HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — They’re not from Guinea, or New Guinea, or pigs. Guinea pigs are actually native to the Andes of South America, they’re a type of rodent known as cavies, they’re cute (boy, are they cute!) and they make great pets. company. March is Adopt a Rescued Guinea Pig month.
“I think a lot of people value the personality of a guinea pig over some of the other creatures you might encounter,” said Kristi Kleinfelter, community outreach coordinator for the Humane Society of Harrisburg Area. “If you’re not looking for a huge responsibility like a dog or a cat, a guinea pig can be a good starting point for a first-time pet owner, someone who isn’t looking for a ton of responsibility, but has need her fair share of time, money, love and attention.
Guinea pigs were brought from South America to Europe and North America by European traders in the 16th century. Originally an “exotic” pet, they quickly became popular with all walks of life. Their cuteness, small stature, sweet temperament, cuteness, amusing squeaks, easy care and cuteness endeared them to almost everyone who met them.
Did we mention they’re cute?
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But sometimes being adorable just isn’t enough, and things just don’t work out. “We sometimes get guinea pigs that are given to us by families who can no longer care for them,” Kleinfelter said. There are many reasons to abandon guinea pigs. Sometimes life gets too busy for a pet, or people have to move house and can’t take their guinea pigs with them, or people find they don’t really have enough space for them, or Guineas can even trigger allergies. .
Unfortunately, there are also people who think guinea pigs are disposable. On February 10, a police officer from Swatara Township found eight abandoned guinea pigs abandoned in a parking lot near the Greenbelt. It was a very cold night, and they would probably have frozen to death if they hadn’t been found.
In 2002, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) organized the first National Adopt a Guinea Pig Month to bring attention to guinea pigs in animal shelters.
Kleinfelter says guinea pigs placed in rescues don’t usually stay too long. “I think the average stay for a guinea pig is between one and four weeks, depending on the time of year and who is looking to adopt a guinea pig.”
“A lot of people these days would rather rescue and adopt critters than go to the store and buy them,” she adds, “and there are plenty of guinea pigs out there to rescue locally. If you are looking for a creature to add to your home, we are a great place to start.
If you can’t find a guinea pig at your local rescues, Kleinfelter suggests you visit the petfinder.com app or website. It’s a place where animal rescues post information about their charges, so people can find out more about them before going on long trips. (The Humane Society posted some of its adoptees there.) She demonstrated it on her cell phone.
“For example, I type my ZIP code here and search within a hundred mile radius.” (At this point, over 100 guinea pigs have appeared.)
Oh, and those eight guinea pigs that were abandoned? Swatara Police posted their report on their website and the guinea pigs were all given new homes within hours.