Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Keeping Cool

Wow it's hot in this fur coat!!
We have been having a hectic heat wave the last week or so with temperatures of 36 degrees!  I know I have been struggling to stay cool and I am not wearing a fur coat.

I have been trying to find ways to keep my boys happy and cool.  I have put ice water in their water bottles, made sure their veg is nice and chilled and includes cucumbers and watery veg so they keep hydrated.  They have a little fan over their cage and my mom made wonderful cooling pads for them.  They are filled with rice and put in the freezer (can be put in the microwave when it's cold, just a cautionary note, when heating up in a microwave just put a cup of water in as well, the rice is very dry and can catch alight) and then laid underneath their fleece and their houses to keep them nice and cool.  It has been a very successful project and I will definitely use them heated in winter.

Nice Cooling Pads

Fleece Covering the Cooling Pads

The boys took full advantage of the cooling pads and stretched out on them as soon as I put them into the cage.  I feel much happier knowing they can keep cool in this heatwave.

Yummy Carrot Tops are the Perfect Snack on a Hot Day

Monday, 19 November 2012

Snuggle Buddies

The boys had a nice relaxed weekend which involved mostly snuggling, playing and eating.  It has been really hot at the moment so I have been trying to find ways to keep the boys cool.  They have a small fan near them and no hot blankets.  I also have been using chilled water in their water bottles. My mom is great at sewing so she is going to make me some chill/heat pads for them so they can keep cool in summer and warm in winter.

As you can see, they are very happy together now and enjoy cuddling and playing together.  It makes me so happy to see my two boys getting along.  I love sitting with them on my lap while I watch tv.  I have been noticing though that Rhiley is growing at a heck of a rate.  He is only 5 months old and weighs a Kilogram already!

Chubby Little Rhiley Bum
I'm planning on taking the boys to my parents place soon so that they can play on the grass, Sherlock loves these outings, but Rhiley hasn't had one yet.  I'm sure he will love it!  I'm just waiting for it to cool down a bit first so that they don't overheat!

I'm not fat, I'm poofy...

Friday, 16 November 2012

Construction Time

We are getting a bigger cage!!  Yay!
So I got out my power drill and I got to work on extending the cage with the help of my mom.  It took one long day, but it was very worth it.  The boys were so happy, there was lots of running and popcorning and there has not been a fight since.

The New Kitchen

My boyfriend admiring my handy skills after he taught me how to work some power tools

The Finished Cage

A Pigs Eye View

My boys were happy, and so was I, they now had lots of space and some places they could go if they wanted alone time.  It was a lot of work, but I will never look back, it was so worth it.  This brings me to where I am now and to the joys of living with my guinea pig boys...

Now that we have lots of space we love each other again!

Monday, 12 November 2012


Things were going great with the boys for the first few weeks, but one night Rhiley hit adolescence with full force (yes guinea pigs have teenage mood swings too).  There was chasing, mounting and squealing, I sat motionless on my bed watching this whirlwind of fur flying around the cage, I won't lie, I was scared.  I however did not intervene, as I read that boys need to sort out their issues unless there is blood involved.  Luckily for me they calmed down and there was no bloodshed.

I decided at this point that I needed to make arrangements for having two boys now instead of a girl and a boy.  This meant changes to the cage, I wanted it to be bigger and to give them two eating areas and two sleeping areas to avoid conflict.  From the research I did I came to the conclusion that space + boars = happy boars.

The other thing I tried which was successful was a buddy bath.  This means you wash your piggies together with piggy friendly shampoo and then dry them with the same towel so they smell the same.

Mom We are All Wet Now!

Sherlock Gets a Friend

Sherlock was now a healthy four month old, mite free, happily housed and fed little piggy, but I still felt he was lonely as I work all day.  I also did a lot of research with regards to piggies and every source stated that a piggy needs a friend.  So after careful consideration I decided to have Sherlock neutered so he could have a little girlfriend (I know my blog says living with guinea pig boys... I'll get to that).  I had read that guinea pig boys don't always get along, so I didn't want to take the chance.

I booked Sherlock in for the surgery at an excellent exotics vet and like a baby I took my boy in and cried all the way home.  I waited by the phone the whole day and the minute I was allowed to collect him I was in my car armed with love and parsley...  I picked up a rather groggy pig who was grateful for his parsley treat.  He took about two weeks to recover, but recovered very well.

One Day After His Surgery In His Hospital Bed
 I knew that when getting a new piggy you must quarantine it for two weeks before introducing it to another piggy so you can check if it has any illnesses which can be passed onto your existing piggy.  Sherlock still had two weeks to go before he was allowed to be in contact with a female after his surgery, so the timing was perfect to adopt Faye.

My Little Faye

She was so tiny and so sweet, but caused me much anxiety as she refused to eat for the first two days.  I had to syringe feed her and nurse her to health.  She also needed to be treated for mites, I used revolution this time, much better.  I was very excited for her and Sherlock to meet, and finally the day came.  I introduced them on neutral territory with my boyfriend so that we had two pairs of eyes and hands in case something went wrong.  Sherlock looked confused and made a kind of hissing sound at first, but then came and sniffed her and ate some veggies.  He then proceeded to start licking her face and I knew they would be friends.

A few days later after a couple more introductions I cleaned out Sherlock's cage and put the two piggies in together, there was a fair amount of chasing and rumble strutting from Sherlock, but all settled down very soon.  I was happy that my Sherlock was happy. However as the next few days passed I noticed some strange behavior from Sherlock and Faye which made me question Faye's gender.  She was so tiny it was so hard to tell, so I did some more research about sexing guinea pigs and to cut a long story short, Faye turned out to be a boy piggy (hence the title of this blog).  I decided to rename him Rhiley and to keep an eye out for any aggressive behavior with the boys, truth be told I was nervous as I had heard all kinds of horror stories about boars fighting.

You Mean to Tell me I'm a Boy??!!!
My Boys in Their Cage Together

The Cage...

So... I am a designer which made this part a bit easier.  I drew up plans for a cage that I wanted to create for Sherlock and I asked my boyfriend to help me with the construction of it.  I covered a large masonite board with waterproof vinyl for the base and began to start putting together the wood structure.  I used a storage container for the eating area and made a nice ramp from some guttering padding and fabric.  I covered the sides of the cage with perspex and my mom sewed some nice new fleece blankets to use instead of sawdust for the cage (I found out this causes respiratory problems in piggies).  Fleece is easier to keep clean (I vacuum it every morning with a hand held vacuum cleaner) and it is a nice soft padded floor for little piggy feet.  I have a toweling layer beneath the fleece to keep it dry and I change the fleece once a week.

The whole process took two days and a lot of blood, sweat, love and tears.  Finally the cage was ready and Sherlock was put into his new lovely home.  He was so happy and enjoyed a nice long popcorning session.  He figured out the ramp very quickly and I could see the change in him instantly, this was one happy piggy.  The cage ended up being 75cm x 1.7m long.  I was very pleased with the result, not only did it look great, but was so much better for Sherlock.

The Base is Complete

Frame Work Going Up

Perspex and Double Storey On

It's Finished!

My Boy Exploring His New Home

Upstairs Dining Room

Sherlock Learning to Use a Ramp

Sweet Happy Piggy

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Guinea Pigs are Complex Creatures?

So as it turned out, guinea pigs require a lot more care, space attention and proper diet than I had realised, so I went on to rectify things for my sweet little Sherlock.  I found out that guinea pigs need proper vitamin C enriched pellets, a varied diet of fresh vegetables (no iceberg lettuce), unlimited good quality hay, fresh water (preferably in a bottle so it doesn't get full of food etc), floor time as well as a large cage with a flat base (no bars) and most importantly, a friend.

So this was a lot to take in so I figured I would do things one step at a time.  I started with the water and diet which was easy enough to change.  Next step was floor time which was easy enough to offer... now there was the cage situation to deal with as well as the friend situation.  Unfortunately I also realised that my sweet piggy had mites (causing him to itch and become very uncomfortable) so it was off to an exotics vet.

Sherlock Enjoying Some Floor Time

My Poor Baby Looking Poorly With Mites

Sherlock had to go on a course of invermectin injections (which later I found could have been avoided with a painless dose of revolution).  I also had to disinfect his whole environment and nurse him back to health.  Fortunately my baby recovered well and started picking up weight nicely.  I had at this point decided that I wanted to design and build a better, bigger cage for Sherlock (and eventually his buddy).  I wanted to make something pretty and spacious as well as easy to clean and ultimately better for my boy.

My Boy Looking Much Healthier

Bringing Home Sherlock

I have always wanted a guinea pig... I don't know what it is about those cute, silly, happy little faces, but I just have wanted one since I was eleven years old.  I am now 25 and living in my own home.  

One quiet day in February 2012, shortly after I had moved into my own place, I was sitting on my couch with my mom and we were chatting.  I told her that I still wanted a guinea pig and she said well then lets go get one!  I jumped to my feet and set off to find my new fur baby.  I didn't really know anything about guinea pigs, so I went and bought a cute, but way too small hutch, some food bowls, dry food and saw dust.  I knew Sherlock was my piggy the minute I saw him.  I picked up this tiny, sweet ball of fluff and brought him home with me.  I set up his new home (which would soon prove to be inadequate, but like I said I didn't know any better) and I proceeded to give him lots of cuddles and some yummy cucumber to welcome him home.

The Hutch I bought Sherlock

My Sweet Baby Eating Some Cucumber

Each and every day I grew to love this little piggy more and more, but I also began to realise just how little I knew about guinea pigs.  These little creatures are far more complex than most people realise, so if I could do one thing differently about that day, it would have been to research these special little animals a bit more.