An RSPCA centre is appealing for help to rehome nearly 100 guinea pigs – many of them babies.
The charity took 63 of the animals in as part of a rescue last year, but their numbers have swelled after it emerged several were pregnant.
Staff and volunteers at the Leybourne-based charity have been caring for the pets for the last three months.
Earlier plans to find new homes for them had to be put on hold when the guinea pigs sadly contracted a contagious ringworm infection.
The animals, all aged from three to six months, needed to be quarantined and nursed by staff wearing PPE.
It proved to be a major operation as half of the initial intake of 63 guinea pigs who arrived at the centre in November were pregnant females.
They have since given birth to litters and numbers have now risen to 93.
All of the animals, which were removed from a farm in the East Midlands, have been given a clean bill of health and are ready to find loving new owners.
Manager Darren Parrish says it would be preferred if people can take on mixed male and female pairs.
“Our staff have worked extremely hard as not only have the numbers of guinea pigs soared over the course of the last eight weeks, but when we took them into the centre they tested positive for ringworm,” he explained.
“We had planned to place them with foster carers very quickly as part of the rehoming process.
“But they have needed medical treatment, which has meant quarantining the guinea pigs and our staff have worn PPE when handling them.
“They were medicated daily and we followed a strict cleaning regime which has meant throwing everything away and stripping out all their bedding.
“But we had had a huge response from the local community, who have helped us make life comfortable for the guinea pigs.
“There were generous donations of hay and newspapers for bedding as well as feed and veg. It’s amazing what we can achieve together for animal welfare.
“Now we’ve been given the all-clear to rehome them and we’ve got a lot to find homes for.
“Rehoming is such an important part of our work to create a better world for every animal.”
They are looking for owners who can invest time and resources into looking after their guinea pigs. The small animals have complex needs and are not easy or cheap to care for well.
Potential owners need to be ready to offer suitable-sized accommodation, with a minimum size of 5ftx2ft floor space and they must demonstrate a long-term commitment.
The pets’ cages should also contain a range of enrichment toys and tunnels so they can exhibit their natural inquisitive behaviour.
They will also need a high fibre diet and as the guinea pigs have been raised indoors it is preferred they go to indoor homes or heated sheds at this time of the year.
Guinea pigs are very social animals and need to live in pairs or groups.
Anyone interested in adopting can get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org. They must email photos of their accommodation and fill in a perfect match form by clicking here.
Darren says there have been requests to take on the female guinea pigs, but the centre is primarily looking at applications from people who want mixed pairs.
He added: “Although some people might think guinea pigs are an easy pet to care for, that is far from the reality and people do need to do a bit of research so they can look after their new pets properly.
“We recommend specific accommodation sizes as often it’s the case people don't think guinea pigs need much living space, which they do and they also need a good sized run to exercise.
“They also need a constant supply of vegetables and greens as their bodies are different to rabbits, for example, who can take on board vitamin C.”