When most people first think about getting a guinea pig, they think pet stores are the best place to get them! However, some of the obvious places, like pet stores, aren’t the only option. They may not even be the best option. In this blog post, we’ll outline some of the best places to get your guinea pig. We’ll also provide some tips on what to look for when choosing where to get your guinea pig from!
Some people buy a guinea pig on impulse after seeing one in a pet store, and others set out to get a guinea pig, but the pet store always seems to be the first stop. There are actually several other resources you can use to get a healthy guinea pig! Let’s take an in depth look at each, starting with the standard pet store.
Pet stores include large commercial chains and smaller individually owned stores. The larger chains are more likely to obtain their cavies (the guinea pig family is the cavy) from a large scale breeder. Does this matter? It can. Animal scientists can tell us that “guinea pigs are “herd” animals. They gather together into groups for survival, and these herd instincts are part of the domesticated guinea pig’s life.
Animal scientists also recommend that guinea pigs be kept with other guinea pigs, and that they should live in an area where they are not isolated. Commercial breeders cannot usually adhere to this. To get the most money for their product (young cavies) they will house the animals in very small enclosures by themselves. This is not ideal for the mental or physical health of the young guinea pig. Once that animal goes to a store to be sold, it may already be in less than ideal condition. Chain pet stores need to maximize profit.
Smaller pet stores may be a more suitable environment and the animals may come from a better breeder. It is not always easy to know the background, though, so we cannot make assumptions without research.
Pros and Cons of Pet Stores for Guinea Pigs:
• Potentially sourced from large scale breeders
• Potentially kept in unhealthy environment
• Potentially sold at higher prices
It is sometimes possible to get a guinea pig directly from a breeder. The large scale commercial breeders typically do not sell to individuals, but smaller businesses may. These are more likely to be found in populous areas. When considering a purchase from a breeder, insist on seeing the area where the guinea pigs are kept. If a breeder refuses to let you see this, it is probably a good time to walk away. Guinea pigs should be in an enclosure with a solid bottom, ample bedding, and enough room to run and play. Each habitat should also have hideys and toys for the guinea pigs. While a 2 breeder may not have this exact setup, a small breeder should be able to have something close enough to be a healthy option. This may come with a cost since the breeder has to keep fewer guinea pigs.
Pros and Cons of Small Breeders:
• Not all breeders provide ideal setting
• Experts in Guinea Pig care and breeding
• Justified, but potentially high cost
Rescues & Shelters
People don’t always consider looks at rescues and shelters for guinea pigs. We tend to associate shelters and rescues with dogs and cats. That said, there are rescues organizations that specialize in small animals like guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, rabbits, mice, rats and others. Shelters like the SPCA and RSPCA try to make this known, but it doesn’t always reach every interested person. Rescues often have the best interests of the 3 animal in mind.
Pros and Cons of Rescues and Shelters
• More likely to maintain a healthy environment
• Many provide veterinary care prior to adoption
• Prices range from low to high depending on resources
(Fun Fact: Dumpling was adopted from a rescue!)
People often adopt a guinea pig or two as a starter pet only to find that they lose interest or their children cannot keep up with care. Individuals who just want to re-home their pets may offer a package deal at low cost to ensure a great new home. These guinea pigs can often be found on social media and on special websites for rehoming of pets.
Pros and Cons of Individual Rehoming
• Low Cost
• Supplies often provided
• Guinea Pigs should be checked by a veterinarian in case of unseen health issues or pregnancy
Guinea pigs make great pets, and when you’re ready to add one to your family, it’s important to do your research first. Consider all the options for where to get a guinea pig and weigh the pros and cons of each. We hope this article has helped you make an informed decision about where to get your new furry friend. No matter what you decide, be sure to find a reputable location with healthy animals!
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