Rise of “Pocket Pet” at OC Animal Care, Southland Animal Shelters


ORANGE COUNTY, CA – A slight increase in the number of small mammals cared for by animal shelters has increased due to their abandonment by their humans, officials say. Animal shelters across California say the number of protected guinea pigs, rabbits and hamsters has now increased due to the surrender of cute little creatures by their owners.

“The first wave of the pandemic brought many adopters of small pets or ‘pocket animals’,” spcaLA president Madeline Bernstein said in a statement. “Now we are experiencing another wave, but this time the tide is not in favor of the animals. The little animals are coming, but we don’t see as many adopters for them.”

Orange County Animal Care and other officials have reported an increase that appears to coincide with the return to work and school. A shortage of sterilization / sterilization resources during the COVID-19 pandemic may also be a contributing factor.

OC Animal Care has three guinea pigs on its website and many more rabbits available for adoption. The little guinea pigs, known as Cora, Crimson, Neo, and Orion, are all 1 year old and are currently available for adoption at Santa Ana and Tustin stores. Hoops, Kodiak, Yosemite Sam, and Elmer are all two years old and are also available.

“Guinea pigs are so social and fun – they greet our staff with a cacophony of happy coos when it’s time to eat their morning veg,” Bernstein said. “They do very well as a couple, and a lot of people find them a good first pet for children, with supervision of course.”

How to take care of guinea pigs

Guinea pigs need large, solid-bottomed cages with plenty of Timothy Hay for bedding, a hutch to hide in, balls and toys to play in, and chew for their still-growing teeth, according to the spcaLA.

They also need lots of clean, fresh water, kibble, a small amount of fresh fruits and vegetables each day, and oranges or a vitamin C supplement.

Anyone interested in adopting an OC Animal Care guinea pig can visit the organization’s website: spcaLA.com/adopt to begin the adoption process. Find your perfect friend at: petadoption.ocpetinfo.com.


Boyd S. Abbott