Cost of living crisis blamed for the rise in guinea pigs coming into the RSPCA
The RSPCA has revealed the number of guinea pigs coming into its care between January and August has risen by 90% in the last two years.
The heartbreaking statistics were released as part of Guinea Pig Awareness Week to raise awareness of the suffering faced by hundreds of small furries.
In the first eight months of 2020, the charity's front line officers took in 91 guinea pigs, this rose to 111 in 2021 and already this year, 173 have come into RSPCA care - an increase of 90%.
The RSPCA's recent research through the Animal Kindness Index found that the cost of living crisis is of huge concern for pet owners with 68% of pet owners concerned that the cost of pet care was increasing and 19% worried about how they'll afford to feed their pets.
It's feared the cost of living is contributing to the overall rise in animals being neglected and abandoned.
Already this year the RSPCA has had 445 reports from people worried about guinea pigs - more than half of these were concerns about neglect (241) and 50 were heartbreaking cases of abandonment. These incidents equate to more than 50 incidents per month involving almost 350 guinea pigs.
As well as guinea pigs the RSPCA is seeing this problem replicated across the country with all species of animal. As part of the charity's Cancel Out Cruelty campaign, the RSPCA has revealed that it received more than 100 reports of pets being abandoned every single day throughout 2021.
Rescue guinea pigs ready for their forever home
In August this year, the RSPCA appealed for information about two guinea pigs who were abandoned in West Yorkshire. A local business worker noticed a red shoebox in the woods and was surprised to find a guinea pig inside, before noticing a second among the grass and leaves outside the box.
An RSPCA inspector took the guinea pigs to RSPCA Manchester & Salford, where the animal care team is treating them for lice. Nicknamed Brenda (long-haired guinea pig) and Myrtle (black and white) by the staff, they'll now receive plenty of TLC, until they're ready to be rehomed.
Lola, Willow and Ruby came into RSPCA care as their owners moved and couldn't take them with them. The three guinea pigs are very nervous but super sweet and are looking for a home together.
They can be shy when being handled and may run away and hide when you approach them. However, if you sit quietly, the girls will eventually come out of their hiding spots and may even take a treat from your hand!
For this reason, the guinea pigs will need time to settle in their new home but they've bags of potential to become wonderful additions to their new family.
Rehoming is also slowing down across the RSPCA as a result of the cost of living crisis - pre-pandemic in 2019, the charity rehomed 176 guinea pigs while in 2020 this number dropped to 109, in 2021. Currently, just 95 have found new homes this year.
RSPCA companion animal expert Dr Jane Tyson said:
It's heartbreaking to think of all the unwanted pets out there, we do sympathise with people struggling at the moment due to the cost of living but we would urge anyone worried about costs associated with their pets to reach out for help.
Friends, family, local charities, and vet charities can all provide support but it's never the answer to just dump an animal or neglect one.
Sadly many more than we've space for are waiting to come into our centres.
Guinea pigs are misunderstood animals, they're often bought for children who can lose interest but they've very complex needs and a relatively long life span.
They're social animals and need plenty of space to roam around in, they can make very rewarding pets but they're a responsibility and a commitment.
Want to learn more about these cute animals? Check out our advice on guinea pigs and understand more about what sort of pet they make.
To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please donate online or call our donation line on 0300 123 8181.