Current welfare state of pet guinea pigs in the UK

Amber Jade Harrup, Nicola J. Rooney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Abstract

Background: Little research has been carried out into how guinea pigs are cared for in the UK, and information regarding potential welfare issues is sparse. This study was designed to examine the five welfare needs, collecting data on the extent to which these are each met by a sample of UK guinea pig owners.

Methods: A survey of 4590 owners was conducted.

Results: Guinea pigs were housed in a variety of ways, but a hutch or cage, with no attached run, was the most the common enclosure. The majority reportedly lived with a conspecific, although some lived on their own, or with a rabbit. Significant associations between aspects of housing and husbandry, and behaviour and health were found, for example the frequency of positive behaviours displayed was higher in those guinea pigs housed with a conspecific and those in larger enclosures, whilst the number of reported health issues was lower in animals receiving green vegetables more often.

Conclusion: This study has identified common practices, and highlighted some potential welfare issues, which would benefit from further research. We suggest improved availability of targeted information may enable owners to improve issues identified here.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalVeterinary Record
Early online date13 Feb 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Feb 2020

Keywords

  • pet
  • guinea pigs
  • welfare
  • housing
  • husbandry
  • companionship
  • diet
  • behaviour
  • health

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