I was doing a clinical rotation about an hour from home and had a long lunch break, so I decided to stop by a family-owned pet store and see their puppies. Inside a little plastic tote on the floor next to the puppies were two TINY baby Syrian hamsters. I had made up my mind I was coming back for one at the end of my shift when a woman (one of the owners) comes up to me with a ball of fluff. "Hamsters are great, but you're never going to look back if you get one of these," she told me. In her hands was this small white guinea pig with little spots of white around its eye. I knew NOTHING about guinea pigs, so I told her not today.
Work was slow when I returned, and that little fluffball was still in my mind. I started using my phone to google guinea pig care, and I spent the majority of my afternoon doing so. After work, I stopped back by the pet store, still only planning on getting the baby hamster. I looked in another storage bin on the floor and inside were 3 guinea pigs. After my research, I knew their enclosure was far too small (MAYBE 3.5 sq feet), and I felt truly sorry for them. Thinking she could use some breathing time out of the little box, I picked up a mostly gold guinea pig with white stipes and a little mohawk. While the others were terrified of me, this little girl was crawling up on my shoulder and nuzzling my neck. I was in love. With the little hamster in a carry-home box, the guinea pig rode in my lap the entire hour drive home (she would not stop screaming if I tried to get her to ride in the pet carrier). I got home, built her a very large cage, and loved on her quite a bit. While I knew I should let her settle in before loving on her too much and stressing her out...she wasn't too keen on being left in there alone.
After more research that night, I could not leave her without a companion in good conscience. The next day after work, I got a second guinea pig from the same place. Her black, orange and white chubby butt made her look like an adorable out-of-season Halloween decoration. She warmed up to me quickly and got along great with the first guinea pig, probably because they had shared a cage at the store. I finally decided on names. The gold and white mohawk received the name Amelia, after a very adventurous character on Grey's, and the other, Bailey, the gruff boss (which is still a VERY accurate description of Bailey the pig's attitude). All night I felt guilty as Hades for leaving that poor last guinea pig all alone in that tiny tub. It broke my heart, but each of the guinea pigs were $50 a piece, and that was before the other costs of caring for them. In one week, that is a hit to a college student's budget. I went to bed telling myself that two was plenty...but I'd go check on the remaining one at the store after work and make sure she was ok.
After work, I went and checked on the final guinea pig, the first one the owner ever showed me. Her white fur and little eye patch made her look like a tiny, lovable pirate. It was probably in my head, but she looked soooo sad. She didn't even run from me, and her food and water looked untouched. The owner said she had acted a little off all day. They were all from the same litter; I had just ripped her two siblings away, so I obviously felt guilty. The owner decided that the guinea pig was better off with her sisters than alone and depressed and told me she would give me her for free. So...Lexie, the name I gave the 3rd guinea pig, rode home with me to join her sisters.
I have fur balls whining at me for their bedtime snacks, and this long post is probably putting anyone who reads it to sleep, so...to be continued. I promise the rest of the story gets much more interesting.
- Supporter in 2018
However, that said, I'm very jealous. Enjoy them while they are this small. It doesn't last for long. :o)
I had checked all the guinea pigs sex, and they all looked like girls to me, but I still had not learned how to appropriately check them. There are no cavvy savvy vets close to me, but I found one about an hour away who could get me in the next week. The day before the vet appointment, I was holding Lexie and felt a little bump on her tummy, so I took a closer look. Luckily it was just a bit of bedding (I used paper at the time), but it got me looking closer...she looked just a little bit different 'down there' than the other girls did. I started looking more information on sexing them, and after a lot of reading, I checked all the guinea pigs again. Amelia and Maggie were definitely girls, and Lexie certainly was not.
I took them all to the vet the next day, with Lexie in a separate cage. The vet confirmed they were all healthy and Lexie was definitely a boy. He said that the likelihood of my girls being pregnant was extremely high. I was not a happy camper to say the least.
I took the babies home and built another big cage for Lexie--now known as Owen. A few days later, I decided Owen didn't need to be alone, so I found a guinea foster-mom in Little Rock and made the long drive down there. I found this beautiful black angel with a white swirl on his back, and a tiny teardrop of orange next to his eye. He was a bit mean, but he eventually let me hold him. I looked at the rest of her babies and saw this tiny, so tiny, little fur ball in the corner of a cage. I coaxed her out, and she uncurled as I pet her head. This little baby was white with eyeliner on one eye, tan on one ear, and black on the other. Then, on her rump, she wore pants...perfectly divided down the middle, tan on one half and black on the other. She was definitely a girl, but I was smitten. She was shy, but she loved to cuddle, she curled up in my hands and began to lick my fingertip. Something about her told me she had to come home with me. So, Derek and Sofia went home to meet their new siblings.
The guinea pig, now known as Maggie, was the sweetest thing I had ever seen. She's a beautiful 2-or-3-year-old brown and white Abyssinian She obviously came from a very loving home...but one that knew nothing about caring for guinea pigs. I am definitely no expert, and I'm still learning each day. However, Maggie had always been kept alone, her nails had NEVER been trimmed, her extremely long fur was matted, and she had never been fed veggies, except for the occasional carrot. My heart sank looking at her. Even if they found her a good home, she would need a lot of care to get her into a healthy state, and I knew that would be hard for them to find on Craigslist. So...guinea pig number 6 came home with me.
The following day, she got to meet the vet. She had never been to a vet before, so she was a little rattled. She got her first nail trim at the vet's too...they were bad enough that the vet suggested letting him try to work on them first. Once she got the all-healthy, she came back home and got her first haircut! It looked awful because I had to cut it short enough to remove all the matted fur, especially on her rump, but she's still adorable.
After an introductory period, Maggie was placed with the other girls. I was nervous at first...she was double the size of most of the others and over triple Sofia's size! However, she quickly put my fears to rest. She loves her new sisters/cuddle buddies, and Sofia appears to be her favorite. They stay cuddled up together for most of the day. Maggie often will pull hay out of the bin and lay it down for Sofia to chew on, since Sofia is so short. It's one of the cutest things I have ever seen.
Maggie is also the cuddliest out of the herd. During floor time, she'll explore for a bit before crawling into my lap to sleep. She will often sit for a couple hours each night while I do work or watch TV...and she'll let me know about it if I don't give her enough laptime (her lungs appear to be in great shape...lol). After the addition of Maggie, our little family feels complete.
Also...the paper bedding from the pics is finally gone!!! I am so in love with the fleece that replaced it.
On another note, Derek is being a little monster tonight...he's healthy as a horse, but he seems to be going through this "bite-and-pull on your skin" phase. He's never broken skin until tonight, but he got me good this time! He definitely lets me know when cuddle time is over.
- Supporter in 2018
Anyway after weeks of treatment and vet visits, they are finally all cleared up and Fuzz's hair has grown back. My point is: it would be a good idea to check ALL of them closely for a week or two, just to be sure. (Yeah, I'm that worried Momma!)