My Very Important Job This Week!
This week, whilst my eldest daughter is off on her holidays with her boyfriend and his family, I’ve been left in charge of her babies – technically guinea pigs not children – but they’re still her absolute pride and joy. No pressure then!
We always had dogs when I was growing up, never rodents, so I thought I’d better read up on caring for them in their “mummy’s” absence so that I could keep them both in the lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed! I had a good read of Blue Cross’ website to get a decent overview from a respected source on how to care for these little guys:
A few things worth noting about guinea pigs, also known as “cavies” I’ve discovered from Blue Cross are:
- Boy guinea pigs are called “boars” and girls “sows” (just like real pigs to which they bear no relation nor are they from Guinea);
- Need to be kept in groups of 2 or more as they get lonely on their own;
- Can live for between 4 to 8 years;
- Have sensitive hearing so avoid subjecting to loud environments;
- Curious and friendly they are also shy and like to be under cover at times so ensure that this is provided for in their hutch which can be kept inside or outside preferably in a shed or weather protected area that is also predator-proof;
- Allow them to graze outdoors frequently in a run as well as letting them wander in a suitable area indoors if they are house pets;
- Important to clean them out daily to avoid them developing complications like “bumblefoot”;
- Hay, dry-food mix and fruit and vegetables make up their daily diet and fresh water needs to be provided daily in a water bottle;
- Long-haired guinea pigs need to be groomed regularly and all varieties should have their teeth and feet regularly checked for problems;
- Avoid breeding them as this is something that very much should be done by experts only given some particular complications that can occur – so ensure males are neutered if keeping in mixed groups;
- Don’t keep in the same area as rabbits as the piggies can be hurt or intimidated by these bigger animals;
- Like playing in tubes, pipes and cardboard boxes – ours have little balls too that we pop food in for them to forage to keep them entertained;
- When handling pick up with both hands, with one hand gently holding underneath and one on top, held close to the body so they feel safe;
- Are friendly and sociable and enjoy being held or stroked if this attention provided regularly. One of ours loves his chin being stroked!
- Great pets for children but, due to the level of daily care required, an adult/older child will need to be responsible in providing this as it would be too much for a young child to do alone;
- Will communicate vocally, loudly squeaking at times! Whenever the fridge door opens or they hear their mummy coming, ours squeak like crazy thinking it means food-time! Different noises mean different things so it’s important to spend time with your piggies to get to know their cues.
- When happy will “popcorn” and “zoom” about their cage i.e. run and jump in glee!
There’s so much more of course but just this list alone gives you an idea of how much more there is to guinea pigs than certainly I ever imagined before having them.
I knew my daughter would be missing them so I sent her a good night Facebook post from her baby boys every night so she knew that they were alright. I quite enjoyed it and she did too:
It was a really nice way to keep in touch whilst she was on her first grown-up holiday without us actually and I really enjoyed playing nanna to these two funny and cheeky boys 🙂