Switzerland has forbidden people from keeping lone guinea pigs because the animals are sociable and need each other's company
Guinea pigs are very social animals. Switzerland has recognized this and taken steps to make sure that all guinea pigs have a chance to be happy.
They did this by passing a law that makes it illegal to have only one guinea pig.
This presents a problem, though. It’s pretty unlikely that two guinea pigs die at the same time, so once the first passes, the owner would be forced to buy another one or to break the law.
If they buy a new one, it would usually be younger and thus an endless cycle of guinea pigs would start. Some of these people only wanted one in the first place!
Some people see problems and other see opportunities. Priska Küng has about 80 guinea pigs which she rents out to hold owners over. She does it more as a hobby than a business, however, as she loses money on it. She is a teacher by trade.
Küng is president of IG Meerschweinchen, the umbrella organization of Switzerland's three guinea pig breeding associations. She’s had guinea pigs all her life and knows all about them and how to treat and take care of them.
"It's important that none of the rental guinea pigs just keep getting passed on," says Küng. "If an animal has been hired out once, it either stays with me for the rest of its life or it moves somewhere else for good."