Finding out all we needed to know.
Many years ago when my children were small we decided to acquire some Guinea Pigs.
We had never kept them before but I had bought a couple of books about keeping them and we had a cage and a run for them ready.
They are not pigs and they did originate from the island of Guinea either !! They are rodents and initially came from The Andes Mountains of South America. Another name for them is Cavies.
I also knew that they liked company and would get lonely if kept on their own !! So we decided to look for two females because I didn’t really want the upheavel of little ones before getting used to keeping Guinea Pigs as pets.
They can breed all year round and can produce as many as six litters and gestation period is only about two months. They will usually give birth to on average about three but bigger births are possible. They will suckle from their mother but are active straight away from birth and will also eat grass or hay.
Some people associate them with rabbits but they are not related and have different characterisitics. They have funny little habits that can keep their owners amused for ages.
They only live for about five years, however some have been known to live for about nine years.
I managed to buy two cages and a run cheaply from someone who didin’t have use for them anymore !! One cage could go under cover in the shed and another one outside in the garden with a run attached. This would mean that they would have the best of both worlds !!
We would need sawdust and straw for bedding and a little hay which they liked to eat.
A variety of vegetables for their diet and plenty of dried Guinea Pig food from the pet shop plus a constant supply of clean water to drink. We bought a water bottle for this , much cleaner than a bowl. The ready mixed and prepared Guinea Pig dried food is essential for vitamin D .
We also bought many toys suitable for them as they can become bored easily and will chew and destroy their hutch if not given divertions.
We were all set so now to fetch the new arrivals !
See all 21 photos This one could have been Gertie’s twin.Source: portraitpets.com A mirror image of Rosie.Source: prospectrc.comGertie and Rosie.
My eldest daughter’s friend had many Guinea Pigs in their large garden and had two females for us . They were used to living together and were very tame .
They lived out in the country and their garden was a haven for Guinea Pigs. Cages and runs of all shapes and sizes and they were all so well looked after .
One was a light brown coloured Abyssinian Guinea Pig who the kids immediately christened ‘Gertie ‘.
The other one was a tri coloured American Guinea Pig who was christened ‘Rosie’.
We took them home in the given box and the older children placed the box open into the run attached to the cage that was out in the garden. it was spring now so they would be alright out there until the Autumn and then they could be rehomed in the one that was in the shed .
You can tell from the picture that an Abyssinian Guinea Pig has little rossettes in their longish fur and there had to be at least eight or more of these little rossettes or crowns before that could be classed as a true member of this breed.
I think that Gertie had about ten or twelve which made her look a little strange but it sort of added to her character.
They settled in well and were so easy to care for and it wasn’t long before we had fallen in love with them and they became true members of our family !!!
As soon as they saw any of us entering the garden they would emit these little squeaky sounds and would carry on until they were given attention.
Erin my youngest would have been about three at the time was walking towards them one day with a can of WD 40 in her hand one day. I caught her just before she managed to pour it on top of them.
When I asked what she was doing she replied ” I was going to stop them from squeaking like you do with my bike !!”
Then came one of those tricky moments when I had to explain the difference between one ’squeak’ and another.
Ha ha ha!!
Where is Gertie?
One morning I recall as if it was yesterday I remember going to to give them their breakfast when I only saw Rosie running towards me !!! Very strange indeed and i was a little worried hoping that Gertie was alright . I called her but no , no sign of her, so I opened the little door that led to their sleeping compartment and what did I see ??!! I stood there with my mouth wide open for it must have been a whole two minutes.!!!
Source: flickr.comSource: flickr.comSource: flickr.comSource: flickr.comWhat do we have here ?!
In there with her were baby Guinea Pigs !!! I couldn’t see how many and I was too taken aback to count them !!!
I remember to this day thinking how beautiful they were , eyes open and covered in fur !!! They were different colours too , black and white, all white and some like mum Gertie !!
I realised then that she was obviously pregnant when we went to pick them up from their previous home !
My shock now turned to excitement and I tell you now when I got excited I think I reached a higher level that the kids !! Haha ha!
As soon as I told my news everyone rushed out to investigate even though I stopped them from disturbing the new family too much , I was worried in case mum tried to eat them or something. You do hear of new mums in the animal kingdom doing these things if they are disturbed too soon after giving birth !!!
There was a lot of laughter when we got back into the house and everyone laughed at Gertie being already pregnant when we bought her.
The older children nicknamed her ‘Dirty Gertie from Number Thirty’ (even though we lived in number 25 ).
Their younger siblings didn’t get the gist of this joke and asked why Gertie was being called ‘dirty ‘ when she always looked clean !!!
Erin once more came up with the quick reply ” Because she poos a lot !!”
There we are then, it saved me thinking of a suitable explanation !!!!! ha ha!
Source: flickr.comHow many babies ?!
When we finally got round to counting the babies , there were six altogether !!
The little ones thrived and grew so quickly , and it was soon time to find them new homes !!!
No-one wanted to see any of them go but common sense prevailed and we found them all homes on the estate where we lived.
Source: flickr.comClean sweet smelling hutches .
As in most households Mum was left to feed and clean the hutches and to be honest I didn’t mind in the least.
There was something so satisfying in cleaning them out and then returning the occupants to their sweet hay smelling homes !!
They were always cleaned out regularly but a fresh and clean hutch still made a big difference.
It seemed as if they’d been with us for years and it was dificult to imagine life without them now.
Source: flickr.comSource: flickr.comSource: flickr.comSource: flickr.comOur new arrival.
I always liked seeing them out playing in their run as well and we very often let them run loose round the garden as long as we were out there with them and they were regular visitors into our kitchen as well.
I banned them from the living room because there were too many electrical leads and flexes within their reach.
Later on we did aquire another male Guinea Pig called Max and he was also a beauty.
He was twice the size of Gertie or Rosie and had a sleek bronze coloured coat !! He was stubborn and determined to have his wicked way with the two ladies .
We managed to keep them apart until one day when I was cleaning out the two ladies’ cage and I left them have a run around the garden . Our Max got out of his run and by the time I caught up with him , he had had his wicked way with Gertie.
I think Houdini would have been a more apt name for him !!
Even to this day when reminicing we refer to her as ‘Dirty Gertie From Number Thirty !!!’
Again the little ones were doted on but I do not recall how many she had this time !!!
Again new homes were found for each and everyone.
Max’s cage was reinforced and I am pleased to say that he did not have his wicked way with either of them again ! Ha !!
Oh the fun we have when we take a walk down memory lane !!