The RSPCA received 14 calls from the Wiltshire area over concerns for the welfare of guinea pigs last year.

Dr Jane Tyson, RSPCA’s rabbit and rodent expert, said: “Our cruelty line receives a lot of calls from members of the public who are concerned for the welfare of guinea pigs, perhaps because they are not getting the care they need from their owners or maybe they have been found abandoned which we see all too often.

“They are one of the UK’s most misunderstood pets and this is largely because they are seen as an ‘easy first pet’ for children.

“Guinea pigs are sociable, active animals. They need to live with at least one other friendly guinea pig and benefit from enrichment so it’s important to give them a large space where they can play and explore together.

“As well as being good for their wellbeing, playing with your piggy can also strengthen the bond between you and your pets.”

There were 171 calls received by the 24-hour cruelty line from the south west in 2018 and 1,337 nationwide.

The RSPCA has also suggested a variety of ways you can bond with your furry pet including scattering their food so they spend time searching and sniffing it out.