Rent a Guinea Pig in Switzerland

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Lisa Mullins: I'm Lisa Mullins and this is The World. Switzerland has an unusual animal welfare law that protects so-called "social animals" . So for example, if a guinea pig dies, its owner would be breaking the law by keeping just one remaining pet rodent. Priska Kung came up with a solution to that scenario. She runs a "Rent-a-Guinea-Pig"  service in Hinwill, which is a village near Zurich. Priska, how many people use your service?

Priska Kung: It's about 2 to 3 a week that ask for one. But I can not give to all of them one because I don't have so many. Because I am a guinea-pig breeder. I normally sell my guinea-pigs and renting a guinea pig is just a service for the welfare of the animals.

Mullins: How come these people rent a guinea-pig from your or from another breeder and don't just buy another one?

Kung: When they have had guinea-pigs for many years at one stage they decide they want to stop having pets but when you have the last one that's not supposed to be kept on its own you have to find another solution. So I started having the idea that people could borrow one of my pigs and keep it with theirs as long as theirs lives and then take it back to me.

Mullins: And take it back to you in the end. Well that's a good way of finding a need and filling it because this law that forbids people from having just one of any pet is made for you, because you Priska have how many guinea-pigs yourself?

Kung: I have between seventy and eighty.

Mullins: Between seventy and eighty?

Kung: Yes

Mullins: What? Ok, I want to know what is with the issue of guinea-pigs in general? But also, what is it with you and guinea pigs?

Kung: I think they're really nice animals to keep and to watch. I think they are nice pets. And I've had them for many many years.

Mullins: But why does Switzerland need a law to prevent guinea-pigs from getting lonely if they lose a companion?

Kung: It's not just by law that you don't keep guinea pigs on its own. It's really because it's not good for them. The law says for cats for example, that if you keep an only inside it has to be more than one or you have to be at home for more than such and such and that is hours per day.

Mullins: How do you know that your guinea-pigs get lonely without a companion?

Kung: Well, by watching them. And watch the behavior of one that has been kept on its own. Or even worse, one that has just lost its companion. You can see that they communicate, they walk around together, they eat together, they sleep together.

Mullins: You have like seventy to eighty guinea-pigs that are your own. Why?

Kung: Why. You can start with a small group. And I then started going to guinea-pigs shows and finding lots of breeds and colors that I liked. So I wanted to have one of that and one of that. It's nice to breed them, to show them.

Mullins: And it's a big market?

Kung: It's not worth anything money-wise. It's worth it because I like it.

Mullins: Thank you very much. Priska Kung, we appreciate it.

Kung: You're welcome.

Mullins: We have more information about Priska's guinea-pigs and of course we've included pictures of cute guinea pigs, although it's all in the eye of the beholder at