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Ask the Cavies

Last updated: 24 Aug 96

Cavy Chronicles A Day in the Lives of Three Cavies Ask the Cavies Cavy
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Fifth Edition

24 Aug 96

Amy Eaton (eaton@ATCON.COM): I just got a one year old guinea pig. Any tips on care, etc. for this pet? Any comments on what type of pet they make?

Sundae: What exactly would you like to know? Here are a few very important things to keep in mind.

His enclosure should be at least four square feet. We love to run and jump and play. Mama calls our jumps popcorning because she says we act like popcorn seeds in hot oil. Right now, Wheeker and I are cramped into about four and a half square feet. You see, when Wheeker first came home a year ago, she was really small and did not take up very much room. Well, mama and papa did not realize that she is really getting big and that we are getting a bit squished in here. Now that Truffles has gotten rid of the parasites she brought home from the pet store, mama wants to put her with us, but there is not enough room. We do have a new enclosure being made for us that is ten square feet, but it takes about three weeks for the company to make so we are all waiting patiently. Until then, Truffles has to stay in her separate enclosure.

He needs vitamin C in his diet. My favorite high vitamin C veggie is parsley and Wheeker has decided she likes it too and always steals mine. At first, she would not even touch it, but that all changed as soon as she saw I liked it. We also like endive, but it has less vitamin C so mama doesn't give it to us as often. Truffles' only vitamin C veggie that she will eat (except for endive or maybe a parsley stem or a tiny mouthful of kale) is spinach.

He also should have access to as much hay as he wants to eat. We love to munch on hay all the time. My favorites are timothy hay and oat hay. I would love to have more oat hay, but the doctor said that it has too many calories. Wheeker's favorite is alfalfa hay, but we do not get very much since it has a high amount of calcium so she eats mostly timothy hay. Truffles also likes timothy and alfalfa hay. Mama just found out about bermuda grass, but she has not brought any home yet.

As for what type of pet we make ... we are absolutely wonderful and charming.

Amy: Thanks for the information! Actually one thing I was curious about was nutrition and I guess you answered some of that.

Sundae: Along with nutrition comes health. His coat should be fairly dense, even, and have a bit of a shine, even if he is not a satin. His ears should be clean (I hate it when mama cleans out my ears, though). His eyes should be shiny, and his eyes and nose should not have any discharge coming from them. His teeth should be even with each other and his gums should be pink and not have sores on them.

Amy: About how long do guinea pigs usually live for?

Sundae: We can live up to around thirteen years. I'll be turning three in a couple months, Wheeker just turned one, and Truffles is now two months old.

Amy: Are guinea pigs full grown at age one?

Sundae: Generally we are. Some are late bloomers, but they probably won't grow more than 10-15% of their weight at age one. I stopped growing when I was two years old, but Wheeker seemed to stop growing when she was eleven months old. Please also remember that we do need exercise and can get overweight if we do not get enough.

Amy: Do they require a companion? Or is human companionship enough?

Sundae: I was an only child for two years before mama brought home Wheeker. I was okay by myself, but mama started working more and I was alone all day. I was really lonely. If you are home most of the time and play with him all the time, he should be happy. Mama used to have lots of time for my favorite games like hide and seek and follow the leader. We still play sometimes, but when she is busy, I just play with Wheeker.

Amy: My pig squeaks alot when I hold him. Does this mean he's scared?

Sundae: We make many different sounds. Usually when I am scared, I run away or freeze and try to roll myself up really small so no one sees me. When mama holds me, I usually sit really quiet and cuddle with her. I love to cuddle. Or I purr when mama strokes me and scratches me on my back and the top of my head. Sometimes, when mama moves around, I murmur and ask her to stop since I want to enjoy the cuddle. Wheeker usually complains and complains unless mama is holding both of us at the same time. Truffles starts screaming because she just wants to be fed ... but then, she is always screaming and wants to be fed. I guess she does not stop just because mama is holding her.

A Note from Sundae: Please keep your questions coming. I do not know what questions to answer without your help. Please send them to me at:


Fourth Edition

11 Jun 96

Zelda ( Hi Wheeker and Sundae! I am Zelda, a 2 year old guinea pig. I have a story for you. I was bathed twice and both times my owner got in trouble. She wasn't supposed to take me into the bathtub but she didn't care so I was swimming laps around and around because I was so nervous. I could have won a gold at the Guinea Pig Olympics.

The second (and hopefuly the last time) I was bathed I was so annoyed I sneezed out some white stuff at my owner's aunt while she was drying me. And for 2 days I stayed in my box whenever Violet (my owner) came near me.

Sundae: Hi Zelda! I'm 2 years old, too. Actually, I'm almost 3 (in October). One time one of my humans, mama, took me into the big bathtub and made me swim laps ... but I absolutely hated it. When mama put her hands in to catch me, I jumped up into her arms and got her all wet. She hasn't put me in the big bathtub ever again, even though I get put in my bathtub every week. Wheeker has never been in the big bathtub, but mama's been thinking about trying her in it now that the weather's getting warmer.

Piggle & Wiggle ( Our names our Piggle & Wiggle. We are brother and sister, or sister and sister, or brother and brother ... our humans don't seem to know and we don't care, we just want to eat. We love to eat, sounds like you do too.

We used to be really fat, but our human moved us from the ocean to the mountains. I wonder why we are thinnner here in the mountains. Do you know why?? We didn't join Piggie Craig Weight Loss Center!!

My human built us a really cool habitat. We live on the floor the spare bedroom. She put a tarp down and then covered it with yummy hay. Then our human put logs all around the edge of it and some really cool ones inside. The best part is that half of it has a bamboo top over it, we really like that because we LOVE to hide out in dark places. We feel very comfortable in little hiding spots.

Our human took us to her garden and we ate ourselves to oblivion. It was scary though because there are birds of prey in the sky, and if you don't already know this, we are definately PREY. That is why we hide so much. What about you guys? Do you like to hide too? Do you have a little dark spot in your cage?

We are glad that you have each other during the day. Please write back soon. -- Piggle & Wiggle (

Sundae: Hi Piggle and Wiggle. Wheeker's eating as usual. You must like your big house and your garden. We have a pretty nice house and we have a gigantic grassy lawn that is fun to hide in when papa doesn't cut it for weeks. I really don't get scared much, even when I'm outside since I know that mama is watching out for me. But Wheeker gets scared at every little sound and runs into me. Mama doesn't give us things to hide under, but we do find places to go under (like our cart, papa's desk, the piano, etc.).

Chris Moore (from Compuserve) wrote: I have two Guinea Pigs called Toffee and Fudge. They have had the skin disease Mytes and I would like to know how to stop them getting it again.

Sundae: Mama, I don't know how to answer this.

Mama: Well, I'm not an expert on guinea pig diseases or problems. Most of mine (thankfully) have never had a disease or major problem. Sundae did have mites when I brought her home from the pet store and the vet gave her two shots (ten days apart) of Ivermectrin. I also cleaned out her cage thoroughly every day between the shots as well as after the last shot since part of the mite's lifecycle is off the animal. She never had them again after that.

I've heard that some mites live in bedding, especially wood shavings. If your guinea pigs are continually getting mites, you should consider getting a different bedding or getting it from another store.

Chris (if you're reading this), I was unable to send a response to your question via e-mail because your return e-mail did not seem valid. If this was done unintentionally, please contact me and I will reference your proper address here and in thanks.

Third Edition

30 Mar 96

Ann Marbourg ( writes: "My one year old guinea pig, Posy, likes to chew on the bars of his cage, and I saw him this morning chewing on them. Suddenly, he squeaked and ran back. I then noticed his tooth had fallen out! I was wondering if this is all right."

Sundae: I have never had any problems with my teeth, but then I do not chew on cage bars. I used to, but papa would squirt me with water and mama would say "NO" every time I tried, so I stopped. They think it is a bad habit and not very pleasant looking. Mama has never had a cavy that lost a tooth, but they will grow back eventually. Just keep watching the teeth and file down the one that is still growing if it gets too long. If you feel uncomfortable with doing this, you can have a doctor do it. Mama says there are special doctors for cavies and you should look for one who knows us, not just dogs and cats.

Samantha ( writes: "I have a piggie named Pepe whose stomach seems to be big. It's not like her sister's tummy. I'm afraid she may be pregnant. I've heard of stories about stupid pet stores who don't know male from female and sometimes end up with a pregnant cavy. I'd like to know if you knew anything about pregnant piggies and how I would know Pepe is pregnant. I don't want to go to the vet next week and find out she's not getting everything she needs because I've had her for a month already. Anything you could tell me would be appreciated."

Sundae: I have never been pregnant and neither has Wheeker. Mama says it is true that some pet stores do not know very much about cavies and brothers and sisters are left together and make babies together. Babies usually are born after nine or ten weeks. Whether or not Pepe is pregnant, she should be getting lots of yummy food high in vitamin C. You already know my favorite foods. Other foods that some cavies like that are good for them are kale and dandelion leaves. The important thing is variety. Sometimes mama forgets about that and we get bored of having the same thing every day.

The important thing to remember is that if you are worried about your cavy because he seems different (he is not as active as usual, he is losing weight, he does not eat or drink as much as normal, etc.), you should take him to the doctor. Although I do not like to go to the doctor and have him poke and prod at me, he really is a nice human and I usually feel better after I see him. Last time I saw him, he gave Wheeker and me a handful of yummy meadow grass because we were munching on our records and he wanted them back.

Second Edition

15 Mar 96

Selena Simonetti ( asks, "Wheeker and Sundae, what are your favorite vegetables besides what was mentioned on the list?"

Sundae: Aha! One of my most favorite subjects. If I am not actually eating, the next best thing is talking about foods. In my introduction, I said that romaine lettuce, sunflower seeds, and timothy hay are my favorites. I also absolutely adore carrots. That reminds me, I have not had a single carrot for several days. Anyone reading this, please remind my mama that this is one of my favorite foods. I think she has forgotten about them. I also like parsley, spinach, radicchio, and endive. So, Wheeker, what do you like?

carrotWheeker: Huh? Crunch, crunch, crunch!

Sundae: What do you like to eat?

Wheeker: Crunch, crunch, crunch!

Sundae: Sorry, folks! Wheeker is finishing her carrot. Carrot!!! Mama, you had better get me one when I finish writing this article! She pretty much likes the same veggies that I do. She does not try anything unless I eat it first ... actually, she always wants the piece that I am eating, even when she has her own piece. She likes to steal my food and put it into her pile of food.

Question: What vegetables do you not like to eat?

Sundae: I absolutely hate kale, and so does Wheeker. Mama says that there are many cavies that love kale, but I do not like it. When mama puts it in front of me, I put myself into reverse and get out of the way. There are a few other veggies I do not like, but I do not know what they are called.

Selena Simonetti ( asks, "For the owners of Wheeker and Sundae: Did you buy your little piglets at a store or a breeder?"

Sundae: Mama, you really need to have your own "Ask the Humans" page. So, where did we come from?

Mama: Well, Sundae, both you and Wheeker came from pet stores. You came from a store called Parkway Pets. You lived on the floor of a tall bird cage. Do you remember that?

Sundae: No. What was it like?

Mama: The birds were very loud and screeched often. For the longest time, you sounded like a bird. You also had a sister at the store, but I was only looking for one cavy at the time. So I chose you. I also told the store owners that it was not a good idea to put cavies at the bottom of a bird cage, even if the birds never landed on the floor. Wheeker came from a store called Pet Metro. She was in a cage with eight other little girls.

Sundae: Why did you choose Wheeker?

Mama: I thought she would make a good friend for you. Remember how I was out of the house more often and you were home alone and very lonely?

Sundae: Yeah, but sometimes I wish I had my own room again. I guess I am glad that I have Wheeker when you are gone during the day. Anyway, keep those questions coming. Wheeker and I will answer your questions ... when we are not eating or sleeping.

updatedGing Lowe ( would like to add that many good guinea pigs are for sale at guinea pig specialty shows. You will be able to meet the owner/breeder and even get pedigree papers. The guinea pigs may be of show or pet quality, and the prices are competitive with prices at many pet stores or in the classified ads. The ACBA and the GSCBA both list under the calendar of events when shows are. Besides purchasing a GPig, you get to see many different breeds of GPigs and learn how to take care of them by talking to the many owners there.

Thank you Ging for your input!

Inaugural Edition

Question: Do cavies like baths?

Sundae's Bath select GIF file, 140KB.

Sundae: Personally, I love baths. The warm water ... the fragrance of the shampoo ... the attention I get during and after the bath. The only thing I do not like about bath day is that bath day is also nail clipping day. So, what is your answer, Wheeker?

Wheeker: Well ... I do not really like baths ... but I do not really hate them either. I hate getting my hair rubbed the wrong direction ... but I do not mind the nail clipping.

Question: How do you bathe cavies?
Sundae: Well, I think this is a question for one of my humans ... since I have never bathed myself. Perhaps we should have a "Ask the Humans" page. Well, just this once I will let my mama write on this page. So, take the keyboard, mama.

Mama: Thanks Sundae for letting me contribute to your page. I begin by selecting a bowl to bathe the cavy in. It should be large enough so the cavy does not jump out, but not so large that the cavy feels uncomfortable. I usually fill the bowl an inch or two and then lower the cavy in the water back end first. Thoroughly soak their hair, but be careful not to get water on their heads and definitely not their ears. Soap them up (I use a whitening shampoo on Sundae's beautiful white hair ... which is now yellow in most places ... and Johnson's baby shampoo). Then thoroughly rinse off the soap (if your cavy likes getting a shower ... use one of those sprayers). Put the cavy in a towel and dry off thoroughly. A tip: A nice clean cage with fresh hay helps grumpy cavies forgive you for putting them through such an ordeal.

Question: How often do you bathe cavies?
Sundae: My mama bathes us once a week during summer and much less often during the winter. It has been cold and rainy (by San Diego standards), so we have not gotten a bath in quite awhile. We will probably get another bath when the temperature gets out of the 50s and 60s and back into the 70s.

Editor's Note: For a related feature, see Ben Fisher's story about "The Great Guinea Pig Bath"

If you or your cavies would like to participate or you have questions that can be answered by Sundae and Wheeker, e-mail:

Please contribute your questions and comments, otherwise, this column could get very boring -- we promise to respond to all, as best as we can ! By the way, contributors will be acknowledged on our thanks page.

Cavy Chronicles A Day in the Lives of Three Cavies Ask the Cavies Cavy
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Copyright 1996 M. E. Barr.

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