This Guinea Pig Appreciation Day (Tuesday 16 July) the RSPCA highlights the plight of neglected guinea pigs with 69 calls from Wales coming through to its cruelty line about guinea pigs last year.
The RSPCA’s 24-hour cruelty line received 69 calls last year in Wales regarding concerns for the welfare of guinea pigs and so far in 2019 there have been 45 calls (up to July 8). Last year there were 1,250 calls across England and Wales.
Over the Christmas period last year eight guinea pigs were abandoned in a rural car park near Abergavenny. It was thought the guinea pigs – who were all quite young but of various ages – were likely to have been dumped in between Christmas Day and New Years Eve.
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 across England and Wales 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 can make fantastic pets but like all animals they have very complex needs and should never be the sole responsibility of a child. Sadly, one of the issues we see is that some guinea pigs are still kept 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 pet piggy can also strengthen the bond between you and your pets.”
To celebrate Guinea Pig Appreciation Day, the RSPCA gives its top tips on playing with your piggies:
Provide tunnels for your piggies to run through – they will also make their own if you give them lots of hay
Scatter your piggies food so they can spend time searching and sniffing it out
Turn cardboard boxes into hideyholes for them to explore
Scrunch up 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)
Make sure you have more than one guinea pig as socialising is a great form of enrichment
Why not think about clicker training your guinea pigs? Done correctly this can enhance the bond with your pets.
RSPCA Bryn-Y-Maen Animal Centre is currently looking for homes for Moss and Stirling who are two lovely little guinea pigs who have not had the best start in life. They are both a little shy through lack of handling in their previous home, but they have made steady progress whilst in RSPCA care.
Animal centre manager Victoria Williams said: Moos and Stirling are simple adorable. They are looking for a clued up owner who understands that they will need time, patience and consistency to really come into their own.
“What they are looking for is a family who can really help to build their confidence and show them what a loving home can be like.”
Anyone keen to meet them is urged to head down to the RSPCA Bryn-Y-Maen centre at Upper Colwyn Bay (LL28 5EJ) – open between 11am-4pm every day except Wednesday. They also can be contacted via 0300 123 0745.