Duchess is a sassy redhead that eats her vegetables, loves to roll in the hay and views the world from the top of a four-legged yellow step stool. She’s a lucky guinea pig that was adopted from Marin Humane, along with her companion, Charcoal.
Guinea pigs come in all sizes and hair styles, from the American Cross smooth hair to the Sheltie whose flowing mane makes many jealous. And just like any animal, they have unique personalities — from feisty to shy from loving to silly.
March is Adopt a Guinea Pig month and here are 11 reasons to consider adopting one:
• They love companionship. Guinea pigs are social, herd animals that normally do better and are much happier in pairs. They’ll still bond with you even if they have a companion, and by having two they won’t get lonely when you’re not around.
• They don’t need a lot of supplies. The basic set-up is hay (choose a type like Timothy hay, which helps their digestive system), pellets, a tunnel to hide in and a good size cage. All pet supply stories (including the one at Marin Humane) stocks these.
• They help you meditate. Holding their little bodies on your lap is quite soothing and their gentle coos provide a great soundtrack.
• They eat their vegetables. Guinea pigs cannot produce vitamin C, so they eat lots of greens high in vitamin C, which is critical for them to stay healthy.
• They love to exercise. Give them an hour of play time outside their cage and your pigs will stay happy both physically and mentally. A small room to explore, like a bathroom or long hallway, keeps them from getting bored.
• They don’t care for expensive toys. A nice paper tube serves as a tunnel and place to hide (those big exercise balls can cause spinal, foot and ankle injuries).
• They don’t need a brush or comb. Unless you have a long-haired pig, such as a Sheltie, their hair is easy to manage and they can style it themselves.
• They don’t need baths. Pigs are naturally clean animals so no need to bathe them (besides, they can easily contract colds and pneumonia if bathed).
• They love annual check-ups. Guinea pigs live five to seven years on average so yearly check-ups are a must to check their teeth, heart, and skin. Marin Humane can supply you with a list of veterinarians who specialize in guinea pigs.
• They have a delightful way of communicating, especially when you open the refrigerator, which is their cue that something good is coming their way. They speak in squeaks, chortles, grunts, wheeks, purrs, rumbles, coos and chirps!
• They love being indoors. We do not recommend outside play time, as guinea pigs can be easy prey for others, pick up parasites and poisons, or escape from the yard.
To learn more about guinea pigs, sites like CavySpirit.org have a wealth of information. Or, contact our resident small companion animal evaluator, Suzanne Gollin, at 415-506-6235 or email@example.com. Gollin can answer questions about guinea pig care and will even clip your guinea pigs’ nails for free. And if you’re interested in becoming a small companion animal volunteer, go to marinhumane.org/volunteer.