This Guinea Pig Appreciation Day, the RSPCA highlights the plight of neglected guinea pigs as it received more than 1,000 about the animals last year.
The RSPCA’s 24-hour cruelty line received 1,337 calls last year regarding concerns for the welfare of guinea pigs and so far in 2019 there have been 555 calls.
Dr Jane Tyson, RSPCA’s rabbit and rodent expert, said: “Our cruelty line receives a lot of calls from members of the public who are concerned for the welfare of guinea pigs, perhaps because they are not getting the care they need from their owners, or maybe they have been found abandoned which we see all too often. So far this year we have had more than 500 calls alerting us to the plight of guinea pigs.
“They are one of the UK’s most misunderstood pets and this is largely because they are seen as an ‘easy first pet’ for children. Guinea pigs make fantastic pets but like all animals they have very complex needs and should be the sole responsibility of a child. Sadly, one of the issues we see is that some guinea pigs are still in small cages with little chance for exercise or human contact, and possibly more importantly no contact with other guinea pigs.
“Guinea pigs are sociable, active animals. They need to live with at least one other friendly guinea pig and benefit from enrichment so it’s important to give them a large space where they can play and explore together. It can also be very fun to come up with unique ways to help your guinea pigs stay entertained and expend some energy. As well as being great for their wellbeing, playing with your piggy can also strengthen the bond between you and your pets.”
To celebrate Guinea Pig Appreciation Day on Tuesday 16 July, the RSPCA gives its top tips on playing with your piggies:
- Provide tunnels for them to run through – they will also make their own if you give them lots of hay.
- Scatter your piggies food s they can spend time searching and sniffing it out.
- Turn cardboard boxes into hidey-holes for them to explore.
- Scrunch up you pieces of paper and hide food inside the parcel for them to unwrap.
- Allow them plenty of space to ‘popcorn’ – this is when they jump off the group and turn in mid-air when they are excited.
- Make mealtimes more interesting by creating sushi for your guinea pigs (video here).
- Make sure you have more than one guinea pig as socialising is a great form or enrichment.
- Why not think about clicker training your guinea pigs? Done correctly this can enhance the bond with your pets.
RSPCA Gonsal Farm Animal Centre in Shropshire has been caring for Tiny Tim, the black and white guinea pig who loves being outside and exploring tunnels.
He desperately needs a home with and owner who can give him lots of love and patience and he would like to be paired with a friendly female.
RSPCA Middlesex North West and South Hartfordshire branch has been caring for a group of guinea pigs who were abandoned in a carboard box in April this year in a West London park.
One of the guinea pigs, Marie Curie loves exploring her tunnels in her run and would be suited to a home with a neutered male guinea pig.
For more information you can visit www.rspca.org.uk