At the Frederick County Division of Animal Control and Pet Adoption Center, even the smallest of creatures get the opportunity to become someone’s “favorite.” Staff and volunteers all take time to walk dogs, socialize cats, learn the history of previously owned pets, and begin the process of creating a history for animals that come in as stray or abandoned.

“Tater Swift” was left behind at Fort Detrick when her family moved. Other than overgrown nails, she arrived at the shelter in relatively good health and a calm, winning personality. It was during her nail trim that two staff members were comparing notes on which species of animal is cutest.

Guinea pigs certainly qualify in the general sense of cute. They are small, sturdy and quite entertaining in the right environment. Guinea pigs have their own body language and sounds. “Popcorning” is one of the most common expressions of body language, especially for young piggies, and consists of jumping into the air (just a bit) with no acceleration required. It usually indicates a playful or happy mood. “Wheeking” sounds like a whistle — is a high-pitch noise that is a type of attention-getting effort, typically when they hear food or treats being prepared.

Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about guinea pig care. Just because they are small doesn’t mean they require — or deserve — less attention than traditional pets like dogs and cats. Nails should be trimmed routinely; usually once every four to six weeks. Bath requirements will vary from piggie to piggie, but must be followed up by thorough drying to avoid respiratory issues. Their diet must include fruits and veggies, keeping in mind they cannot synthesize Vitamin C. Their housing unit will require daily attention. Once the “work” part of owning a guinea pig is complete, they often enjoy playtime in a well-supervised indoor area, safe from other pets that may be overly enthusiastic in play.

Tater Swift may not fit the definition of cute for some potential adopters. However, just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is the concept of cute. If you are looking for a pet that is social, handleable and one that we think is cute, consider adopting Tater Swift. As with any pet adoption, shelter employees and staff are here to provide information so you can decide on whether or not a pet will fit your lifestyle.

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