed to rehome a guinea pig may vary depending on the centre, most will insist that everything is in place before your guinea pig comes home.
When setting up your guinea pig’s home, it’s essential to keep the following criteria in mind.
- You will need a large cage that is at least 4 ft wide and 2ft deep. If you are adding a guinea pig to a group, the enclosure will need to be big enough to accommodate them all.
- Double-story hutches are allowed as long as the ramp isn’t too steep. A ramp with a gentle gradient is ideal.
- Your guinea pigs must have a separate area where they can play, graze and explore. Runs that attach securely to the hutch are an excellent option, as are folding runs that can be moved from one area to another.
- Hutches and runs need to be predator proof and should all have covers.
- Guinea pigs should have access to shade at all times, and the hutch should have a cover to protect them from rain and wind.
- The hutch should be placed in a safe location, away from potential hazards, including poisonous plants and flowers, insecticides and pesticides.
- During the cold winter months, guinea pigs should be housed indoors or in a suitable shed or garage. Adequate ventilation is vital.
Potential Problems and Solutions
It’s worth noting that things may not run as smoothly as planned. But for every problem, there is always a solution. So let’s take a look at what could go wrong.
I Don’t Think My New Guinea Pig Likes Me?
Your new guinea pig will take time to settle into its new environment and you. If it feels like your new addition doesn’t like you, it’s essential to give it time and space. Don’t rush the process or force your piggy to do anything it doesn’t want to.
Let your cavy get used to you slowly. Offer it tasty treats and spend time chatting to it. Your patience will pay off in the long run.
My New Guinea Pig Is Picking Fights With My Other Guinea Pigs
Change is stressful for all your guinea pigs, old and new. Trust that the rescue centre has matched the newest addition well and allow all your guinea pigs to adjust to the new situation.
I’ve Done Everything Possible But It’s Not Working
If you have done everything possible, but it’s not working out, you do have the option of returning the guinea pig to the rescue centre. They will happily take the piggy back for rehoming.
Hopefully, we’ve answered all your questions and addressed any concerns you may have about adopting a guinea pig rather than buying one. Although it’s a big decision, it’s one that you won’t regret.
For those readers with adopted piggies, we would love to hear all about it! Let us know in the comments section below.