Ask the Cavies Back Issues

Ask the Cavies
March - April 1997


Special Notice from the Editor

08 Mar 97

Sundae, the main contributor to this column, passed away on Wednesday, March 5 at 9:30 p.m. Wheeker, who was second in line for this choice position, has declined the position at this time, saying, "Sundae was chosen for this position because she was wise and very knowledgeable. I could never do as good of a job as she did.".

I believe that Wheeker would do a very nice job. She learned quite a bit from Sundae as they had many long talks through sleepless nights. Thank you for your questions. If you would like to encourage Wheeker to take the job, send her an e-mail.


Seventh Edition

25 Mar 97

Thank you all for your support. Many humans and cavies encouraged me to take Sundae's place as the Editor of the Cavy Chronicles, and I've decided to take the job. I think I'm going to like to tell everyone what to do. -- Wheeker

Audrey Vesota ( I know that you do not want to take Sundae's position, but I would be very grateful if you would please listen to my describing of my guinea pig's bare spots of fur. (I wrote to Sundae a few weeks ago saying that my two guinea pigs had bare patches, and Sundae wrote me back asking me to describe them.) The spots are not red,but are just places where fur is not. However, it seems to irritate the guinea pigs if I touch them.There is a v-shaped spot on my guinea pig Basil's back, and a spot behind each ear for my guinea pig Carmel. Should I take them to a vet? I know that you can answer this, Wheeker. You learned a lot from Sundae, and I send my sympathies.

Wheeker: Hi Audrey. I don't know much about bald spots, but I asked mama what she would do if I had the spots you were talking about. Mama says if I had the spot that Basil has, that she'd take me in right away cuz it's probably mites or something. Mama says that I have the bald spots that Carmel has and that's normal on most guinea pigs. Some just have larger ones than most. Sundae had gigantic ones. I've been told mine are a little noticable, though I've never noticed them. And Truffles are hardly noticable at all.

Allison Treman ( In a couple of weeks I will be getting a pair of cavies (2 girls). What should I look for when I pick them out?

Wheeker: You should make sure they're happy and healthy. Watch them for several minutes and see if they like to explore and do happy piggie things like running and jumping and chasing. Also, make sure they have thick beautiful hair (like mine) and they have bright, shiny eyes and a dry, clean nose.

Allison: How big of a cage should I get?

Wheeker: Their cage should allow each cavie at least two square feet each, so if you have two cavies, your cage should be at least four square feet. Of course, the more room, the better. I love racing around chasing Truffles around. If you can't buy a big cage, you can try making one. Mama has the directions for our old, old cage .

Allison: I'm unsure about food. How much pellets will they need per day? What are some good vitamin C foods? (Please say parsley!)

Wheeker: I looooove parsley. Please tell mama that she needs to get more parsley. Mama gives us as much pellets as we want, but we really don't like eating them. We get about 1/4 cup a day, but we don't even eat half of it most of the time and mama throws out the uneaten stuff out every day. Mostly we eat lots of timothy hay, some oat and alfalfa hay, and lots of veggies. You can find a good list of vitamin C foods on the Guinea Pig FAQ.

Allison: Do guinea pigs need to go to the vet?

Wheeker: I wish I could say "NO", but it isn't true. I've had to visit Dr. Jenkins a few times. Most of the time he was real nice and just poked at me. Other times, I just went along to keep Sundae company. She had to get needles poked in her. Ouch!

Allison: How do you help stop a cavy from getting sick? Can I touch my cavies when I'm sick?

Wheeker: Well, you can't stop cavies from getting sick, but if you keep yours in a clean place, feed them a variety fresh and yummy foods (hay and vitamin C are essential), give them fresh clean water every day, and let them exercise every day, they'll be strong enough to stay healthy. And, although mama's heard that most human diseases can't get cavies sick, she doesn't pick us up or play with us until she is well. She figures that it's better to be safe rather than find out later that we got sick because of her. I don't like it when she's sick cuz we don't get out ... so we just count the days until she can play with us.

Allison: I'm a little confused about cavy sounds. My best friend says her guinea pigs ork when the are hungrey. (Yes, I've heard them, they definently ork!) While many humans say they squeek. Is it they same noise or a different one?

Wheeker: Well, here we "WHEEEEEK" for food ... actually, we don't really. We know that mama will feed us whether we say something or not, but we know that she likes to hear us talk so we just let her know that we're really excited and appreciate her. We make lots of other sounds too. We purr when mama strokes us. And we complain when mama does stuff like cutting our nails or giving us baths.

Allison: Know any great games to play with my cavies?

Wheeker: II never liked playing games ... except with Truffles. Sundae used to play with mama all the time. They played Queen of the Mountain, tag, peek-a-boo, and follow-the-leader. Truffles and I like to play tag and follow-the-leader.

Allison: What would you tell someone who thinks cavies are boring, ugly, and dumb rodents?

Wheeker: I wouldn't say much ... I can't change anyone's opinions. Besides, the only opinions I care about are here at home. Here, I'm exciting, beautiful, and very intelligent.

Allison and Abby ( both asked similar questions.
Allison: I don't want to frighten my cavies, so what should I do with them when I get home? What should I do the first day? The second?

Abby: How do you hand tame the pets? Your balls of fluff are so loyal to you. How do you do it?

Wheeker: Mama made us feel welcome in our home by talking to us in her nice quiet voice and she gave us lots of cuddles and hugs. She encouraged us to eat yummy veggies from her fingers and gently petted us as we ate. At first, she just patted us on our heads, but then she started to stroke us. I especially like it when she scratches me right behind my hind legs. Anyway, we just like the way mama handles us gently and makes us feel safe. And we love it when she lets us on the floor and plays with us. She's a real giant mountain then! Lots of fun to climb over.

Thanks for your questions. Please keep writing. I really think I can get used to this.


Eighth Edition

13 Apr 97

Michelle ( I just baught a male Guinea Pig on Wednesday April 3, it is now Saturday April 5, 1997. He is four months old, and I am being very patient and he keeps running away from me. Today he wouldn't even let me pick him up, which was a problem because I had to clean him because he has mites. I did what the Animal Technician told me to do, and Bo did not like it. Now he won't come out of the box that I put him in so I didn't have to pick him up. I know he'll come out but is he going to ever trust me again? What can I do to assure him that it was for his health and that I won't ever hurt him. I feel so bad=:(

Wheeker: It takes awhile for us to get used to humans. I still run away from my humans when they want to pick me up, but I just like to make them chase me around. Anyway, when mama first brought me home, I had lice. The vet told her to wash me in this icky smelling stuff. I wanted out so much that I jumped almost three feet in the air but that didn't help. I just splashed down back into the icky smelling stuff. I tried running up mama's arm, too, and I almost made it to safety when I felt a big hand over my body and I was trapped again. Well, I hated it (and so did my friend Sundae), but we knew it was for our best ... and I'm sure your cavy knows it, too. After mama finished the treatments, we soon learned that we were over the icky smelling baths and knew that we'd only get ones that make us smell like peaches. And, like I said, I still run away when someone wants to pick me up, but I do like having a cuddle once in awhile.

So, don't feel bad about doing what the vet says. Maybe it doesn't feel so good now, but at least your cavy won't get in worse trouble like he would if you didn't treat him.

Brad ( My name is Brad. I have a Guinea Pig named Muffin. When we brought her home from the pet store she was fine, but the next morning she had a little bare spot with a scab on her back. She seems to be healing, we think that she was nervous and chewed on her back. I am thinking about getting another girl for her to play with, but I am not sure that her cage is big enough, it is about 18 x 24. I am also wondering if it is O.K. to continue using pine bedding. I like to let her run around on our kitchen floor, but we have a stained wood table, and I am afraid that she might gnaw on it and get sick. What do you think? Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Wheeker: Muffin may have mites or lice. If it comes up again, she definitely needs to see a doctor. I don't like visiting the doctor, but I liked the lice I had even less.

Your cage is probably big enough, but it might be a little crowded when they get full grown ... and we have pine shavings under our hay. I've never seen it, but mama says it's there. Personally, I wouldn't like being in such a tiny place because I like lots of space to run around. When I'm running around, I don't bother with table legs or piano legs. Mama has a cover over the piano and Sundae and I used to hang out under there all the time. When mama finally figured out where we were going, she looked under there thinking that we probably made a snack out of her Steinway. Well, we didn't. We weren't interested. We tried to tell mama that we just liked hanging out under there and making her a pile of little brown presents.

Ginger Stormer ( My husband and I both Love your web page. We have two kids (guinea pigs) Bucky and Manly. They love for us to pet them while they are in their cage but when it comes to holding, they still have a problem. We can hold them for about two minutes, and then they start biting and nipping us. We would love to hold them more but are afraid of being bitten. Have you ever had this problem, and would you recommend a solution to our problem?

Wheeker: Mama used to have a problem with Sundae biting ... and she bit hard. When Sundae bit, mama said "no" in her stern voice. If Sundae kept biting, she said "no" again and then tapped her on her nose. She didn't stop biting right away, but she did it less frequently until she did finally stop. Other people blow on their face, some whine like a hurt cavy; whatever works, just do it. Anyway, mama got so used to getting bitten, she doesn't even mind putting her finger in our mouths to check our teeth (and she gets bitten frequently when she does this).

Rachel ( Life is good, except Brian is a little worried that we don't like him as much as the books he reads says we should. HE wants to know how to make us like him more. I'm pretty nice to him, though I only let him play with me after a struggle, but Jennifer is nasty. When he puts his finger by her mouth, which makes me kiss him, she bites. (Or as little Jessica says "bikes") she can also bite suddenly for no reason when you're holding her, though she first gives a war cry that gives you about 5 seconds to get her to the cage. What's wrong with her?

Wheeker: Nothing is wrong with her. She just isn't used to being held and doesn't like it very much. Tell Brian that he should just hold her gently and talk to her quietly. Eventually she will get used to him and may even start liking it. There are some who keep biting, but most grow out of it by the time they get older.

Copyright 1997 M. E. Barr.


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