A BACKYARD breeder has surrendered 39 diseased and malnourished guinea pigs to Maryborough Animal Refuge.
The guinea pigs were all in various states of neglect, with three of the animals dying earlier this week.
Realising the animals needed urgent care, the refuge contacted Gold Coast Guinea Pig Rescue, operated by Alex Winterford.
Ms Winterford said a contact in Maryborough had picked the guinea pigs up and took them to her home in Labrador.
"They were all emaciated, hugely underweight," Ms Winterford said.
Some of the guinea pigs will also need treatment for a fungal condition, she said.
Ms Winterford believes the 20 females in the group are probably pregnant, which will add dozens more to the number of guinea pigs already in Ms Winterford's care.
In total she is caring for about 200 guinea pigs, including the 36 survivors from the Maryborough area.
Ms Winterford said from what she understood, it appeared the man who brought the animals in was a backyard breeder and the situation had simply got out of control.
She said often people bought two guinea pigs believing they were the same sex then ended up with a litter and the number of animals could get out of control quickly if the situation wasn't controlled.
"Fortunately this person took them to the refuge.
"They could have dumped them, which is what often ends up happening.
"At least this person has done the right thing at the end and they have a chance."
Ms Winterford said while it was sad to lose three of the creatures, she was confident the rest would survive.
She said five tiny babies were among those that had been surrendered, but it was hard to put an age on some of the others because of how underweight they were.
Ms Winterford said she was hoping that eventually the animals would find new, loving homes.
"We'll get them all back to optimum health, then rehome them," she said, adding that she was very careful about placing the guinea pigs when it came to finding new homes.
Ms Winterford said the thought of the 20 females all having litters - guinea pigs generally have from one to six babies per litter - did not faze her.
"I'll just take it in my stride. I've been doing this for years," she said.
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