What is a guinea pig rescue?




Rescues may hold open days promoting guinea pig friendly products such as those made by Gorgeous Guineas

  • What should the role of a rescue be?

Guinea Pig Welfare believes rescues have an extremely important role in the guinea pig community. As they are often looked upon as a good and beneficial source, the responsibility of accuracy of information and education is paramount.

Rescues are often trusted because they have simply done well in rescuing a guinea from a bad or unacceptable situation, what happens next defines the real quality of the rescue.

Rescues can be really useful in providing basic services such as nail clipping, bathing and maybe holiday boarding time and space permitting. They will be able to provide details of a local vet (name, not just the surgery) and local suppliers. A good rescue will be the source of local reputable sources. When I ran Reading Guinea Pig Rescue (now closed) I only knew of pet shops and the local vets had, like most vets, very little experience with guinea pigs. I sourced a local farm shop and eventually worked with 2 local pet shops. The local vets became more familiar with guinea pigs and the knock on effect of me recommending them meant even more familiarity with guinea pigs but even better it encouraged other guinea pig owners in the area to build a relationship with their local vet and further guinea pig care so they had a source even closer to them.

Good boarding facilities for guinea pigs are very hard to find, those that are good are often booked up, a rescue, with all their local resources can and do help out in this area.


  • What are the basic guidelines a rescue must adhere to in order to be a reputable source?

The basic guidelines are quite simply The Animal Welfare Act, (UK), that is ALL the 5 Freedoms, and including the “specific guidance” that the RSPCA and DEFRA also recommend owners to follow. Only adhering to some of the 5 freedoms is denying guinea pigs their basic rights to a suitable home.

  • What is/can the rescue movement do to improve the life of guinea pigs in general?

The rescue “movement” have a lot of power at their fingertips. They will see vets more than the average guinea pig owner and therefore can build a useful relationship with a willing vet and increase the knowledge of guinea pigs in the veterinary world. Vets are the only network legally allowed to treat guinea pigs in the UK and owners are legally obliged to take their animals to a vet if they suspect they are ill. Why waste time taking an ill guinea elsewhere as the window of opportunity for recovering is often small and the sooner treatment begins the better it is for the guinea pig. This is especially true of , for example, what might appear to be a urinary tract infection that turns out to be a stone, only a vet can x ray, operate and provide drugs (UK) for guinea. Time is of the essence and shouldn’t be wasted. Therefore all rescues can improve the wellbeing of guinea pigs in their community by working with their vet.

If they wish to do more they can access their vet’s clients by liaising with their vet about holding open days to educate the general public regarding basic care. This has also been done by guinea pig enthusiasts who are not rescues.

The extent of the information a rescue provides is irrelevant, that it is up to date and accurate, quality information is relevant. Whilst basic care will remain, for the most part, the same, progress is being made all the time. New and different beddings are available for instance, whilst shavings and any wood based bedding has always been harmful there hasn’t always been a lot of alternatives. These days there is no excuse,  there are many alternatives and a lot of rescues will not rehome to a home that uses a wood based bedding because they are aware of the potential issues. It is like housing a guinea pig with a rabbit (you shouldn’t!!!), many rabbits and guinea pigs have lived together without issues, but they would have been happier with friends of their own and why take an unnecessary risk?

  • Should guinea pig rescues just focus their attention on guinea pig enthusiasts or should they be accessible to all?

Guinea pig enthusiasts probably already have access to sources of information, guinea pig pet owners in the general community are often the most in need of information. Rescues should, however, where possible, be sharing accurate information with all but making a special effort to reach those that may not know where to look for information. This is where a good relationship with a vet is useful, to be able to refer their clients to a good source of information is beneficial to them. Vets may see lone guinea pigs and recommend the Human takes their guinea to the local rescue to find a friend for example.

  • Are rescues regulated? If not should they be and what should the regulations be?

Currently in the UK there are no regulations regarding the actual rescue of guinea pigs, there are regulations surrounding the use of premises etc that should be considered before starting a rescue among the many other considerations.

Ideally guinea pig rescues would be inspected regularly to ensure they are not overcrowded, keeping to the Animal Welfare Act 5 Freedoms and specific guidance and are rehoming to Animal Welfare Act compliant homes. It is unlikely this will happen though and it is up to rescues to set the standards themselves, to limit the amount they take in and rehome to quality homes and not just for the sake of finding a guinea pig a home.

  • Do enough businesses support guinea pig rescues and do rescues support businesses enough?

Whilst it needs to be remembered that businesses are outfits that need to make money it has been shown by Gorgeous Guineas and The Hay Experts that running a successful business and supporting rescue work can go hand in hand. Both are ethical businesses, they practise what they believe. The Hay Experts only stock rabbit and guinea pig friendly products and Gorgeous Guineas are constantly improving their already effective skincare products and developing new ones. When Reading Guinea Pig Rescue (now closed) took in 18 fungal guinea pigs Gorgeous Guineas stepped in and offered to help when both veterinary products and recommended products by another source proved to be too harsh and were ineffective. All the affected guinea pigs recovered and, along with Thistle Cavies, Reading Guinea Pig rescue played their part in the development of the Gorgeous Guineas’ products. As time went on more rescues chose to support this guinea pig friendly business that also kept guinea pigs and could give advice based on experience. An outstanding feature of this skincare business is the advice they give freely and promptly.

Guinea Pig Welfare has been “accused” of being an advert for Gorgeous Guineas, indeed it is! Any business that promotes accurate care and supports the rescue cause gets our support.

We have been asked by a British pet store company if we would advertise them on our site and receive payment, unfortunately they could not or would not make the changes needed in order to feature.

Rescues are advising lots of people, it is important that businesses are supported for the right reasons and the right businesses are encouraged to continue.

  • Should we support all rescues because they are quite simply a rescue with good intentions? Is that always enough?

All rescues should be supported and helped but those that refuse to listen to good advice unfortunately do not always warrant continued support. Good intentions are a fantastic start but along with that good listening is a must…

Rainbow at a Piggy PM with products sold by The hay Experts

Rainbow at a Piggy PM with products sold by The Hay Experts



March 31, 2013   Posted in: Inside The Hutch, March 4 Rescue Guineas, Planet Guinea, Rescue