Monday, November 17, 2008

Guinea Pig/Cavy Heaven

Casey's mom and dad gave her the go-ahead to get a guinea pig, so she and I went "hog wild" this weekend and built a large cage, stocked it with guinea pig essentials, and then tracked down two juvenile guinea pigs. They're happiest in pairs or small same-sex groups, so I got one, too. Casey's is shiny black with spiky hair (an Abyssinian); mine is a tri-color smooth coat.

Searching for names, I came up immediately with Barack and Joe, which Casey vetoed just as promptly. She decided on BJ for hers; mine is still Joe until I come up with something better, but he'll always be Joe to me! (I coulda lied and told Casey that Barack is Swahili for "Black Knight," but just couldn't bring myself to do it...)

We did the research (for Casey's benefit, as I've had guinea pigs before) so that she'd know her responsibilities and what her new little charge likes and needs. I printed out an ASPCA care sheet and had her read and then listen to it while I read it, and then asked her what she remembered from it. She remembered nearly all of it.

She has promised her mom to do an extra ten dollars' worth of work around their house per week (in addition to her usual unpaid chores) in order to pay for the upkeep for her guinea pig. (A single guinea pig costs about $400/year to feed, house and care for properly.)

The cost to set up the two came to $150.00. We saved money by making the large cage ourselves. I had two, 2' x 2' drawers that were left over from the remodel, so I nailed them back to back, cut out about three inches of the back ledge on both of them to provide a passage way between the two (then figured, DUH! I didn't need to do that since they could just hop over the ledge!), and then put cage wire around the whole shebang. We attached a large water bottle to one side, made "hiding boxes" for them, poured in the appropriate ground cover, and put them in.

They're pretty timid right now, but not overly so. They'll come out and bat around while we watch. They'll even whistle, chuckle and squeal as we watch -- but not to us, yet, just to each other. Mine's the overly-chatty one. When they begin to recognize us as their people and their feeders, they'll start "talking" to us, too. And when we scratch them, they'll "purr."

They're better'n tribbles, 'cause they're real!

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