On a recent quick trip into the Stratford (CT) Petco to pick up a water bottle holder, I was dismayed to see a sign in the small animals department stating that a 30-gallon aquarium tank is a suitable cage for a pair of guinea pigs.
Really, folks? With all the cage options out there, with all the online content pointing back to C&C cages as the most responsible cage choice for guinea pigs, there's still people pushing the antiquated notion of aquariums as appropriate habitats?
Besides cages that are too small, aquarium tanks are probably the worst choice possible for a guinea pig home. There's a number of reasons why they're so objectionable:
- They're too small.
- They're poorly ventilated, since air only comes from the top.
- They buffer out noise, creating a living environment that is almost sound-proof.
Years ago, we had a guinea pig surrendered to the rescue (at one of our Adoption & Education events) who had spent the first two years of her life in an aquarium tank. In the midst of normal conversation and the shopper activity in the Durham Feed Store, it was easy to see that the unfiltered noise was startling and uncomfortable for her. Her wide eyes and jumpiness at people just talking told me that after years of muffled noises through the tank's glass walls, normal conversation was as loud to her as someone yelling or talking through a bullhorn.
She was so jumpy and easily distressed by noise that we put her in foster care with me, since my home is so quiet (no kids, no dogs). It took five months for her to settle down and not react to a third of the noises she heard, though she still reacted to a ringing phone as if it were a siren and hated the sound of music playing on the stereo (even very low). She ultimately became my pet (I couldn't let her go) and by the end of her first 18 months with me, she was finally calm enough that she generally only reacted to the kinds of noises we expect guinea pigs to be bothered by, like the vacuum cleaner.
There's a lot of bad information that's still being perpetuated out there (inexcusably so), and this myth is right near the top of the list. Pet stores (and the big chains, in particular) have long had a nasty reputation for treating animals like commodities, but in the 21st century, there needs to be a stronger sense of corporate social responsibility and a more consistent emphasis on disseminating accurate information. There are sparks of hope at the store level, in some stores, as store staff tries their best, but anyone who has ever worked in a big corporation knows that it's very difficult to create change from the bottom up. Often, much more needs to come from the top down in the corporate hierarchy.
I've seen this particular poster in two shoreline Petcos in the last week, but have found more accurate posters further inland. It's possible that this is an old poster and the management of the two stores in question are behind the 8-ball in updating their store signage. But no matter. It should be changed -- so points against the stores. It should never have been printed to begin with -- so points against the chain as a whole.