When husband and wife Mark and Sophie Mason bought six guinea pigs, they thought all of them were female.
They made a mistake.
The couple, from Lincoln, returned from their honeymoon they noticed that four of them were gaining weight.
They took the guinea pigs to the vet only to realise that one of the guinea pigs was a male who had impregnated four out of five of the females he was living with.
Now the couple have 52 guinea pigs in total.
Tending to the 46 adults and six babies takes Mark and Sophie eight hours a day and costs them £250 a month to feed.
But they don’t mind as the little creatures have helped the family deal with stress.
‘I have always loved guinea pigs and been fascinated by them,’ said Sophie, 29.
‘They’re lovely little creatures and they make me laugh and smile every day. It’s a bit unusual but if you enjoy it and it doesn’t hurt anyone, then why not?’
Sophie and Mark, 44, house all the little rodents in a little sanctuary called Mason’s Cavies and update their 54,00 avid fans on Facebook where Sophie shares updates of the wee pets.
Taking care of them includes cutting up fresh vegetable and fruit food and washing the towels they sleep on, hoovering their shed daily and changing their water bottles.
‘It’s my full-time job. Absolutely,’ added Sophie.
‘I’ve constantly got the washing machine on the go because we keep them on bath towels rather than sawdust.
‘Mark refills the shed with hay every day. It’s a real team effort.’
Alongside pellet food and hay, the piggies love eating fresh vegetables and fruit such as kale, carrots, swede, parsnips, tomatoes and bananas.
Every other night, the creatures also eat dried pea pellets, which is one of their favourite treats.
‘We buy a lot of the wonky veg boxes from Morrisons and get through around £60 of vegetables easily,’ says Sophie.
‘The looks you get from the supermarket when you’re queueing up are hilarious.’
Despite the questions from people, the family love the company of all their stress-relieving rodents.
Sophie believes that the guinea pigs – which are a mix of breeds – help keep her calm on tough days.
‘I have a stressful life and they just bring me so much joy. They all have their own quirks and you can’t help but fall in love with them.
‘For me, looking after that many is not a chore, it’s something I adore doing.
‘They really are fascinating animals, I love watching them in the garden playing with the dog.’
Since they began with six guineas two years ago, Sophie and Mark have also rescued some from across the country, some of which were previously abused.
Their sanctuary now puts some of the guinea pigs up for adoption and the couple are keen to educate others on how to look after the adorable creatures.
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