Adoption is such a rewarding way to become a pet parent, but cats and dogs aren’t the only pets looking for forever homes. There’s a whole range of pets available for adoption, including guinea pigs and rabbits, through Petbarn adoption centres and shelters nationwide.

You’ll have heard that good things come in small packages and this is definitely true when it comes to guinea pigs and rabbits. As any animal lover will tell you, these small pets have big hearts and wonderfully playful personalities. Adopting a guinea pig or rabbit is a big step. To ensure your new friend’s health and wellbeing it’s important to be prepared and knowledgeable about the best way to help them settle in, and you should never house guinea pigs and rabbits together. Here’s what you need to know.

Getting prepared

Deciding you’re ready for the responsibilities of pet ownership is an important step, but there’s a lot more to do before your new family member arrives home! First it’s important to decide how large a home your small pet will need, as this differs for rabbits and guinea pigs, as well as where your new pet is going to live – will they reside inside or outside? If outside, you’ll need to ensure their home is in a suitable spot that’s sheltered from excessive heat, wind and rain. If inside, ensure this space isn’t too noisy, as this could cause anxiety. Next, stock up on other essentials, such as toys, food and water dispensers, and bedding, and ensure they have their own comfy little space to nest in. A high-quality diet that’s rich in vitamins and nutrients will also be required, as well as a safe and suitable carrier for transporting your pet home and to the vet. Ask your local Petbarn staff member for advice on what’s best to help your pet feel at home.

Settling in

Once your new pet is ready to come home with you, there are steps you can take to ensure they settle in quickly and easily. First of all, when you get them home ensure you give them space. Place them in their new home with lots of cosy bedding, so that they can get their bearings and burrow down if feeling overwhelmed. Ensure they have access to plenty of high-quality food and fresh water, as well as any other requirements for your chosen pet. It’s important to give them enough time to adjust during this process, and avoid handling them for at least the first few days, until they get used to their new environment. Any handling during this time may make them feel anxious, so move slowly. After the adjustment period you can begin handling your new pet. Remember to always be gentle and follow your vet’s advice when it comes to caring for your new pet, and they’ll feel right at home in no time. Just keep in mind that children should be supervised when handling a guinea pig or rabbit.

You can find small animals, such as guinea pigs and rabbits, through Petbarn Adoption and the Chatswood, Alexandria McEvoy and Caringbah stores in NSW feature small animal adoptions.