Updated: Apr. 13, 2023, 12:06 p.m. | Published: Apr. 12, 2023, 3:37 p.m.

By Paul Liotta | pliotta@siadvance.com

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Guinea pigs on pet store shelves may soon be a thing of the past in the five boroughs after the City Council voted Tuesday to ban shops from selling them.

A pandemic spike in sales, and the subsequent influx of the animals at local shelters spurred lawmakers to add guinea pigs to a local law that also bans the sale of rabbits.

“Prohibiting the sale of guinea pigs in pet shops will bring relief to animal shelters. Other rescuers have experienced a surge in abandon and surrender guinea pigs in the past three years,” City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said.

Though small in stature, the tiny rodents require a big effort to care for and maintain. When owners realized how difficult caring for them was, the guinea pigs found themselves in the city’s animal shelters.

Adoption of the animals remains legal, so New Yorkers will still be able to get the animals. The City Council bill passed overwhelmingly on Tuesday, but most of the Council’s Republicans and a few Democrats opposed the legislation.

City Council Minority Leader Joseph Borelli (R-South Shore) explained that his opposition came because he felt the bill punished store owners for what was ultimately, the pet purchasers’ mistakes.

“I never imagined defending the virtues of guinea pigs, although they are delicious,” Borelli said in reference to Peru where the animals are treated as a delicacy. “We’re taking bad behavior by customers and owners of these pets and transferring the punishment onto pet shops, so that is why we’re against it.”