Written by Claire d’Oliveira
Animals are my life. I grew up surrounded by them and, since becoming a mother two gorgeous children, I have always wanted the same for them. Kids should be able to love and care for something; it teaches them compassion and responsibility.
Our family is fortunate enough to have four rescue dogs and three rescue cats. Our children have always been drawn to small fluffy things, as most kids are. After asking questions on social media of how to adopt some and avoid the pet trade, we were introduced to Little Critters Rescue Club. What a relief to find people so passionate about small animals that there’s a whole rescue organisation dedicated to saving and rehoming guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters, and rats (to name a few).
Little Critters Rescue Club is a wealth of information on housing and care of all little ‘critters’ (creatures) – information that one doesn’t get at pet shops. Armed with this knowledge, we got to work on building a big outdoor run for our soon-to-be-adopted guinea pigs, and found a lovely wooden double-storey hutch for indoor night-time sleeping.
The children were so excited to get their guinea pigs, and, over time, with loads of support from Little Critters Rescue, we’ve built up a happy little herd of five females and one sterilised male (sorry, Boris, there are too many needy piggies out there to add to the population!).
Great and small
They’re all different shapes and sizes, some with smooth hair, some with a permanent bed-head look, and others resembling walking wigs! We have the big boy, Boris, who thinks he’s in charge; Cotton (who is actually in charge); Boo; Milly the Mop; Pippen; and Tuksie. The conversations and interactions they have amongst themselves are totally adorable! It’s lovely to sit close by and listen to the constant chirping, wheeking and chattering.
Guinea pigs are always ‘starving’, the amount of food they eat is alarming, and, even though they have a constant source of grass and nuggets, they shriek for food whenever we are near, when they hear us approaching, or if they hear a crinkling packet! They get a huge serving of greens and vegetables twice a day, with parsley being a firm favourite. Both kids love to feed, handle and hold the pigs gently, and my daughter loves to brush the longhaired ones (little girl heaven). They help me bring them inside every night (piggies don’t like cold, wet or windy weather), and everyone gets plenty of cuddles and love.
Buster, the dwarf rabbit, soon joined the herd. He’d been given up by his previous owners but couldn’t find a bunny friend because of his extreme lack of bunny socialisation. He’s very sweet and is often found grooming and cuddling up to the piggies. Piggy company, at that stage, was better than no company! Luckily, we managed to find the perfect friend, much to the children’s delight, a baby bunny that we named Bouncer. Buster is very happy with his new friend, whom he looks after very well.
Our ‘little critters’ are absolutely adorable and are a huge part of our family. The children’s friends love to interact with them, and it’s wonderful to be able to teach young children how to feed, hold and enjoy the guinea pigs and bunnies.
We could never have formed our perfect herd without the help of Little Critters Rescue Club, and I would like to thank them for their ongoing support with our own beautiful ‘little critters’.
Editor's note: Little Critters Rescue Club is no longer is operation but if you would like to adopt or foster a little critter of your own, you can contact Critter Rescue SA, call Karien van Wyk on 073 437 8918, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow them on Faceboook https://www.facebook.com/critterrescuesa/