My Recent Purchase - Guinea Pigs
The kids have finally worn me down. After many years of asking for a pet I have finally given in.
My own happy childhood was full of pets and I had been feeling guilty that my own kids (6 & 10) were missing out on the experience. One of the main reasons for delay is that my husband has an allergy to fur so our choices were limited. Cats and dogs were a definite no. We had looked after friends hamsters but my husband had noticed the effect that these little guys caused. Our only choice seemed to be outside pet.
When our friend's guinea pig gave birth it gave us the perfect opportunity to create an action plan to convince my husband. The kids were desperate and after lots of nagging - he gave in!
We only had a choice of two male guinea pigs, I was a little unsure at first, as I was told it was better to get females as they are less likely to fight. However friends have two males and they get on fine. I decided I would rather get two brothers from a family I knew rather than a pet shop with random girls in.
We had six weeks to prepare and I insisted the children used this time to find out as much as they could about looking after their soon to be pets. We found some great websites. The best information we found on the net was from: http://www.cavyspirit.com/care.htm
Not sure what type of hutch to go for, I looked at lots of reviews. The online pet shop Zooplus http://www.zooplus.co.uk/shop has lots of product reviews and photos from customers and this definitely convinced me what hutch to pick. I choose the Trixie Natura Single Rabbit Hutch with Run 116cm in length. I liked this one because it had an extra space underneath accessed via a ramp, a pull out plastic coated base to help with the cleaning and a hinged lid for top access. So far I am very happy with it however I do wonder when the Guinea Pigs are fully grown whether this hutch will be big enough. You do loose quite a lot of floor space when the ramp is in use but this area can be closed off. The latch has been recently updated to a bolt that locks both doors. I am slightly cautious about this lock because if the children do not close it evenly it is possible to lock one side but not the other. My boys have been instructed to check the handle part is in the central drop part before leaving the hutch.
The hutch came flat packed and my ten year old and I built it in about 45minutes. I was not keen on the orange stain but I noticed in the customer photographs on the Zooplus site, that many owners had stained and painted theirs in different colours. The black mesh seems substantial but I will not know if it is fox proof till we put it in the garden. At the moment they are just outside the kitchen door in our garage, I felt they were just too small to go outside completely but when spring comes they will be moved outside.
I bought a Trixie Corner Toilet; so far they have not used it. Everyday I collect up the dry poo's and place it in the toilet tray as well as a few bits of paper soaked in their urine, so that they know where the toilet is. They seem to be happy to go anywhere but they are only still 6 weeks old. The toilet is rather large and takes up a lot of space.
I am happy with the Drinky Drinking Bottle, it is easy to fill and attaches from the outside facing inwards. My guinea pigs do not seem to drink a lot of water. You will notice in the photo on the left back hand corner there is an additional drinking bowl but the do not seem to touch this. They do eat a lot of cucumber, grass and veg so hopefully they get enough fluid.
On the right of the photo I have attached a Trixie Hay Rack, this hold the hay well and seems study enough. I have attached a guinea pig treat ring, hanging from the door but they show no interest in it all.
In the lower level I have placed a hay tunnel which they do sit in and a towel on the floor as the concrete is cold. I often put their veggie teats in a bowl down there as it encourages them to be brave and explore.
Every Saturday I get the boys to clean the hutch thoroughly. They take everything out, brush it out and then clean the plastic tray, water bottles and bowls. They then lay a few layers of newspapers down, a good covering of soft wood shavings on top. A couple of times a week I remove some of the more soiled shavings and replace them with fresh dry ones. There are some shavings in the toilet tray with some of the poo collected from the main area.
In the Guinea pigs sleeping area the boys place a large amount of straw. In the day guineas like flatten it down and rest on top of it but at night they disappear under to sleep.
The main food I give them is a Gerty style mixed flaked food. They seem happy to eat all of it but I do let it run down low before refilling it (to stop them being fussy and only picking out the best bits). I was advised to buy the same food as they were getting before they arrived. This avoids stomach upsets and provides a familiar meal for them. The have fresh veggies everyday; they love kale, carrots, apples and I cut fresh grass for them too.
My boys handle spend ten minutes with the guinea pigs (Malteser & Chocolate Buttons) before they go to school. They feed them cucumber (it is their favourite) as I am trying to get the guineas to recognise being handled as the time they get their treats. When the boys get home after school they get some boxes and tubes out and let them explore a corner of the kitchen. The guinea pigs take every opportunity to hide but I have noticed they are starting to get more confident.
UPDATE 1: They are girls not boys! I spent ages looking at the example pictures on the net and trying to compare with our guineas. It is so hard when they are little. I decide in then end that whatever sex they were they had the same looking genitals so at least no risk of babies! A friend since has confirmed that they are girls. The boys were shocked and the youngest a little upset. Luckily their names work for both sexes.
UPDATE 2: 3 months on and all is going well. We ditched the toilet after a few weeks. Guineas never went near it. At first I thought there was a connection with when they were eating, so moved their food to the bottom level on some paper card that I could regularly collect the poo in. This does not work. The only place they do not poo in, is the back of their sleeping compartment (where they sleep - which makes sense).
In the very cold weather I put a small drinking water bottle filled with warm (not hot) water in an old sock and placed it in their sleeping compartment at night. I was told this would work like a hot water bottle. You can buy specially designed ones but as they seemed expensive, I thought I would give it a go. I noticed that they slept right next to it so it must have helped. I took it out in the morning as it was cold by this point.
I placed an old towel in the bottom level as they are on a cold concrete base (I will move them out onto grass in the spring). I noticed they took it turns to use it so I decided to spoil them and buy a cosy bed (Cuddl-E-Cup). This has proved to be popular. As my guineas are still on the small size there is plenty of room for them both but they do not use it at the same time. I notice they do occasionally poo in it, so I pop it into the washing machine every week or so.
I have not cut their nails yet, a friend who has Guinea Pig said she will show me how when they are ready. I have given them a bath. I searched for videos on YouTube to find out what to do. They best advice was to be all ready and prepared. Once those Guineas are in the water you need everything at hand. I placed a towel on the bottom of the sink. Filled it with an inch or so of warm water and a little bit of baby shampoo. I washed Malty first and she was fine but Buttons hated it. They main reason I bathed them was the problem with knotted hair around their bottom. They have a long skirt at the back which seems to drag in their urine and is always wet. I have had to cut quite a few knots out. Finally I had to resort to giving them a good haircut! Again Malty was fine but Buttons hated it. I sat them in my lap with a large amount of parsley and worked slowly and very carefully. It has worked well as they have not had many knots and there bottoms now stay dry.
Parsley, oh how they love it! I have bought one of those supermarket
pots of parsley. Kale and cucumber is still popular as well as pepper,
celery and a little bit of carrot. For Christmas they boys bought them
a guinea pig stocking from the pet shop. It had special Guinea Pig food
treats in but to be honest they were not interested in them at all.
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