Written by Holly Jones: From a young age I have kept guinea pigs and rabbits and they are wonderful pets and part of the family. Since having my own children, I haven’t had any small furries and when my eldest turned 3 she started asking for a pet of her own. Myself and my Husband thought she may still be too young so put the idea off for a while. Then I came across a post from ARC….they were looking for guinea pig fosterers in the local area.
After a discussion with Nicole (Guinea Pig Coordinator) we realised this would be the ideal way to expose our children to guinea pigs but also helping out a local charity and not adding more pets into an already busy industry.
The process to become a fosterer was really straightforward and everything we needed was provided by the charity. Within weeks we had our hutch built and were ready to welcome our first pair of piggies.
Welcoming New Arrivals
Our first pair came to us for a holiday as their fosterer was going away. Our daughter was smitten instantly and loved feeding, stroking and caring for Pepe and Tufty.
Depending on where your arrivals come from will depend what happens at the first stage. If taking directly from their old owner there is a simple form to fill in and it is important to try and find out as much information as possible about the guinea pigs including age, gender, personality traits, medical history and favourite foods.
It is important to allow them time to settle in so lots of strokes and attention isn’t always suitable straight away. It is important to ensure they are eating, drinking and that their poo is normal.
A vet check is completed as soon as possible to ensure their health is good and to see suitability for adoption.
Then it’s time to enjoy spending time with the pigs, providing photos and information to ensure they can be uploaded to the website as soon as possible for adoption.
Equipment and Food
A suitable size hutch is very important and many pet shops sell homes which are below the minimum requirement needed for guinea pigs. The use of sawdust is not recommended as this can cause respiratory issues however megazorb or fleece is suitable.
Guinea pigs need lots of enrichment and places places hide and these don’t need to be expensive! Cardboard that you would normally recycle can be great for chewing and boxes to make hideaways.
Hay and grass make up the bulk of their diet with a small portion of suitable nuggets and a handful of fresh veg a day. Seperate bowls for food and water are a must to avoid any dominance or arguments.
Whilst guinea pigs should be kept indoors throughout the colder weather, an outdoor hutch can be used in the summer and regular time out in a run of grass is beneficial too.
The Adoption Process
Potential adopters have a home check and need to provide images of their set up before being able to adopt any of the pigs at ARC. This ensures they are getting suitable loving homes.
Viewing happen at the fosterers home and this allows some time for potential adopters to view the guinea pigs in their environment. Cuddles and strokes can be given if suitable for the individual pigs.
Once given the go ahead, donations are paid and the forms signed to officially complete an adoption.
Since our first of holiday piggies we have welcomed another 2 pairs into our home and our first pair have recently been adopted and left for their forever home!
Being greeted in the morning by their little squeaks as we bring them breakfast is lovely and they enjoy the attention and strokes from my little ones too.
Feeding, grooming & cleaning their hutches are all part of our daily routine as a family and they become part of the family even though they may only be with you for a short amount of time!
This is the most rewarding of experiences and I love every second!