We know that the environment and the complexity of the environment has a profound effect on neurodevelopment in many species. It is time that we stop keeping “pocket pets” in small cages that are sold in pet stores with one or two of the same objects in those cages.
After seeing a guinea pig on Friday at my daughter’s daycare being kept in one of these standard cages (which are too small) it reminded me that too many people underestimate what these pets NEED to have a good quality of life.
I literally could not sleep as I was thinking of all these pocket pets in cages that are too small and devoid of any enriching activities. Unfortunately, most people assume pet stores carry optimal supplies for pets when in reality this is not the case for all pet stores.
Guinea pigs have amazing personalities and are tons of fun if they are given the opportunity to develop and express that personality. All to often, these amazing animals are confined to a cage with no stimulation. Simply feeding them and cleaning their cage is not enough. Imagine how dull a dog or cat would be if they were kept in a cage their whole life simply getting food, water, the occasional toy and that’s it! Just because a pet is small, they are no less deserving of a good quality of life.
Below is a link that gives people very practical and easy ways to build a cage/pen for their guinea pigs that will allow them to have more room than standard store-bought cages. This is one area where bigger is better! This site also gives some ideas for enrichment etc…Please be sure to check with your veterinarian about diet, bedding etc….
I have decided that part of my responsibility is to offer “welfare checks” for people who own “pocket pets”. I can offer recommendations on housing changes, toys, enrichment activities etc… If you want this, please just call us and we will accommodate you in any way we can. We can certainly do this by phone and email so we can reach as many of these little guys as possible!
By the way, I have informed the daycare that I will gladly take the guinea pig home with me on weekends if they would allow that. So…I too will be making my own cage this week in hopes I will have a weekend visitor!