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Creature Feature: Pellets, Pedicures, and Pigloos

A shelter guide to caring for guinea pigs

A shelter guide to caring for guinea pigs

Unlike some other small animals, guinea pigs aren’t big climbers and jumpers, but they like to play with toys and enjoy hiding places. GRAHAM YUILE/ISTOCKPHOTO.COM
If guinea pigs attended a high school for rodents, they probably wouldn’t be voted “Most Likely to Succeed.” The critters aren’t exactly go-getting overachievers. More likely the shy but gentle pigs would earn a hybrid superlative, halfway between “Friendliest” and “Biggest Wallflowers.”

Suzanne D’Alonzo, kennel manager at the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria in Virginia, explains: “They’re wonderful love potatoes,” she says, “and—without being mean, they’re dumb, and dumb pets are really good pets. Perhaps the word is not ‘dumb’—how can I put it? Their skills may lie elsewhere, or they are simply pleased, and therefore we perceive them as dumb.”

Some hamsters, rats, and mice will occasionally take a little nip of a finger, says Bonnie Wilson, kennel manager at the nearby Animal Welfare League of Arlington in Virginia. Not so the friendly pigger: “They are just very, very gentle. … They’re easy to please.”

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