More than 200 guinea pigs were discovered inside the garage of a Brisbane home in what is thought to have been an illegal pet farm. The RSPCA have since seized the animals, many of which are pregnant and suffering from a range of health problems. It’s alleged they were being bred for commercial purposes, possibly with the intention of being sold to pet stores.
Workers at the RSPCA Queensland now have their hands full looking after the seized rodents, and are appealing for help from the public to help bear the load. Michael Beatty, an RSPCA spokesperson, told VICE that staff are currently “knee-deep in guinea pigs” and confirmed that many of the animals were still expecting more litters.
“Some of them are pregnant, so that number of 200 could basically double,” Michael explained over the phone. “So we'll try to get as many into foster care as we can, getting people looking after them on a temporary basis.”
Michael added that “some still need veterinary treatment”, largely as a result of the small cages and squalid conditions in which they were being kept.
“It’s yet another disturbing case where we’re forced to act because of the neglect of humans,” he said. “We do it all the time but in this case the overload is huge and we really do need public assistance to help provide for their special needs.”
While illegal guinea pig farms are certainly not considered common, Michael suggests there could be more of a market for the animals in Queensland as a result of a law that prohibits people from owning rabbits as domestic pets. The state government considers rabbits to be a destructive and invasive pest, and has banned “pet rabbits of any variety for any private purpose” unless they’re being used in magic shows, circuses, or for research purposes.
“Guinea pigs are popular there's not doubt about that,” says Michael. “Because rabbits aren’t legal, so guinea pigs if anything are a bit more popular in Queensland.”
It was information from members of the public that ultimately led the RSPCA to the residence, and it’s hoped that most of the guinea pigs will ultimately be given away to new homes. Staff are also appealing for donations of food, cages, and hutches, The Australian reported.