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Mom, can I have a guinea pig?

When kids saw 101 Dalmatians and Beverly Hills Chihuahua, they sat up and begged for a title character of their very own.

And so it goes with the guinea pigs of G-Force, the Disney flick that scurried to the top of the box office last weekend with $31.7 million.

Aww, fuzzy, adorable little guinea pigs -- great pets, right?

LOCAL RESOURCES

Florida has guinea pig rescue groups in Bradenton and Gainesville. Fort Lauderdale's Abandoned Pet Rescue, lists guinea pigs among its clients. 

Maybe not. Orange County, Calif., rescue volunteer Lyn Zantow notes on her website, guinea pigs are noisy, eat and poop all the time, require big and clean cages, don't swim and can be expensive to care for if they get sick.

Dani Anderson, whose Wee Critters Rescue also saves these rodents from homes where they're no longer wanted, answers a few questions.

Why do guinea pigs need rescuing?

They're so cute and adorable as babies. And then you get them, and they are a lot of work. People don't research guinea pigs; they'll research dogs. They will have them for a while and then say, "I can't do this anymore'' and try to dump them. That breaks my heart.

Young children are the biggest fans of "G-Force," but should they get to own a real guinea pig?

No. If you get a guinea pig for a child younger than 11, the adult has to be the primary caretaker. They're complicated little animals. They're intelligent and very cuddly, and they're one of the least likely pets to bite. But if they get sick, it goes badly very fast. They can be squeezed and hurt pretty easily. So you have to be paying attention. I really think they're more of an adult pet.

G-Force guinea pigs drive cars, parachute and generally look after themselves. Do the real ones need much care?

If they are a domesticated animal, they are absolutely helpless without you. You have to make sure you feed them fresh vegetables twice a day. They have to have timothy hay, the best hay for their digestive system, to keep their teeth ground down. They have to have their water changed every day and their litter cleaned out every five to seven days for one guinea pig. When they get older you have to start keeping them clean.

How do real guinea pigs communicate with their owners?

They make different sounds. They have a sound that means don't do that, don't come near me. They click their teeth. When you hold them they will purr. They make noises when you bring in food. They'll just start hollering and say, yes, I'm hungry. And they're very intelligent. I've had one that chirped and mimicked a sound, "week week week." She would holler for attention -- please come in and pet me now.

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