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Guinea Pig Adoption: Where to Buy + Choosing + Preparation

Getting guinea pigs for the first time is exciting, whether for you or your children. I’ve adopted many and can guide you on the best places to buy or adopt guinea pigs, how to choose the right one and prepare for their arrival

For more on care and costs, please read my guide, ‘How to Take Care of a Guinea Pig.’

Long-haired guinea pig at a rescue awaiting adoption
This guinea pig was in a rescue centre awaiting adoption

Where to Buy or Adopt a Guinea Pig

The best place to get a guinea pig is from a rescue centre, rather than a pet shop. Rescue centres specialise in caring for unwanted guinea pigs, providing them with shelter and necessary healthcare until they find a permanent home. 

In the UK, there are many dedicated guinea pig rescues, as well as pet charities like the RSPCA or BlueCross, all of which frequently have guinea pigs of all ages and types, in need of loving homes.

Here are the main reasons why you should adopt a guinea pig from a rescue:

  • Guinea pigs are health-checked thoroughly before adoption.
  • Bonded pairs are available, with assistance provided for bonding if needed.
  • Rescues offer extensive care experience and ongoing support.
  • You can meet and interact with guinea pigs before adoption to ensure a good match.
  • Animals are correctly sexed, preventing unexpected pregnancies.
  • Adopting supports the rescue’s essential work and helps provide food for the animals.
Baby Guinea Pigs In A Rescue Centre
Baby guinea pigs born in a rescue centre from a rescued pregnant female

Buying Guinea Pigs From a Pet Shop

Initially, I bought my guinea pigs from a pet shop, unaware that adoption was an option. 

However, I quickly learned that pet shop advice can be inaccurate and their support limited. Additionally, the frequent mis-sexing of guinea pigs they sell often leads to unexpected pregnancies, creating a dilemma for new owners. 

Pet shops, focused primarily on profit, may engage in unethical breeding practices that can lead to health problems in guinea pigs

Guinea Pig Care Sheets - Printable PDF Download - Checklists, Logs and Information Sheets

Buying Guinea Pigs From Online Advertisements

Purchasing guinea pigs from online advertisements carries risks: lack of reliable advice, support, and health checks, with a high risk of receiving guinea pigs of unintended sex or pregnant ones. 

Adopting from a rescue reduces the number of guinea pigs in shelters and is the most responsible choice, ensuring their welfare and supporting the invaluable work of rescue centres.

CriteriaAdopting from a RescueBuying from a Pet Shop
Health ChecksAnimals are health-checked and often neuteredHealth checks may be minimal or non-existent
Support and AdviceAccess to ongoing support and care adviceOften limited advice and support available
Ethical ConsiderationsSupports animal welfare and reduces overpopulationMay contribute to overbreeding and pet surplus
CostsFees support rescue effortsFees support the pet shop business
Animal WelfarePrioritises the well-being of guinea pigsPrioritises profit over animal welfare
SelectionOffers a range of ages and often bonded pairsLimited selection, often focused on younger animals
Adoption from Rescue Centre vs Buying from Pet Shop
Adopted white albino guinea pig in hideout.
I adopted this white guinea pig from a rescue. She’d been used for breeding.

How Much is a Guinea Pig?

The cost of a guinea pig usually ranges from £20 to £40, though prices can vary. It often costs less per guinea pig when adopting a pair.

However, the initial purchase price is just a small part of the overall expense. Ongoing care costs are considerably more and should be factored into your decision. Learn more about these ongoing costs here >

How To Choose A Guinea Pig

Rescue centres have guinea pigs of all ages, colours, and breeds available for adoption, providing a wide range to choose from.

Two guinea pigs in hay with their treat ball
Two of the guinea pigs I adopted from a rescue centre

Male or Female: Both make excellent pets. Rescues will ensure they are properly bonded. To avoid breeding, never pair a female with an unneutered male. Find more details on pairings here >

Age: Rescues house guinea pigs from babies to seniors. Older guinea pigs might be more suitable for those looking for a shorter commitment and a potentially tamer pet, depending on their history. In contrast, younger guinea pigs are good for a long-term commitment but might need extra time and patience to become accustomed to handling.

Long or Short-Haired: Maintenance needs vary; long-haired guinea pigs require regular grooming, trimming, and bathing, whereas short-haired ones need less upkeep. Your choice should reflect the time and effort you’re willing to invest.

Watch this video to see how a rescue centre works

Should I Get One or Two Guinea Pigs?

Always adopt two guinea pigs, as they need companionship to thrive. Unlike some animals that do well alone, guinea pigs should not be solitary. Reputable rescues or pet shops generally won’t allow adopting just one unless you already have a guinea pig. For more information, visit my page ‘Can Guinea Pigs Live Alone?‘.

Pair of Bonded Guinea Pigs in a Rescue Centre Awaiting Adoption
Pair of bonded guinea pigs in a rescue centre awaiting adoption

What to Consider Before Deciding to Get Guinea Pigs

Before deciding to get guinea pigs, it is important to consider the following points carefully:

  • Time Commitment: Do you have enough time to provide appropriate care?
  • Affordability: Can you afford the ongoing expenses?
  • Holidays: Do you frequently go on holidays or trips? Remember, your guinea pigs will need boarding services during your absence.
  • Allergies: Could you or a household member be allergic to guinea pigs or hay?
  • Space: Do you have ample space for proper guinea pig housing?
  • Long-Term Responsibility: Are you prepared to take over all the guinea pig care tasks if a child loses interest?
  • Housing Situation: Are you planning any house moves, and can your new home accommodate guinea pigs?
  • Gifts: Guinea pigs should not be bought as gifts for someone outside your household. The responsibility and commitment to their care must be a personal decision.
  • Your Family: If expecting a new baby, consider how you will manage guinea pig care with the new arrival?

Guinea Pigs as Christmas Gifts

Due to the busy and often noisy nature of Christmas, it’s not advisable to get guinea pigs as gifts for your children during this time.

Instead, purchase all the necessary accessories as part of the gift and plan a visit to a rescue centre in January when there will be a wide selection of guinea pigs available.

This adds anticipation, excitement and helps you and your child prepare well in advance.

Rescue centres often fill up because many people underestimate the extent of guinea pig care. Make sure you understand the commitment and are ready for lifelong care. Read more about the responsibilities involved in guinea pig care here >

Guinea Piggles Website Thumbnails 6

Bringing Your New Guinea Pigs Home

Before bringing your new guinea pigs home, ensure you’re prepared:

  • Buy all necessary supplies, as listed in our starter kit guide.
  • Select a quiet, safe area in your home, away from noise and other pets, to set up a stress-free space for your guinea pigs.
  • Arrange the enclosure with all accessories beforehand, so it’s ready for your guinea pigs upon arrival. Guidance on cage setup can be found here >
  • Stock up on the appropriate food for your guinea pigs for the initial days.
  • Allow your guinea pigs time to adjust; give them a few hours to explore their new environment before handling them, helping them adjust and familiarise themselves with their new surroundings.
  • Use our illustrated care sheets to help you remember guinea pig care tasks.

Guinea Pig Care Sheets - Printable PDF Download - Checklists, Logs and Information Sheets

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