4 Reasons to Adopt a Rescued Guinea Pig

March is National Adopt Rescued Guinea Pigs Month. In honor, here are a few reasons people should give the adorable creatures a second chance.

1. Too many are homeless.

While we don’t know the exact number of surrendered guinea pigs in the United States, in an interview with Care2, Jeremy Henle of Crazy Cavies Guinea Pig Rescue says he believe it to be high. In fact, the Fort Lauderhill, Florida shelter took in more than 300 guinea pigs last year.

Henle has seen how the creatures cycle through pet stores. People buy them, assuming that they’re easy to care for, and later attempt to return them–usually to no avail. Animal shelters often refuse to accept guinea pigs or euthanize them soon after they take them in.

“A lot of people get them as a disposable pet. They’re cheap; they’re cute,” adds Lauren Plissord, director of the California Northern Cavy Rescue. “[But people] don’t know a lot about their care or how long they can live or how they should be kept. And so, a couple of months into it, nobody wants to clean the cage. Nobody wants to play with them. And so then they give up.”

Saskia Chiesa, of the Los Angeles Guinea Pig Rescue, says the problem can be especially bad for the Cuys breed. While South Americans generally breed the skittish giant guinea pig for food, U.S. pet stores have started to carry them. Owners are surprised to learn that the creature doesn’t enjoy being held and can grow to be seven or eight pounds.

Chiesa keeps many of the surrendered Cuys guinea pigs in a barn at the rescue center.

2. They’re good companions.

Before Plissord started her rescue organization, she carried her own guinea pig around like some people carry lap dogs—to school, to the store, everywhere. When he passed away, Plissord realized she couldn’t live without the animals.

“Guinea pigs are one of the most social animals on our planet, and they love to be with other guinea pigs and with people,” explains Henle.

Like with most animals, each guinea pig has a distinct personality. Some are outgoing and vocal; others, shy and reserved. Henle says they need about an hour of socializing a day and love to run and play with other guinea pigs.

3. Support humane practices, not a cruel breeding system.

Adopting a rescued guinea pig prevents you from opting into the cruel system of “guinea pig mills.”

“There [are] the puppy mills, all of these dogs that are just getting bred, bred, bred, bred, and everybody’s aware. But everybody’s not aware that this happens with cavies too,” explains Chiesa. “These animals that come from the pet stores, especially from the chain stores, they are usually purchased from the supplier that just ships them out to different stores. It is my understanding that these animals live in…a little house where there are rows and rows and rows of cages full of breeding animals.”

“A lot of these animals are sick. They weren’t taken care of from day one,” she adds. “[But] when you go to a rescue, a reputable rescue, you know your animal’s healthy.”

4. Rescue guinea pigs tend to be older and less fragile than the babies you adopt at pet stores.

A lot of folks believe that adopting younger guinea pigs can facilitate bonding. Not so, says Plissord. In reality, babies are more likely to be terrified of humans, and males may start fighting with each other when they get older. Contrast that with rescued guinea pigs, who tend to be one or two years old:

“They kind of already know the ropes,” Plissord says. “They’re not going to start fighting with their cage mates. And also, they are not scared and they know what to expect from humans. And trainability does not play a factor into age, which a lot of people believe is the case.”

Interested in bringing a rescued guinea pig or two–they need company as herd animals–into your home? Take our quiz to see if guinea pigs are the right pet for you.

And enjoy this video of a few guinea pigs playing basketball:

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

63 comments

Sonia M

Interesting article with good reminders and useful advices.Thanks for sharing

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Sharon S.
Sharon S3 years ago

Adopt, don't shop, no matter what the pet is.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Marie W.
Marie W3 years ago

Stop selling them.

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Valentina R.
Valentina R3 years ago

Rescue is the only option, no matter the species.

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Veronica Danie
.3 years ago

Thanks!

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Trina Hawkins
Trina Hawkins3 years ago

Growing up ,we had piggies as pets,always loved them!! Had one back in 2000 ,she lived 6 years,was very sweet,enjoyed being held, would squeal when it was her dinner time.I still Miss my sweet little girl Gena!!

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Loredana V.
Loredana V3 years ago

I rescue and adopt Guinea Pigs used in labs: they need a loving family more than everyone else to forget their past

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Peggy B.
Peggy B3 years ago

Adorable. I shared the basketball game and adopt message on facebook.

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Margie FOURIE
Margie FOURIE3 years ago

So sweet, but my dogs and cats will have the poor guinea pig as a morsel before breakfast.

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