It is well known that cats and dogs arrive at animal shelters or rescue organizations for one reason or another. Small mammals, such as guinea pigs, are surrendered to shelters too. March is Adopt a Guinea Pig Month, so why not consider visiting your local shelter and see if there’s a “piggy pal” to adopt!
Adopt a Guinea Pig Month began in 2002 to raise awareness and encourage adoption of guinea pigs from shelters and rescues.
Before making the commitment to adopt a guinea pig, it’s important to learn about these adorable (albeit squeaky!) pets – do your homework and research their needs before you make a commitment. Your guinea pig-savvy veterinarian and staff at the animal shelter will be able to answer any final questions that you have, but here are some quick tips to help you determine if a guinea pig is a good match for you and your family!
- Guinea pigs are social animals. They are happiest if kept in pairs or small groups (preferably of the same sex). A single guinea pig may become lonely, unhappy, and stressed, impacting its health and wellbeing.
- If you adopt a male and female, spay and neuter them to avoid unwanted babies.
- Guinea pigs, unlike many other pocket pets, can live to be 8 years old, with an average lifespan of about 4 to 6 years.
- Just like any other pet, guinea pigs need regular veterinary care. Be sure to budget for regular wellness checks and unexpected emergency visits.
- Not all veterinarians treat guinea pigs. If your veterinarian does not, ask for a recommendation for a guinea pig-savvy veterinarian in your community.
- Guinea pigs need a large cage with areas to play, hide, and rest. Be sure the cage is large enough and you have enough space in your home for it.
- As social animals, guinea pigs like to be around their “people family,” so be sure to choose an area where your family spends a lot of time – since they’re squeaky, bedrooms might not be the best spot!
- Guinea pigs, just like cats and dogs, require lots of care. This includes daily exercise, daily or weekly grooming (depending on the length of coat), daily feeding and watering, and regular cage cleanings (daily spot cleaning and a thorough weekly cleaning).
- Guinea pigs make great pets, however they have sensitive hearing, and being so small, can be easily injured, so be sure your children are old enough to use their “indoor” voices and respectful enough to handle them, delicate as they are, with care.
- They have special dietary requirements, including high fiber and vitamin C supplementation.
- Consider who will care for your guinea pig while you are on vacation. Just like dogs and cats, guinea pigs need daily care too.
Once you’ve decided that adopting a guinea pig is right for you, visit your local shelter and know that you are giving a sweet little piggie the chance to live a happy and full life!