The RSPCA is urging families to think before they buy a guinea pig after a huge increase in neglect and cruelty cases involving the furry animals.
Already this year, 250 have been reported as abandoned to the RSPCA with 1,402 reported over the last three years.
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Pet welfare expert at the RSPCA, Dr Jane Tyson, said: “Guinea pigs are one of the most misunderstood animals owned by households today.
“Sometimes they are housed with rabbits which is a completely inappropriate way to keep them and may be kept in accommodation that is far too small to meet their welfare needs.
“Rabbits and guinea pigs are traditionally seen as appropriate pets to buy a child but they actually have very complex welfare needs and serious thought must be given before committing to getting any pet.
“Sadly once people realise the reality of owning them they can become quickly bored and that is one reason why we end up in a situation where our inspectors are having to collect neglected animals."
More information on the needs of guinea pigs can be found on the RSPCA’s website. The RSPCA also rehomes guinea pigs - if you think you can offer a loving forever home you can see all the details on the RSPCA’s Find a Pet page.
RSPCA animal collection officer Kate Wright said: “That’s why we always urge people to think carefully before taking on any pet and to seriously consider whether they have the time and the finances to care for them for their whole lives."
Four guinea pigs were abandoned in a box and dumped on the street in Liverpool but thankfully a passer-by heard their "wheeking". They were rescued by the RSPCA in March and cared for by the charity's Manchester and Salford branch.
Three young guinea pigs were also dumped in a box in Manchester and now need a home.
If you can help, call 0161 882 0680 option 4.