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Gender mix-up leaves Teesdale animal sanctuary with 78 guinea pigs
AN animal sanctuary faces having to try to find new owners for 78 guinea pigs - all from the same home.
The breeding mishap occured after the owner originally bought three guinea pigs believing them to be all female.
Unfortunately, one turned out to be a male and within weeks nature took its course and the first litter arrived, much to the surprise of their owner in Bishop Auckland.
The males were then separated – but burrowed their way back in to the females, causing another further furry explosion in the guinea pig population.
Female guinea pigs mature at just two months and come into season every 13 days.
And with a gestation period of just 10 weeks, they can produce a litter of up to five every three months.
“In this case, as soon as the females have given birth, they have come straight back into season,” said Danielle Walsh, assistant manager of The Ark on the Edge, near Woodland, Teesdale.
The animal sanctuary has issued an urgent appeal for new homes and has already taken delivery of 18 of the guinea pigs - with a further 60 to follow.
She said all 78 have been checked and are in good condition.
“None are underweight, none has fleas and there are no sores,” she added.
One of the Ark's supporters has paid for three new large cages and a collapsible run to provide them with a temporary home at the sanctuary while new owners are found.
Ms Walsh added: “They are very sociable animals and need to be kept in groups or pairs of the same sex, although males can be castrated and then put in with females.
“Don't keep them with rabbits – a kick from a rabbit can kill them – and they need a varied vegetarian diet.
“They can't produce vitamin C themselves so you have to make sure they are given pills mixed in with their food and they need lots of fresh hay.”
She said they also needed plenty of space.
“Ideally, they need a rabbit-sized hutch. They also need a lot of handling.”
Anyone who can give a good home to any of the guinea pigs should contact Ark on the Edge on 01833-630505.
The cash-strapped sanctuary, which relies on contributions and fundraising to cover the costs of caring for a wide range of animals, has launched an online donation scheme in an effort to increase its income.
For details, go to arkontheedge.org.uk
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