I don’t know about you, but when I think about rescue animals, guinea pigs are not the first animals that come to my mind! I know the rescues that get the most attention are those involving abused dogs or stray cats. I’ve heard of horse rescues and bunny rescues. When you think about it, I guess there is a need for guinea pig rescues too.
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Guinea pig purchases are often impulse buys
When people adopt a guinea pig, it is usually from a pet store. They probably don’t do a lot of research before buying a guinea pig either. I’m sure a lot of purchases are impulse buys. The last time we got gerbils (3 years ago), we weren’t planning on getting three of them, but there were three of them together in a cage. We couldn’t bear to leave one alone, so we got all three. Impulse buy. I know when I’m out buying dog or cat food, I always walk past the small mammals and birds just to get to the food aisle. The guinea pigs are usually front and center, and that makes you notice them. They are cute.
Impulse buys are not a good idea when it comes to a living thing. You haven’t thought about what you’re getting into. I’m sure you might read the card attached to the cages, but that’s probably about all the research that goes into purchasing a guinea pig. You don’t think about the long term commitment or the amount of money you’ll spend over the years that you have your guinea pig.
About guinea pigs
Guinea pigs can live up to ten years. That is a long term commitment. If you have an eight year old begging for one, you’ve got to decide if you want to be the one to take care of it when your child loses interest in it. That’s bound to happen. These guys make messes, and while cleaning the cage may be something your eight year old can do, it doesn’t mean they will do it when they are in those hormonal tween and teen years.
Speaking of cages, they need a fairly large one. It should be at least 30″ x 36″ for one guinea pig. They need bedding and that bedding is what makes the mess. If you don’t clean it regularly, it’s going to be stinky too! And don’t ever put your guinea pig in a glass aquarium. It is not designed for that at all!
Your guinea pig is going to need toys and tubes or houses to hide in in their cage. Did you know that their teeth are always growing? That means they need things like untreated wood to chew on to keep them the right length. All of these are extra expenses that you don’t think of when you make an impulse purchase.
They obviously are going to need food and water too. Is your child going to remember to feed them? What about vacations? You’ll have to have someone pet sit, just like you’d have to with a cat or dog. Guinea pigs need a food that is made just for them because they require some nutrients that other small mammals might not. They also need timothy hay to keep them healthy.
Why you should adopt and not shop
Most of the guinea pigs that are impulse buys are going to end up someplace like craigslist or at a shelter. At least half of them that end up at shelters are owner surrenders. Hundreds are surrendered to shelters each year. How sad! These little guys need homes just like the shelter cats, dogs, and bunnies need homes. If you are looking for a guinea pig, be sure to check your local shelters before running to the pet store. Since March is Adopt a Rescued Guinea Pig Month, this would be the perfect time to adopt.
Please remind your friends that any pet isn’t meant to be an impulse buy! They take care just like any other pet.
Have you ever had a guinea pig? What was its name? Remember, adopt, don’t shop!