A Guinea Pig's 12 Pleas For Owners
- Please save me. There are guinea pig shelters and rescues. Find me in one of them. Do not buy me from a pet store or a breeder.
- Please do not keep me alone. I can and will feel lonely. I need a companion. Think of me. You want me, you must follow my needs.
- Please bring me in your home. The outdoors is no place for a creature as small and vulnerable as I am. Keep me warm in the winters and cool in the summers. Keep me in a room where you and your family are most often in so you can see and remember me. Keep me in a room where I can know you are there, and be reassured.
- Please provide me with a spacious cage. Keep me in a cage roomy enough for me to run and popcorn and rumblestrut in as much as I desire. In a small cage you will be bored with me because I cannot move. I cannot be happy in an inadequate space and will not get the exercise I require.
- Please know what I need to eat. Feed me hay that is green and fragrant and soft. I need it to wear my teeth down and to aid my digestion. I need plenty of vegetables that are green and leafy and high in Vitamin C, which I, like you, cannot produce for myself. The pellets you feed me need to be plain and high quality. Make sure the water in my bottle is clean and change out my water bottle every morning so when I take a drink, the water will be cool and fresh.
- Please do not leave me in my cage all day long or I will become bored and depressed. Take me out to play and explore and run around. Make sure the room you choose for me is secure from electrical wires and holes where I can disappear in. Make sure the room I play in is safe from your dogs and cats and any other pets you may have.
- Please do not give me an exercise wheel or a roll-around ball. These toys can hurt my back and my feet. I am content with paper bags and folded-over newspaper. I enjoy towel tents. I like tunnels and hidey houses where I can get away from things that frighten me.
- Please groom me. My nails need to be clipped and my fur, when dirty, needs to be shampooed with a product designed to clean my fur safely. If I have long hair, you need to trim and brush me to keep me clean.
- Please do not leave my care to a child. I cannot be taken care of by a child. I am not a play thing. I am not a toy you take home on a child's whim. I am not a gift or a reward. It is your responsibility to take care of me, to feed me, to clean my cage. Let your child hold me on his or her lap and pet me under supervision only. I have fragile bones and teeth that easily break. Though I am small, I need strong hands to hold me.
- Please love me. Be patient with me. I am a fearful prey animal. With time and love, I will gradually open up, and once I do, there is no looking back. All I require are gentleness and patience. I am not like a dog who shows affection freely and obviously. I show you my recognition and gratitude in ways so small and subtle that you may miss them if you don't look closely.
- Please know me and my ways. Like any other living, breathing being, I can get ill. But unlike predators, I hide my illness and weakness in order to survive. It is your responsibility to keep track of my weight and to notice when I am cold and when I am overheated. Know my body and the feel of my fur. Know my eyes' brightness and my ears' sensitivity. Notice when my health is failing me. For my sake, know me.
- Please make my aging years as comfortable as possible. Though I am old, a health problem does not mean it is the end for me. Take me to a vet, just as you would if I were a couple years younger. The age I am is no excuse to miss a trip to the vet. Perhaps five to seven years is just a blink to you but it is my whole lifetime. I am grateful for all the years you cared enough to want the best for me.
Written by Sabrina Speranza
(Pooka and Pixie)