Eleven guinea pigs have been rescued after being abandoned near the Bramshaw Wood car park in the New Forest, outside of Nomansland.

The four adult and seven baby guinea pigs were found by a client of dog walker Julie King at around 4pm on Thursday, September 21, after they had been left inside two small wooden arches with a small amount of food approximately 50 yards from the car park. Julie took them home and agreed to foster them while the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) helps her in rehoming them.

The RSPCA said that the guinea pigs were wet when they were found but were in good health.

The abandonment happened just four days before the start of the RSPCA’s Guinea Pig Awareness Week (GPAW), which runs from Monday, September 25 to Friday, September 29. The organisation said guinea pig abandonments have been on the rise, with the charity taking in 37% more guinea pigs in August 2023 than in August 2022.

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RSPCA inspector Graham Hammond, who attended the incident, said: “The person who abandoned these vulnerable animals left them under two open wooden arches with only a pile of pellets and some carrots. It was a completely reckless and callous act.

“Nearby there would have been dogs off-lead and foxes too, so they would have stood no chance of fending for themselves had they not been picked up.

“This is nothing new unfortunately and we saw similar abandonments in pre-covid times but now it seems the cost of living is having a big impact and incidents like this are all too common.”

Graham explained that many guinea pig abandonments are the result of accidental breeding, due to pet shops incorrectly determining the sex of young guinea pigs and owners not having their pets neutered.

Graham said: “We suspect this incident may be as a result of accidental breeding which has gotten out of hand and the owners have quickly found they have a large number of guinea pigs. There are two litters and one of the mothers may be pregnant again.

“Sexing guinea pigs is so important to make sure they don’t multiply. Pet shops should be correctly sexing young guinea pigs, selling same-sex pairs or advising owners about the importance of speaking to their vets and organising timely neutering, but they often don’t do that and we get to this stage.”

Julie, who lives near to the woods, said: “When one of my dog-walking customers called me I went immediately to the location with a couple of cat baskets to collect the guinea pigs. It was distressing to see as some of the babies were only a day or two old, so anything could have happened to them.

“One of the mothers is just two to three months old and she already has two babies. I have a number of people who are interested in taking them.”

People interested in adopting a guinea pig or other pet can search available animals on the RSPCA’s website.