When looking to obtain a guinea pig as a pet there are 3 main sources to consider.
The advantages of buying a guinea pig from a private, hobbyist or show guinea pig breeder is that breeding has usually been carefully planned and thought through with regard to producing robust, healthy guinea pigs of good temperament. Show breeders, in particular, will have pure bred guinea pigs and will have aimed to produce guinea pigs that are of good size and a good example of the breed in accordance with the breed show standard, with the intention of keeping some of the young guinea pigs themselves for showing and selling the surplus guinea pigs that they don't keep.
Private, hobbyist or show guinea pig breeders also regularly handle their young guinea pigs and so any guinea pigs they sell are usually confident about being handled. There is also have the opportunity to see the parents and be given the exact date of birth of the guinea pig it is intended to purchase.
Another option when seeking to buy a guinea pig is to obtain one from a rescue organisation. Many guinea pigs unfortunately become abandoned or homeless through no fault of their own every year due to the owner's inability to care for the guinea pig properly, or a change in their circumstances.
guinea pigs will have usually had a veterinary check on arrival at the rescue organisation and treated for any ailments to ensure they are healthy before being offered for rehoming. Often their temperament will also have been assessed to ensure their suitability as a pet for a new owner.
Depending on the rescue organisation any potential owner may be required to complete a series of forms, be interviewed or even receive a home visit to assess their suitability as a potential guinea pig owner. The rescue organisation's primary concern is to ensure the correct placement of the guinea pigs in their care with a suitable new owner able and committed to caring for the guinea pig properly.
Many pets shops also sell guinea pigs and this is often where many people buy their first pet guinea pig. Although some pet shops may acquire their guinea pigs from private breeders, the majority obtain their guinea pigs from commercial breeders to ensure a constant supply. guinea pigs supplied by commercial breeders are usually the result of mass breeding programmes aimed at quantity rather than quality and bred purely for profit. The guinea pigs have not usually been handled any great deal before or after arriving at the pet shop and no information regarding their date of birth, parents, etc is known by the pet shop.
If buying a guinea pig from a pet shop it is important to find a pet shop where the staff are confident in determining the sex of guinea pigs, and that males and females are housed separately to avoid buying a pregnant guinea pig.
Any potential purchaser that is unhappy with the overall condition of the pet shop, the condition of the guinea pigs offered for sale, or the lack of knowledge of the pet shop staff should look elsewhere to buy a guinea pig. It is no fun buying a unhealthy, pregnant or weakly guinea pig and then dealing with the problems this presents afterwards - it can cause a lot of heartache, not to mention additional finances.
Although pet shops selling pets are licensed in most countries there are times when a potential purchaser may encounter a shop where the conditions that the guinea pigs are kept in or the condition of the guinea pigs offered for sale may cause extreme concern. In such cases a report can be made to an Animal Welfare organisation or the local authority for investigation.