When I was nine-years old I use to take the bus downtown during Christmas time and go through all the stores that were so beautifully decorated. In those days there were no malls; everyone shopped downtown. It was funny but the walks would not be shoveled there were simply paths made by the footprints of shoppers as they hurriedly did their Christmas shopping. In the larger department stores I would love to stand at the windows where they had electrified puppets that would move. For example, there might be chipmunks in a village and trains going around a large track in much bigger kits than you could ever imagine having at home. It was truly a “Winter Wonderland.”
My favorite place to go was a store named Grant’s. I loved to go there for two reasons. The first reason is they had the best bakery in the entire city at least to me. More importantly was the fact they had birds and fish and tiny little rodents. I usually could not buy one. I had been badgering my mother for one and finally told her it would help me in science class if I owned one. She finally relented and let me purchase one. My choice was a guinea pig. She let me purchase one male and one female guinea pig. I cannot tell you now how long I had them but it was for awhile. My guinea pig did not die. I finally gave them to the zoo when we moved. They were a great pet.
I had one that was white and the other was brown, black and white. To me she was a beautiful rodent. The scientific name for a guinea pig is Cavia porcellus. The male was named “Silver” after the Lone Ranger’s horse and the female was named “Patches.”
The guinea pig is a gentle animal. They are a little larger than a hamster. They are very social and while it is recommended you have two of the same gender I found it was fine to have them of different genders. Guinea pigs are active during the day and sleep about six hours a night which makes them a wonderful pet for the family. Guinea pigs love to be petted and handled gently and when they are happy they whistle. After you have had them for a few days you are excited to hear them whistle because you know you have made them happy.
I have linked to some guinea pigs “fighting” for a cucumber.
One interesting fact about a guinea pig is they are unable to store vitamin C. Therefore, it is necessary to give them a vitamin C supplement in their water every day. Another fact is their front teeth continue to grow. As a result, it is necessary to have available for them things to chew in order to keep their teeth down to size. It is always important to wash your hands after handling your guinea pig.
As I said guinea pigs tend to be a fair size and are 7 to 12 inches long and live about five to eight years of age. It is fine to own one once you have reached the age of 8 or so.
The guinea pig should have plenty of vegetables and fruits. Carrots, dark green leafy vegetables and collard greens are good for them. Vitamin C rich foods for them such as kiwi and oranges are good choices. They should be fed at the rate of two tablespoons per day. Your guinea pig’s water bottle should be cleaned every day.
The cage should be well ventilated and have plenty of room for the guinea pig to run around and for accessories. As I said these rodents are a little larger and need plenty of space. The cage should be placed in low humidity area, out of direct sunlight and away from drafts.
What is the sign of a healthy guinea pig?
They have bright eyes, soft fur and a fully rounded body. They eat and drink normally and they have well formed droppings. Diarrhea is a bad sign. One of the worst things to see in a guinea pig is sneezing or wheezing or discharge from the eyes, nose or mouth and lethargy.
How do you know if a guinea pig is right for you?
Do you have room for a guinea pig and do you have time to interact with one? That is the most important things.
I believe having any type of a pet is wonderful. I love music and I love animals. If you have the capability of owning a pet I highly recommend it.
“Guinea Pig, Cavia porcellus,” Brochure Care Guide, Pet Smart, 2006