We are happy to answer any questions you have via email, however, it may be useful for prospective adopters (and other guinea pig owners!) to have a few of the most commonly asked questions answered here.
What You Need to Know About Us
Q. When can I come and visit the guinea pigs in your care?
A. We can accommodate visits almost any time during the weekend but an evening visit during the week can also be arranged if necessary. Please note that we run the rescue from our family home so you must prearrange a visit.
Q. How much do you suggest for an adoption fee?
A. The size of donation is up to you but we usually suggest a £15 donation for a single guinea pig and £25 for a pair. Every guinea pig is checked by our experienced vet prior to adoption and the adoption fee goes towards this initial expense as well as food and bedding to ensure we can continue to run 'This Little Piggy'.
Q. What is your policy on cages for a pair of guinea pigs?
A. We keep our guinea pigs indoors as foxes are a real threat to guinea pigs and the weather in winter can be too severe for them. However, we do allow guinea pigs to be adopted into outdoor homes if proper precautions for their health and safety are taken.
A pair of guinea pigs need a home with minimum dimensions of 120cm x 60cm x 45cm (length x width x height) to be healthy and happy but the bigger the better, your guinea pigs will definitely appreciate as much space as you can afford to give them! If you have a double story cage please be aware that at least one of the levels will still need to meet this minimum size requirement to allow them to run around unhindered by ramps. We primarily use ferplast cages at 'This Little Piggy' which can easily be bought in stores or online but would highly recommend C&C cages for those of you who don't have dogs or cats. Please place your guinea pigs home in a draft free and quiet environment.
Please note that because we keep our guinea pigs indoors we cannot rehome to outdoor homes from October-April.
Q. How much do you charge for boarding?
A. Please get in touch to discuss prices for boarding, it depends on the number of guinea pigs staying with us and for how long. Any profit raised through boarding helps us fund the guinea pig rescue to ensure we can help more guinea pigs in need in the future. Please be aware that we need advance notice for boarding to ensure we have the space and time available for your piggies.
General Guinea Pig Care
Q. Are a pair of girls better than a pair of boys?
A. We do not find boys any more difficult to keep clean or handle and once they have found a friend they do not fall out any more often than a pair of girls. In fact, a stroppy girl can be more difficult to bond in our experience! It is a bit of a myth that boys are smellier/less friendly/have to live alone. We regularly undertake boar dating here at 'This Little Piggy' if you have a single boar looking for a friend.
Please note that castrating male guinea pigs will not affect their behaviour and so does not aid in bonding male guinea pigs.
Q. What bedding should I use for my guinea pig?
A. Here at 'This Little Piggy' we use several layers of newspaper, a bedding called fitch and lots of fresh hay for our guinea pigs. We find this is the easiest and most cost effective method of bedding for us but we encourage everyone to experiment with different options and see what works best for their home, budget and schedule. It is now fairly well known that the use of woodshavings and sawdust can seriously impact on your guinea pigs long term health so we would advise guinea pig owners to look into different types of bedding such as carefresh, back2nature, newspaper, megazorb or fleece/vetbed/puppypads. It is extremely important your guinea pigs have lots of hay to forage in, regardless of bedding, as it is a great boredom buster and is an essential part of their diet.
If you would like to give fitch a try, we do sell fitch by the bale at £16 (collection only).
Q. How often do I need to clean out their home?
A. At 'This Little Piggy' we gut out the cages every week. On top of this we would recommend a spot clean once or twice a week to keep their home clean and fresh. Guinea pigs tend to toilet under hideys, water bottles and near where they eat.
Q. Can guinea pigs be kept alone/with rabbits?
A. Guinea pigs are social animals and should never be kept alone. Some people are under the impression that once a guinea pig has been alone for some time that they cannot be introduced to new guinea pigs but this is not true and you will honestly see a new side to your pet once they have a friend of their own species. We do not condone keeping a guinea pig with a pet rabbit for numerous reasons but the most important being that a rabbit can easily fatally hurt a guinea pig accidentally or even on purpose. These two species do not have the same dietary requirements and rabbits can carry the bacteria bordetella bronchiseptica which causes respiratory problems in guinea pigs and can be lethal. Although this partnership sometimes works out fine we don't believe the risk is worth it and both animals will be happier and healthier with partners of their own species.
If you need to find a companion for your pet rabbit please get in touch with a rabbit rescue, most will do the bonding for you and there are lots of different ages and breeds in rescues waiting for their forever home.
Q. How long do guinea pigs live?
A. Most guinea pigs live to 5 or 6 years old but some can live more than 10 years! Be aware that you may have your furry friend for longer than expected and they will need a guinea pig companion, care and attention throughout their whole life.
Q. What should I feed my guinea pigs?
A. Guinea pigs need an unlimited supply of hay every day. This is vital for their general health and they must not go without hay at any time. We also feed our piggies a small amount of nuggets (not muesli!) and vegetables daily. Some good brands of dry feed we recommend are burgess excel, science selective and harringtons.
Q. Do guinea pigs need vaccinations?
A. Unlike rabbits, guinea pigs do not need vaccinations. The only regular medical care they require is to get their nails trimmed - it is not difficult to do this at home once you are confident that you know what you are doing! We are always happy to clip a piggies nails for a small donation if you arrange to bring them over to the rescue. We would also suggest a general health check at a guinea pig savvy vet is beneficial roughly every six months to check for internal lumps and teeth. The vet might pick up on an issue which seems normal to you as you see your piggy every day.
If you notice any signs of illness it is essential to take your guinea pig to the vet as soon as possible as guinea pigs are known to hide their illnesses so they could already be quite unwell by the time they exhibit any symptoms and can deteriorate quickly.