Ask the Cavies Back Issues

Ask the Cavies
June - September 1996


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.


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:


Sixth Edition

17 Sep 96

Michael and Sarah Mulcahy ( I recently acquired a guinea pig about two weeks ago. He refuses to eat guinea pig pellets. He will gladly take fruits and veges from my hands. He also continually pees and poops in his food dish whenever I put in fresh pellets. I think this might be his way of being stubborn and getting the food he wants. Can Guinea pigs really be this smart? I was also wondering if they like to have stuffed animals or soft towels in their cage when they do not have a mate. My guinea pig does not seem to like to be touched or cuddled. I am worried that he is lonely. Can you please help.

Sundae: Hi Mike and Sarah. Yes, we really are that smart. It looks like your cavy has a hard road to travel on. My humans are trained to try something new within a couple days after I have told them that I do not like something. There are many different brands of pellets, and the one Wheeker and I really like is called Supreme. We also liked one called Best Pet Food, but mama cannot find it anymore. Truffles likes the one called Mazuri, though I don't understand why.

When I first came home, mama gave me Scruffy (a small, brown bear that was bigger than me at the time). I really loved him, but when mama found out from the vet that I had mites, she took him away, laundered him, and forgot about putting him back when I had gotten better. I was not too lonely, though, since mama picked me up all the time. She says that I did not like to cuddle back then either, but now I cannot get enough of it! Just give him time.

Rachel Pigg Meyers ( Hello Cavies! My name's Rachel. Me and my good (munch munch) friend Jenny have some questions for you.

Sundae: Ask away, Rachel! By the way ... what are you eating? Is it something good ... like a carrot ... or parsley ... or ... ooh, now you have made me hungry!

Rachel: First, (munch munch) Pappa thinks we should get our toenails clipped but grandma and grandpa don't. Should we get our (munch munch) nails clipped and how is this done?

Sundae: Oooh, I hate this subject. Mama clips my toenails about once a month and I hate it. But she says if she does not cut them, that they would grow too long and might even stab the bottom of my feet ... and I would hate that more than getting my nails clipped once in awhile. What she does is turns me upside down on her lap so that my head is next to her tummy and then clips. She says she used to clip Chocolate's when she was just standing on a table, but since I try to get away with that method, she turns me upside down. Your Pappa needs to make sure he does not cut too much or it will bleed and, believe me, IT HURTS! If you have clear nails like I do, it is easy to see where to cut ... just the white part. If you have dark nails like Wheeker or Truffles, he will have to be extra careful and just cut a little at a time.

Rachel: Also, when the peoples cuddle us we (munch munch) make purr-like sounds and squeak. Pappa thinks this means we're happy but grandma thinks they're sound of terror. Who's (munch munch) right?

Sundae: Well, whenever I am making sounds when mama or papa hold me, I am very happy indeed. I especially like papa cuz he lets me get off of him and jump on the floor. When I stay with mama, she expects me to stay on her chest, so I stay there ... even when she falls asleep. Wheeker and Truffles are the same way ... except they start complaining when mama checks their teeth. They don't like it. Truffles is getting more used to it, but Wheeker acts like mama's trying to gag her.

Thanks for your questions. Keep them coming. By the way, you never told me what you were eating. And I am getting quite hungry now.

Copyright 1996 M. E. Barr.


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