Guinea pigs, that is (not that I think you should buy dogs or cats–YOU SHOULDN’T, but guinea pigs are what I’m thinking of, since I’ve been lurking Guineapigcages.com and its accompanying message board lately.
Why adopt, instead of buying?
- Like cats and dogs, there are homeless guinea pigs everywhere. Maybe not in a shelter or rescue. Maybe they belong to someone who is no longer able to take care of them and is holding onto them for the right owner to come along.
- Guinea pigs at pet stores (and probably other animals like mice, rats, chinchillas and reptiles) are stuffed into too-small cages that are more like aquariums, which give little ventilation (which is kinda ridiculous, since even our fish have a bigger aquarium than they do). Yes, PETCO and Petsmart, I’m looking at you. And YOU Local Non-Chain Pet Store That I Will Talk About Later On in This List.
- Most pet stores give misleading info about guinea pigs (ex. will tell customers than a cage of 2-4 square feet is good for them (they aren’t)).
- Everything the OP here mentioned.
- Breeders supply the animals, often keeping their sows pregnant to have more babies, which is very hard on them (sows have a 20% mortality rate while pregnant). The animals are put in their too-small cages at the pet stores. It doesn’t matter apparently if they’re sick or infested with mites, because people will still buy them (after feeling sorry for them). Another guinea pig will be produced to take its place. In the meantime, said pet store will notice that even sick animals sell and not bother to keep their animals healthy.
- What’s more (and I just found this out a while ago), “As has been mentioned, the only reason the animals are in the store are these: […] as entertainment to draw people, kids especially, into the store, where the kid pressures of “mommy, I want one” kick in, and it also reminds them to buy their dog/cat supplies when they are in the store. They never make actual money on the sale of the animal, so the price you pay or don’t pay for the animal is meaningless.” (emphasis is mine) So only buying pet supplies only isn’t going to make them stop (as I previously thought). Once they find that their ploy of using live animals as lure is no longer working, they’ll take said live animals out.
- SOMETIMES the pet store will do something like not separating the males and females, which causes them to produce more guinea pigs. Sometimes they’ll even sell the sow while she is still pregnant and demand that the customer either return the babies when they’re born or pay for them. Both guinea pig and human gets screwed over. (The independent pet store near my house not only does that, but also houses rabbits with their gpigs. Which is a no-no.)
Where to go now for pet supplies? Well…
Hay & Pellets
- feed stores—For hay if you have the room, you can buy an entire bale! For about half the price as the bagged hay in stores! Since guinea pigs tend to go through their hay like water, it’s best to find hay at cheap prices
- petless pet stores–or what most people call them, “pet supply stores” or “pet stores that doesn’t sell pets”, but “petless pet stores” is so much more fun to say. There might be one in your area!
- KMS Hayloft—Online only I have heard so many good things about this hay (very fresh, green, soft, etc). I don’t think she ships outside of the US…Shipping might look expensive ($11.96 to California), but depending on where you live, it might be cheaper than to buy it from a petless pet store (hay + shipping of KMS compared to the cost + tax of Oxbow hay from the local petless pet store). Pellets on the other hand, can be shipped internationally, but it’s verrrry expensive.
Misc supplies (bedding, bowls, water bottles, hay racks, etc)
- eBay and Amazon–read the reviews or ask other experienced pet owners if you think a particular product might be good for your pet. (Also in the case of eBay, check the seller’s feedback rating and the reviews people left for particular items. A good feedback score to look for is 98% or above.)
- Target, Kmart, Walmart, Costco, 99c Store, 2nd hand stores, etc–people found that items like small bowls or dishes make good food bowls. The first four also sell pet supplies.
(The only things you really need for a guinea pig are hay, pellets, water bottle/bowl, food bowl, hidey house, tunnels and wood chews, most of which are covered above. Things like yogurt drops, edible logs/huts and salt wheels are bad for them.)
I used to want to work at a pet store, so I could help care for the animals. But then I realized, that if I did that, I would have to give customers advice on caring for their pets using the store’s idea of good animal care. “This 2 square foot cage would be good for your guinea pig” and not “None of the cages here are large enough for even a single guinea pig. Your best bet is to make one yourself. Go to guineapigcages.com for more info.” Yus, that will go well with the bosses.
Btw #2, some of you might know that I bought my guinea pig, Mocha at Petsmart. She was very paranoid and her ears were shredded along the edges. Yes, I’m happy I’m giving her a better life now that she is under my care, but at the same time, another guinea pig took her place at the store (probably also just as paranoid and abused). And if someone else buys him/her, another will take their place. See my point? Stop the madness. >:O Adopt, don’t buy.
Edit // 2020.10.11
Added Sherwood Pet Health to the list of recommended pellet brands.