Before getting a guinea pig you should think long and hard why you are getting them. The following sections highlight some of the things to consider before adopting.
Please think ahead when getting a guinea pig, will you be moving, going to university, going abroad, etc, which means you will not be able to keep your guinea pig for its lifetime. Getting any pet is a commitment for the lifetime of that pet.
Are you allergic to guinea pigs or maybe hay. Many people are allergic and it would be wise to handle some beforehand to see if any of the family have allergies.
Guinea pigs and children. Up to 90% of the guinea pigs that come into rescue have been bought for children who have lost interest. Childrens interest in anything can be sporadic and as a guinea pig can live for up to 6 years or even longer this is a long term commitment. The Animal Welfare Act states that a child under 16 cannot be responsible for any pet. As such it is the policy at the Wheek & Squeak that guinea pigs are rehomed only to adults.
Of course, guinea pigs do make excellent family pets however, parents must understand that they have to be solely responsible for the care of the guinea pigs. We also want our guinea pigs to go to homes where they are wanted by ALL the family and not just fed, cleaned and tolerated once the children have long lost interest.
Many parents have said to me that they have either bought or are going to buy guinea pigs to play with the children. Please be aware guinea pigs do not play with children, they are naturally shy creatures and as such are more likely to try and hide than actively play. Guinea pigs are NOT childrens toys and should be treated with respect.
Children under 8 years of age are too young to be able to handle a guinea pig safely and children over that age need to handle a guinea pig with adult supervision.
Owning guinea pigs can be very expensive. They need a good quality hutch without ramps or cage with a separate solid secure run. This could cost in excess of £150. Then there is the cost of hay, bedding, dried food, fresh vegetables. Have you thought who will look after your guinea pigs while you are away, if you have no family or friends that can help, you will need to consider the cost of boarding. On top of that there are vet bills. Guinea pigs are very sensitive little animals that are prone to skin problems, chest infections and teeth problems, so vet bills can easily run well into hundreds of pounds. So please think long and hard about whether you have the extra funds to pay these bills.
Guinea pigs also need your time. Do you have time to handle them each day, put them in a run on nice days, prepare their feed, clean them out and give them fresh hay each day. With busy family life this extra half hour or so each day can be very difficult to find. It is not fair to leave them up the end of the garden and throw some food in when you have a moment. Without regular handling they will be frightened and nervous of you which is not the relationship you want with your guinea pigs.
If after reading the above you still think that guinea pigs are for you and that you can offer a loving home in the right environment for the lifetime of that pet then we will be delighted to hear from you.
We are very passionate about guinea pigs and dedicate our lives to their care and wellbeing. So it is very important to us that when they are adopted they will be looked after properly in spacious hutches, with suitable bedding, given the correct diet and taken to a guinea pig competent vet. We are happy to recommend guinea pig competent vets.
We also provide advice to prospective new owners including a 17 page booklet on their care. We also do regular talks on 'Introduction to Guinea pigs' and 'How to Bath your Guinea pig'. Finally, we provide support for the lifetime of your adopted guinea pig including complimentary nail trim to any guinea pig.
The hutch or cage should be at least 4ft x 2ft for two guinea pigs, 5ft x 2ft for three guinea pigs and 6ft x 2ft for 4 guinea pigs. Please do not guess your hutch's size please measure beforehand. We are not fans of hutches with ramps and so many guinea pigs injure themselves on them, so one level is perfect in our eyes. They should have a separate secure run which cannot be knocked over easily by either children or other pets. PLEASE NOTE WE DO NOT REHOME GUINEA PIGS WHERE THEY ARE ALLOWED TO RUN FREE IN THE GARDEN. We believe they should be kept safe at ALL times as they can so easily be attacked by dogs, cats, foxes and birds.
We do not recommend shavings as a bedding. This has been linked to several health problems in guinea pigs, we use Megazorb which is cheaper than shavings and very healthy for them and also easily composts down. If you cannot get hold of Megazorb then Aubiose is a suitable alternative although it is not as soft or absorbent.
We also ask that your rescue guinea pigs are not used for breeding. Firstly, because they have had enough stress in their short lives and we do not want them going through the stress of breeding. Secondly, there are hundreds of guinea pigs in this country that are put to sleep because there are not enough homes for them. (I would add that this is NOT the policy of The Wheek & Squeak) To continue indiscrimate breeding while rescues all over the country are full to bursting with these poor little souls just does not seem fair to me.
If after reading the above you feel that guinea pigs are the right pet for you, you will need to contact us to arrange an appointment to come to the Rescue. We care very much where our guinea pigs are rehomed and that they will be cared for properly, so we will ask alot of questions about the home you have to offer. Please do not let this put you off, it is not a test, it's only because we care.
At this appointment we will discuss the new home you can offer, how to care for your guinea pig and then you will meet the guinea pigs available for adoption. You will be able to handle them and you will be told their history and then you can reserve the ones you would like to adopt.
An appointment will be made to do a home visit to check the hutch/cage is the correct size and that it is placed in a suitable area, free from direct sunlight, sheltered from wind and rain etc., that the hutch is prepared correctly and that the run is solid and safe for the guinea pigs to run in.
This is also a time to discuss, particularly with new owners, any further questions they may have.
Once all parties are happy the Adoption Certificate will be signed and handed over and a donation is given to the Rescue. A suggested minimum donation is £15 per guinea pig; this goes towards the general running costs of the Rescue.