So you are thinking about rehoming a guinea pig? Good choice, guinea pigs can be very rewarding pets.
Like any animal the more attention, time and care you can give them, the more interaction and entertainment you can get back from them.
Watching a guinea pig exhibit normal behaviour such as ‘popcorning,’ eating and playing in a secure area, will lift most people’s spirits.
Stroking their soft fur and having them sit quietly with you (if they want to!) is a very relaxing experience. They can be very vocal and amusing to listen too, especially when they can hear the fridge door being opened, meaning tasty goodies are on their way.
Will your guinea pigs live indoors or outdoors?
To find the right guinea pig for you, you first need to decide whether you want them to live indoors with you, or outdoors.
If you decide that you want your guinea pig to live indoors with yourself, you will need to find an area for the guinea pig to live. Some people partition part of their room with fencing. The fencing does not need to be too tall, as guinea pigs cannot jump. You could purchase a wooden hutch. Alternatively you can buy special indoor guinea pig cages, but they tend to be on the small side. Buying one designed for rabbits might be the better option.
A litter tray should be available for the guinea pig to use, although they are harder to litter train than rabbits, and the guinea pig must have access to food and water at all times.
Guinea pigs that live indoors will still need a secure area outside, where they will be able to get vitamin D from the sun and be able to exhibit normal behaviours such as grazing. Guinea pigs love to eat fresh grass and you may not need a lawn mower in the future. We would still recommend keeping a guinea pig with a companion of their own kind though.
If you prefer to keep your guinea pig outside then they will definitely need a companion of their own kind. Neutered guinea pigs of the opposite sex make the best matches, although guinea pigs will also live with their own sex quite happily. You can adopt a fully bonded pair of guinea pigs from the rescue centre, which is easier than having to bond them yourself.
They will require adequate outdoor housing. A four foot hutch is the minimum requirement and it may need some insulation to keep it warm in winter and cool in the summer. Some guinea pig hutches come with ramps but most guinea pigs find ramps too difficult to use. Guinea pigs are not natural climbers and can injure themselves by falling from ramps. Often buying one of the larger rabbit hutches is a better idea.
Also if you attach a permanent run to the hutch which is predator safe, the guinea pigs can enjoy more freedom. Some people prefer to secure their garden so that the guinea pigs can free roam during the day, only being put safely back in their hutch/shed at night. The guinea pigs will need lots of hiding places though, so that they can get away from any predators.
If the guinea pigs live outside they will need to be checked on at least twice a day.
What breed of guinea pig is best for you?
Once you have decided about where the guinea pigs will live, the next thing to think about is what breed of guinea pigs would suit you best.
There are long, short or wiry haired breeds. Some of the longer haired breeds require a lot of coat maintenance. The fur will need daily grooming and may need some regular trimming. You can also get Abyssinian guinea pigs which have a wiry coat with rosettes and Rex Breeds which have a fuzzy coat.
Most guinea pigs are friendly if handled enough, regardless of breed.
Young guinea pigs
Another consideration is whether you would want to adopt a baby guinea pig or an older one. We only have babies very occasionally.
The advantage of having younger guinea pigs is that you will be able to bring them up and tame them yourself.
Older guinea pigs
The benefit of adopting an older guinea pig is that you will know their personality straight away. There are guinea pigs that are timid, whereas some guinea pigs are very confident and enjoy human company.
Guinea pigs are naturally better pets for children than rabbits. They tend to freeze when handled and rarely bite and scratch.
When you have decided what guinea pig/s you think would fit in well with your family, you can have a look at the guinea pigs we have available for rehoming and fill in one of our application forms. This can be done by clicking the green “Apply to rehome me” button on the guinea pig’s webpage and filling out the online form, or by visiting our rescue centre and filling out a form in our Reception. You can also talk to our Rabbit and Guinea pig team – we will be happy to try and help you find your forever friend.