96 HayPigs! ® is the home of the award-winning HayPigs! ® Guinea Pig Circus™. We spoke to Rik Cridland as we look to gain an insight into the offerings and exciting journey that he and co-founder, Helen Cridland have been on since establishing the company. HayPigs! ® designs toys, feeders and accessories for guinea pigs and other small animals. Rik begins by telling us about some of these products. “All our products are bespoke and have a circus theme. Included in our range is the pig-defying ‘HayPigs! ® Cavy Cannonball™’, a tilting tunnel designed to stimulate the small furries through interaction, play and exercise. The ‘HayPigs! ® Piggy Weightlifter™’, the world’s first, horizontal, pet friendly, vegetable kebab maker and the hay-mazing ‘HayPigs! ® Wheek Wagon™’, a circus wagon themed hay hopper that provides a hygienic and fun way of presenting hay and forage.” As experienced guinea pig owners themselves, founders Helen and Rik have a real knowledge of what their customer base wants. They were frustrated by the lack of choice and quality in a frankly stagnant market sector, and set out to inject new life into it, as Rik explains. “When we set up HayPigs! ® , we really wanted to create a brand specifically for guinea pigs. When you go into a pet retail store, you’ll find a small animal section with a selection of products all of which are desperately trying to cater for as many of the small animal species as possible. The reality is, each animal is different, the needs and wants of a hamster are very different to that of a rabbit, chinchilla or rat for example. So why label them all together? From a commercial point of view, people have been frightened to get quite so niche, but we saw it more as an opportunity than a limitation. “In 2014, we adopted our first two guinea pigs, we have since adopted seven more. They came from a local guinea pig rescue called Blackberry Patch and we struck up a good relationship with Tracey and Richard who run it. Tracey has been rehabilitating and rehoming guinea pigs for 35 years, so she really knows her stuff! This knowledge has been invaluable to us. Not only does she know guinea pigs well, but also the people who are passionate about them. When she heard Rik was a product designer, she asked why there weren’t more guinea pig products on the market and this of course got us asking the question too. There certainly appeared to be a need out there and if we could prove the market was big enough to support a new business venture, we had the skills and know-how to do something a bit special.” Unique in many ways, HayPigs! ® offer a niche product, and this is what entices many clients to purchase their products through their website, as well LPP18026 as other online stores, including Amazon. Rik is keen to delve into further detail about the different nature of the HayPigs! ® products. “We decided to specialise in toys, feeders and accessories, designed for and tested by Guinea Pigs!™. This means they are designed specifically for the needs of guinea pigs and while many of the products are suitable for other small pets, by concentrating our focus on one species, we believe we’ve come up with some very innovative and original designs. “We would like to think our range is quite luxurious and bit of a treat for our customers and of course, their piggies! It’s been our aim to design high quality products that do the job they are designed for really well and with a HayPigs! ® product, you’ll be getting something that is durable and can be used every day.” Whilst maintaining a keen interest in guinea pigs and looking to further raise the profile of these beloved pets, Rik is keen to offer his opinion and advice to anyone thinking of owning a guinea pig as a pet. “Please do your research first. For a long time now, guinea pigs have been regarded as an ‘easy, low-maintenance’ pet but in reality, they are quite a commitment. It still amazes us how many people confuse a guinea pig with a hamster and this can be detrimental to the welfare of the animal if expectations are that they will only live a couple of years and stay roughly the same size. You may be looking after your piggy for as long as eight years and the boys can grow up to 30cm in length which will outgrow most starter cages and hutches. “For those who are interested, we have a handy checklist on our website (www.haypigs.com/checklist) that goes through all the things you need to consider before getting guinea pigs as pets.” In his concluding comments, Rik tells us and the readers what shows HayPigs! ® will be at this year, encouraging anyone who is interested to visit the shows and see what the fuss is about! “For the public, we’ve got two shows lined up at the moment; the Family Pet Show in Trafford, Manchester, that’s on the weekend of the 6th and 7th October 2018 and we’ll be at the National Pet Show again in November 2018, Birmingham NEC on 3rd and 4th (to include a very special guest). We hope to see some of you out and about!” Company: HayPigs! ® Contact: Rik Cridland Email: [email protected] Website: www.haypigs.com A Unique Must-Have for Your Small Furries!