Perhaps because of the perilous misconception that guinea pigs, or cavies, make great “starter pets” for children, these fragile animals, along with other small exotic animals, such as hedgehogs, sugar gliders, prairie dogs, jerboas, and spiny mice, have become popular “pocket pets.” Despite their popularity, guinea pigs aren’t worth as much as a bag of dog food to the stores that peddle them. Pet stores’ negligent policies often result in cruel mistreatment of guinea pigs. PETA has received reports of pet store managers’ instructing their staff not to seek veterinary care for sick guinea pigs, guinea pigs’ being shipped to pet stores when they were too young to be weaned, guinea pigs with fungus around their eyes and noses, guinea pig habitats teeming with mites, and guinea pigs’ dying from mistreatment and neglect.
How to Spot NeglectLook for the following signs of neglect:
See PETA’s factsheet “Pet Shops: No Bargain for Animals” for more information on alerting authorities to possible abuse or neglect.
AdoptionIf you’re willing to open your home to one or, preferably, two guinea pigs, please adopt from a shelter or rescue group—two are listed below. Before you do, be prepared to care for your guinea pig for as long as seven years or more and to spend about $20 per week on food, hay, bedding, etc. An exotic-animal veterinarian will need to see the guinea pig annually and can also help with regular nail trimming—a must. If you are housing a male and female together, you must also first have them sterilized. However, spay/neuter surgeries are more dangerous to perform on small animals, so it is preferable to house females with other females and males with no more than one other male—three or more males together will fight.
Provide your guinea pig with the following:
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.