My Favorite Critters? Cavys a.k.a. Guinea Pigs
Guinea Pigs Are Awesome Pets
The Cavy also known as [A. K. A.] the Guinea Pig are awesome pets for a family that doesn't have room for a dog or a cat but still want a family pet. They have been the best critters I have ever owned. Guinea Pigs are very gentle and meek creatures. To me they are like having a puppy or a kitten that will never grow up. A Cavy is about that same size. Turn them around and you see where the idea for Tribbles on Star Trek came from!
This small mammal's unique qualities have won my heart. Their personalities are fun and varied. You could have a wild, bossy little critter on your hands -- or a quiet little fur ball. Their temperament is shy and attitudes can be very sweet. They can be the center of attention or humble. They are a little skittish but do cuddle if you work with them. They are talkative in their own way and cleaning up after them is very easy. Our cages clean easy because they are large plastic storage boxes. Included here is a diagram for making your own small animal cage.
My first Cavy Baby, Ms. Snickers, (top left) was very small when I brought her home. She was a gift from a lady that breeds Cavys for showing. Guinea Pigs are bred for their ears and fur and for show just like fancy dogs. They have thoroughbred bloodlines like horses do. Ms. Snickers did not have a pedigree bloodline. She was the result of a breeding test to see if her mother was fertile. I think it's just fine she wasn't a blue blood. It had no impact on me when this delightful creature entered my life.
All Images: M Burgess unless otherwise indicated...
Guinea Pig Care
Best Friends Forever
The first thing I had to do when I brought my first cavy home was seek out information on Guinea Pig care. Tending to her properly would keep her happy and healthy. She was my new best friend forever so I had to learn about her fast! In a Guinea Pig reference guide I learned about feeding them right. and how easy they are to care for. Keep them fed and clean and they are happy.
The better you maintain your Guinea Pig the more interactive they will be. You have to handle them frequently for them to tame to you. Handle them gently, please!
Guinea Pig Care Books - Reference Guides & Manuals
These reference guides on Guinea Pig care are informative and fun. From their feeding habits to signs to look for to tell if your Piggie is sick. Place a few care guides in your library for quick reference. A Guinea Pig is easy to care for and easy to love!
This Animal Planet Guide to Guinea Pigs has wonderful illustrations and tips on all around Guinea Pig Care. This manual is also available in Kindle edition.
The Guinea Pig Handbook is packed with not only great advice from a Veterinarian, it has received excellent reviews!
Adopting Guinea Pigs
My Breeder Cavy
I adopted my very first Guinea Pig in March of 2008 when I was thinking about adopting a dog or a cat. I had a small apartment and wanted appropriate sized pet for the home.
I shared this with my friend at work and she told me she was a Cavy breeder, which meant she raised and bred Guinea Pigs. She told me she had a couple she wanted to give away. I had never owned one and I love critters so I immediately told her I would take one. Ms. Snickers came home with me a few days later. I fell in love with this creature the moment I laid eyes on her. It didn't take long for me to find a permanently home in my heart for these sweet animals!
I named her Snickers because her markings looked like the candy bar if you stepped on it. The name kind of fit and she liked it so it stayed!
Guinea Pigs Talk!?!
When we first brought Snickers home and we were holding her, she made these rattling, purring noises. We thought she was mad or threatening but it turns out she was happy!
The best thing about a Cavy is their noises. They purr, bark, whistle, chirp, chatter, and squeal in different tones. They will let you know they are hungry by squeaking and squealing. You might think they are hungry all the time. Any time the fridge opens in our home they go on the alert. Rattle any plastic bag and you will set them off begging, too.
Sometimes Guinea Pigs make that purring sound when you pet them or even when you stand near their cage.Â
If they are happy and in a light mood they may even giggle for you! I have heard this sound when I touched the back hip on my Guinea Pigs. They squeal and jump around like they are being tickled. It's really funny! I call it tickle and giggle time.
Guinea Pig Sounds - And Noises
Guinea Pigs make all kinds of sounds. In this list you will find some of the favorite noises they make. My favorites are their giggle and purring sounds.
Guinea Pig Origins and Noises - Videos
Guinea Pigs are wonderful, animated animals. This Animal Planet video will teach you about their origin while the How To Recognize Guinea Pig Noises video will help identify what your piggie is trying to tell you!
My Pet Store Guinea Pig
Meet Ms. Sunny
My second Guinea Pig is Little Miss Sunshine or Ms. Sunny for short. I brought Ms. Sunny home from the pet store in April of 2011. I had to call around to find another female. The store I bought her from separates them so they don't breed. One store sells males the other stocks the females. The females can be impregnated soon after they birth a litter so unless you want babies, keep them separated!
From My FB Journal Entry about Ms Sunny:
I adopted an 8 week old guinea pig the other day. She is a tiny lil thing, fits in the palm of my hand. She is still really skitterish. I heard her make a funny warbling noise tonite, kinda like a water faucet gurgling noise. She is still trying to hide at every little sound and motion. I say something to her and she ducks into her little blankie cave. I think Snickers, my other guinea pig is teaching her how to be a brat. I like it that way. This one (Snickers) has helped me get through a lot of tests over the 3 years I have had her and she has taught me a bunch about being responsible.
I adopted Ms. Sunny so Ms. Snickers could have some company. I thought she might want someone of her kind to chat with.
This did not work out too well. Ms. Sunny was all about making friends but Ms. Snickers was not receptive. She bit her on the ear and the two have been kept in separate cages until Snicker's passing. Snicker's was always a nipper.
One of the things that drew me to Ms. Sunny in the store was that she was separated from the other guinea pigs in the cage and seemed a bit lonely. Sunny cried a lot when I brought her home. Made me cry she sounded so sad.
Ms Sunny is still skittish but she is getting better at being petted. She is my bossy Cavy and she has tantrums! I keep the lids off their cages because I like to watch them and there are no other pets at home that would be predator to them. Ms. Sunny tosses her fits and squeals at me to get her way and in the process kicks the pine bedding over the cage side. I think this one is a little silly in the head.
That's probably what I get for naming her My Little Miss Sunshine.
Guinea Pig Cages
Small Animal Habitats
A large cage is important to give your Guinea Pig room to get around. Place something in their home so they have a hiding place. Guinea pigs like to duck away someplace safe. My Guinea Pigs dash into their hiding place until they know for sure I am not an intruder. They do come out when they realize that big presence in the room is bringing food!
Layer the bottom of their cage with pine shavings. Do not use cedar shavings. The cedar has chemicals in it that will make your Guinea Pig or other small animals sick. The pine shavings are ideal. They are inexpensive and the smell of the fresh pine bedding will have your Guinea Pigs burrowing down to make a comfortable place to nap or sit. The shavings are soft on their little bodies. Make sure their are no large slivers of wood in the layer you add to their cage. These can be sharp and cause injury. Run your hand through the bedding when you fill their cage again. I recommend a layer about 1/3 the depth of the box.
Make Your Own Small Animal Cage - How To Guide Diagram
The cages my Guinea Pigs inhabit are large storage box containers. They are very easy to care for and I like the convenience of them. They keep them safe and clean. The diagram shows how you may make one of these boxes yourself with a couple of tools and a little bit of time. You will need a drill and a couple of strong zip ties.
Sterilite Storage Container 116 Quart - Ideal Home For Small Animals
Sterilite storage containers are the best storage boxes around. They are lightweight. They can hold a lot of goods and make an excellent home for small animals and pets because there is plenty of room to roam in this box for them. Set them up for rodents or keep reptiles in them. The latches are ideal for securing the lid if you have nosy cats or dogs. I have even raised baby chickens in one of these boxes!
These storage containers are multi use in my home. I use a couple for animal cages and the others I store seasonal clothing and bedding in. They are ideal for emergency equipment and other items you would like water-proofed.
Supplies For Making Your Own Cage - For Small Animals
You will need a sturdy drill and a few zip ties to create a neat little home for your small pet. The drill will be needed to add some air holes for ventilation in the sides of the container. I prefer a drill you can plug into the wall. The battery powered drills only get about half-way around the cage then needs recharged. Zip ties will hold the water bottle where your furry little friend can get to it easily.
Cleaning A Guinea Pig Cage - Keep That Cavy Clean!
A cage for a Guinea Pig should be easy to clean and have no areas in it they can get stuck in or be harmed. It should have a bottom on it that is easy to clean. Keep that Cavy clean by changing out the cage bedding at least once a week. Guinea Pigs like all animals will start to smell after a few days so remove waste often and treat them to new bedding. When I change out my piggies cages I anchor a trash bag under one side of their cage and let the bedding drop into the bag.
Make sure you remove your Guinea Pig first!
For cleaning the cage, I use a solution of Wintergreen Rubbing Alcohol and water in a spray bottle. I mist the cage down and let it sit for a few seconds then wipe the cage down with paper towels. If you have a yard, use a solution of dish soap and a hose to clean the cage. Rinse out the soap and let the cage air dry. For added sanitizing mist the container with the Alcohol mixture and let it dry out. This helps remove bacteria that may remain after the washing.
Use a solution of 1/3 Wintergreen Rubbing Alcohol to 2/3 water in your spray bottle. It smells great, cleans nicely, and it sanitizes! Very important that is it pet friendly, also. The vapors leave quickly leaving a nice minty scent behind.
This pack of 6 spray bottles is very economical. One for each area of your home!
The smell of fresh pine is only a little nicer than the smell of a clean cage! Your Piggie will love digging down into the new bedding when you change their cage.
For Adolescent Children
Cavy's are great pets for responsible older, adolescent children AND adults, too. They are easy to care for just feed them twice daily (or as you want to respond to their begging!) Changing their cage bedding is about all the major care they need. Sitting with them and holding them is good for both of you!
Be very careful with them when you pick them up. Handling a Guinea Pig in the wrong way can be harmful to them and to you! They may bite and if and when they do they have sharp teeth like all rodents do. Handy the front and the back of them at the same time and scoop them to your chest supporting the back legs. Use caution when picking them up because their bones are fragile.
This is Ms. Sunny in her fresh, cleaned cage
Guinea Pig Supplies - Spoil that Cavy!
Cavy's need very little when it comes to their homes. My Cavy adoptive mom taught me how to use a plastic container with air holes drilled in it for their home environment. Spoil them with goodies and fresh greens and veggies and make sure they have plenty of water. The pine bedding is best for them as it is non-toxic and smells fresh (most of the time.)
Spoil your cavy by providing good, healthy treats now and then and maybe a carrot or two!
Water is important for your Guinea Pig's health. Keep the water bottle full and clean and you will have a happy Piggie!
This is the staple food for your Guinea Pig's diet. Pellets are essential for their major vitamins and fiber content.
Lot's of hay is great fun for your Piggie. They play in it, eat it and use it for bedding, too! Ms. Sunny pops and giggles when she knows she is getting her batch of hay for the day!
Breeders OR Pet Store?
Where can I get the best pet?
Sunny was a pet store Guinea Pig. Pet store animals usually don't get the attention a breeder's animals would. Being handled rarely makes them good cage pets but interaction with humans is not great. A breeder's cavy will have been hand fed and handled and introduced to people when they are very young.
Ms. Sunny usually hides in her cage if someone walks by it. She is jumpy. Any slight movement around her and she ducks into her covers. Holding her seems very traumatic. She gets very nervous out of her home. She's got a really cute face don't you think?
Guinea Pigs Are Herbivores
That Means They Are Vegetarians
Cavys are herbivores which means they eat vegetarian style. Guinea Pigs eat greens, veggies, and fruits! Every morning and later in the evening we feed our Guinea Pigs a pile of romaine lettuce or a lettuce mix. I started using the Romaine because I didn't have a source of fresh grass available to feed them. They are grazers like cows are.
In addition to the pellets and pre-packaged Guinea Pig mixes available feed them Timothy Hay and healthy goodies. Guinea Pigs need to forage constantly so make sure their feed is always available.
Small Animal Poll - We all have our favorite pets
My favorite pets of the moment are Guinea Pigs but I have had other pets that were awesome. That list includes reptiles, snakes, other rodents, birds, cats, dogs, and insects. You name it I love critters!
(Free Ranging Varmint - Ms. Snicker's out for a walk.)
What is your favorite small animal?
My Rescue Cavy
Adopting Ms. Jessie - Guinea Pig #3
This is Ms. Jessie. She was brought home after an inquiry to Adopt A Pet. When Ms. Snicker's passed away I wanted to get another Guinea Pig. I took me awhile to let Snicker's memory settle. When it was time for a new Guinea Pig I started my search. Looking around at various sites I saw Ms. Jessie's picture on Adopt A Pet's website and I knew she was coming home with me!
I think she was a breeder baby as she has a mellow personality. She is a nice lady Guinea Pig! She actually seems to be a polite animal. Good manners this one has. Quite the opposite of my little handful, Ms. Sunny.
Ms. Jessie is all black with a dark but silvery band around her middle. It makes taking pictures of her very difficult as they are usually a black blur. I call her my little black cloud with a silver lining!
She drinks a lot of water so I have a larger water bottle for her than I do for Ms. Sunny. She's my lil waterhog.
Finding a good Cavy takes a little searching. You will know when you have the right Guinea Pig. They will win your heart the moment you meet them!
My Guinea Pigs have helped keep me responsible. I have vowed to be home at noon and shortly after midnight to make sure they are fed properly and ensure their water bottles are clean and full. It is very important to me that no matter what I do or where I am I need to go home and tend to my "girls". Buying their groceries is priority everyday even if I am not at home for very long. They get the foods they need and the care they deserve. I hope you enjoyed meeting my Cavy's a.k.a. Guinea Pigs. Thanks for visiting!
Have you ever had a Guinea Pig?