QuickCheck: Is it illegal to own just one guinea pig in Switzerland?

Do you remember when you were a kid, and your biggest dream was to have your very own pet?

Parents who are apprehensive about the responsibilities of raising a dog or a cat often turn to furry rodents such as hamsters and guinea pigs as ‘starter pets’ for their children.

Some opt to get a single furry friend, while others choose to get a pair for fear of the little critter feeling lonely on its own.

That said, is it true that people are downright prohibited from keeping solitary guinea pigs in Switzerland?



Humans, parrots, guinea pigs and goldfish – what all these species have in common is that they are social creatures, meaning they require social interaction and companionship to thrive.

In Switzerland, a 182-page Animal Protection Ordinance published in 2008 outlines regulations on how hundreds of domestic species must be kept.

This includes guinea pigs, which the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office describes as “very social animals (that) may not be kept on their own.”

Keeping a solitary guinea pig is considered animal abuse, and perpetrators can face penalties if caught.

Guinea pig matchmaking has even taken off in the country, as these creatures can get very attached to their owners and cage-mates and can be surprisingly picky with their friends.

If one guinea pig’s partner dies, it can become a headache for owners to find another to take its place.

This is why Swiss animal lover Priska Küng runs a ‘rent-a-guinea pig’ service for those who need to find short-term partners for their furry friends.

“Because (guinea pigs) hardly ever die at the same time, even if they are exactly the same age, people who don’t want a new guinea pig and lose one of their two animals need an interim solution,” she tells ZME Science.

Aside from this legislation on guinea pig ownership, Switzerland has quite a few other pet-friendly laws.

These range from reasonable, such as a law that makes it mandatory for dog owners to take a course that teaches them how to care for their pets to the outlandish, like a law that makes it an offence for a person to force poultry to wear glasses or contact lenses.


1. https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/culture/loo-flushing--explosives---gold_fact-check--lonely-guinea-pigs-and-other-quirky-swiss-rumours/45067078

2. https://www.zmescience.com/ecology/animals-ecology/guinea-pig-switzerland/

3. https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/502372/it%E2%80%99s-illegal-own-single-guinea-pig-switzerland

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