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Current welfare state of pet guinea pigs in the UK

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 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, while 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. The authors suggest improved availability of targeted information may enable owners to improve issues identified here.

  • guinea pigs
  • welfare
  • husbandry
  • health
  • behaviour
  • companionship
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