Blue Cross is helping to find new homes for a group of 120 guinea pigs after taking in the biggest number of the small pets in the charity’s history.
The national pet charity’s rehoming teams stepped in to take in the guinea pigs after getting a call for help from the owner who could no longer care for them.
So far 65 of the group have gone off to new homes, while 14 are currently looking for new homes and the rest are still undergoing treatment.
When the animals first arrived at the charity, the team spotted some of them had red, flaky bald patches – a sign of ringworm, common in guinea pigs and easily spread in groups.
Scaling and hair loss, especially around the nose and face, are typical symptoms but the disease can spread elsewhere on the animal’s body in severe cases. Not all will show obvious signs but may still carry the disease and pass it on to others, including humans.
When a number of the guinea pigs tested positive for the infection, the entire group of animals had to be treated which has taken the teams at Blue Cross nearly three months, with care and treatment costing the charity more than £10,000.
Some of the animals are continuing to be treated and cared for until they are healthy and ready to be put up for rehoming by the charity.
Teams and foster carers across the charity have helped to care for and find the small animals’ new homes, including its rehoming centres in Newport, South Wales; Lewknor and Burnford in Oxfordshire, Tiverton and Torbay in Devon, Thirsk in North Yorkshire, Hertfordshire and Suffolk.
Kayleigh Hill, from the rehoming services team at Blue Cross said: “We regularly see cases of accidental litters as it’s easy to mis-sex small pets like guinea pigs but this is the first time our charity has taken in such a large group.
“At some points it’s meant our centres having groups of 50 or 60 on site. Sadly, the owner was an animal lover who had just got overwhelmed but did the right thing by coming to us for help.
“Like many pets, guinea pigs breed so quickly that owner can fast find themselves with a large group of animals to care for. It has definitely been a cross-charity effort – from our vets, laboratory, managers and behaviourists, to our rehoming and foster teams – to care for and treat these animals.”
The pet charity is reminding people that guinea pigs can become pregnant at just a few weeks of age and can give birth to litters as large as eight pups.
Guinea pigs are social animals and should be kept in pairs or small groups of the same sex, but it is essential that males are neutered before they are kept with any female.
If females are housed with unneutered males, numbers can very quickly get out of hand as even siblings can mate with each other. A female guinea pig can have up to five litters a year and can become pregnant again within hours of giving birth to a litter.
Kayliegh added: “It’s been a huge team effort to care for and find homes for these animals and we’re so thankful to everyone who has helped, including our volunteer drivers and foster carers right through the lockdown period.
“We’re really happy that the owner came to us for help when they did. We would much rather people contact us for help and support rather than struggle on and the pets suffer as a result.
“With uncertain times ahead for many people, we’re expecting more owners to need our charity’s help with low cost vet care or to take on a pet they have had to make the difficult decision to rehome.
“We never judge at Blue Cross and know people’s circumstances can quickly change and we’re here to help and support pet owners who are in need and need our help.”
If you would like to make a donation towards the care of homeless pets at Blue Cross or could give a home to pet and to find out more information about the charity visit www.bluecross.org.uk