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Guinea Pigs: Adopting vs. Buying


As the most prominent guinea pig rescue founder in America, I deal with the unwanted, discarded, and (sometimes literally) thrown-away guinea pigs of the Los Angeles area. We're the only sizeable guinea pig rescue in the area. Therefore, we are also the primary resource for the 22 years it's been in operation. We've seen it all. 

At any given time, we have 250+ guinea pigs, of which 150 are adoptable. The other 100 either live in our sanctuary due to age or health condition or are on pregnancy watch. Currently, we have more than eight mama pigs with litters of babies and another 40 who are suspected pregnant. 

Adult Pigs at LA Guinea Pig Rescue

📷: LA Guinea Pig Rescue

There is never enough space. This is the plight of every animal rescue. We must be realistic and allocate our space and resources wisely, which unfortunately means we can’t accept every guinea pig we want. 

I often hear that people had no idea rescues for guinea pigs existed. After they went to the pet store, most people then started doing research on their new pet. It’s then that they find one of my YouTube videos or articles. Most of those families come to the rescue with their new guinea pig for the health checks through our low-cost veterinary clinic.

They feel terrible they bought instead of adopted, but they didn’t know. There isn’t enough awareness about guinea pig rescues—there aren’t enough guinea pig rescues, either. In contrast, pet stores are plentiful. Most of the big-name brand stores carry a selection of guinea pigs and other live animals for sale. 

The guinea pig and the live animal trade industries are full of misery. The cute babies from the pet stores come from extensive warehouse-type breeding facilities. Inside, there are row-upon-row of breeding guinea pigs, churning out litter after litter. The baby pigs are then put in small boxes and transported to the various stores...just like puppy mills.

Baby guinea pigs at the rescue

📷: LA Guinea Pig Rescue

Most all babies do not receive proper nutrition. In fact, none of them receive adequate nutrition. A crucial part of a guinea pig's diet is fresh greens—lots of vitamin C-packed fresh herbs, fruits, and veggies. Malnutrition is a primary reason we see an awful lot of babies at the rescue with Ringworm and/or Upper Respiratory Infections. 

There’s a video on my YouTube channel with my tell-it-like-it-is thoughts on the guinea pig trade. 

Pet stores do not feed them the minerals and vitamins they need to stay healthy and grow. Care instructions given at the time of purchase are minimal and likely inadequate and incomplete. Most pet stores do not sell the proper sized cages but will sell you one anyway. These tiny cages are woefully insufficient! Now you have a possible sick pet, an over-prized cage that is too small, and incorrect care instructions. 

Too small guinea pig cage

The guinea pig and live animal trade is a sad trade. Now that you know about it, please adopt instead of purchasing. Small Pet Select has an Animal Rescue Locator tool that can help you find a rescue near you. If you’re in a part of the country that doesn’t have a shelter or rescue, try Craigslist or Offer Up. 

Some people suggest buying from “ethical” breeders. But how do you know that the breeder is a good one? You don’t. So don’t support them. There are already guinea pigs in need of a homing! Mummy groups, apps like Next Door, or the neighborhood Facebook group are all great places to find a guinea pig or two looking for a new home.

And remember, guinea pigs need company, so get more than one.

Guinea pigs sharing watermelon

📷: LA Guinea Pig Rescue

Girl pigs can live happily in a group or two or more, but boys like to keep the herd at two. Too many boys, and they start squabbling and even fight.  

In closing, I have a few other tips for you.

  • Make sure your guinea pig cage is large enough—the bigger, the better! Also, check out my YouTube about proper cage sizing.
  • Additionally, guinea pigs aren't the best option as a starter pet for kids. Cats and dogs are easier to care for and more well-suited for children. 

I’m excited for you on your new adventure as a guinea pig parent. I hope you will enjoy your adorable furries as much as I enjoy ours every single day. 

Much *wheek* *wheek* love,

Saskia Chiesa

Founder/Director, Los Angeles Guinea Pig Rescue

We're all ears graphic

DISCLAIMER: The links and information are being provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by Small Pet Select of any of the products, services or opinions of the corporation or organization or individual.

Interested in checking out some of Saskia's pages? Click Below!

Los Angeles Guinea Pig Rescue

Saskia's YouTube Channel

Saskia's Instagram

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