WEST MILFORD — Dogs and cats are not always the only animals available for adoption at animal shelters or rescues. There can be rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, and other small animals. Currently, the West Milford Animal Shelter has four guinea pigs in need of homes and a family.

There are the "sweet" guinea pigs, named Tartufo and Gelato, and a bonded pair of sisters, named Rosealie and Ada. Tartufo and Rosealie are black and white, Ada is a deep gray and Gelato has spiked brown fur.

Guinea pigs are social, smart and friendly(when handled from an early age) and can be an entertaining pets. Guinea pigs have a lot of personality. Some guinea pigs are shy; others are bold and dominant. And they make the most unique sounds and have their own language! Guinea pigs make six different sounds and they want you to know what they are trying to tell you. The six basis sounds are:

Wheeking - a wheek is a high pitched squeak they make when happily excited and, if they know you are bringing them yummy greens and fruits, they wheek louder!

Purring - not exactly like a cat, theirs is a deeper and consistent sound and means they are happy, content and comfortable.

Chutting - a series of short staccato sounds usually made when relaxed and exploring or grazing.

Teeth chattering - rapid series of squeaks and gnashing of teeth made when unhappy or annoyed.

Growling - growls when feeling threatened or frightened.

Shrieking - means it is in physical pain.

Caring for guinea pigs is not difficult. Proper care keeps guinea pigs healthy, safe and happy. And if cared for, they live longer than rabbits or hamsters.

Their cages should be kept in a quiet location away from direct sunlight or drafts.

The most important food for their diet is hay and more hay! They should be fed a good quality timothy hay (not alfalfa hay), have fresh water and fresh greens, some vegetables and some fruits.

Their cage should be kept clean and have soft bedding material. The best bedding is a material called carefresh that is made from recycled paper bedding. Pine shavings should not be used as they can cause respiratory and skin problems.

Come meet these cuties and see if guinea pigs are the right pets for your family.

50/50 raffle tickets availableAnd remember, tickets are still being sold for the shelter's 50/50 raffle. The shelter is located on Lycosky Drive (behind recycling). Call 973-728-2859 or go to facebook/The Real Cats at WMASS and The West Milford Animal Shelter for more information.